5 Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills that Will Conquer Any Terrain

Our top pick of the five riding lawn mowers for hills that can deal with any type of terrain. Analysis of their features, FAQ and buying guide.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 26, 2021
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You are not lazy for wanting a riding lawn mower. They have been around since 1956, and even today they are perfect for working on large lawns or difficult terrain.

However, finding the best riding lawn mower for hills and other types of lawn terrain is a technical problem. You have to think about navigation, transmission, handling of grass clippings, lawnmower attachments, and much more. These capabilities are what enable a riding lawn mower to tackle your particular type of terrain such as tight turns and rough ground surface with minimal difficulty.

This review will have you covered on all those points, so be sure to read with interest. And remember, riding a lawn mower is a lot more fun than you think.

Top 5 Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills Review 2021

1.

Husqvarna Z254Editor’s Choice

Features
  • Engine: 26 HP Kohler
  • Cutting width: 54 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5-4 inches, 6-step
  • Max speed: 6.5 MHP
  • Dimensions: 72 x 61.49 x 34.48 inches

Other features: hydrostatic, zero-turn, air induction mowing technology, reinforced steel stamped cutting deck, 3-year warranty 

This tops the list for all the right reasons. Its large deck and powerful 26HP Kohler engine earn it its top position. It also has incredible maneuverability and smooth ride thanks to its hydrostatic transmission. Cutting grass on your hilly lawn will be less of a chore as it will be quick and easy.

The mower boasts a sturdy build with a robust steel cutting deck. The cutting deck measures a whopping 54-inch. This means you’ll have your lawn done in no time as you can cut large swaths of grass in a single pass.

The mower further sets itself apart with cast iron blades. The blades together with the sturdy cutting deck make it the ideal heavy-duty mower for cutting grass on expansive lawns. Its powerful Kohler motor also makes work easier for you as it allows you to maintain a steady speed in all types of terrain.

As if that’s enough, the mower has a deck lifting mechanism that allows you to make fast and easy adjustments from the comfort of your seat. The seat is also incredibly comfortable owing to its high back, armrests and foam-padded hand grips. It even has dampeners that reduce excess vibration for added comfort.

The mower offers you the option of mulching, discharging or bagging the clippings. You can get the nine-bushel triple collection bag sold separately for collecting clippings. All considered, the Husqvarna Z254 is perfect for mowing large lawns or heavy-duty grass cutting.

What makes it special?

  • We were impressed with the mower coming completely assembled except for a few parts like the seat safety switch, the seat and battery hook up which are pretty straightforward to set up. Its Kohler engine is top notch and with its wide cutting deck it can finish jobs much quicker. Its induction technology further sets it apart from other mowers, giving you a neat and pristine cut job. Plus, the mower has a reliable build that can last you a long time if well-maintained.

What cons did we find?

  • Everything about this mower screams heavy-duty except the rear tires. The rear tires would have been better if they were tractor-style to offer better traction on wet grass. Also, we were disappointed when we realized the mower doesn’t come with headlights which is a deal breaker for people who like to do lawn care late in the evenings or early mornings. Some users have also reported some concerns about the seat comfort and its heaviness.
RELATED: 5 Best Zero Turn Mowers – Fast and Effective!
Features
  • Engine: 24 HP Kawasaki
  • Cutting width: 61 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5-4.5 inches, 12-step
  • speed: 8 MPH
  • Dimensions: 75 x 76 x 42 inches

Other features: zero-turn, commercial hydraulics, roll-over protection system, 11-gauge steel cutting deck, 4-year warranty 

The MZ61 is one of the best riding lawn mowers for hilly terrain that money can buy. It is our upgrade pick because of its unique 3-blade cutting mechanism, hydrostatic transmission and precise zero-degree turn maneuvers.

The MZ61 may share so much in common with other mowers in the market but just a single glance under its engine hood will tell you it’s a one-of-a-kind unit. It features a powerful 24 HP engine and a hydrostatic gear transmission system that work together to give you a smooth ride. The 2 features also allow you to mow your entire property at one speed.

Like other Husqvarna mowers the MZ61 has a remarkably sturdy build. It has a heavy-duty steel frame that is resistant to rust and corrosion. This guarantees solid durability as the internal components remain protected.

