What is the Best Diesel Zero-Turn Mower? (2024)

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Navigating the world of commercial lawn mowing? Efficiency is key. You’ve probably heard a lot of folks lean towards diesel zero-turn mowers over the gasoline ones, right? But with so many brands dropping models that look almost identical, how on earth do you pick the best one?

So, as an expert in mowing, I’m going to share the best machines I’ve relied on for years. Stick around, and let me uncover the best diesel zero-turn mowers out there.

Premium Option
Exmark Laser Z Diesel
Editor’s Choice
Kubota ZD1500
Budget Option
Dixie Chopper® XCaliber
Exmark Laser Z Diesel
Kubota ZD1500
Dixie Chopper® XCaliber
• Engine Type: Yanmar liquid-cooled
• Max Speed: 12.5 MPH
• Gas Tank Capacity: 12 Gallons
• Hydraulic Lift
• Hydro-Gear Drive System
• Air-ride Suspension Seat
• Low-profile Drive Tires
• Hydraulic Mower Deck
• Power Rating: 30.8 HP
• High-cushion Mat
• Engine Options: 35 HP & 40 HP
• Deck Options: 66-inch & 74-inch
• Hydro-Gear Pumps
• Capacity: 6.9 to 7.8 per acre
• Gas Tank: 12 Gallons
Premium Option
Exmark Laser Z Diesel
Exmark Laser Z Diesel
• Engine Type: Yanmar liquid-cooled
• Max Speed: 12.5 MPH
• Gas Tank Capacity: 12 Gallons
• Hydraulic Lift
• Hydro-Gear Drive System
Editor’s Choice
Kubota ZD1500
Kubota ZD1500
• Air-ride Suspension Seat
• Low-profile Drive Tires
• Hydraulic Mower Deck
• Power Rating: 30.8 HP
• High-cushion Mat
Budget Option
Dixie Chopper® XCaliber
Dixie Chopper® XCaliber
• Engine Options: 35 HP & 40 HP
• Deck Options: 66-inch & 74-inch
• Hydro-Gear Pumps
• Capacity: 6.9 to 7.8 per acre
• Gas Tank: 12 Gallons

Reviews of the Top Diesel Zero-Turn Mowers

1. Kubota ZD1500

Kubota ZD1500

At first glance, anyone can tell that Kubota ZD1500 is made with productivity and comfort in mind. Thanks to its air-ride suspension seat and flat user platform with cushion mat, I could enjoy a comfortable ride throughout long mowing hours, especially if you wear reliable shoes for mowing while doing the activity.

As it’s running with a 30.8 HP engine, it’s not surprising how it could finish most tough mowing jobs efficiently. Its rear discharge better than some diesel options, and its airflow helps provide a smooth ride. 

When buying this mower, you can choose between the 72-inch side-discharge model and the 60-inch rear-discharge unit. Regardless of your choice, its hydraulic lift ensures you’ll get a high-quality cut. 

What i Like

What i Don't Like

2. Exmark Laser Z Diesel

Exmark Laser Z Diesel

Upon seeing a 96-inch deck option in Exmark Laser Z Diesel’s offerings, our testers didn’t waste any time and tested it. You may not know, but it has a formidable UltraCut™ Flex Wing mowing deck. Because of this, this unit can mow up to 11 acres per hour. 

Besides being powered by an impressive Yanmar engine, it can operate at the highest ground speed range of 12.5mph because of its large driving tires. 

Its 96-inch deck model even has the capacity to pivot up at 20 degrees and down at 15 degrees in a sloping lawn terrain. However, you might find this equipment pricey, so check the Exmark mowers prices first. 

What i Like

What i Don't Like

3. Dixie Chopper® XCaliber

Dixie Chopper® XCaliber

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with these powerful mowers, so I highly suggest checking out Dixie Chopper® XCaliber ‘s offerings. Unlike other product lines, these models come in only two deck sizes: 66-inch and 74-inch. 

While using it, this diesel engine runs than gasoline alternatives [1], and that’s mainly the work of the unit’s Turbinator Pre-Cleaner feature. 

It’s an exclusive function that keeps the air flowing through the unit’s engine while removing built-up debris. Besides that, it has an X2 Wind Tunnel mower deck that enhances airflow and keeps residues out of the engine. 

What i Like

What i Don't Like

4. Bad Boy Renegade

BADBOY RENEGADE

When talking about exterior design, no one can argue that it’s Bad Boy Renegade.  Despite being one of the most budget-friendly selections, this unit offers a long-lasting mowing performance aided by its two 16cc Hydro-Gear Pumps. 

During the test drive, I’m amazed at how stable this mower was when driving on the hillside. You can tell that the tires have consistent terrain contact, and that’s all thanks to the premium suspension rails geared in front of this unit. 

If you look closer, you’ll notice that its frame rail is made of heavy-gauge steel. These materials are all welded and fabricated, making them durable for long years of usage.

