Best Riding Lawn Mowers For Rough Terrain of 2020: Reviews & Buyer’s Guide

1. Raven MPV71002. Husqvarna YTA24V483. Ariens Ikon-X
Raven MPV7100 Best Riding Lawn Mower For Rough TerrainHusqvarna YTA24V48Ariens Ikon-X
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Riding lawn mowers are a great way to do garden maintenance in large areas without too much effort. In a rougher terrain, it may even be the only way to get the job done within a reasonable time-span.

Sadly, not every lawn tool is good for that kind of task. Only the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain can be relied upon to take care of such a demanding job.

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Getting one represents a considerable investment, so it’s important that you know what you’re going to buy.

That’s why we decided to go over the crucial elements to take into consideration when looking for a riding lawnmower. After that, we’ll share the ones that we thought worthy of being labeled as the best ones available.

How To Pick The Best Riding Lawn Mower For Rough Terrain

Choosing between the huge number of lawnmowers available can be tricky. Getting the best lawn mower for rough terrain is a task that takes a trained eye to be successfully accomplished. There are several details that need to be taken into consideration depending on the area you want to use it.

A “rough terrain” can have different implications depending on the context you find yourself in. It’s important that you know what kind of job needs only be done on your lawn.

When you have the answer to that question, it’s a matter of finding the best lawn mower for that job. To find the best lawn mower for rough terrain, you must ponder on.

1. Cutting Deck

The cutting deck is the most important thing in the lawnmower. A bigger cutting deck facilitates the maintenance of larger areas in a shorter amount of time.

In optimal conditions, you would want to get the biggest cutting deck available. However, for rough terrains with uneven areas, it’s better to choose something that leaves some room for maneuverability.

Still, if you want to take care of a really large area, you can find a good balance that allows for maneuverability and efficiency at the same time.

2. Transmission

A lawnmower transmission can either be manual, automatic or hydrostatic. The kind of transmission you choose has a huge impact on the performance you’ll get from your lawnmower.

Likewise, the transmission’s type and quality will be reflected in the lawn mower’s price tag. The type of transmission you choose will dictate how the lawnmower needs to be operated.

Some types of transmissions, like a manual transmission, can take a fair amount of time to get used to. Others allow for unique features, like the enclosed double hydrostatic transmissions found in zero-turn mowers.

3. Manual Transmission

Manual transmissions usually are less expensive and more durable but aren’t the easiest to operate.

You get total control of the way the engine’s power is used, which is great, but that implies extra work. However, for rougher terrain with trees and other obstacles, they may be too uncomfortable to steer around the area.

4. Automatic Transmission

An automatic transmission, as you would expect, is way easier to operate. Although they’re a little more expensive, many people would rather spend a bit more money than lots of time shifting gears. The main downside, though, is that they require more maintenance than manual transmissions.

5. Hydrostatic Transmission

The hydrostatic transmission is the best alternative available considering performance only. They’re significantly pricier but are both durable and uncomplicated to operate.

Sadly, they don’t have the higher traction of other types of transmission. Zero-turn lawn mowers come with a slight variation of this kind of transmission, explaining their bigger price tags.

6. Ergonomics

Operating a riding lawn mower on rough terrain can take a considerable toll on your body. To avoid such inconveniences, it’s advised that you get a lawnmower built to avoid the most uncomfortable sensations.

Luckily, there are several ergonomic features that can help you ease the unpleasant effects of riding a lawnmower for hours.

A proper ergonomic design is something that can be more of a necessity than a luxury. These uncomfortable effects can become the cause of mild or severe medical conditions over time.

7. Suspension Seats

It’s a common feature among good quality riding lawn mowers. This allows the user to go over bumpy areas without experiencing too much shock.

If the shock gets fully absorbed before reaching the rider, it allows for a smooth ride when mowing. That shock can travel up your spine and eventually lead to long-lasting pain or injury.

