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The Absolute Best Riding Mower For Hills (Reviews & Guide)

Riding mowers make lawn maintenance a breeze, as they are much faster than your standard push mower. But not all riding lawn mowers are equal, especially when it comes to large, hilly properties.

Indeed, your standard riding mower may not be powerful or durable enough to handle such jobs. And for yards with hilly terrain, you really do need a convenient, strong, and sturdy mower. 

Below, you’ll find five of the best riding mowers for hills on the market today. And in these reviews, we haven’t just looked at important factors like power and durability but also at eco-friendliness and quietness.

After all, nobody wants to disturb their neighbors or damage their hearing with overly loud equipment.

Let’s take a look! 

Best Riding Mower For Hills

1. Best Overall: Husqvarna MZ61 Zero Turn Riding Mower

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower

We chose the Husqvarna MZ61 as the overall best riding mower for hills because of its 5 gallons capacity engine and its zero-turn steering system that lets it rotate on its own axis. Its engine is smooth, quiet, and powerful, and the zero-turn steering system means that no grass is left uncut. Plus, it also significantly reduces mowing time.

We were also impressed by its pedal-operated deck lift, which lets you control the height of the cut. The 61-inch mower deck has three 11-gauge steel cutting deck blades with a cutting height that you can adjust from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches.

You can even adjust this lifting system from the operator’s seat using the pedal-assisted cutting deck lift. 

Of course, with heavy-duty machinery like this, safety is vital. The MZ61’s wheels and roll-over protection system (ROPS) not only make sure your grass is safe when mowing but that you don’t hurt yourself either.

Its 6-inch wide caster wheels are long-lasting and can handle mowing even the steepest hills. And its Roll-over Protection System also ensures safety while mowing. 

But the MZ61 doesn’t just keep you safe from injury. Its 18-inch high back seat with armrests keeps you comfortable as well. And this is crucial when working in hot weather, as is staying hydrated.

Luckily the MZ61 has got you covered on that front too, as it has a cup holder for all your refreshments.

Gardening and lawn maintenance can also take a toll on your hands. However, the MZ61’s foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners reduce the strain on your hands, even after hours of work.

What we like:

  • Powerful Kawasaki engine that runs smoothly
  • Zero-turn steering system
  • Foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners for comfort
  • Roll-over protection system
  • Removable foot pan that makes cleaning and maintenance simple

What could be better:

  • The transmission doesn’t allow for heavy tow capacity

Is it for you?

As our best overall pick, we think the Husqvarna MZ61 would be ideal for anyone with hilly terrain in their garden. It’s powerful, comfortable, and safe to use and can cut grass precisely how you want it.

However, we think that such a powerful machine would be better suited to those needing to mow steep, rough terrain.

Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower
  • 24 HP Kawasaki engine provides reliable startups and high...
  • Roll-over protection system (ROPS) ensures safer operation...
  • Fabricated 11-gauge steel cutting deck offers an excellent...

2. Quietest Pick: Ryobi RY48111 Battery Electric Riding Lawn Mower

Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48111

The Ryobi RY48111 riding lawn mower can handle hills with a 10-15% incline, and as it is battery powered, it is also environmentally friendly.

You can also easily achieve your desired grass length with this mower. It has two 38-inch blade decks that you can adjust in 12 positions with the mower’s lever from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches.

While an eco-friendly riding mower is better for the environment, it also has practical benefits. For instance, a battery-powered mower is a lot easier to maintain than a mower that runs on gasoline.

You don’t need to rinse the motor, or change the belts, spark plugs, or filters. It also doesn’t emit unpleasant fumes. The Ryobi RY48111 riding lawn mower’s runtime can reach up to 2.5 hours or 2.5 acres per charge.

But why is this our pick for the quietest riding lawn mower? Well, its dB level is 70, meaning you could even mow at night without disturbing your neighbors. In fact, its LED headlight makes it even more ideal for nighttime mowing, as even in the dark, you’ll still be able to see where you’re going.

You can also mow in reverse with the Ryobi RY48111 riding lawn mower, and it even has a cruise control feature that makes mowing even easier.

However, the button placement means that reversing the mower can be a bit tricky, and the blades have lower power than other mowers.

What we like:

  • Able to mow hills with a 10-15% incline
  • 38-inch blade decks with 12 adjustable positions
  • Battery-powered and easy to maintain
  • Quiet
  • Able to mow in reverse

What could be better:

  • Blades are not as powerful as other riding mowers
  • Reverse/forward button is tricky to find

Is it for you?

The Ryobi RY48111 riding lawn mower is an excellent choice for those who would like to be able to mow in the evenings, thanks to its low noise level and LED headlight that illuminates your path. 

It is also a great choice for environmentally conscious gardeners as its battery-powered engine doesn’t emit any fumes.

And for those who want a low-maintenance riding mower, then this is ideal as there is little maintenance involved in keeping it in good condition.

