If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best riding lawn mower for hills is, then we recommend the Ariens 915223 IKON-X as the best one.
Rolling landscapes can look wonderful but maintaining hilly terrain can be incredibly tiring. Although a push lawn mower can sheer grass up slight inclines, doing so on gardens more than half an acre in size is far too time-consuming tiring.
However, with a riding lawn mower, you can get the job done in a fraction of the time. We’ve compiled a list of the best riding lawn mower for hills, as well as a guide on how to choose the most suitable riding lawn mower. Here’s a quick summary of the best riding lawn mower for hills our most notable picks:
1. Best Overall: Ariens 915223 IKON-X
2. Runner Up: Husqvarna MZ61
3. Also Worth Considering: Snapper 2911525BVE
4. Easiest to Use: Husqvarna Z254
5. Best Value: Husqvarna YTA24V48
6. Honorable Mention: Husqvarna Z242F
10 Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills
Based on our research and comparisons, the Ariens 915223 IKON-X is the best riding lawn mower for hills. It’s also one of the most feature-packed zero-turn lawn mowers available. Beneath the hood is a 23-HP Kawasaki engine that drives the mower at speeds of up to 6.8 MPH. Plus, a 4-point suspension system will let you adjust mowing heights on the fly, further improving your productivity.
The IKON-X is mainly designed for commercial-line mowing. The heavy-duty engine and quick travel speed, combined with the 52-inch deck, will let you cut a larger area of grass in fewer passes. Best of all, steep slopes of around 30 degrees pose no challenge to this heavy-duty mower.
This riding lawn mower for hills uses hydrostatic transmission to offer the most comfortable ride. Built-in plush seating and armrests support your lower back and shoulders to make mowing over three acres of hilly yards a breeze. There’s even a nifty gas tank gauge that offers a pretty reliable reading of how much fuel is left over.
- Comfortable ride
- Great for steep inclines
- Adjustable armrests
- Zero-turn radius
- Fast forward speed
- Gas gauge could be more accurate
- No collection bag
The Husqvarna MZ61’s main feature is its super-wide mowing deck. At 61 inches wide, this zero-turn lawn mower can clear more than an acre of tall grass in fewer passes. With a choker-less starter, this riding lawn mower stars on a single turn of the key.
The tall backrest and plush seating make this riding lawn mower for hills a comfortable ride up and down hills, as well as on bumpy terrains. The deck is designed to promote better airflow, thereby allowing the blades the cut tall blades of grass multiple times for quick mulching. Plus, the hydrostatic transmission system will help at providing the necessary torque to scale slopes effortlessly.
Most users were apprehensive about the MZ61’s unmarked front tires, but this machine hardly ever slips around. The tires also provide an extra-boost of traction when going up and down hills while maintaining perfect balance.
- Amazing ergonomics
- Built-in hour meter
- Stars in a single turn
- Pedal-operated height adjustment
- Ultra-wide deck
- Quick-turning, unmarked tires
- May have trouble going downhill
- Quite expensive
The Snapper 2911525BVE is one of the more exciting riding lawn mowers you can get. It’s rocking an 11.5-HP Briggs & Stratton rear engine motor that exposes the operator to fewer fumes. The location of the engine also improves the riding mower’s balance as it traverses uneven terrains and down the sides of hills. It’s a smaller riding mower with a five-speed disc drive system, so although it’ll take more passes to clear wider gardens, it does it more quickly than most small-size riding mowers.
This riding mower’s shining feature is the HI VAC mower deck that doesn’t just chop grass blades to fine clippings, but it can also vacuum all of the clippings up to produce a super-clean finish. The streamlined deck helps create a vacuum underneath or enhance vacuum performance.
When it comes time to put your Snapper 2911525BVE away, you can prop it up so it stands vertically. This not only helps save precious storage space in your garage but also gives you access to the mower deck and blades for hassle-free maintenance.