8. Padded Seatbacks

The back of the seat is supposed to provide stability when you’re riding a lawnmower. However, when it isn’t properly padded, you’ll find yourself not fully relying on it to rest your body weight.

This can lead to posture issues and other back problems. You’ll get the most comfortable experience on lawnmowers that have high padded seats and armrests.

9. Padded Steering Wheel

When you’re riding a lawnmower, the steering wheel is bound to vibrate. The best way to minimize the toll on your hands is getting a padded steering wheel.

When you expose your hands to any kind of vibration for extended periods of time, they become numb. Doing it on a regular basis can lead to circulatory problems, joint pain, and other related issues.

As we stated before, not everyone has the same definition of “rough terrain”. For that reason, it’s important to look through several different approaches when you’re looking for the best lawnmower. Sometimes, the best alternative is a zero-turn mower, but other times it’s a riding tractor. It depends on the task at hand.

Among our picks, you’ll find a wide variety that will be sufficient to find something suited for any type of job you can think of. Each one is the best in its own terms, so it becomes a matter of wisely choosing among them. The best riding lawn mowers for rough terrain, in our opinion, are:

Top 13 Best Riding Lawn Mowers For Rough Terrain 2020

1. Raven MPV7100

Raven MPV7100 Best Riding Lawn Mower For Rough TerrainThis multi-purpose piece of machinery exemplifies all the things the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain should be. It’s not just a great lawnmower, but also a utility vehicle and power generator.

Powered by gas/electric hybrid technology, this machine has the power to take care of any task you throw at it.

The 7100 in its name references the 7100 watts generator that provides energy to the blades and the power outlets. These blades are enclosed in a 46’ removable cutting deck that’s designed to facilitate cleaning and maintenance.

Its performance is superior to most other alternatives available at the same price, and it’s a really fair price.

On top of that, the high and padded seat back gives you a really comfortable experience when you’re mowing your lawn. That, and the front wheel suspension absorbing the shock from the ride, provides a really smooth experience for the rider.

However, it still has some downsides to it. Most notably, the customer service provided by the manufacturer has a lot of room for improvement.

Besides that, it can be hard to find spare parts shall you want to look for them somewhere else. But, overall, this lawnmower is still one of the best alternatives available right now.

Pros

  • Works as a lawnmower, generator and utility vehicle
  • The removable cutting deck allows for easy maintenance
  • High padded seats are very comfortable

Cons

  • Poor customer service by manufacturer
  • Spare parts are hard to find
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2. Husqvarna YTA24V48

Husqvarna YTA24V48This is another worthy candidate for the title of the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain. The guys at Husqvarna are known for making great lawnmowers, and the YTA24V48 model is no exception. It’s a fine machine that’s sure to exceed your expectations.

One thing that stands out is its reliability. The 48’ reinforced steel cutting deck is designed to improve airflow, guaranteeing an even cut on every pass.

The outstanding 24HP energy output ensures that you can reach every corner of your lawn. On top of that, Husqvarna’s customer service will be there for you should you ever run into any problems.

It’s automatic continuously variable transmission allows for easy operation and maintenance. With proper care, this lawnmower could be the kind of thing that lasts a lifetime.

And the available accessories, like an attachable snowblower, make it useful all year round. Another great thing about it is the fact that it doesn’t require that much fuel to operate.

Its efficient gas consumption rate is a sure way to save you a couple of bucks along the way. We found it to be a great investment that’ll save you time and money in the long run.

Pros

  • Very reliable
  • Made by a trusted manufacturer
  • Great customer service

Cons

  • Traction is somewhat lacking
  • Doesn’t do too well on hills
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3. Ariens Ikon-X

Ariens Ikon-XAriens is another established brand known for its long history of making great maintenance equipment. They usually make the top of the line machinery, and this zero-turn lawn mower is just that.

As expected, they delivered what may as well be the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain. It’s sturdy, comfortable and made to last.

