If you’ve been thinking about upgrading to a riding lawn mower, but you’ve been holding off because of the cost you might be surprised to learn that there are actually some great affordable options on the market. It turns out you don’t have to break the bank for one of these machines that will make cutting your lawn much easier this summer.
We’ve done the research for you and reviewed the best riding lawn mowers under $1500. Our selections include some well known brands that are known for their commitment to quality. We think you’ll find a riding mower in these selections that will have all of the features you’re looking for. We’ve also included a “best of the rest section” which features some more great riding mowers that are just a little bit over the $1500 budget.
1. Troy-Bilt Pony 42
The best riding lawn mower for $1500
There wasn’t much we didn’t like about the Pony 42 riding lawn mower. It’s cutting deck is a little too large to work in tight spaces and it would benefit from a larger gas tank, but overall this is a great machine if you have a budget of around $1500. It has a reliable Briggs & Stratton engine and the 7-speed transmission gives you lots of speed control. It’s a nice comfortable ride as well.
If you have a budget of around $1500 then you’ll want to give serious consideration to the Troy-Bilt Pony 42 – for just slightly more than $1500, it’s the best option on the market today. This a top notch machine with a ton of great features for the price. If you’re patient you will find this model does sometimes go on sale for under the $1500 price tag.
We can’t stress enough what a great riding mower the Pony 42 is for such a great price. It’s powered by a 15.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine, one of the best small engines in production today. It also has a 7-speed Shift-on-the-Go transmission that makes changing speeds a breeze.
Of course, since this is a lawn mower we should also point out that it can cut a lot of grass with each pass. The Pony 42 has a large 42-inch wide cutting deck to get the job done. You’ll ride in comfort as you cut as well and the full-sized steering wheel makes it easy to make a turn.
In our review of this mower we did have a couple of concerns. First of all, it doesn’t have the largest gas tank capacity and that can be a pain if you’re cutting a large property and have to stop to refill the tank frequently.
The large cutting deck is another potential issue if you have a property with some tight spaces you may have to revert to a push mower to handle any tight spots.
- 15.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine.
- 7-speed transmission.
- Wide 42-inch cutting deck.
- Comfortable ride.
- Small gas tank capacity.
- Large cutting deck not ideal for tight spaces.
2. Craftsman R110
The best riding mower under $1400
The Craftsman R110 isn’t a perfect machine, but it’s a good option if you’re on a tight budget. You can’t beat the price at under $1400 and it does have a reliable Briggs & Stratton engine. With an 18-inch turning radius, this is also a great machine for small yards with lots of tight spaces to navigate. As a bonus, it also comes with a mulching kit which was a nice surprise at this price point.
It wasn’t easy finding quality riding lawn mowers with a price tag under $1500 and there was only one we found that was worth recommending under $1400 – that’s the Craftsman R110. This is a really nice machine at a price point that took us by surprise. If you want to keep that budget tight, but you still have your heart set on a riding lawn mower this model is easily your best option.
The first thing that caught our attention was that the mower is powered by a Briggs & Stratton engine – there’s a reason why you find these engines in many of the best riding lawn mowers, they’re powerful and reliable.
We were also impressed with the tight 18-inch turning radius of this machine. You can easily navigate around obstacles such as garden plots with this machine. The manual 6-speed transmission makes it nice and easy to change speeds as well. The R110 also comes equipped with a mulching kit as well.
As this is a budget machine we weren’t too surprised to find a couple of things we didn’t really like about this machine. First off, it’s not the most comfortable ride – the seats a little on the hard side and the steering is a little stiff. Also, the engine lacks the horse power you’ll find on more expensive models at 10.5 HP and that will reduce its effectiveness if you have a yard with some steep hills.
- Briggs & Stratton engine.
- Priced under $1400.
- 18-inch turning radius.
- Comes with mulching kit.
- Uncomfortable ride.
- Limited power at 10.5 HP.
3. Troy-Bilt TB30
The best compact riding lawn mower under $1500
The Troy-Bilt TB30 isn’t the best riding lawn mower on the market, but it’s still a good machine for the money. They’ve made this machine nice and compact, which is great for ease of storage, but it does reduce the cutting deck size. Also, the build quality isn’t the best, but you should still get several years of normal use out of it with proper maintenance and care. We were pleased to see that it comes with a mulch kit as well.
If you want the best riding mower you can find that is under that $1500 price point you’ll want to take a long look at the Troy-Bilt TB30. This is a great option and you can usually find it for under $1450. It has all of the features that more expensive riding lawn mowers come equipped with at a fraction of the price.
The TB30 has plenty of jump with its 382 cc auto-choke engine, so you shouldn’t have any trouble using this mower on steep inclines or uneven terrain. It has a 6-speed manual transmission as well, so you adjust the speed easily when needed.
We really liked the compact design of this mower as well – if you don’t have a ton of storage space this may be the mower you’ve been looking for. This Troy-Bilt machine does come with a mulch kit, so you won’t have to switch tools to do the mulching.
The one big disadvantage of the compact design of this mower is that it has a smaller cutting deck than you’ll find on some of its competitors at just 30 inches, so you’ll have to make a few more passes to get the job done. The build quality of this machine isn’t the best either and that makes it vulnerable to quicker wear and tear than more expensive riding lawn mowers.
- Mulching kit included.
- 382 cc engine.
- 6-speed manual transmission.
- Compact design.
- Small 30-inch cutting deck.
- Cheap build quality.
