The house I moved into last fall is on a cul-de-sac with a wide, sweeping front lawn and side yards. Like a lot of DIYers I mow my own lawn and I find it therapeutic—up to a point. With my 21-inch wide push mower it was taking far too long to get the job done so when it died I didn’t mind much. It was time to upgrade.
I’ve been using the 33-inch wide Cub Cadet most of the summer. The wide area market is underserved mostly because these machines tend to hover at about the same price as an entry-level garden tractor sporting 46-inch wide cut capacity. But I have a narrow gate heading into my backyard that I need to fit the mower through and my front lawn has a slope of about 11 1/2º, not something I’m entirely comfortable handling on top of a tractor.
So what do you get for $1,500 with the Cub Cadet? For starters, some time back and equally as important a great cut.
The self-propelled Cub shaved an average of seven minutes off the time it takes to mow the front yard alone. That may not sound like a lot but added up, that’s akin to a couple of days back worth of time.
When the 250-pound mower was dropped off it looked every bit as heavy. The 420cc ES model comes with an electric start on the dashboard. The controls are intuitive with the instructions printed right on the dashboard. Though you might want to make a habit of removing the key—a lesson I learned the hard way after shutting the mower off but not turning the key properly, which drained the 12-volt battery. Before turning it on I was surprised at how nimbly the machine moved on the driveway. Later it would breeze around tree mulch rings and along curvy flowerbeds.
Down below the handle is the transmission control with four speeds, neutral and reverse. I typically coasted along in third and transported it back and forth to the garage in forth. Changing the cutting height couldn’t be easier: Pull one handle to select a setting between 1 1/4 to 3 1/2-inches long and the all metal deck covering two belt-driven blades adjusts. The mower does a nice job of gripping even wet lawn without tearing it with its nubby, 16-inch diameter pneumatic tires. The 8-inch diameter casters up front provide all of the zero turn ability of a tractor. I think every bit of this mower is made of metal, save for the 2-gallon fuel tank.
On straight runs the mower works great. It took a little getting used to let off of the drive trigger to successfully complete a turn. Mowing across the hill the mower stayed put and didn’t require much muscling to stay in line. The discharge chute flips up to fit through my gate and the unit can be paired with a bag to catch clippings. On more than one weekend I let the grass get a little longer to test the engine and even when hacking off more than two inches of grass at a medium speed the mower did not hesitate, though it did leave some bunches of clippings on the lawn at that length. An included mulch plug fills the discharge chute.