Ariens isn’t the kind of brand to do things halfway. With a big Kawasaki engine and an enclosed double hydrostatic transmission, this lawn mower can only be described as powerful. It’s sure to take care of any rough area you want to mow without breaking a sweat.

It comes with a highly padded seat, armrests and a great suspension, to make the ride as smooth as possible. You can sit comfortably while you spend the evening taking care of your lawn.

The experience is so enjoyable that you won’t ever want to use any other lawnmower. Being a premium piece of equipment usually comes at a high price, though.

As you would imagine, this lawnmower is expensive, although we found it completely worth it. You won’t get the same performance for a lower price anywhere.

If you can afford it, then this should be the lawn mower you want to buy. It’s a choice you won’t regret.

Pros

  • 23 HP Kawasaki engine
  • Nice ergonomic features
  • Zero-turn-radius

Cons

  • It’s rather expensive
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4. Poulan Pro PP155H42

Poulan Pro PP155H42This alternative is more suited for those not looking for heavy-duty equipment. With a modest 15.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine, this machine is still capable of amazing feats.

Mostly due to its efficient hydrostatic transmission putting every bit of the engine’s energy output to good use. And, for a really low price, you get most of the features found in more expensive machines.

This is more oriented to rough areas that have lots of trees, bushes, and flowers that require lots of maneuverability.

Its nifty design is great for navigating around tight places and sorting through obstacles. It isn’t suited for hills and other kinds of uneven terrain, though.

Although you usually get what you pay for, this lawn mower doesn’t mind giving you some extra performance for your money.

Still, this is not a miracle worker. Its capacity is limited compared to other alternatives more oriented to heavy-duty tasks. If you push it too far, you can’t be surprised if the engine breaks down.

Still, if you understand the limitations attached and take good care of this lawnmower, it’s going to last a long time. For that price, you won’t find anything so well put together and sturdy.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Reliable engine
  • Efficient hydrostatic transmission

Cons

  • The seat isn’t well designed
  • Small engine
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5. Husqvarna YTA22V46

Husqvarna YTA22V46One of the things that make Husqvarna the top consumer brand for riding lawn mowers is their philosophy.

They understand that everyone has different needs when it comes to garden maintenance. That’s why they have such a huge variety of items to cater to any need you might have.

The YTA22V46 is a younger sibling to the YTA24V24 model. They share the same design and features, being differentiated mainly by their size and power output.

As you would expect, it’s also lighter and easier to move around tight places. And that’s exactly what’s makes this item one of the best lawn mowers for rough terrains.

Featuring the same CVT transmission and a slightly smaller engine, it reaches the same top speed as its bigger sibling.

It’s not the fastest lawnmower available, but it can go up to 2.9 mph, which isn’t bad at all. However, with its lighter weight and only 2 anti-scalp tires, it’s not capable of the same traction as the YTA24V24.

But you won’t really complain about it once you see the price. You’ll get a performance really similar to more expensive items for a price considerably smaller. If you don’t really need that much traction, this lawnmower is the deal of a lifetime.

Pros

  • Great price/value ratio
  • Good for maneuvering around obstacles
  • Many accessories available

Cons

  • It’s not suited for more demanding tasks
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6. Husqvarna Z254

Husqvarna Z254Husqvarna’s top line of riding mowers could be seen as a collection of the best zero turn lawn mowers available. The Z254 is a proud member of such a group, and it stands as maybe the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain.

This lawnmower features a huge cutting deck that covers around a 20% wider area than most other ones available.

With such an outstanding cutting capability, mowing your lawn becomes a quick chore instead of long and tedious labor. Some customers even claim that it reduced by half the amount of time it took them to mow their lawns.

This surprising performance is because of its formidable 26 HP Kohler engine. You have control over every bit of that huge amount of horsepower. Besides, it’s straightforward to use, and getting used to the controllers doesn’t take as much as with other zero-turn mowers.

However, it isn’t exactly a cheap lawnmower. It’s on the expensive side of the spectrum, as you would expect from Husqvarna’s top line of residential lawnmowers . Although its performance is flawless, it’s true that it’s not a lawnmower for everyone.