- Excellent fuel economy
- Space-saving vertical-standing design
- Maneuvers easily on hills and uneven terrains
- Quick electric starter
- Vacuums grass clippings
- Narrow deck
- Can struggle climbing steep slopes
The Husqvarna Z254 is a high-powered zero-turn riding mower with a comfortable, high-backrest cockpit and easy-to-control levers. It sports a 48-inch-wide deck while traveling at a speed of up to 6.5 MPH, helping you clear wider gardens in fewer passes and less time. The 3.5-gallon tank might be a bit small, but it provides plenty of gas to mow more than an acre of tough grass.
The mower deck consists of three cast-iron blades that offer six cutting heights. Adjusting the height of the deck can be done by shifting the lever on the left-hand side. The deck is designed to enhance airflow and produce greater lift for delivering multiple cuts and finer clippings.
The 26-HP Kohler engine provides the torque this 640-pound beast needs to travel up and down slopes. There’s also an automatic park brake system that engages or disengages based on travel speed and lever positioning.
- Durable cast-iron mower blades
- Constant cutting speed
- Rides well on any terrain
- Lots of accessory options
- High-speed zero-turn
- Low-arch backrest can be uncomfortable
- Front wheels can be slippery
The next Husky on our list is Husqvarna YTA24V48, a lawn tractor that sports a sizable 24-HP Briggs & Stratton engine that can send the 495-pound beast rolling at a speed of 7.75 MPH. This premium riding mower is fitted with a 48-inch, stamped steel iron deck that’s built to last. The deck uses induction technology to enhance airflow for an even trim with every pass.
Admittedly, this lawn tractor doesn’t perform as well on steep inclines as it does flat ground. The engine tends to stall shortly after starting the ascent, but it maneuvers beautifully on the gradual slopes and bumpy terrain.
You’ll more than appreciate the pressure-sensitive seat that kills the engine and mower deck once the operator leaves the cockpit. Super-bright headlights provide much-needed visibility when mowing long into the late afternoon. The YTA24V48 also features Reverse Operation System tech that stops the while backing up.
- Top-notch safety features
- Uses pedal-controlled auto transmission
- Backed by 10-year consumer warranty
- Excellent deck airflow
- Works well on bumpy terrain
- Engine stalls on steep inclines
- Slight electrical and mechanical issues
The Husqvarna Z242F is a zero-turn lawn mower sporting a hefty 18-HP Kawasaki FR-series engine that’s known to provide enough torque drive the mower uphill. It’s a maintenance-free hydrostatic engine that shifts between gears seamlessly, providing a smooth ride on all terrains.
This zero-turn mower has a maximum drive speed of 6.5 MPH while clearing a 42-inch path with every pass. Equipped with air-induction technology, the deck promotes better airflow to allow the mower blades to cut at a consistent height. Sadly, there’s no deck wash port, so clearing the blades of debris can be tricky.
One high-tech feature that you’ll find in the Z242F is automatic parking assist technology that turns on or off based on the position of the steering levers. Controlling every can be done from the comfort of the cockpit, although the mid-height backrest on the seat can be uncomfortable at times.
- Powerful Kawasaki engine
- Air-induction mower deck
- Easy parking with automatic assist tech
- Large rear wheels
- Quick-start electric ignition
- No wash port on deck
- Seat could be more comfortable.
The Troy-Bilt 382cc is an excellent entry-level riding lawn mower for hills that excels at light-duty mowing. Homeowners will appreciate the 15.5-HP, 6-speed engine that drives the 30-inch-wide mower blades. With a maximum travel speed of 4.25 MPH, this 340-pound riding mower has no difficulty traveling up and down slopes.
Troy-Bilt 382cc comes with manual transmission, so it always produces enough torque to push itself up rolling hills. First-time users will take longer to get used to the manual transmission, but it will offer maximum control on slopes, flat terrain, and around obstacles. With soft-touch steering, five mowing heights, Troy-Bilt 382cc’s frontal wheels turn with ease, letting you produce the manicured lawn you’re looking for without constantly going into reverse.
The compact size of the Troy-Bilt 382cc means easier storage in single-car garages. However, it will take several more passes to clean up larger gardens. Plus, the included bagging feature will also help collect most of the grass clippings to leave your yard spotless after mowing.
