Today’s economy doesn’t leave a lot of spare money floating around, so when you compare zero turn mowers, it’s a choice that you want to get right. Getting it wrong can lead to issues down the road, whether it’s repairs, early replacement, or just plain poor results. Let’s compare a few of our favorite zero turn mowers to help you avoid mistakes and make an informed decision.
Why Zero Turn Mowers?
Referring to the turning radius of the mower, a zero turn machine is able to be turned around without taking up any additional space. This can happen because of the way the wheels are distributed around the mower and the way that it steers. Generally speaking, many folks find it easier to use a zero turn machine than a standard lawn tractor, because of the exceptional maneuverability.
This maneuverability lets you get your mowing done more quickly and neatly, whether you’re undertaking your residential lawn or are operating a commercial mowing business. It saves time and money.
Ever wanted to get behind the wheel of a zero turn mower? Well, you can’t. It uses levers instead of a steering wheel. Yes, there is a touch of a learning curve for discovering how to drive a zero turn mower due to its difference from an automotive steering and driving system that is more familiar with a lawn tractor. There are also a few common problems that customers run into on occasion.
Now that you know a little about how zero turn mowers are different, let’s look at two of the top brands in zero radius mowers.
Ferris Zero Turn Mowers
Ferris zero turn mowers have a strong reputation for innovation, especially in terms of suspension and comfort. Here are four key features to keep in mind for Ferris zero turn mowers:
- Advanced suspension: With their motto of “Suspension changes everything,” it’s easy to see that the advanced suspension in Ferris zero turn mowers is a key feature. Much like a vehicle, a Ferris zero turn has independent front suspension, so even when the wheels go into a dip, the mower remains relatively straight.
- Exceptional comfort: This suspension leads to outstanding comfort during the mowing process. This makes it easier to get the job done, even when you’re not at the top of your game and lowers fatigue levels so you can work longer.
- Faster, more efficient cutting technology: The Ferris iCD Cutting System includes a wider discharge to move cuttings more efficiently, an offset centerpoint to maximize airflow and mowing speed, and a double layer of 10-gauge steel paired with a reinforced leading edge for long-lasting quality.
- Advanced engine design: The engine in a Ferris mower is designed to go up to 500 hours between changes with a higher-capacity reservoir to keep your engine cool. The engine control technology improves fuel economy, with fuel injection and electronic throttle control to save on fuel costs.
Advantages & Use Cases
These features provide great advantages for getting work done quickly, efficiently, and effectively, both for commercial and residential mowing tasks. But which model should you select?
Starting with the entry-level 500S, which features a 48″ cutting width, 8.5 MPH top speed, and 24 HP engine, you’ll get great commercial-level performance with features such as LED headlights.
At the middle of the options is the beginning of the ISX series, the ISX 800. This zero turn mower brings you up to a 52″ cutting width, 10 MPH top speed, and an extra year of warranty coverage.
Towards the top of the Ferris lineup is the ISX 3300 with up to a 70″ cutting swath and an engine up to 40 horsepower.
The Nelson Analysis
With the Ferris lineup you’ll get commercial quality, exceptional comfort, fast performance, and a piece of yard equipment that will last you for many years to come. In our opinion, Ferris is one of the best mower companies available, but they’re relatively unknown to the residential buyer compared to Cub Cadet and Gravely due to the high quality of their manufacturing process and innovations.
Kubota is another great American-made (and Georgia-made) brand that provides strong performance and resiliency. Focused on both commercial and residential mowing, the brand provides high quality across all its zero turn options.
Rather than focusing on individual aspects of innovation, Kubota provides zero turn mowers with strong features that are capable of anything from simple mowing to handling steep embankments, areas of poor traction, and similar concerns:
- Variety of engines: Kubota quality starts at the heart of the machine, with a range of available engine options from Briggs & Stratton, Kohler, and Kawasaki, giving you a choice over what kind of engine is running your mower. You’ll also have a wide range of horsepower options available, letting you choose your power level.
- Strong warranty service: One of the reasons why Kubota has gained such a strong reputation is due to how well it manages warranty care. With a Kubota zero turn mower, you’ll get a warranty that will stretch from 2-4 years or 300-750 hours, depending on your whether it’s for commercial or residential usage.
- Variety of cutting widths: From tiny 42″ mowers for tight spaces to 72″ giants that cover ground quickly, you’ll be able to find the right cutting width for your needs. Kubota prides itself in having a number of different mowing width options available.
- Overall durability, longevity, and reliability: When all else is factored in, Kubota simply makes one of the toughest machines on the market. With a strong reputation for durability, long-lasting functionality, and reliability even under tough conditions, Kubotas are all-around solid machines.
Advantages and Use Cases
Kubota has a strong reputation for quality, making it easier to buy the right mower instead of focusing only on the price point. A Kubota zero turn will last for many years to come, delivering exceptional performance year after year.
Given this level of quality, it’s easier to invest in a Kubota that does the job right, whether you need the 42″ deck on the Z232 to maneuver between obstacles, the maneuverability and cutting capability of the Z422, or the get-er-done capability of the 72″ deck and 10.6 MPH top speed of the ZD1211L. You’ll own a great investment.
The Nelson Analysis
At Nelson Tractor, we’ve sold a range of Kubota equipment for many years and are still surprised at the kind of beating they can take before any issues arise. Ferris delivers a smooth ride, but Kubota’s overall toughness removes any need to baby your equipment in your less-than-flat yard.
Other Zero Turn Mower Brands
There are many other zero turn mowers available, including Husqvarna and Ariens, but two that stand out second only to the Kubota and Ferris lineups are below.
John Deere Zero Turn Mowers
John Deere has a long history and has moved into neighboring markets. You can get their zero turn mowers with their available MulchControl capability, but you’ll notice the mowers themselves aren’t as hardy as other brands such as Kubota.
Toro Zero Turn Mowers
Toro offers the MyRide comfort system on its zero turn mowers, but they are built with a stronger view towards consumer rather than commercial use, and the overall build quality isn’t up to the same standards as what you can get from Ferris.
When comparing zero turn mowers, you’re comparing speed, mowing width, horsepower, and comfort, as these impact how quickly you can get a job done and how long you can work overall, factors that are especially important in commercial mowing. If comfort, fuel economy, and efficiency are top priorities, a Ferris is your best choice. If you want an all-around hardier machine, a Kubota zero turn mower may suit you better.
In either instance, determine which zero turn mower is right for you. Do you have trees to work around? Larger acreage? Issues with your back or neck? By considering these factors, you can find the right zero turn mower for your situation, allowing you to make a smart investment that will last many years.
Need help finding the right fit for your needs? The experienced pros at Nelson Tractor are ready to help you find your perfect option and exceed expectations. Experience the difference. Contact us to get started!