Pros

  • Outstanding 26 HP Kohler engine
  • Great maneuverability
  • Made by a trusted manufacturer

Cons

  • It’s a little expensive
  • The cutting deck is a little big for tight places
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7. Poulan Pro PB20VA46

Poulan Pro PB20VA46Poulan is another brand trusted by many customers around the globe. They have a long heritage manufacturing great equipment for professional use. It’s not a surprise to find two items from them competing for the spot as the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain.

It features an innovative v-twin Briggs engine that really shines in this lawnmower. Despite having only 20 HP, its performance easily surpasses other engines of the same power output.

Besides, the fuel consumption rate it’s really efficient, making it a cleaner and cheaper alternative in the long run.

It’s automatic, easy to operate and uncomplicated to set up. Overall, it offers a very user-friendly experience. This lawnmower is more suited for hilly terrains than it is for navigating around enclosed areas, though.

The powerful engine and great traction can mow over a tiny hill like it wasn’t even there. But the 16-degree turn radius, while it isn’t exactly bad, could be a lot better.

However, if you are looking for more power than maneuverability, this might as well be your best alternative. It’s fairly priced, and with proper care is something that won’t break apart any time soon.

Pros

  • Innovative v-twin 20 HP Briggs engine
  • It’s good for inexperienced users
  • The low fuel consumption rate

Cons

  • It can be hard to maneuver in tight places
  • Transmission requires constant maintenance
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8. Troy-Bilt TB46

Troy-Bilt TB46This is one of the best-selling items on this list. Its popularity among consumers is well deserved, though, since it could be considered the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain.

It’s everything a great lawnmower should be, and it comes at a surprisingly low price. Assembled in the US, quality is the main focus of this versatile lawnmower.

The cutting deck is adjustable, being able to cutting your lawn at 5 different heights. This reinforced steel 46’ cutting deck is easy to clean and put back together after maintenance.

The quality of the blades is also remarkable. These blades are powered by a very reliable 19 HP Briggs & Stratton engine that’s sure to meet your expectations.

Thanks to its comfortable padded seat back and the suspended seat, it provides a smooth ride to the user. The soft-touch steering wheel is another welcome bonus that makes operation easier and reduces the toll on the hands.

Sadly, it only comes with a very limited warranty policy. It’s not totally bad, but it’s subpar compared to other alternatives in the market. However, with proper care, that warranty should be enough for any moderate user.

Pros

  • Great price/value ratio
  • Soft steering makes it easier to navigate around
  • Reliable Briggs & Stratton engine

Cons

  • The engine is a little small for rougher tasks
  • Very limited 2-year warranty policy
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9. Craftsman R105

Craftsman R105Sometimes, the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain needs to go to really tight places to do its job. And no other riding lawn mower is capable of reaching every last corner of the lawn like this one.

It’s by far the smallest item on this list, and there’s a reason for that. Maneuverability is a big deal when you’re taking care of the rough areas on your lawn. Likewise, due to its size, it’s easier to store and allowet up.

Of course, it’s not the best alternative for any kind of job. Due to the rather small cutting deck, it would take a long amount of time to go over large areas.

But, for a medium or small-sized yard, this could be a lifesaver. And the compact design and lightweight allow this lawnmower to go way faster than you would expect.

This little fellow is also the best alternative if you’re looking for the best riding lawn mower on a budget. Being a mostly utilitarian piece of equipment, you’re only paying for the most necessary parts of a lawnmower.

And you can be sure that every dime you spent was put into improving the overall quality and functionality of the lawnmower.

Pros

  • The best alternative on a budget
  • Included deck wash
  • 6 different speed options

Cons

  • Limited capacity due to its size
  • It’s not the most comfortable
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10. Snapper 2691402

Snapper 2691402This model from Snapper is highly inspired by commercial riding lawn mowers. It’s still a residential lawnmower, but the way it’s built resembles more a toned-down heavy-duty commercial mower.