- Powerful motor for size
- Competitive price
- Durable steel body
- Excellent maneuverability
- Nearly maintenance-free
- 18-inch turn radius
- Narrow deck
- Can scalp lawns
The Poulan Pro P46ZX is one of the best mid-range zero-turn lawn mower options. Sporting a 22-HP V-twin engine by Briggs & Stratton, this commercial-line lawn mower will face no trouble climbing hills. Its 6-MPH maximum travel speed will let you breeze through more than two acres of grassy fields and hills every hour.
Despite having “only” a 46-inch deck with two individual mower blades, the P46ZX can cover up to 2.4 acres of flat terrain every hour. On sloped hills, you’ll need to take it slowly, but it will eventually get up there with minimal trouble. Poulan Pro is an in-house brand of Husqvarna, so you know you’re getting a high-quality, long-lasting zero-turn machine.
Instead of using a steering wheel, the P46ZX relies on two levers that can be difficult to get a hang on but provide enhanced maneuverability around curved edges and tiny obstacles. Its mowing blades can be set at varying heights to produce a close shave on flat terrains. However, without support wheels, the 46-inch deck can actually scalp your yard while moving up and down slopes.
- Great zero-turn for lawns 3 acres or smaller
- Hydrostatic EZT transmissiom
- Covers wide area per hour
- Lots of accessories
- Large fuel tank
- Electric clutch
- Can be slow on inclines
- May scalp gardens
The Troy-Bilt Pony 42X is the best lawn tractor for hills. This machine was designed for residential users with less than an acre of grass to mow. Its 42-inch mowing deck is narrower than most, but it can certainly cover slightly more than an acre in just 60 minutes. Despite its narrower swath, it features a 420cc TB OHV engine that delivers high amounts of torque for carrying all 485 pounds of metal up and down hills.
Another benefit of having a narrower mower deck is that it allows the riding lawn mower for hills to traverse through yards with several obstacles, such as trees and oddly-shaped backyard gardens. The all-steel construction enhances durability, while seven forward speeds cutting at five different height positions will help you cut through all kinds of grass quickly.
One of the Pony 42X’s highlight features is the 18-inch turning radius. This is nowhere near the same precision turning as a zero-turn mower, but it does well at making its way around rounded obstacles.
- Durable construction
- Excellent maneuverability up and down hills
- 18-inch turning radius
- Made for larger fields and lawns
- Competitive price tag
- Built-in deck wash port
- Transmission shifter can get stuck
- No deck wheels
The YTH18542 is one of the most compact Husky riding mowers. Although it takes numerous passes to mow an acre of grass, the 18.5-HP Briggs & Stratton engine sends it forward at up to 5.5 MPH and reverses at 2.5 MPH. The design of the tires provides extra-traction for moving up and down slopes, but you need to face the hill head-on to do so.
As a more compact machine, the YTH18542 requires less fuel to move all 490 pounds of steel. It can only hold onto 2.5 gallons of gas at a time, but considering its fuel economy, that’s all you’ll need to clear more than an acre.
With a foot-operated hydrostatic transmission system, both of your hands can remain on the steering wheel to give you complete control over where you’re going. This riding lawn mower for hills also features cruise control to maintain even speeds on flat and bumpy terrain.
- Great turning and mowing speed
- Air-induction mowing deck
- Comes with anti-scalping wheels
- 42-inch deck with air-induction technology
- Reliable cruise control
- Small fuel tank
- Limited 2-year warranty
How to Shop for the Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills
Now that you know what the best riding lawn mower for hills is, it’s time to determine which model will work best on your lawn. This guide contains the most crucial points you need to consider.
Engine Size and Weight
The best lawn mower for steep banks will ideally come with a high-powered engine to provide the torque needed to scale hills. Generally, a higher HP rating will indicate how well the lawn mower will scale steeper inclines. If the engine’s HP size is unavailable, take a look at the engine displacement in cubic centimeters (cc) instead.
In addition to the size of the riding mower’s engine, you need to consider the riding mower’s engine size in conjunction with its overall weight. Lighter riding mowers don’t require beefy engines to travel up and down hills or across flat terrains. However, it ultimately depends on how steep the hills on your lawn are.
