Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Steep Hills Reviews and Buying Guide 2019

Happy April, everyone!

Now that we’re finally in the sunniest and most beautiful part of Spring, it’s about time that we start looking over our options when it comes to the grass in our yards. Some of us don’t have to ponder for too long because our yards are either very small, flat, or both. But then some of us have uneven ground in our yards. By “uneven,” this can mean anything from rugged dirt, Bermuda grass, or just shapely terrain.

And yes, “shapely terrain” is another way of saying hills.

Lots and lots of hills.

Thankfully, we’ve got a handy consumer’s guide for you grass-cutting enthusiasts out there. Knowing how big the struggle can be when mowing lots with steep hills, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten best riding lawn mowers for steep hills. Why not have a gander at our guide? Your lawn won’t wait forever!

Can Any Mower Work For Steep Hills?

Technically, yes.

But anything other than a riding lawn tractor will likely prove to be a giant pain to work with.

If you don’t believe us, let us think about the lifetime rival of riding lawn mowers; the push-mower. Push-mowers are pretty popular with homeowners around the country, as they are easy to use and extremely affordable. I mean, what can possibly be more nifty than having 100% power and control over where your mower cuts? Sure, you can’t sit on them without unceremoniously breaking them...but they’re convenient!

So this must mean that they are awesome to use on steep hills.

Right?

Right?!

The sad reality here is that, unless you’ve got a rear-wheel drive lawn mower, pushing a grass-cutter up steep hills won’t promise a thorough job. This is because of the lack of power integrated in such small machines. They’re not fast and lack the traction needed to cut hills. And you can forget about using them for large lots or unkempt grass!

Okay, But What Makes Riding Lawn Mowers Best For Steep Hills?

Glad you asked, dear readers!

There are a number of reasons why riding lawn mowers are so much better for your steep hills than push-mowers (or really any other type of lawn mower). We already know some of the basic reasons, such as the much needed control, traction, and speed that the push-mowers all seem to lack. But there is another thing we need to look at as well. We’re talking about power source.

While all types of lawn mowers have engines of varying sizes, one thing that lawn tractors have that others don’t is a transmission. Yes, it works exactly the same way as it does for cars. The transmission is what decides whether or not you get to move around your lawn. This means that a day without a transmission is a day where you just sit in your expensive lawn tractor like duck on a log, waiting to see if the grass will somehow cut itself.

Riding lawn mowers have three different types of transmissions they can use. One type is an automatic transmission, which utilizes belts and pulleys mechanically. Mowers with this type of transmission tend to be very fast and easy to use, as there’s no prerequisite for knowing stick-shift driving. The downside is that they’re kind of expensive; at least more so than mowers that use a manual transmission.

Lawn tractors that use manual transmissions work exactly the same way as cars that use manual transmissions. You use a lever to switch gears while using both feet to drive (one foot on either the accelerator or brake, the other on the clutch). So long as you know how to drive stick, these machines are pretty simple to use AND they are much more affordable than the other two types of riding lawn mower transmissions. So what’s the catch, you ask?

They’re very slow at mowing hills.

Last but not least is the hydrostatic transmissions. Holy Toledo, these transmissions are freakin’ incredible! If they weren’t so damn expensive, we’d say they trump any manual or automatic transmission. They use fluids to power the mower, which makes it five times more powerful. And fast! So fast!

Brand

Engine

Deck Size

Our Rating

Ariens Zoom 34

660cc/19hp

34”

5.0/5.0

Swisher ZTR2454BS Response

724cc/24hp

54”

5.0/5.0

Troy-Bilt 540cc

540cc/19hp

46”

4.6/5.0

Troy-Bilt 382cc

382cc/15hp

30”

3.9/5.0

Yard Machines 420cc

420cc/22hp

42”

3.7/5.0

Husqvarna YTH24V48

724cc/24hp

48”

3.6/5.0

Husqvarna MZ61

810cc/27hp

61”

3.5/5.0

Poulan Pro P46ZX

420cc/22hp

46”

3.3/5.0

Husqvarna GTH52XLS

724cc/24hp

52”

3.3/5.0

Husqvarna YTH22V46

420cc/22hp

46”

3.0/5.0

Our Top 10 Riding Lawn Mowers for Steep Hills Recommendations:

  1    Ariens Zoom 34

First on our list is the Ariens Zoom 34. Ariens, you say? What brand is that? We’re glad you asked!

Ariens is a fairly unknown brand in the competitive market of lawn mowing, but that doesn’t stop it from making waves. I mean look at it, it’s number one on our list of the best riding lawn mowers for steep hills! For once, a greatly underestimated underdog rises above the top brands and claims the championship for itself.