ON SALE
Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear Engine Riding Lawn Mower RY48111
  • Includes: (1) Ryobi 38 inches 100 Ah Battery Electric Rear...
  • 3 Brushless motors for superior power and performance
  • Up to 2.5 hours of runtime or 2.5 acres of mowing

3. Best For Large Properties: Craftsman Z525 Zero Turn Gas Powered Lawn Mower

CRAFTSMAN Z525 679cc 46-Inch Gas Powered Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower with ReadyStart

The Craftsman Z525 is a powerful lawn tractor. Its 679cc twin engine with an auto-choke mechanism makes it ideal for larger properties with hilly terrain. The huge 46-inch cutting deck clears the grass in a single motion, decreasing cutting time in half. 

Cleaning the Craftsman Z525 is also easy, as the cutting deck features a deck wash that makes cleaning the hard-to-reach places simpler.

It also has zero-turn maneuverability and can mow in reverse. The cushioned high-back seat also keeps you comfortable as you work, and the dual Hydro Gear EZT with dual steering levers keeps you in control as you cut through your yard.

What we like:

  • Extremely powerful 679 cc twin engine
  • Huge 46-inch cutting deck
  • Zero turn maneuverability and ability to mow in reverse
  • Dual Hydro Gear EZT for greater control while mowing
  • Cushioned, high-back seat

What could be better:

  • Is slow to start

Is it for you?

The huge cutting deck and powerful engine make this mower an excellent choice for those who manage larger properties with hilly terrains. The Dual Hydro Gear EZT is also ideal for those who would like some more control while mowing.

However, we think this mower would be a bit too powerful if you have a moderately sized lawn, especially as the engine is gas-powered. The fumes and sheer power might be a bit overwhelming.

CRAFTSMAN Z525 679cc 46-Inch Gas Powered Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower with ReadyStart
  • POWERFUL CRAFTSMAN GAS ENGINE WITH AUTOCHOKE Powerful 679cc...
  • 46-INCH CUTTING WIDTH WITH INCLUDED DECK WASH: Riding lawn...
  • MOW-IN-REVERSE: Mower can continue to cut when in reverse;...

4. Most Durable: Ariens 915223 IKON-X Zero Turn Mower

Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52' Zero Turn Mower 23hp Kawasaki FR691 Series

The Ariens 915223 IKON-X is a residential riding mower with all the power of a commercial model. It is a durable mower housed in a fully welded tubular steel frame and is extremely resistant to push or stress. 

Despite it being a powerful and sturdy mower, it’s very easy to operate. It also has an impressive 52-inch cutting deck that allows for maximum airflow while mowing rough, challenging terrain. But it can also handle smaller slopes up to 15-degree slants.

The IKON-X also has 13 distinctive cutting heights from 1.5 inches to 4.5 inches that help you achieve a neat, polished look. The high-back padded chair with cushioned armrests also makes for a comfortable drive. And the mower controls are smooth, responsive, and within easy reach.

The IKON-X also starts instantly, meaning you can get to work straight away. The single-phase air filtration framework and pressurized oil framework make even the biggest yard or lawn easy without the need to re-fuel. 

What we like:

  • Fully welded tubular steel frame
  • High-back cushioned seat
  • Cushioned armrests that reduce vibrations while mowing
  • 13 distinctive cutting heights for more precise cutting

What could be better:

  • The springs underneath the seat can make for a bumpy ride

Is it for you?

The durable design of the IKON-X makes it an ideal choice for those dealing with rough terrains. At the same time, the pressurized oil framework is great for those managing larger yards.

The distinctive cutting heights also make this mower an excellent choice if you want your lawn to have a neat, precise look.

Ariens 915223 IKON-X 52" Zero Turn Mower 23hp Kawasaki FR691 Series
  • This refurbished product is tested and certified to look and...

5. Most Eco-Friendly: Craftsman E225 Battery Powered Riding Mower

Craftsman E225 42-in. Lithium-Ion Riding Mower-56V Electric Powered Lawn Mower-Fast...

The Craftsman E225 is a compact riding mower that measures 67.8 inches x 51.95 inches x 42.25 inches. It is battery-powered and eco-friendly, operated by a 56V lithium-ion battery.

This riding mower is also foot-controlled, has a steel deck, and is supported by two sharp blades with a turning radius of 5 inches.

For extra convenience, the Craftsman E225 has a cruise control feature and five cutting height adjustments. It also has a manual deck lift system.

The high-back seat ensures a comfortable ride, while the LED headlights provide greater visibility during nighttime mowing. You can mow in reverse too, and the maximum forward and reverse speeds are 6 mph and 3 mph, respectively. 

You can also purchase a mulching pack separately for this mower. And this allows you to mulch the grass clippings and put nutrients back into the ground for a healthy lawn.

What we like:

  • Excellent braking system that makes mowing even smoother
  • Battery-powered, eliminating the need for oil and gas
  • High volume battery
  • Durable cutting deck made of solid steel

What could be better:

  • It might be a bit slow for some

Is this for you?