And, as you would expect for something made with that mindset, its performance is closer to a higher-end commercial mower.

The fully-welded steel frame is what sets apart this zero-turn lawn mower from every other item on this list. Along the thick-walled front axle and the steel cutting deck, it’s what makes this mower the most durable we’ve tested.

The 21 HP engine comes from Briggs & Stratton professional series, so you know it’s as good as it gets.

On top of that, another feature inspired by its commercial conception is the foot-operated height-of-cut. It can shift between 13 different cutting settings that range from 1.5 to 4.5 inches.

But another thing about this mower that resembles a commercial lawn mower is the price tag. It’s also one of the most expensive residential lawn mowers in the market.

We’re not complaining, because it’s worth every penny, but it’s totally inaccessible for people on a budget. But, if you can afford it, go for it. It’s a decision you won’t regret.

Pros

  • Most durable alternative
  • Briggs & Stratton professional series engine
  • Great maneuverability

Cons

  • It’s expensive
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11. Ariens 915213

Ariens 915213This is another riding lawn mower from Ariens and a somewhat more affordable alternative to their IKON-X model. It’s still a little pricey, but that’s to be expected from one of the best zero-turn lawn mowers available.

It comes with a 46’ reinforced steel cutting deck and several cutting settings to adjust the height of the cut. This lawnmower can even cut while going in reverse, so you don’t waste time when you miss a spot. With the lever-operated steering, going backward doesn’t even require shifting gears.

The most attractive feature in this lawn mower besides its great maneuverability is the superb 19 HP Kohler engine.

The twin-cylinder engine allows for a speed of up to 6 mph, which translates into a faster lawn mowing process. With the super reliable Kohler engine and the maintenance-free hydrostatic transmission, you’ll have an easier time all around.

Although gas tank capacity falls a little short, it makes up for it being super-efficient in its fuel consumption. Overall, it’s a solid choice if you’re looking for the best riding lawn mower for rough terrain.

Pros

  • 19 HP twin-cylinder Kohler engine
  • Reaches speeds of up to 6 mph
  • Can mow in reverse

Cons

  • It’s an expensive alternative
  • The fuel tank is rather limited
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12. Husqvarna Z242F

Husqvarna Z242FBeing such a trusted lawnmower manufacturer, this list was bound to have several items from Husqvarna’s team. This time, it’s a zero-turn riding lawnmower with an 18 HP Kawasaki engine.

And, as expected, it’s a top-notch item that might as well take the title of best riding lawn mower for rough terrain.

The engine may be on the small side, but Kawasaki engines usually require less horsepower to achieve the same performance of bigger engines. So, even if it’s just 18 HP, this is still a strong lawn mower that can handle almost anything you can think of.

Its double enclosed hydrostatic transmission doesn’t require maintenance and is really easy to operate. To increase the speed, you just have to adjust a lever located in the control panel.

This lawnmower it’s capable of reaching a speed of 6.5 mph under optimal conditions. At that speed, mowing a large area stops being such a time-consuming job.

And, on top of that, it has a park brake system that activates or deactivates automatically when you move the steering levers inwards or outwards. It really helps make the whole thing a lot easier to operate, and it’s a welcome bonus that not many other alternatives have.

Pros

  • The engine made by Kawasaki
  • Good top speed
  • It’s a zero-turn lawn mower

Cons

  • It’s a little expensive
  • The seat isn’t very comfortable
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13. Husqvarna LTH1738

Husqvarna LTH1738Husqvarna’s lawn mowers are great, but they can be a bit expensive for the common folk’s budget. That’s why we thought it would be nice to include a more affordable alternative from them on this list.

This riding lawn mower has everything we love about Husqvarna’s mowers, but with a smaller price tag attached.

It’s the smallest sibling of the YD tractors family, but in no way, it falls short in its promises of premium performance. The 17 HP engine made by Husqvarna themselves is surprisingly powerful for its size.