The transmission type is more for convenience than anything else. Manual transmission can be difficult for first-time users to mow up and down hills. However, it offers full control over how quickly you mow and well it can climb hills. Some manual-transmission mowers are clutch-less, so you don’t have to stop to shift up and down gears.
Automatic transmission in a riding lawn mower for hills works similarly to that in a car. By shifting automatically shifting gears, you can focus on riding your lawn mower up and down slopes carefully. Also, this helps in clearing around obstacles a lot more easily.
Hydrostatic transmission is identical to automatic transmission in how it shifts gears on its own accord. This more high-tech system results in less strain on the engine and a smoother ride while traveling up and down slopes.
The size of the deck will indicate how many passes it will take to mow your garden. Narrower decks (between 30 and 40 inches) are ideal for up to 1-acre plots of land. 40 to 50-inch decks are great for up to 3-acre gardens. Anything over 50 inches wide will make mowing 3-plus-acre yards less time-consuming.
The size of the deck directly correlates with the lawn mower’s engine. A higher HP rating generally equals increased fuel consumption. You should find a deck that fits within the dimensions of your lawn so as not to spend more money on fuel than necessary.
Even though going up and down hills doesn’t require very much turning, you should pay attention to how well the riding mower turns. Zero-turn riding lawn mower for hills work work extremel y well on yards with several obstacles (trees, curved walkways, flowers and crops), whereas basic riding lawn mowers have a wider turning radius (up to 20 inches). The wider the turn radius, the more you need to utilize the reverse gear.
Even though zero-turn lawn mowers offer the best turning radius, the best lawn mower for steep banks is the model based on how many and what kinds of obstacles lie in your path. In the list above, we’ve included lawn tractors, zero-turn mowers, and lightweight riding mowers.
Additional riding lawn mower for hills features include mulching kits, collection bags, headlamps, cupholders, built-in washout ports, and proprietary technologies. There are far too many kinds of special technology to go through, so check each model out to see which will offer the most value while mowing up and down steep hills.
Some riding mower brands even let you connect snow blades to your machine, which will help keep the engine from rusting over by a lack of use during the winter. Make sure the engine oil is the right viscosity for the climate in your town to keep the engine in perfect condition during extreme temperatures.
What type of riding lawn mower is best for hills?
Between push or walk-behind lawn mowers and riding mowers, riding lawn mowers are the ideal option for sheering grass on hilly surfaces. The main reason for avoiding walk-behind mowers is the stress of scaling steep hills. As for a riding lawn mower for hills, simply hop aboard, put it into gear, and your lawn-mowing chores will be finished in less time.
However, when comparing lawn tractors to zero-turn mowers, you’ll have to decide which would benefit you more. Zero-turn mowers can pull up tufts of grass when turning on a dime, but you can overcome this problem by going into reverse then riding away.
How do you mow a steep hill?
Even if your lawn mower is built for the challenge, mowing steep hills can be tricky, even for the most seasoned landscapers. However, if you have about 10 minutes, this video guide will show you how to use a riding mower to cut grass on the sides of steep slopes easily.
Riding sideways down steep hills can be impossible for certain models. This means you’ll have to travel up and down slopes straight-on, but with any of the models mentioned above, you shouldn’t have any trouble doing the job.
Can I mow a steep hill with a walk-behind mower?
Walk-behind lawn mowers are great, but they aren’t entirely reliable on hills. First, their narrower decks mean you’ll have trouble mowing large gardens with just one walk-behind mower. Even though some models come with a self-propelling engine, this will not help much at mowing over one acre of grassy fields. In addition, pushing a walk-behind mower up steep hills is a lot more troublesome than it may appear without a rope system.
This is why we recommend sticking to a riding lawn mower for hills. On our list, you’ll find the best lawn tractor for hills and zero-turn mowers that are made to handle slopes, flat terrains, bumpy surfaces, and anything in between.
If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the best riding lawn mower for hills is, then we recommend the Ariens 915223 IKON-X as the best one.
Hopefully, you learned something about mowing hills in today’s guide. We’ve provided you with all kinds of options, from super-affordable to high-end models.