Consumer Reports searches for best lawn mower

June 6, 2011 3:00:27 PM PDT
Even if you hate mowing, a good lawn mower can make a big difference. That' why, in its biggest lawn mower test ever, Consumer Reports rated more than 70 mowers.

They looked at how evenly the mowers cut and mulch, how much their bags can hold and how well they discharge clippings.

Several of the mowers tested are electric, including some that are cordless. Electrics can be quieter but, Consumer Reports found, self-propelled gas mowers are generally much better at cutting grass.

"You'll pay more for a self-propelled mower, but if you've got a larger lawn or if you just want an easier time mowing your lawn, then this is a feature that you should consider," said Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports.

But don't pay extra for large rear wheels. They're not worth it.

"We found in our testing that, because these wheels are located father back, it takes more force to push down and turn the mower compared to a conventional mower," Sawchuk.

Among self-propelled mowers, Consumer Reports named the Toro Recycler a "best buy" for $350. It has rear-wheel drive and performs almost as well as mowers that cost twice as much.

Push mowers cost even less and are good for smaller, flatter lawns. There's good news with those, too.

"Inexpensive mowers have improved over the last couple of years. They're built better and their cutting performance is also better, too," Sawchuck said.

Consumer Reports found several push mowers to recommend, including the Lawn-Boy, which available at Home Depot for $240.

Consumer Reports recommends several other gas push mowers in the same price range, including the Cub Cadet model 11A-18MC.

It's particularly good at side-discharge, and its handlebars are especially comfortable.