The mower’s operator interface is also intuitive. The easy usability qualifies it as a perfect mower for first time users. Another thing that makes it incredibly easy to use is the pedal lift on the cutting deck. It makes lifting the mower such a breeze whenever you need to clean it or perform routine maintenance.

With a 61-inch cutting width you will spend less time clearing your lawn. What’s more, the 3-blade cutting system will give you the cleanest of lawn cuts.

That said, the Husqvarna Z254 is an excellent choice for anyone looking for high productivity and versatility in a mower.

What do we love it for?

  • This mower stands out in so many ways. It offers improved ride quality and smooth operation thanks to its oversized chassis. Another feature that wowed us is the service reminder integrated in its hour meter. The mower’s deck lift system is also one to like. It makes maintenance super-easy. Like with other Husqvarna mowers, your comfort is a top priority. The mower’s high-back seat and rubber isolators offer utmost comfort.

What were we disappointed with?

  • Although this mower is quite the stellar pick for hilly terrain, we found that without planning travel paths carefully to avoid super-steep descending hills, you might end up with imperfect cuts. This is because you are likely to slide on a downhill path due to weight shift and you will have no directional control. It also comes with a premium price tag. Not everyone is willing to part with its cost but it offers excellent value for money.

3.

Husqvarna MZ61Best Value

Features
  • Engine: 27 HP Briggs & Stratton
  • Cutting width: 61 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5-4.5 inches, 12-step
  • speed: 8 MPH
  • Dimensions: 75 x 76 x 42 inches

Other features: hydrostatic, zero-turn, 11-gauge steel cutting deck, 4-year warranty 

This is like the Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP mower’s cousin. They share so much in common except the engine. It is just as powerful and efficient. It is packed with features to provide you with a smooth ride and utmost comfort during those long grass cutting sessions.

What sets the Husqvarna mower apart from others within its range is its powerful 27 HP Briggs and Stratton endurance V-twin engine. Briggs and Stratton engines are popular for their power and reliability. This 27 HP endurance V-twin is no exception and is incredibly quiet. You can mow your lawn in the wee hours of the morning without being a nuisance to your neighbors.

The 61-inch cutting deck is another feature that makes the mower stand out. It uses 3 blades to give your lawn precise clean cuts. Plus, thanks to the hydrostatic gear transmission you will enjoy quick directional change and speed adjustment on various terrains. Whether you use the pedal, hand joystick or foot you will always feel in control.

The hydrostatic gear transmission combined with the zero-turn technology offer superior maneuverability. You will be able to move around obstacles easily.

Overall, the mower is a fantastic option for anyone looking for a great pennyworth. It offers the best value for money.

What do we love it for?

  • We found this Husqvarna mower to be remarkably comfortable. If you are likely to sit on a mower for more than an hour, then this should be your prime pick. Its high back seat and armrests will give you an ultra-comfortable mowing experience. You also won’t need to adjust yourself every time to drive the mower as the levers are easily accessible from the seat. Another cool thing about this mower is that you can either mulch or bag your clippings.

What were we disappointed with?

  • As much as this mower offers excellent value for money, we think its price point is a bit on the steep end. You have to part with a solid 5000 dollars and it doesn’t necessarily do anything unique that other more affordable mowers do. Only its wide cutting deck and potent engine justify its high price point. Also, we realized that the engine was not able to idle smoothly and that’s just a big turn-off.
RELATED: 5 Best Zero Turn Mowers – Fast and Effective!

4.

Troy-Bilt XP Series Mustang Z54 Zero-Turn MowerBest for Lawn Mowing Professionals

Features
  • Engine: 725cc, 24 HP Kohler 7000 Pro
  • Cutting width: 54 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.25-3.75 inches, 8-position
  • speed: 7.5 MPH (forward), 2.5 MPH (reverse)
  • Dimensions: not specified

Other features: dual EZT Hydrostatic transmission, electric PTO blade engage control, 3.5-gallon fuel tank, 3-year warranty

Troy-Bilt is another leading name in the lawnmower industry. The brand is popular for top quality, dependability and power. Their Mustang Z54 contributes largely to the brand’s long-standing reputation.

