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Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills (2024)

Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills (2024)

For safety reasons, you really shouldn’t use a riding mower on an incline of more than 15 degrees. But otherwise, a riding mower really can make grassy hills, slopes, inclines, and overall uneven terrain a heckuva lot easier to maintain. In this article, we present the 9 best riding lawn mowers for hills, in categories like the best battery-powered lawnmower, the best budget mower, the best small mower, and more. While researching this article, we also looked for features that help make a mower particularly well-suited for uneven ground, like a small turning radius — zero-turn being most ideal for hills — large rear wheels for better traction, and a locking rear differential. 

We know riding mowers can be a bit intimidating for some who are accustomed to using push mowers. But trust us, the mowers included in this list are not only great for hills; they’re easy to assemble and even easier to operate. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll be more than ready to mow that hilly backyard with confidence.

And with cupholders and comfortable seats common among these mowers, you may not even break a sweat.

Our Top Picks

What is the best riding lawn mower for steep hills? Here’s a quick trip through the top 9 mowers included in our ranking.

Husqvarna YTH18542Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills: Husqvarna YTH18542
This Husqvarna riding lawn mower topped our list on the strength of the 42” cutting width and 16-degree turning radius. 
Husqvarna Z254Best Runner-Up: Husqvarna Z254
A close second in our ranking of the best riding mower for hills is the Husqvarna Z254, a hydrostatic zero-turn riding mower with a 54” cutting width. 
RYOBI RY48111Best Electric: RYOBI RY48111
Turn to RYOBI for the best electric riding lawn mower, with a 38” cutting width and 16” rear wheels that are ready for any terrain. 
Toro 75742Best Zero-Turn: Toro 75742
The best zero turn mower for hills is the Toro 75742, boasting a 42” deck and variable-speed mowing.
Husqvarna TS 354XDBest Small Riding Lawn Mower for Hills: Husqvarna TS 354XD
The Husqvarna TS 354XD garden tractor has more than enough power and stability for small yards with hilly terrain.
Troy-Bilt TB 30Best Budget: Troy-Bilt TB 30 
The best cheap riding lawn mower for hills is the Troy-Bilt TB 30, a rear-engine mower with a 30” cutting deck.
Beast 48ZBM20RBest Commercial: Beast 48ZBM20R
If steep-slope mowing is your business, choose Beast, the best commercial riding lawn mower for hills with a 48” cutting width and a roll bar for safety.
Husqvarna MZ61Best Luxury: Husqvarna MZ61
When it’s time to mow, don’t cut corners: the Husqvarana MZ61 offers a whopping 61” cutting deck and a high-back seat with armrests.
Cub Cadet XT1Best Fuel-efficient: Cub Cadet XT1
Refuel less with the most fuel-efficient lawn mower for hills: The Cub Cadet XT1.

A Closer Look: Best Riding Lawn Mower for Hills

Ready for a deep cut? Here’s everything we like, and some things reviewers didn’t like, about each mower we mentioned.

1. Husqvarna YTH18542

The best riding lawn mower for hills overall

Husqvarna YTH18542 best riding lawn mowers for hills

Brand: Husqvarna | Power: Gas | Width: 42″ | Turn Radius: 16″ | Price: 💰💰

With an 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek engine, the best rated riding lawn mower for hills is the gas-powered Husqvarna YTH18542. What makes this Husqvarana the best lawn mower for steep hills is the foot pedal-operated hydrostatic transmission, meaning you can change direction and speed without taking your hands off the wheel. That’s particularly important for safety when mowing an incline. 

Otherwise, we like the 42” cutting deck and 16” cutting radius — remember, when it comes to hills, the smaller the turn radius, the better. There’s also air-induction mowing technology for a clean and consistent cut with improved airflow within the reinforced deck. Don’t miss the dual, anti-scalp wheels. Also, the 13” seat is mid-back and ergonomic, and overall the mower is easy to operate. Consumers call it a good product at a good price, well-built, and easy to use. 

  • Cupholder
  • Mows in reverse
  • Very powerful going uphill on grass
  • Too much vibration for some
  • Awkward-angled brake pedal, some say

2. Husqvarna Z254

The best runner-up riding lawn mower for hills

Husqvarna Z254 best riding lawn mowers for hills

Brand: Husqvarna | Power: Gas | Width: 54″ | Turn Radius: Zero-turn | Price: 💰💰💰

Following closely behind the YTH18542 is the Husqvarna Z254, a zero-turn mower with a 54” cutting width. Among other benefits, zero-turn mowers are easier to maneuver, which is important to consider when mowing a steep incline. Also notable for safety, there’s a patent-pending parking brake system, automatically activating or deactivating as the steering levers are moved outward or inward.

Also catching our attention, the Z254 has a 26 HP Kohler engine, reaching max speeds of 6.5 MPH. Additionally, clippings can be mulched, discharged, or bagged (but the mulching kit and bagger or sold separately). According to one report, the controls are easy to use. Overall, the mower has lots of power and speed and cuts very well, users say, even on five acres of rough terrain.

