What is the Best Zero Turn Mower with a Steering Wheel? (2024)

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Steering wheel-operated zero-turn mowers aren’t new, but they’re a huge time-saver when tackling a large lawn. But if you purchased the wrong model, it can break down in the middle of your task and cost you money for repairs.

To help you get the most out of your money, I’ve tested and evaluated the best zero-turn mowers with a steering wheel.

Premium Option
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1
Editor’s Choice
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2
Budget Option
Toro TimeCutter SWX5000
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2
Toro TimeCutter SWX5000
• 23 HP Engine
• 50” cutting width
• 7 mph Fwd speed
• 3.5mph Rev. speed
• 25 HP engine
• 60” cutting width
• 7.5mph fwd speed
• 3.5mph Rev. speed
• 24.5 HP engine
• 50” cutting width
• 7 cutting positions
• 3,600rpm engine
Premium Option
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1
• 23 HP Engine
• 50” cutting width
• 7 mph Fwd speed
• 3.5mph Rev. speed
Editor’s Choice
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2
Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2
• 25 HP engine
• 60” cutting width
• 7.5mph fwd speed
• 3.5mph Rev. speed
Budget Option
Toro TimeCutter SWX5000
Toro TimeCutter SWX5000
• 24.5 HP engine
• 50” cutting width
• 7 cutting positions
• 3,600rpm engine

Reviews of the Top Zero Turn Mowers Equipped With a Steering Wheel

1. Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2

Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2

From my time spent mowing on challenging terrains, the Ultima ZTS2 truly stands out, especially when I’m trying to maintain a straight line on slopes that go up to 20 degrees. The Synchro-SteerTM technology in this mower is genuinely game-changing. It has high-performance power and quiet operation, owing to its 25 HP/725cc Kohler 7000 Series PRO V-twin OHV engine.

Comfort-wise, this mower doesn’t disappoint. Its premium 20-inch high-back seat is fully adjustable for added comfort, and the innovative polymer seat isolators make for a quieter, more comfortable ride over any surface.

And with a forward pace reaching 7 mph and a reverse speed of 3.5 mph, thanks to its dual hydrostatic transmissions, I found myself finishing the job in record time, leaving the lawn with that crisp, professionally-maintained look.

What I Like

What i Don't Like

2. Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1

Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1

Now that Stanley Black & Decker owns Cub Cadet, the company has upgraded its Ultima ZTS Series Zero-turn mowers with Synchro-Steer technology.

What it does is pretty remarkable. The front wheels glide effortlessly, making fewer movements, and without tearing up the turf. You truly feel the difference, especially when you’re maneuvering on inclines and tricky slopes. An adjustable high-back premium cut-and-sewn seat and a flexible steering column add convenience.

When I mowed damp grass on an incline, this mower outperformed others I’ve tried. While the front wheels of a lap bar system are only 360-degree swiveling casters, Synchro-Steer uses all four wheels to provide accurate steering — making each cut clean and intentional.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

3. Toro TimeCutter SWX5000

Toro TimeCutter SWX5000

In terms of the operator’s comfort, MyRide is among the most significant innovations developed for the best zero-turn mowers

MyRide, an innovative suspension technology first offered for the commercial operator two years ago, is now also available for the home TimeCutter MX and HD line of ZTRs. And now it’s within reach of even the most modest budget.

And there’s more to this mower than just comfort. I was impressed by the seven cutting height adjustments it offers, ranging from a neat 1-1/2 inches to a luscious 4-1/2 inches. It’s also got this Smart Park brake system and the Key Selection system, which are very convenient for an affordable zero-turn mower.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

4. Troy-Bilt XP Mustang

Troy-Bilt XP Mustang

Powered by a 725cc V-twin cylinder Kohler engine, this lawn mower with steering wheels is among the best on the market. Its 25 HP engine is powerful enough to tackle even the steepest inclines and declines on your lawn without a hitch.

Interesting Read: Kohler Engines Review 

If you’ve got a sprawling lawn, say five acres or more, speed becomes your best friend. And this beast, with a zippy 7 mph forward and a nifty 2.5 mph in reverse, ensures you’re always ahead of the game.

As an added feature, you can precisely adjust the speed and direction with the steering wheels.

What I Like

What I Don't Like

Buyer’s Guide for Zero Turn Mowers Equipped With a Steering Wheel

Size and Weight

The purchase of a lightweight unit will make mowing operations much easier. Mowing for lengthy periods can be exhausting, so choose a mower that is easy to maneuver while cutting grass or stowing away. 

The type of zero-turn mower you need will change based on the dimensions of your lawn. All available mowers have a maximum recommended lot size. 

Trust me, opting for a machine designed for a larger lawn, even if it might seem like overkill initially, will save you from potential headaches down the line. It’s not just about cost-efficiency; it’s about making sure you have the right tool for the job.

Lap Bar Steering or Traditional Steering?

A lap bar and a standard steering wheel are options for zero-turn mowers’ means of movement. The zero-turn mower’s steering mechanism is typically a lap bar.

If you’re like me, who had to mow around the unpredictable edges of slopes and hills, I found that traditional steering wheels provide greater control. Especially for a beginner, a steering wheel will feel familiar—it operates much like a car’s steering wheel.

mowing with Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2

Compared to a mower with a steering wheel, the one with a lap bar requires a different machine-directing method. Driving a lap bar mower is like riding a horse since you steer by pushing the bars forward to gain speed.

Mowing left requires pulling the left bar nearer you, while right requires pulling the right. Lap bar mowers, like shopping carts, have free-rolling caster wheels up front. Due to the lack of front-wheel traction on a lap bar mower, “grass tear” can occur if you go down an incline.

So, if your lawn is pancake-flat, a lap bar might be just fine; but if you’re dealing with slants, the steering wheel version is more up to the task.

Ease of Control

Nothing’s worse than wrestling with a stubborn mower, which is why ease of control is a big deal for me. A good zero-turn mower needs to offer precise and intuitive steering.

The steering wheel design enhances overall stability and balance, granting operators the confidence to navigate challenging terrains with ease. 

starting Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1

While learning to operate a zero-turn mower may take some time, getting the hang of your new mower will go much quicker if it has natural controls.

Engine Power

You can gain insight into a ride-on mower’s performance by inspecting its technical specifications, such as engine displacement, horsepower rating, and other characteristics.

The engine’s horsepower rating indicates its power output, while the engine displacement rating estimates the motor’s fuel consumption [1].

Price and Warranty

When shopping for a zero-turn mower, cost and warranty should be your top priority. A riding mower is a sizable investment, so it’s in your best interest to compare prices at several online and local retailers.

Extra Features

Makers of riding mowers often include extra conveniences and safety measures to set their products apart from the competition. You can improve the mowing experience by adding conveniences like anti-vibration steering wheels, USB chargers, and cupholders.

Mulching kits and leaf bags are available as add-ons for some models and come standard on others. I suggest you try the Black+Decker BEMW472BH mower. It’s doesn’t have the steering wheel, though, but it works just fine. 

My Top Pick For a Zero-Turn Mower Equipped With a Steering Wheel: Cub Cadel Ultima ZTS2

Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS2 takes the crown as my top pick for the best zero-turn mower with a steering wheel. With its streamlined steering wheel, I can effortlessly navigate my yard using just one hand. Comfort is another strong suit of this model—the adjustable high-back premium seat is a lifesaver during long mowing sessions.

So if you’re like me, and you want a balance of power, comfort, and ease, this is the mower to go for.

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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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