Along with a nice maintenance-free hydrostatic transmission, this lawnmower is capable of amazing feats.

The 38 inches cutting deck is a bit small, but since this isn’t a zero-turn mower, that’s a smart choice. That way, you can navigate around tight areas with ease. Sadly, this increases significantly the amount of time it takes to properly mow a lawn.

But it’s the most affordable way to get your hands on Husqvarna lawnmower. It’s a fair trade-off since you get to experience the superior performance of their equipment.

Not to mention the reliable customer service that’s always there to help you if you run into any issues. In our opinion, it’s a great deal at that price range.

Pros

  • Great price
  • Made by a trusted manufacturer
  • Great customer service

Cons

  • The engine isn’t suited for more demanding tasks
  • The gas tank is rather small
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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are Zero-turn Lawn Mowers Good For Rough Terrain?

Zero-turn lawn mowers are the best alternative available for certain kinds of rough terrain. They perform better than any other kind of lawnmower in areas packed with obstacles.

To steer around trees, flower beds, rocks and get in and out of tight places, there’s nothing better. Their maneuverability is unmatched by any regular riding lawnmower.

However, on hilly terrains, their performance depends a lot on the lawn mower’s engine size and traction.

Most zero-turn riding lawn mowers come with a smaller engine to make them somewhat more affordable. Usually, only higher-end zero-turn lawn mowers have the raw power necessary to take care of such a demanding task.

2. What’s The Best Brand?

There are many brands that would argue that their riding lawn mowers are the best in the market. However, among customers, the debate is limited to three big names that stand above the average.

Those brands are Husqvarna, John Deere, and Ariens. Due to their long history making quality lawn mowers, they’re trusted by the huge majority of consumers.

Those brands excel at their customer service, quality control, and product design. As you would expect, their top lines of lawn mowers are the best ones available for residential use.

They’re also more expensive than a regular lawnmower. However, although having a bigger price tag, they also have the best price/value ratio.

3. Which One Is Better?

There’s no definite answer to that question. Namely, they provide different approaches to lawn mowing. If your yard has a lot of things in the way, a zero-turn lawn mower is likely to perform better than a regular riding mower.

They are capable of switching directions on the spot to make sure that you have all the maneuverability you need.

However, zero-turn mowers are meant to be operated on flat terrains. They might do fine in slightly uneven areas, but they aren’t designed to go up a hill.

For that task, a riding lawn mower with a locking rear differential is the best way to go. They have a better gravity center and traction, although it will still depend on the riding lawn mower’s engine capacity.

4. Are Zero Turns Good On Hills?

It depends on the inclination of the hill and the lawnmower engine’s size. In general, zero-turn mowers aren’t supposed to be used outside flat terrain. Over a small hill, they might perform okay. The size of the engine plays a part, providing enough power to push the mower forward despite the poor traction.

But their tires are designed to make turning around faster instead of giving a stronger grip on the surface. That means there’s a limit to the amount of success you can have with pure raw power when going up a hill. And, if you push the engine too far, you’re likely to break something.

Best Riding Lawn Mowers For Rough Terrain – Conclusion

Not every lawn mower can take on the demanding job of going over rough terrain. Only the best ones can be trusted to do that kind of job.

Whether it’s going over hilly yards or cruising through trees and other obstacles, there’s a perfect mower for the task. It’s a matter of making the choice that’s right for you.

Carefully evaluating the job that needs to be done is the first step to improve your garden maintenance equipment.

The most important thing is that you’re able to tell apart a great lawnmower from the rest. When you get that done, you’ll be a lot closer to an easier life. It can be a bit tricky at first, but all you need to do is check the pointers we provided you.

Between our picks, you have a huge number of alternatives, each suited for a particular task in a setting.

It is our hope that among them lays the solution you’re looking for. Once you start using a riding lawn mower that’s properly adapted to the job you need to do, you won’t ever go back.