For the record, the model number of Honda’s mower that’s been updated is still current, so if a new Honda is what you’re looking at for your purchase, just be sure that the Honda has controls for Select Drive.
If the lawn you’re mowing is under ½ acre, the lawn mower that will best fit your needs for getting the grass cut is a $600 gas-powered, self-propelled Honda HRX217K5VKA.
As an update to the 2014 version of this model, the control system is a new addition, which allows the speed of the mower to be constant for easier operation.
Currently Consumer Reports’ #1 spot in its epic rundown is held by the Honda and highly ranks in tests by Popular Mechanics. Its engine is large at 190cc, with the help of a rear-wheel drive for passing over hills or tall grass, and a cutting system with two blades that leaves a velvet cut.
The mowing composite dome is just about bulletproof to destruction and comes with a fully-backed warranty. It can mulch, side-discharge, or bag whatever is getting cut. If anything with the Honda does go foul, its 5-year industry leading warranty is almost double the length of what the majority of other mowers will get you.
The Versamow- A unique feature to the HRX line of Hondas
It really sets it apart from the rest. You’re able to control the distribution of clippings between what you bag and mulch, so you can get the ratio dialed in as long as the conditions permit. It’s real good for mowing wet or tall grass, because enough of the grass can be bagged so the mulch doesn’t get too clumpy and thick. It’s also a great utility for seasonal mowing, such as when you’re cleaning up the leaves in the fall; it forces them from being shot out of the mowing dome until they’re shredded fully and reach the bag deposited.
The Features Honda Updated
For the new season, Honda’s 2015 line of HRX mowers has been updated, which doesn’t leave out the HRX217K5VKA. These changes have focused exclusively on the drive control interface. With the new Select Drive system, the control paddles no longer need constant pressure applied to keep a speed maintained- it’s more along the lines of cruise control.
Other Mowers to Consider- Toro Recycler 20333
Dropping $600 on a piece of lawn equipment let alone a mower isn’t really a need for everyone. If our top pick is simply out of your price range or is no longer available, we’d go for the Toro Recycler 20333 as the choice for runner-up (usually around $500). Why spend more on the Honda when some of the features in the Toro are the same, like the excellent performing mulch action and a self-propulsion intuitively designed.
While the Toro doesn’t nearly hold up to our Honda pick, it does share some of the features key to the HRX217K5VKA, has a decent performance, and doesn’t cost as much.
- One thing the Honda doesn’t have that you’ll find in the Toro is a blade brake clutch. The clutch allows the blade to stop while the mower is kept running, which can be useful in instances like clearing a branch or some toys from the mowing path.
However, you’d be going without a Versamow, so you’re either bagging or mulching fully. And while the testings of Popular Mechanics and Consumer Reports scored the Toro well, no one got to share the pedestal they put the Honda on- especially with reliability as a factor.
Here’s the full review.
3.) EGO LM2001
If you’ve grown tired of the exhaust and maintenance with seasonal mowing associated with engines requiring gas, then I have a (first-time) recommendation for 2017: the EGO LM2001 battery powered cordless 56-volt lawn mower. It’s an expensive $500 mower, no doubt about it, but its reputation is quite good for strong power, compact storage, and easy handling.
A gas engine is more difficult to deal with than a 56-volt cordless EGO. Its power is adequate enough and it’s darn easy to pack away, but a single charge only gets you 45 minutes on a run, so note it down for lawns of smaller size around ¼ acre.
The EGO is well-liked by both those who already own it and professional lawn gear reviewers. The battery is its one downside since it’s going to max out after three 15 minute sessions, or 45 minutes, although its half-hour charging time is relatively short. So, lawns about ¼ acre in size will be best for it, give or take.
4.) The Lawn-Boy 10732, a no-frills mower
If you’re mowing ½ acre or less of lawn, and you’re eyeing a basic, bare-boned mower, a choice like the Lawn-Boy 10732 is a good bet.
The model is no-frills and given the pass by Popular Mechanics testers- folks who’ve revved it up firsthand and lent a designation of “best buy”, remembering how intuitive and simple it operates, and a level of surprising strength from a smaller-sized performing mower.
It’s a low end budget option, but it comes with a rear-wheel self-propelled drive, which is a nice little add-on.
Lawn-Boy is basic, but if that’s all you’re after it’s just fine. It’s intuitive, simple, quick, and despite its size it gets going fast.
However, it doesn’t come with features the market would consider top-tier, and its longevity isn’t as good as the best mowers I found.
Nearly identical to the 10732, the Lawn-Boy 10734 was tested by Consumer Reports and found its capability for side discharge, bagging, and handling as adequate.
Also in Consumer Reports test they put the 10732 at the middle of the bunch in ratings for brand reliability (the first spot went to Honda), and the 10732 Lawn-Boy has a full 2-year warranty (with a guarantee of 3 years to easily start) while a full 5 year warranty is offered by Honda- so don’t go in thinking the reliability is going to be at the level you’d expect with our top Honda pick. Read the full review here.
Cub Cadet SC100 11A-A92J710- Best Push Mower?
The low priced Cub Cadet is a popular and excellent mower for mulching. But, the mower is one you push- the self-propelled capability is featured in the others- so look elsewhere if you have a hilly or large lawn to mow.
My recommendation for a simple push gas mower goes to the sub-$300 Cub Cadet SC100 for flat, smaller lawns, good for about 1/3 acre. This well-made, low-cost model seasonally sells out due to its popularity. It doesn’t have self-propulsion, but it has other noteworthy features- a washout port to prevent the mowing dome going to dirt, a premium engine, and easy handling.
Honorable Mention- the $460 Ariens 911177
Toro Recycler’s spot of runner-up would have been shared with the Ariens mower had it not been for Toro scoring slightly above the Ariens in the Consumer Reports write-up. And the 2017 Ariens now costs an additional $60 as it did in 2015, so our decision was to keep Toro as our #2 pick.