Top Picks for 4×4 Riding Lawn Mowers This Year

Riding lawn mowers provide a convenient and efficient way to mow large areas of grass. They are powered vehicles with a seat, steering wheel, and cutting deck that allow the operator to drive around while cutting the lawn. The most effective choice is the 4-wheel drive riding lawn mower.

4-wheel drive (4WD) riding mowers have distinct advantages over standard 2-wheel drive models when working on hills, slopes, or uneven terrain. The increased traction provided by 4WD allows the mower to maintain stability and minimize wheel slippage in challenging mowing conditions.

In this article, I will highlight the top 4 best 4×4 riding lawn mowers in the market today; looking through numerous models and brands based on power, cutting performance, comfort, durability, and overall value.

The mowers to be reviewed are the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series, Troy-Bilt Mustang XP, Husqvarna MZ61, and Ariens IKON XD. Whether you have acres of hilly land to cover or simply want the best grass-cutting experience possible, these 4WD mowers deliver exceptional results.

1. Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series

Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series

The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series riding mower is designed for excellent traction and maneuverability on uneven terrain. This mower features a hydrostatic transmission with twin pedals that allow you to shift from forward to reverse without clutching.

The XT1 Enduro has a 22 HP Kohler V-Twin OHV engine and a wide 50-inch fabricated cutting deck with triple blades. Some key features of this model include:

  • 22 HP V-Twin Kohler 7000 Series engine
  • Hydrostatic transmission with twin pedals 
  • 50-inch reinforced fabricated steel cutting deck
  • Triple blade cutting system 
  • LED headlights for mowing in low light
  • 16-inch turning radius for tight spots
  • Heavy duty cast iron front axle

The XT1 Enduro Series offers a comfortable ride with high-back seating and comes equipped with cup holders, storage trays and a USB port. This mower performs well on hills and rough terrain thanks to the 4-wheel drive system.

The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro has an MSRP starting around $2,599. This capable and rugged 4WD riding mower provides excellent traction on slopes and uneven ground.

2. Troy-Bilt Mustang XP

Troy-Bilt Mustang XP

The Troy-Bilt Mustang XP is a powerful and rugged 4×4 riding mower known for its excellent traction and maneuverability on slopes and uneven terrain. This mower features a large 54-inch cutting deck and a heavy-duty 24 HP Briggs & Stratton V-twin engine.

The Mustang XP has a hydrostatic transmission that provides smooth acceleration and allows you to mow in reverse. Its 4-wheel drive system engages automatically whenever the mower senses wheel slippage, ensuring optimal traction even in wet conditions.

For operator comfort, the Mustang XP has a high-back seat with armrests and anti-vibration technology to reduce fatigue during extended mowing sessions. The mower also comes standard with cruise control to maintain consistent speed without holding down the pedal.

Convenience features include a cup holder, storage tray, and a USB port to keep devices charged. The mower deck is equipped with convenient washout ports to make cleaning the underside quick and easy.

The Troy-Bilt Mustang XP typically retails between $3,200 – $3,600, making it a mid-priced option compared to other 4×4 riding mowers. Its powerful engine, rugged transmission, and traction system allow it to handle challenging terrain that ordinary riding mowers cannot.

3. Husqvarna MZ61

best 4wd mower

The Husqvarna MZ61 is a premium residential zero-turn mower with a reinforced cutting deck and a powerful engine. This model stands out for its excellent maneuverability, even on uneven terrain, thanks to the all-wheel drive system.

The MZ61 has a Briggs & Stratton Endurance Series V-Twin engine with a displacement of 724 cc and a power output of 23 horsepower. This robust powerplant provides plenty of strength to handle tough mowing conditions. The engine is paired with a Hydro-Gear ZT-3400 transmission for smooth, responsive steering.

The reinforced stamped cutting deck measures 61 inches wide, with an efficient cutting height range of 1.5 to 4.5 inches. The deck is made of heavy flat-stock steel for increased durability. It uses Husqvarna’s unique Anti-Scalp deck wheels and rollers to minimize turf damage when mowing over uneven ground.

The MZ61 retails for around $4,299, putting it on the higher end for residential zero-turn mowers. But buyers are paying for pro-level construction, cutting, and traction. The MZ61 is a worthwhile investment for homeowners with large, challenging properties to maintain.

4. Ariens IKON XD

best 4wd riding mower

The Ariens IKON XD is a premium residential zero-turn mower known for its excellent cutting performance, traction, and durability. This model features a 52-inch fabricated deck made of 12-gauge steel that delivers superior cutting quality and bagging capability.

The IKON XD is powered by a 726cc Kawasaki FR V-Twin engine with a top forward speed of 7mph. The engine provides plenty of power to tackle thick, tall grass and delivers a smooth, even cut. The mower has an Ogura clutch for smooth engagement and disengagement of the blades.