The 725cc 24 HP Kohler engine makes the machine stand out. Everything about it screams power and easy usability. The powerful engine together with the dual EZT hydrostatic transmission provides you with superior independent speed and direction control.

The hydrostatic transmission also allows for PTO blade control giving you responsive control for the cutting blades.

The cutting deck of the Mustang Z54 is also top-notch. It is wide enough to chew up large swaths of grass in a single pass. You will have your expansive lawn cut clean in no time. The 54-inch deck also boasts a robust build with stamped steel that offers corrosion resistance and strength.

The most special feature on this mower is the deck wash port built into the robust steel deck. When you are done mowing your lawn, you simply attach your garden hose to it and it will spray the bottom of the deck vigorously getting rid of the lawn debris.

The generous 3.5-gallon fuel tank makes the mower ideal for mowing large lawns. You wouldn’t have to make as many stops to gas up. Its overall comfort makes it a prime choice for professionals who might have to spend several hours a day driving it.

What are our favorite features?

  • The Troy-Bilt XP Series Mustang Z54 Zero-Turn Mower is a rare gem packed with special features to give you the ultimate mowing experience. Its highly responsive PTO blade control is a useful safety feature. Whenever we tried to disengage the cutting blades, they stopped in short order rather than spin down slowly like most mowers do. This for us was a huge plus. It is also incredibly easy to use and maintain thanks to its special features.

What could be better?

  • This mower has got very little room for improvement. We were surprised to get the mower with a Briggs and Stratton engine instead of the advertised Kohler engine. There is a huge life expectancy difference between the Kohler engine and the Briggs and Stratton. Another concern is the seat. We found the seat to be a little defective and uncomfortable. It can hurt the back bad when you go over uneven lawns.
5.

Husqvarna Z246 23HP Kohler 46 Mower Best for Small and Medium size lawns

Features
  • Engine: 656 cc, 20 HP, Briggs & Stratton,
  • Cutting width: 46 inches
  • Cutting height: 1.5-4 inches
  • speed: 6.5 mph
  • Dimensions: 75 x 40 x 56.5 inches

Other features: hydrostatic transmission, 3-year warranty, 3.5-gal. tank

This is another powerful mower from Husqvarna with lots of great features combined to offer you an enriched mowing experience. The Z246 is one of the largest zero-turn lawn mowers out there. It provides high-quality service that is on par with other more expensive high-end mowers on the market.

When it comes to durability and performance, the Z246 is quite the beast. It features a rugged cutting deck made to last with heavy flat-stock steel. The cutting deck offers both durability and cutting strength.

The mower also features a Kohler engine that comes with the latest air induction technology and is maintenance-free. The technology offers superior cutting capability regardless of the state of your lawn.

Moreover, the Z246 is remarkably easy and comfortable to use. It comes with an ergonomic control panel and a deck lift with a spring assist system. You are also granted easy access to the deck’s upper part as the uniquely designed chassis offers removable foot pans.

The mower has 3 cutting methods; mulching, rear bag and side discharge. Its cutting versatility doesn’t stop at the 3-in-1 feature as you are offered the option of adjusting the cutting sizes.

The mower is a perfect pick for anyone looking for a heavy-duty lawn mower for hills on a tight budget. Its durability, performance and cutting versatility are just as exceptional as most premium models out there.

Why did it make our list?

  • This made it to our competitive list because it has incredible capabilities at a fair price point. Its powerful zero-maintenance engine and other convenient features like an ergonomic control panel give it a one-of-a-kind cutting ability. It is one hell of a workhorse; you can cut clean your 2.5 acres lawn in under an hour. It further sets itself apart with an incredible cutting versatility that allows you to cut grass effortlessly regardless of your terrain or the nature of your turf.

What is not ideal about it?

  • Even though the Husqvarna Z246’s grass cutting prowess is out of this world, we still feel it has some room for improvement. The Zero-turn mower has more than enough power to work on different terrains but it is a bit hard to maneuver on wet slopes. If you are not attentive enough, it can tear up the lawn. Also, maneuvering it on small lawns or a lawn with many obstacles like trees, flower beds or stones can be daunting.

