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The winners of our Florida lawn mower showdown

The winners of our Florida lawn mower showdown

While people across the northern part of the nation were coping with multiple snow storms, Consumer Reports mower test team was down in Fort Myers, Florida, for six weeks of testing walk-behind mowers, lawn tractors, and other mowing gear. The results of our tests of 120 mowers just posted and over the coming days and weeks we’ll be reporting on the highlights from our tests including new mower features that make it easier to cut the grass.

In our mower tests, we gauge cutting evenness in three mowing modes, how broadly machines disperse clippings they discharge, how completely they fill their bags, and many other factors related to the cutting itself. Moreover, we judge machines for how smoothly they handle, how intelligently the controls are situated, and how easy it is to switch cutting modes.

If the arrival of spring is making you yearn for a new mower, you may want to see how the new models you’ll find in the stores performed in our tough mowing tests. We’ve added 32 new walk-behind mowers and 12 riders to our mower Ratings. Here’s a sampling of what our testers found in Florida.

Walk-behind mowers
• How the $500 Honda HRR216K9VLA, which includes a new self-charging electric-start system actually cuts grass;
• Some welcome results from tests of Ariens’ walk-behind mowers, newly designed for this season, which feature premium engines, deep decks, single-lever wheel-height adjustment, and other notable features;
• The industry’s first walk-behind mower with all-wheel drive, the Husqvarna HU800AWD, $500, and what this feature did for maneuverability;
• Why several of the latest models we tested have a surprisingly similar look; and
• An exception to our advice that a premium engine is invariably better.

Tractors and riders
• Our mixed review of the $3,000 Raven MPV-710, a hybrid lawn tractor with a 17-mph ground speed for when you’re not mowing&mdashand a built-in 7,100-watt generator that’s as portable as it gets;
• Some stellar results from new zero-turn-radius riders from Troy-Bilt, which cost the same as or less than other comparably sized machines;
• Scores of three John Deere machines we first saw demonstrated last fall; and
• A closer look at two new rear-engine riders of the kind you might have seen in the film Forrest Gump. One of them is an upgraded version of the $1,000 Troy-Bilt model we first tested last year.

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