For optimal traction, the IKON XD has a 4-wheel drive system that can be engaged as needed. The front casters have a locking function to provide maximum traction on hills and uneven terrain. The mower uses Hydro-Gear ZT-5400 hydrostatic transmissions for smooth, responsive steering and control.

In terms of price, the Ariens IKON XD 52-inch model ranges from $4,999 to $5,999 depending on the exact specifications. This positions it as a premium residential zero-turn mower aimed at homeowners who need superior cutting power and traction and are willing to pay more for a heavy-duty machine.

Our Recommendations

The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series is the best overall choice for most homeowners looking for a durable and powerful 4×4 mower. It has excellent traction control on hills and uneven terrain. The hydrostatic transmission also makes it easy to operate. At around $2,500, it’s a great value for a residential zero-turn mower with 4WD capabilities.

Key Features To Look For In A 4×4 Riding Lawn Mower

When shopping for the best 4×4 riding lawn mower, there are several key features to look for that will ensure you get a high-quality and durable machine.

1) Sturdy Frame and Chassis: The frame and chassis provide the foundation for the mower, so you want something strong and stable. Look for a steel or cast-iron frame and heavy-duty axles that can handle rough terrain. The frame should keep the cutting deck stable and prevent flexing while mowing over bumps.

2) Powerful Engine: The engine provides the power to tackle rough, uneven ground while spinning the blades. Look for a large displacement engine around 20 HP or more. Kohler, Briggs & Stratton, and Kawasaki are reputable engine brands. The engine should have enough torque to power up slopes without bogging down.

3) Durable Transmission: The transmission transfers engine power to the wheels. A hydrostatic transmission is best for 4×4 mowers, providing smooth speed control and high torque for hills. Axle-mounted transmissions are also good. Gear-drive transmissions are not ideal for rugged terrain.

4) Wide Cutting Deck: A wide cutting deck of 50-54 inches allows you to mow more grass in fewer passes, saving time. However, decks larger than 60 inches can be unwieldy on tight 4×4 mowers. Look for a reinforced steel deck.

5) Comfortable Seat: You’ll be sitting for awhile, so you should look out for a padded seat with armrests and adjustable suspension. This helps reduce operator fatigue. Some seats can also swivel to make mowing in reverse easier. High back seats provide good back support.

Benefits Of A 4WD Riding Lawn Mower

4-wheel drive riding lawn mowers provide several key advantages over traditional 2-wheel drive models. Here are some of the top benefits of 4WD mowers:

1) Better Traction and Stability: The main benefit of 4-wheel drive is improved traction and stability when mowing. The two front wheels provide additional grip and prevent slipping, especially in wet grass. This allows you to mow slopes and hills without losing control or getting stuck. 4WD models can tackle inclines up to 20 degrees, much steeper than what 2WD mowers can handle.

2) Ability to Mow Slopes and Uneven Terrain: With 4-wheel drive, you can mow places with uneven topography. The improved traction lets you mow uneven terrain, slopes, embankments, and ditches without any trouble. You won’t have to worry about spinning out, sliding, or tipping when mowing hilly areas.

3) Superior Performance in Wet Conditions: Wet grass can be a challenge for standard riding mowers, with the rear wheels likely to lose grip. But 4WD mowers power through slick conditions by distributing torque to all four wheels. The added traction prevents getting stuck when mowing in the rain or on damp grass. You’ll have the confidence to mow anytime without having to wait for dry conditions.

Disadvantages Of A 4WD Riding Lawn Mower

While 4-wheel drive riding lawn mowers provide excellent traction and handling, they do come with some downsides to consider, such as:

1) Higher Initial Cost: The main downside of 4WD mowers is their higher initial purchase price. The additional drive components add cost, making 4WD mowers more expensive than the  2WD models.

2) Requires More Maintenance Than 2WD: The increased complexity of 4WD riding mowers also leads to higher maintenance requirements. You have more parts and components to service, lubricate, and potentially repair. You must be prepared to spend more time and money on regular upkeep of your 4WD mower.

3) Not Necessary for Flat, Even Lawns: If you have a yard with relatively flat, even terrain, a 4WD mower may not be needed. The improved traction of 4WD is most beneficial on slopes, hills, and uneven ground. Yards that are flat and do not pose traction challenges can easily be served by less expensive 2WD mowers.

Understanding both the pros and cons will help determine if a 4WD riding mower is the best choice.

Lastly, 4WD mowers will provide the best traction and handling on uneven ground. Most major retailers like Home Depot, Lowes, and Ace Hardware carry a selection of 4×4 riding mowers in-store and online. It’s a good idea to test drive models at a dealer to get a feel for the controls and maneuverability before purchasing.

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