What i Like

What i Don't Like

5. Ferris IS5100Z

Ferris IS5100Z

Like other premium diesel mowers, Ferris IS5100Z features an exclusive cutting system called iCDTM. With this function, the unit can produce higher cut quality and experience better engine airflow. 

Lifting and lowering the mowing deck was a breeze, all thanks to its hydraulic deck lift. And guess what? You can easily control it with just a foot pedal.

As for durability, tough weather and lawn conditions won’t be an issue as the brand is made of durable frames as thick as 6 mm. It’s also an industry-standard material for premium mowers. 

What I Like

What I Don't Like

6. John Deere Z994R

John Deere Zero Turn Mower Z994R ZTrak

Out of all the mowers on this list, John Deere Z994R is the most accessible and popular. But besides coming from a reputable brand, did you know that this model runs with a wheel motor hydrostatic driving system? Given this feature, operating at a speed of 11.4 MPH isn’t too farfetched. 

With a fully adjustable seat suspension, controlling a 72-inch mower deck won’t be as difficult as you’d think. You can also count on it to provide the best performance in every mowing application because it’s reinforced and welded.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

7. Kubota ZD1200 Series

Kubota ZD1200 Series

Not all mowing jobs will require you to get a mower with a powerful engine, so turning your attention to Kubota ZD1200 Series is completely natural. Its power capacity may only be 24.8 HP, but you can choose between its 60-inch and 72-inch mower decks. 

As you know, Kubota diesel engines are more fuel efficient. Because of this, many industry experts consider these models as environment-friendly options. 

On some rugged terrains, it was impressively stable. It’s all thanks to those big tires, cleverly placed fuel tanks, and that extended wheelbase

What I Like

What I Don't Like

Diesel Zero-Turn Mower Buyer’s Guide

Engine Power

It’s a no-brainer that the engine power isn’t the single determinator of mower performance. However, it does play a huge part. 

For example, if you’re mowing a small 1-acre lawn, going for mowers with 20 to 25 HP should be sufficient. On the other hand, these engine power options may fall short on bigger lawns.

Engine power plays a significant role in mower performance, so it is important to choose an appropriate horsepower (HP) based on the size and terrain of your lawn to ensure optimal results.

Diesel Engine Type

When diving into the world of zero-turn mowers, you’ll notice they don’t all come with the same engine types. So, when you’re out there shopping for one, keep an eye on the engine options. 

Ferris IS5100Z engine

Cummins

Besides bringing high horsepower, Cummins engines are notoriously known for their long-lasting and durable design. It’s a 12-valve engine, so you may expect high torque on units that house this component.

Yanmar

Coming from a brand that manufactures great tractors, it’s not surprising that Yanmar engines carry low emissions and fuel consumption. On top of that, these options are preferred for their long service life.  

Kubota

As long as your Kubota engine is well-maintained, did you know it can last around 4500 hours? Because of this, the industry users in the country recognize them as great manufacturers of ride-on mowers. 

Fuel Efficiency

If your mower is fuel efficient, it can deliver consistent speed throughout the mowing operations. It also means it spends less fuel during usage than other models. Typically, diesel engines carry this advantage. 

Deck Size

Zero-turn mowers can range from 36 to 72 inches, depending on the brand’s offering. When checking this specification, it’s crucial to consider the amount of land you’ll be mowing. Besides that, we also urge you to consider your available storage space. 

Exmark Laser Z Diesel Front

Deck Lift

Deck lift is a direct reference to the mower blade’s suction and airflow. It could be high or low, depending on your mowing needs. However, I’d like to reiterate that the higher the deck lift, the better suction and airflow it can deliver. 

Speed

Given that turnarounds are quicker on a zero-turn mower, the operational speed for these models is faster. However, this specification varies and depends on the unit’s power and overall construction.

Price and Warranty

After combing through the market, it’s safe to say that the diesel zero-turn mowers aren’t cheap. These models range from over $10000 to around $23000, with and without mower attachments. 

As for warranty, remember that some brands have different policies for residential and commercial uses. On top of that, don’t forget to buy directly from the brand’s stores or their authorized sellers to avoid getting your warranty voided. 

John Deere Z994R convenient control

Should You Opt for a Diesel or Gas Zero-Turn Mower?

Before you dive into the world of diesel zero-turn mowers, let me break it down for you. There are some pretty cool benefits, but also a few drawbacks you should be aware of. 

And just so you have the full picture, below are the pros and cons of the gas versions. Let’s compare!

Advantages of a Diesel Zero-Turn Mower

Disadvantages of a Diesel Zero-Turn Mower

Advantages of a Gas Zero-Turn Mower

Disadvantages of a Gas Zero-Turn Mower

My Top Pick For a Diesel Zero-Turn Mower:
Kubota ZD1500

Kubota ZD1500

After getting hands-on with several models, let me tell you: the Kubota ZD1500 stands out as the top diesel zero-turn mower out there. Its beastly engine and robust transmission aren’t just for show. 

I’ve personally test-driven it multiple times, and it’s not only efficient but also super comfortable to use. If you’re wondering about the price tag, trust me, the performance it delivers is worth every penny.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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