Mowers with premium engines run quieter and last longer
At Consumer Reports, we strongly recommend that any walk-behind mower you buy have a premium engine. These engines, with their more efficient overhead-valve designs, run cleaner and quieter, and are easier to maintain. And the engines have better odds of lasting through the years. Of course, even with a good engine you need a mower that matches the size of your lawn and the type of grass you grow.
Engines common to some mowers we recently tested are the Briggs & Stratton 550e and 550ex, which can be found on the self-propelled, single speed Craftsman 37440, Yard Machines 12A-A13K, and Lawn-Boy 10632, along with the Lawn-Boy 10630, a push model. All sell for $240 to $280, and their 140-cc engines are intended for entry-level mowers.
These mowers are fine for homeowners with smallish yards that don’t need much attention. All start easily—one mark of a premium engine—and the Craftsman 37440 and Yard Machines 12A-A13K in particular had impressive evenness in mulching mode. And because of these engines, the mowers are fairly lightweight.
More challenging conditions, however, make for a different scenario—particularly if you’re bagging. “Based on our observations and formal testing, once you get into that June growth with thicker turf, these engines seemed a little short on power,” says Peter Sawchuk, the program leader who heads our mower testing. “All of these models were limited at filling the bag with clippings.”
In that same price range, are the self-propelled, single-speed Toro 20370, $280, the push Cub Cadet SC100 11A-A92J, $250, and Yard Machines 11a-B96N, $240. All have beefier engines and scored very good or better in all three mowing modes (mulching, bagging and side-discharging).
Before choosing a mower, check out our buying advice for mowers and lawn tractors. Then see the results of our tests, which score mowers for cutting evenness, handling, and other factors.