Things to Consider

Not all mowers are best suited for cutting grass on lawns with hills and uneven surfaces. The ultimate lawn mower for hilly lawns should have adequate power and various speed options among other features. This section has all the features you should consider when buying a riding lawn mower for steep hills.

How to choose the best riding lawn mower for steep hills

Here are the must-have features and for a good riding lawn mower for steep hills:

Type of lawn mower

5 Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills that Will Conquer Any Terrain

With all the multiple options available on the market, choosing the best lawn mower for hill or steep banks can be challenging. The models differ in various aspects from size and power to cutting capabilities and engine.

There are 3 main types of riding mowers for hills: rear-engine riding mowers, zero-turn mowers, and garden tractors. Rear-engine riding mowers are the best small riding lawn mowers for hills. They are a fantastic choice if you have a small to medium size lawn and limited storage space.

Garden tractors are the best for uneven surfaces and lawns with lots of obstacles. They are compatible with various functional attachments like tillers and snow blowers.

Zero-turning mowers are the quickest way to get grass cut on your expansive yard. They have no braking system like other mowers and have wide cutting decks that work through extensively wide grassy areas in a breeze.

Lawn size

This is a primary consideration as it would help you choose a mower that can do the job. You must consult the specs of a mower based on the size of your lawn. For instance, if you have a large lawn, features like a wide cutting deck and comfortable seat should be your top priority. If you have a small lawn you want to go for a small mower for easy maneuverability and storage.

Type of terrain

Your terrain type also determines the kind of lawn mower you get. If your lawn has lots of natural obstacles like trees and rocks, you can go for a mower with a tighter radius for turns and curves. It will be much easier to maneuver.

If you have a flat expansive lawn, you can go for a zero-turn mower like the Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Riding Mower. They have incredible speed and turn capabilities that will get the job done in no time. For rugged and hilly terrains, lawn tractors or garden tractors are the best.

Gas vs electric

Corded electric mowers are much more affordable than gas powered mowers but they are not the best for hilly terrain. When it comes to power, gas powered mowers are the clear winner. Obstacles like hills, stones and bumps can put so much strain on electric mowers. An electric mower would be burned out after a few months of cutting tough springs of grass on a rough hilly ground.

The engine of an average gas-powered lawn mower can deliver between 4.5 and 8.75 feet per pound of torque. The average battery powered mower has a power rating of 1000 watts and a rotational speed of 2800 RPM. This translates to about 2.5 feet per pound of power. The bottom line is, for your hilly lawn, be sure to go for a gas-powered mower, especially if it’s large and filled with many obstacles.

Mowing a hilly lawn

Mowing a lawn uphill can be one hell of a daunting task. The more grass you have to cut, the more strenuous it can get. With a riding lawn mower for hills, getting a clean and even cut on your hilly lawn can be effortless. The mowers are designed with uneven terrain in mind thus ease of use is a sure bet.

Engine

The type of engine you pick also depends on the size of your lawn. For a small or medium size lawn, a single-engine riding mower is fine. It’s even more affordable. If, however, you have large property with several acres, then you may want to consider a V-twin engine like the one for Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Riding Mower.

A V-twin engine will allow you to mow fast and navigate uneven terrain with greater ease. It is also incredibly durable as it offers a cleaner burning of fuel and cooler run.

To know the power of the engine’s transmission or blades look out for the horsepower. The motor’s cylinder in cubic centimeters is the engine’s displacement and a higher CCS means the engine is highly powerful. Torque indicates the force of spin in the blades. If your lawn has tall and thick grass, go for an engine with a higher torque.

Transmission

5 Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills that Will Conquer Any Terrain

There are 3 main types of lawn mower transmission; hydrostatic, manual and automatic. The manual transmission comes with a selection of set speeds. If you choose the manual transmission, be sure to go for one that allows you to switch without stopping.

An automatic transmission is pretty much similar to the automatic transmission of a car. You will use a gas pedal to control the speed.

The hydrostatic transmission works like the automatic transmission except it uses liquid instead of belts to transfer power from the engine to the mower’s wheels. Mowers with this type of transmission are more durable and offer smoother rides.