And it’s easy to see why!

First and foremost, this riding lawn tractor only has ONE INCREDIBLY SMALL downside. That downside, ladies and gentlemen, is the fact that its reverse speed is incredibly slow. The speed reaches a maximum of three miles per hour. But when you can get past that detail, you’ve got a very reliable mower.

The Ariens Zoom 34 is very light, which makes it easy to move. And thanks to it being a zero-turn mower, you can get through the cutting job very quickly and STILL have a spic and span lawn. How cool is that? If that doesn’t warrant it as the top riding lawn mower on this list, we don’t know what would!

Pros: Lightweight, Affordable, Fast moving, Zero-turn capabilities, Powerful engine

Cons: Reverse speed is very slow

  2    Swisher ZTR2454BS Response

Coming in second place on our list of the best riding lawn mowers for steep hills is the Swisher ZTR2454BS Response. Another zero-turn mower to consider taking home, this grass-cutting machine actually has a slightly stronger engine than the Ariens Zoom 34. Seriously, this one has a 724cc engine while the number one entrant only has a 660cc engine. If it weren’t for the fact that this mower is a bit more expensive and that it uses the gas contained in its large tank quickly, the Swisher ZTR2454BS Response would be giving the Ariens Zoom 34 a run for its money!

Pros: Powerful engine, Large gas tank, Very fast, Zero-turn capabilities

Cons: Expensive, Uses gas fast

  3    Troy-Bilt 540cc

Third place on our list goes to the Troy-Bilt 540cc. Ah yes, our first “top brand” mower to appear on this list. Troy-Bilt is a titan in the world of innovative grass-cutting technology, sharing the spotlight with other top brands such as Honda and Husqvarna. Troy-Bilt is arguably chosen more often than not due to its affordability, as Husqvarna products tend to be a bit more pricey. And even though this riding lawn mower may not be as good with steep hills as the first two entrants on this list, don’t count it out just yet!

The Troy-Bilt 540cc has a really cool feature that, surprisingly enough, isn’t found on most mowers. Look up at the picture and focus your eyes on the big black disc just below the mower. What that is, ladies and gentlemen, is a fully operative anti-scalping mechanism that presses the blades upward when cutting low-standing grass blades. How cool is that?! Now you don’t have to worry about scalping your yard!

If it weren’t for the rather wide turn radius required to maneuver this mower, the Troy-Bilt 540cc would likely be number two on this list instead of the Swisher ZTR2454BS Response!

Pros: Affordable, Powerful engine, Scalp prevention technology

Cons: Wider turn radius than other models

  4    Troy-Bilt 382cc

Next on our list is the Troy-Bilt 382cc. While not as fast as the zero-turn mowers on this list, this rear-engine rider is more than capable of making quick work out of your yard. Its smooth handling makes mowing fun and its adjustable blade makes cutting grass very convenient. And you better bet your keister that this baby can conquer grass on even the steepest hills!

Just make sure your lawn isn’t riddled with Bermuda grass, as this mower’s blades might not be able to handle it as well.

Pros: Affordable, Very well built, Adjustable blade, Easy handling, Powerful engine

Cons: Scalping possible with rougher yards

  5    Yard Machines 420cc

Fifth on our list is the Yard Machines 420cc. Right off the bat, we first notice that, despite being ranked lower on this list, this riding lawn tractor has a much better turn radius than the Troy-Bilt 540cc. And unlike most mowers, this baby has headlights built into it already. That means you don’t have to buy the headlights separately for an additional price. Pretty awesome, right?

Unfortunately, the downsides come from the fact that the Yard Machines 420cc can’t be put into reverse AND it has a pretty small gas tank. Obviously, both of these issues can be a real pain in the rear when you think long-term. While not being able to reverse is an issue that can easily be worked around, the small gas tank can prove to be a bigger problem if you aren’t in a financial position to regularly fill it up. It’s all about what you are willing to do for such a great mower, ladies and gentlemen!

Pros: Affordable, Powerful engine, Excellent turn radius, Has headlights

Cons: Small gas tank, Can’t back up

  6    Husqvarna YTH24V48

Coming in at number six on our list is the Husqvarna YTH24V48. What?! Husqvarna only managed to rank number six on this list? What’s the world coming to?!

Don’t be mistaken, ladies and gentlemen. Husqvarna is a phenomenal brand that consistently produces top-quality lawn mowers fit to tackle any and all lawns you throw at it. They’re freaks of nature, man! Research has simply shown that other brands might have more to offer in terms of riding lawn mowers that are built to mow steep hills.