4. Poulan Pro PP19A42
The best budget riding mower from Poulan Pro
Overall, the Poulan Pro PP19A42 is a pretty good machine. If it was a little more durable over the long term we wouldn’t have much negative to say about it, but this common issue experienced by a number of buyers does give us concerns. We do like the twin blade system and 42-inch cutting deck though. The fact that it comes with an automatic transmission was another great surprise that makes this riding mower worth some serious consideration.
Poulan Pro has become one of the most popular brands in the lawn equipment sector over the past few years. They’re best known for affordable products that are good quality for the money and the Poulan Pro PP19A42 riding lawn mower is a great example of this. This is a great budget machine that retails for under $1500.
For such an affordable product this mower is not lacking in features. It’s powered by a Briggs & Stratton 10 HP motor and it’s fairly unique at this price point for its automatic feature making it easy to use.
The twin blade system with its impressive 42-inch cutting deck allows you to cut a lot of grass in a shorter period of time. You can also adjust the cutting height between 1.5 and 4 inches.
We were also impressed with the turn radius of this mower which is 16 inches – that makes it ideal for cutting around trees and garden plots.
We do have a couple of concerns with this product that prevented us from giving it a perfect review. Unfortunately, it does not come with a mulching kit, although a compatible one is sold separately. The other common complaint about this machine is that it’s not the most durable on the market. After 2 or 3 seasons of use you’re likely to start to run into some wear and tear issues.
- Twin blade system.
- Automatic transmission.
- 42-inch cutting deck.
- Mulching kit is not included.
- Not very durable.
5. Troy-Bilt Pony 36
Cheapest riding lawn mower with 7-speed manual transmission
The Troy-Bilt Pony 36 is a really nice machine in the budget riding lawn mower category. We liked the 7-speed transmission, although it could use a slightly bigger engine than the 11.5 HP one it comes with. It was also nice to see that the heights adjustable and that it has a twin blade cutting system for easier cutting. If it wasn’t for the 2-year limited warranty we would have rated this mower close to the top of our list.
When we started working on these reviews we noticed that most riding lawn mowers under $1500 had a number of shortcomings which is to be expected at this price point. One that surprised us with its rich range of features was the Troy-Bilt Pony 36. It’s easily one of the cheapest riding lawn mowers that’s actually good at cutting grass.
One of the best features of the Pony 36 is that it has a 7-speed manual transmission – most products in this price category are limited to a 6-speed transmission, so this is a nice upgrade.
Its 36-inch cutting deck isn’t the largest available of machines in this price range, but it’s a good width for most scenarios. It uses a twin blade system and the height is adjustable with 5 different positions to choose from. We also like that Troy-Bilt has added a rear hitch to this model, so you could actually use it for pulling a small yard trailer as well.
The engine isn’t overly powerful at 11.5 HP, so you may struggle a little bit on steep hills, but its fine for relatively flat yards. Another thing we weren’t thrilled about was the 2-year limited warranty you get when you purchase this mower. It is a budget model, but $1500 is still a significant purchase, so it should come with at least a 5-year warranty.
- 7-speed transmission.
- Twin blades.
- 5 adjustable height positions.
- Rear hitch.
- Only an 11.5 HP engine.
- Unimpressive 2-year warranty.
Best of the Rest Budget Riding Mowers
Like any product review article, there were many other options we could have included on this list. Usually the ones we left out were comparable to the ones we did include, but didn’t have the same level of reputation, they were missing one of two features or they were slightly over the budget of $1500.
That’s why we decided to include a “best of the rest” section. We encourage you to give these products a look as well, you might find they suit your needs better than the ones we’ve reviewed in full here.
Cub Cadet XT1 LT42
If you can stretch the budget a bit further to $1700, then the Cub Cadet XT1 LT42 is well worth the extra expense. This awesome machine has a powerful 547 cc engine, so it will cut through just about anything that you put in front of it. It also has a nice large 42-inch wide cutting deck which will reduce your actual cutting time significantly. This is a great machine for just a bit more than the $1500 budget. Check Home Depot
Another great mower that fell just outside of the $1500 price line is the Husqvarna YTH18542. This mower comes with a 42-inch cutting deck to make short work of any large lawn and it has a 18.5 HP engine which comes in handy for extra boost over uneven terrain. It’s a smooth riding machine with a tight 16 inch turning radius for working around small spaces. What really impressed us with this mower though was the warranty. The term could be a little longer than the 3-years they offer, but it is a full bumper-to-bumper warranty. Check Lowe’s
John Deere S100
John Deere has been one of the most trusted names in lawn equipment for decades and they have a great machine slightly more than our $1500 budget. The John Deere S100 is a very capable machine and worth the extra investment. It has some great features such as a hydrostatic transmission. Side-by-side foot pedals for ease of use and its made to last with a 12-gauge steel body. You can’t go wrong with a John Deere lawn tractor. Check Lowe’s
We had to include the Craftsman T140 in our honorable mention category. This machine is powered by a Briggs & Stratton 18.5 HP engine so it has plenty of zip. It has a simple foot pedal controlled automatic transmission, making it easy to adjust your speed as you go. The biggest surprise was its massive 46-inch cutting deck – that far outclasses the main competitors of this mower. The only major disappointment we had with this machine was its 2-year limited warranty. Check Lowe’s
We were impressed by the sheer number of lawn mowers that we were able to find that were under $1500 or, as in the case of our “best of the rest” section just a bit more than that price point. It’s hard to choose a favorite, but in a crowded marketplace we settled on the Troy-Bilt Pony 42 because of its large 42-inch cutting deck and fairly powerful 15.5 HP engine.
We could easily have chosen any of the products reviewed here, because there isn’t much to choose between them. If you’re seriously looking for a riding lawn mower, you’ll find something that meets your needs in these reviews.