Brushed vs brushless motor

Mowers with brushless motors are better than those with brushed motors. They have improved efficiency, reduced heat and noise, and they require less maintenance.

Speed

To mow uphill with ease, you need a fast lawn mower. Consider a lawn mower with a maximum forward speed of about 7 to 8 MPH. The reverse speed should be at a maximum 2.5 or 3 MPH.

Turning radius

The turning radius of a mower will let you know how much space you need to turn it. If the radius is wide, you will have a hard time turning it in a smaller space. This means it wouldn’t be the most ideal for your small yard.

Cutting width and height

This is a crucial consideration. The cutting width of a mower will tell you how many passes you will have to make to finish cutting grass in your yard. The larger the width the better as that means you will spend less time. Also, choose a mower with variable cutting height so you can maneuver rolling hills easily. You should be able to make cutting height adjustments between 1.5 and 4 inches depending on the state of your lawn.

Cutting deck material

The material used to make the cutting deck determines its longevity. Stamped steel is the best as it offers both corrosion resistance and strength.

Tires

You want to go for tractor-style tires for exceptional traction especially when the grass is wet. They also offer solid durability. You can always change the tires of your mower if you are not satisfied with their quality or they are worn out.

Attachments

One benefit of riding mowers is the possibility of moving other things. There are models that allow you to attach things like snow plow, snow blower attachments, and dump cart. A dump cart will allow you to remove and haul debris. Many models also feature bagging and mulching capabilities.

Mower’s dimensions

Since mowing steep hills isn’t the easiest of tasks, you have to consider the size and height of the mower. If you have a small or medium size mower, you don’t need a large lawn mower. It’ll be tedious to maneuver and store. Also, the mower shouldn’t be too heavy as maneuvering it up the hill will be a real challenge.

Safety features

Safety features like a seat belt, adjustment steering functions, blade brake control, handle levers and back flaps are a must-have for all mowers. You should read the manufacturer’s instructions on the safety guide so you can make the most of the safety features on your mower.

Price

5 Best Riding Lawn Mowers for Hills that Will Conquer Any Terrain

Different brands and models of riding lawn mowers for hills come with different price tags. Mowers with rear-engines are less expensive compared to ones with larger rear wheels. Also, the more functions a mower offers the more expensive it will be.

Warranty

Different manufacturers also offer different warranty covers. Most brands separate their warranty periods into commercial and residential usage. Most manufacturers provide a warranty period of up to 4 years.

Cruise Control

This is a feature on the handlebar that adds up to the efficiency of the mower.

How to mow a hill with a riding lawn mower

Mowing a hill with a riding lawn mower mainly involves navigating the steering controls and maintaining a consistent speed. You should start at the bottom as you work your way up the hill for your safety. Be extra careful when moving up and down the slopes. Be sure to check the user manual for more directions if you are still learning how to maneuver.

FAQ

A rear-wheel drive mower is the best type of mower you can get for a hill. It offers great traction and its big rear wheels offer adequate support needed for a smooth ride on bumpy and wet hilly lawns. They are also faster than other types of mowers.

More than 15 degrees would be too steep for a riding mower. Zero-turn radius riding mowers are the safest for slopes that are more than 10 degrees steep.

Our Verdict

A riding lawn mower is the best you can get for your hilly lawn. They are a major investment though and as such, you must be careful to choose one that suits your needs. Our list of the top 5 riding lawn mowers should help you make a quick informed choice. Our detailed buying guide will also help you pick a mower you will be happy to use for many years to come.

Our best overall choice was the Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Riding Mower. It comes with so many exciting features like air induction mowing technology and hydrostatic transmission that work to give you a smooth mowing experience. Our premium choice, the Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki Riding Mower is the best you can get for your expansive hilly lawn. You have to dig deep into your pockets for it but its cool features like the roll-over protection system and commercial hydraulics justify its steep price point.

Our third choice is the Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 27 HP Briggs & Stratton Riding Mower. Everything about it screams quality and longevity. It is the best Husqvarna riding lawn mower for hills that money can buy as it offers a big bang for the buck.

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