Reviews of Hustler, Scag, and John Deere Zero-Turn Mowers
With the introduction of affordable "Zero" turn or zero-radius lawn mowers years ago, lawn maintenance has not only become faster for the worker, but also more affordable for the homeowner or property owner. For the most part, lawn-mowing costs have stayed the same for the past couple decades mainly due to the fact that today's commercial mower makes each job take almost half the time. The relatively new ability to make turns around a residential yard or to cover large areas of commercial property with a machine that can cut thick grass at 12 to 15 mph has made grass cutting not only easier, but more fun as well.
Although most commercial mowers are head and shoulders above lawn tractors—or yard snails as we call them—not every zero-turn mower may be right for you. There are differences that can make some mowers a much better fit for your particular situation or the type of jobs you do. This zero-turn comparison will give you some of the benefits of the best-rated lawn mowers and some of the shortfalls of the best commercial zero-turn lawn mowers.
Commercial Zero-Turn Comparison: Scagg Turf Tiger
The first phrase on their website definitely sets the bar high for this zero radius lawn mower, "There is no competition," but since 1998 when it came on the market, Scag's Turf Tiger has made a habit out of surpassing the industry standards. Regarded by many in the lawn maintenance industry as the standard setter, Scag makes mowers that are available in Gas, Diesel, and even propane. The Turf Tiger, the brands premium platform, has the speed, efficiency, and size that make it an excellent choice for any yard, especially large spaces.
The comment most users of the Turf Tiger give is "It is built like a tank." Not only is this zero radius mower fast and fun to mow with, its extra-strong mower deck and reliable shaft-drive makes it tough to beat. Turf Tigers with the larger motors are known for their ability to cut even Bahia grass at top speed without choking down.
- Available Engine Sizes: 25 hp Kubota Diesel, 28 hp CAT Diesel, 27 hp Kohler (Air Cooled), 27 and 29 hp Kawasaki, 31 hp Kohler Aegis, and 35 hp Briggs Vanguard
- Available Deck Sizes: 52", 61", and 72"
- Maximum Speed: 10–12 mph (Depending on engine)
- Hydraulic Drive Pump Size: 16 cc
- Deck Drive Type: Shaft Driven
- Deck Type: 7 Gauge, Welded, with 10 Gauge reinforcement plates
Scag now also has the Wildcat which has a rear discharge deck available and boasts eye-popping speed. The Wildcat has similar engine packages but has slightly less weight than its Turf Tiger predecessor. Although many buyers will like the speed of the Wildcat, the solidness of the Turf Tiger is tough to beat. In fact, many commercial lawncare businesses use Turf Tigers for years longer than most other brands.
Commercial Zero-Turn Comparison: Hustler Super Z
"In A Class By Itself" is how the Hustler website refers to its top model. The Hustler Super Z is fast, strong, and backed up by the best warranty I have found on the market. The Super Z carries a 5-year warranty on the pumps and motors, where most of the competition has only a 2- or 3-year term. Those extra 2 years are enough to convince lawn maintenance personnel to utilize Hustler products for the long term and give them the ability to resale their mowers after a few years with remaining warranty.
The downside to the Super Z is that it is not available in smaller deck sizes. For many commercial or industrial uses that is not an issue, but for residential mowing, many areas need a narrower deck to get the most out of the speedy zero-radius mowers. Most yard workers carry a backup zero turn or a walk behind that can cope, but if a person cuts mainly zero-lot-line lots or lots with small walkways, you may want to reconsider using a smaller Hustler or another brand. Also, smaller yards will not allow you to open the Super Z up to see its full potential.
- Available Engine Sizes: 31 & 37 hp Kawasaki Engines and a 37 hp Briggs & Stratton
- Available Deck Sizes: 60", 66", and 72"
- Maximum Speed: 15 mph
- Deck Drive Type: Belt Driven
- Deck Type: 7 gauge welded deck with 11 gauge reinforcement plates
Known as one of, if not the oldest brands on the market, Hustler has many different purchase levels, including its popular model, the Fastrack. However, few of their models compare to the speed, power, and reliability of the Super Z.
Commercial Zero-Turn Comparison: John Deer 900 Series
One of the most advertised and marketed commercial zero turn mowers on the market today is the John Deere Ztrak Pro mower. John Deere has both the name brand and the money to take up a huge share of the zero turn market. They have used that branding to make John Deere as popular in the zero turn market as they have been in the tractor domain.
The largest and strongest line of their mowers is the Ztrak Pro 900 series. The Ztrak has many positives, a few of which the other brands have a hard time competing with. First off, the Ztrak has the largest name brand behind it. No commercial zero radius mower has near the brand name recognition of John Deere. None. Although there are many people out there that view John Deere as overpriced and overrated, there are many more people that like their design, respect their power, and love anything in "John Deere Green."
Besides the name brand, the 900 series Ztrak Pro also has an electric deck height system that takes away the sometimes clumsy deck height pin. Also, the brakes automatically lock if the steering levers are moved outward.
- Available Engine Sizes: 31 hp Yanmar Diesel (Ztrak 997) and Gasoline engines range from a 22 hp Kawasaki to a 37 hp Kawasaki, all air cooled
- Available Deck Sizes: 48", 54", 60", and 72" depending on engine size
- Maximum Speed: 10.5–12 mph, depending on engine size
- Deck Drive Type: Belt Driven
- Deck Type: 7 gauge stamped deck design with optional Mulch On Demand capability
As with the other brands, the John Deere line of zero turns also includes other levels, including a large set of homeowner models. Be mindful, however, the difference in their professional and homeowner line is spotted easily by the color of the mowing deck. The homeowner models come with a yellow mowing deck while the professional line touts a green one.
Which Zero-Turn Mower Brand Do You Prefer?
Other Zero-Turn Brands
While the three primary brands of zero turn mowers are a great group from which to choose, there are several other brands whose mowers offer great cuts as well. Exmark, Dixie Chopper, Kubota, and others may be exactly what you need. Keep in mind, when shopping local and looking at what may not be as well known of a brand, you can still compare them to the industry standards to know whether you can feel comfortable purchasing them or not.
Although each of these brands offer stout choices at every level of their lines, Scag's Turf Tiger is truly hard to beat. The deck design and durability will keep you cutting for over a decade, and with the engines they offer, speed and power will never be a problem. Although John Deere always adds interesting feature to their mowers, they also include one of the largest price tags on the market.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
What do you know about Bad Boy mowers?
The couple of Bad Boy mowers I have seen in person were pretty well-built. They looked like they were heavy-duty.Helpful 70
Out of these mowers, which has the best warranty?
I believe Hustler currently has the longest warranty.Helpful 40
Can you recommend a 72" zero-turn mower?
In my opinion, you cannot go wrong with the 72” Scag Tiger Cat mower.Helpful 25
How come you don't mention Gravely machines in your article?
I did not include them because they are not offered in many areas. The old Gravely name has not quite made a comeback, but it is building.Helpful 23
Do the mowers mentioned in your article have lights?
Some of the mowers offer lights as an option. Most do not come standard with them, but aftermarket LED kits are fairly easy to get.Helpful 12
© 2011 Joseph Davis