The Craftsman E225 is a good choice for those who would like an eco-friendly mower, as it is battery-operated. It is also perfect for those with limited storage space, as it is one of the more compact riding mowers on the market.

For leisurely gardeners, its slow speed may not be too much of a problem, but it may be off-putting for those who like to get the job done quickly. 

Craftsman E225 42-in. Lithium-Ion Riding Mower-56V Electric Powered Lawn Mower-Fast...
  • ELECTRIC POWERED RIDING MOWER: 56 volt, 1,500 watt-hour, 30...
  • ECO-FRIENDLY: Save time and money with reduced regular...
  • EASY TO CONTROL: Foot pedal control eliminates shifting...

So What’s The Best Riding Mower For Hills?

You have probably noticed that the answer to this question really all depends on your needs and the size of your lawn.

However, we believe that the Husqvarna MZ61 is the best riding mower for hills. It is powerful enough to handle steep, rough terrain and large lawns while also being quiet enough that you won’t disturb any neighbors when mowing your lawn.

However, if you want a low-maintenance, eco-friendly riding mower, we recommend the Craftsman E225 or the Ryobi RY48111.

These two riding mowers are battery-powered, and both have LED headlights, which means they are great options if you like to mow at any time of the day – not just when the sun is out!

Meanwhile, if you have more extensive lawns to maintain, we recommend the Craftsman Z525. Its powerful engine and wide cutting deck does an efficient job of cutting grass in larger areas.

And if you want to be able to use your riding mower for years and anticipate it sustaining a few bumps and scrapes, you can’t go wrong with the super durable Ariens 915223 IKON-x.


Buyer’s Guide

Hopefully, our above picks have given you an idea of what features are important when it comes to choosing the right riding mower for hilly terrain. 

Generally, if your lawn is hilly or on uneven terrain, then you need a riding mower that has a wide stance, a low profile, and a low center of gravity. A riding lawn mower that meets these requirements will be able to tackle the uneven ground without sliding, slipping, or tipping over.

But let’s take a look at some more important features in closer detail.

High-Quality Engine

Engines from high-quality manufacturers like Briggs & Stratton, Kawasaki, and Kohler are durable and can withstand challenging conditions. 

When it comes to how powerful the engine should be, an engine with 15-17 HP should do the trick.

Electric vs Gasoline

Riding mowers powered either by gasoline or electricity both have their advantages and disadvantages.

Electric riding mowers are battery-powered, meaning they are quiet, easy to maintain, and eco-friendly. 

However, you usually need to charge them every 30-45 minutes, meaning they may not be suitable for bigger yards that take longer to trim. 

Meanwhile, gas-powered riding lawn mowers are noisy, require more maintenance, and emit unpleasant fumes. But they will also keep running until their fuel runs out, and they are often cheaper than their electric counterparts.

Size

When we talk about the size, we’re talking about the width you will be able to cut as you drive your riding lawn mower. Compact mowers can cut up to 30 inches wide, while bigger mowers can cut up to 50 inches wide.

The right size for you will depend on how big your lawn is.

A large lawn that is fairly open will need about a 50-inch cutting deck. Meanwhile, smaller lawns with shrubs, trees, and gates can be easily maintained with a 30-40 inch cutting deck as it can easily maneuver around such obstacles. 

Transmission

Riding lawn mowers are available in a few different transmission types, such as gear-driven, automatic, and hydrostatic. Just like the electric vs gasoline argument, there are advantages and disadvantages to all three. 

Gear Driven Transmission: This is a manual transmission, meaning you will have to operate the gears yourself to power the wheels and move the mower.

This is the most basic and traditional type of transmission, and machines with gear-driven transmission are usually more durable and affordable.

However, they are the hardest to operate if you’re unfamiliar with manual gears. They’re also the least comfortable if you have to mow lots of turns and corners, as you will constantly be shifting gears.

Automatic Transmission: These mowers operate like an automatic car with a belt and variable pulley system that changes the gears. 

They’re a lot easier to drive than mowers with gear-driven transmission, especially if your lawn has a lot of trees and obstacles to mow around. With automatic transmission, you can shift quickly between forward and reverse.

However, mowers with automatic transmission tend to be more expensive both to buy and maintain.

Hydrostatic Transmission: This is not only the newest type of transmission but also the most powerful. Unlike automatic and gear-driven transmission, it’s also suited to any kind of lawn. 

It’s also extremely simple to use, making for a smooth and easy mowing experience even on hills and uneven terrain.

Mowers with hydrostatic transmission also have great cruise control features that let you set the speed of the mower. This also means less work for you!

However, mowers with hydrostatic transmission tend to be more expensive to buy and maintain. But most gardeners agree that the price for convenience and efficiency is worth it.


Conclusion

We hope that our above picks for the best riding mower for hills have given you an idea of what to look for. 

Overall, the best riding lawn mower for hills is one with a powerful engine, a sturdy design, a low profile to avoid slipping and sliding, and one with a hydrostatic or automatic transmission. 

 

Last update on 2022-11-29 / Affiliate links / Some images and data from Amazon Product Advertising API

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