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Makers of riding mowers tune up new models with car features

Makers of riding mowers tune up new models with car features

The lobby at last January’s North American International Auto Show featured a Craftsman CTX lawn tractor touting an 8-mile-per-hour ground speed, a race car compared to the usual tractor, plus a feature more common to automobiles, traction control. The trend of mowers sporting car features is growing, according to what we saw at the annual Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo).

Husqvarna’s R322T, an articulated riding mower, goes one better than the Craftsman‘s traction control with all-wheel drive. The dealer-sold model has a flip-up cutting deck (for easy access), and you can swap out the 48-inch deck for attachments such as a snow blower and flail. Such performance perks, however, don’t come cheap; the R322K will cost $5,200.

Want dual exhaust to show off to neighbors next spring? Check out Husqvarna’s 48-inch SpeedZTR 48 SE zero-turn-radius rider or the 2013 LS lawn-tractor series, all models of which will have this feature, complete with rumble. We saw—and heard—the SpeedZTR 48 SE in particular at the outdoor-demo space of GIE+Expo.

Also turning heads with automotive features was the privately shown Simplicity Conquest lawn tractor, the 2013 version of which will sell for $5,499 (50-inch deck) to $6,699 (52-inch deck) at Simplicity dealers next spring. The Broadmoor and Prestige tractor lines share some features. Besides the LED headlights common to many tractors and riding mowers, the Conquest had a contoured steel hood (for wind resistance?), front and rear springs and shocks (see photo), push-button start, and a tachometer with gauges showing fuel level, cutting height, and other readings, including “quality of cut”—determined by engine RPM. All have the same 27-horsepower Briggs & Stratton EFM V-Twin engine.

When we see a mower with built-in GPS, we’ll know they’ve gone too far.

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