But don’t discouraged, for the Husqvarna YTH24V48 is still more than capable of getting those steep hills cut to perfection. And this model just so happens to be one of the less expensive mowers sold by Husqvarna. The fact that you’re getting a strong engine with cruise control and smooth handling, I’d say your investment wouldn’t be in vain whatsoever. Why not give this baby a spin?

Pros: Affordable, Powerful engine, Cruise control, Easy handling

Cons: Height adjustment can be a pain

  7    Husqvarna MZ61

Number seven on our list is the Husqvarna MZ61. Wow, two Husqvarnas in a row! Now this is a sight we’re more used to seeing. And what a lawn mower this baby is!

Much like the Husqvarna YTH24V48, this riding lawn mower has incredibly smooth handling as well as a powerful engine roaring as grass blades flee for cover. Additionally, the Husqvarna MZ61 is able to mulch very well. So if you’re not a fan of bagging, this lovely mower has you covered. And it has an exceptionally comfortable seat for you to relax on as you cut your grass!

Now if only that price tag could simmer down a bit...

Pros: Excellent for mulching, Powerful engine, Easy handling, Seat is very comfortable!

Cons: Expensive

  8    Poulan Pro P46ZX

At number eight, we have the Poulan Pro P46ZX. While not one of the most popular brands on the market, Poulan Pro is definitely not one of the underdogs in this race. Poulan Pro does have a good reputation for creating very powerful lawn mowers, whether they be self-propelled mowers or riding lawn mowers. And with this zero-turn mower, you’re absolutely guaranteed to get some damn good results!

But even though it’s got an amazing engine and large gas tank, it’s not very safe for the environment. Some users have reported smokey exhaust fumes coming out of the mower. This isn’t anything to be concerned about as far as the engine is concerned. However, it does create some concern regarding the environment, as toxic fumes can be detrimental to the ozone layer.

Pros: Affordable, Very fast, Zero-turn capabilities, Big gas tank, Powerful engine, Seat is comfortable!

Cons: Not environmentally friendly

  9    Husqvarna GTH52XLS

Coming in at number nine on our list is the Husqvarna GTH52XLS. Being the third Husqvarna product to be featured on our list of best riding lawn mowers for steep hills, this mower brings its own set of treats to the table, for sure. Husqvarna brings us cruise control with this nifty model, as well as an uber quiet engine to get our grass cut to. No more waking up neighbors!

What brings this mower down to number nine, unfortunately, is the fact that it can’t handle the more rugged lawns. This means any lawn with Bermuda grass, excessive weeds, or just very bad soil may prove to be too much for the Husqvarna GTH52XLS. So long as your lawn is in mostly good condition, this mower will make your dreams of a nicely cut lawn come true. Until then, you may need to make maintenance checks a regular thing.

Pros: Affordable, Cruise control, Engine is quiet, Powerful engine, Has cup holders!

Cons: Not great with uneven ground

  10    Husqvarna YTH22V46

Securing the number ten spot on our list is the Husqvarna YTH22V46. The fourth and final Husqvarna on this list, this riding lawn mower promises to give your steep hills a masterful cut. It comes with all the Husqvarna brand staples from powerhouse engines to easy as pie handling. Additionally, this majestic lawn mower is also very much attachment-friendly. So feel free to add as many bells and whistles as you’d like!

The biggest downside with the Husqvarna YTH22V46 is the fact that it’s got plastic parts on it. As everyone knows, plastic doesn’t do so hot against things with high levels of heat (no pun intended). You usually want to get lawn mowers that are made out of something a bit stronger, like metal. Of course, to each their own!

Pros: Affordable, Easy handling, Accessory-friendly, Powerful engine

Cons: Not very durable


Concluding Thoughts

And that does it for our list, folks! Out of ten impressing riders, only one has earned the top-spot on our list of the best riding lawn mowers for steep hills. Only one mower has risen above the rest and proven that it’s a force to be reckoned with. That winner is the Ariens Zoom 34.

Despite coming from an underdog company, this riding lawn mower has risen to the top with its affordability, lightness, and powerful engine. With its zero-turn capabilities, you can cut your yard at a much faster pace than you would with other types of mowers. The only major gripe reported with this grass-cutting beast is its slow reverse speed. But hey, it’s so light already that the reverse speed doesn’t really matter!

Does the Ariens Zoom 34 catch your eye?

Or would you rather take a gander at the other nine options on our list?

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