  • Powerful mower
  • Cast-iron blade mandrels
  • Makes mowing 5 acres fun
  • Bit difficult to de-crate
  • If you’ve never used one, start slow
  • Can create divots if you mow too fast

3. RYOBI RY48111

The best electric riding lawn mower for hills

RYOBI RY48111 best riding lawn mowers for hills

Brand: RYOBI | Power: Battery | Width: 38″ | Turn Radius: Zero-turn | Price: 💰💰💰

To save fuel and help the environment, choose the best battery-operated riding lawn mower for hills, the Ryobi RY48111. With a 38” cutting width and a zero-turn radius, this 48-volt mower is powered by 100Ah lead-acid batteries. The batteries are included with purchase and provide about 2-and-a-half-hours of run time on a single charge. The mower is also quiet, running at only about 70 dB, with 12 manual deck adjustments ranging from 1.5” to 4.5”. We like the cupholder and that the whole thing charges through a standard 120-volt outlet. 

We felt confident including the RY48111 based on feedback from a user on a hilly lot, calling the mower a champ, and adding the battery life is more than adequate. The mower also did great on another hilly property, according to reports, providing a nice even cut with a great turning radius. It’s rear-wheel drive, providing good traction in rough terrain. We were especially encouraged by a report the mower climbed a steep hill in a side yard. The ride is a bit bumpy, though, based on feedback.

  • Zips around corners
  • Plenty of power, very quiet
  • Cuts mowing time by 1/3 compared to push mower
  • Steering column a bit shaky
  • Gotta throttle a bit going uphill
  • Under-powered to tow a cart up a hill

4. Toro 75742

The best zero-turn riding lawn mower for hills

Toro 75742 best riding lawn mowers for hills

Brand: Toro | Power: Gas | Width: 42″ | Turn Radius: Zero-turn | Price: 💰💰

Depending on how steep the hill is you need to mow, a zero-turn radius mower (meaning, in effect, no turning at all is required) may be your best option. The best zero-turn riding lawn mower for hills is the “pro-sumer” Toro 75742. In addition to a zero-turn radius, there’s a 42” cutting deck, and it all runs on a 22.5 HP V-twin engine with a hydrostatic transmission. It’s also rear-wheel drive, with 11” front wheels and 18” inch wheels in the back.  

With Toro, hills aren’t a problem, based on feedback. One user who bought the mower for their uneven terrain called the steering responsive and another added that the 75742 cuts the grass evenly without some of the grassy chunks common from other riding lawn mowers. The cup holder and storage compartments are convenient, and the seat is comfortable, we learned. The fenders are also effective for deflecting mud and dirt. Some do say, however, that the mower bogs down a bit when the grass is too thick. It’s also sometimes difficult to start.

  • Tons of power
  • Good for a first-time user
  • Deck cleanout feature works well
  • Bit of a gas hog
  • Wheels tend to scalp the yard
  • Too small for some taller riders

5. Husqvarna TS 354XD

The best small riding lawn mower for hills

Husqvarna TS 354XD best riding lawn mowers for hills

Brand: Husqvarna | Power: Gas | Width: 54″ | Turn Radius: 16″ | Price: 💰💰💰

Need a solution for mowing your hills that’s less like a tractor, and more like the small and compact riding lawn mower you typically see? For the best small riding lawn mower for hills, check out the TS 354XD from Husqvarna. Though comparably compact, the 354XD boasts a 54” cutting width and a 16” turning radius. There’s also a hydrostatic transmission, and it’s all powered by a 24 HP Kawasaki V-Twin engine.

More than anything, though, what makes the best small riding lawn mower for hills is the locking rear differential. This design keeps the speed of the front and rear axles tied together, helping the mower climb and descend hills safely and navigate other sorts of obstacles in hilly terrain. The wheels are also anti-scalp, perfect for uneven ground, and comments describe the TS 354XD as easy to start and good on hills.

The mower is also easy to assemble, we learned, but the high-back seat could offer more shock absorption, according to some. 

  • Large, wide tires
  • Good deck airflow
  • Pull-button blade engagement
  • Safety switch not intuitive
  • Careful making sharp turns on wet ground
  • Let it warm a bit before engaging the blades

6. Troy-Bilt TB 30 

The best riding lawn mower for hills

Troy-Bilt TB 30 best riding lawn mowers for hills

Brand: Troy-Bilt | Power: Gas | Width: 30″ | Turn Radius: 16″ | Price: 💰

It’s possible to have the best riding lawn mower for hills without spending all your money. The best-rated cheap riding lawn mower for gardeners on a budget is the TB 30 from Troy-Bilt. In addition to a 30” cutting deck and a 16” turning radius, the gas-powered mower offers a 6-speed shift-on-the-go transmission, and a 382cc single-cylinder OHV Troy-Bilt engine with auto choke. It’s also compatible with a broad array of attachments.

More than anything, what makes the Troy-Bilt the best affordable riding lawn mower for hills are the large rear wheels (18” in the back, 13” in the back) contributing a smoother ride on uneven ground. Reports also state the mower stays well-balanced on smaller hills and inclines, especially at the highest deck height. No matter the size of the hill, it is vital to take them slowly, we found out. But otherwise, the TB 30 tows and handles sharp turns well, according to reports. It’s also easy to operate.

  • Fuel efficient
  • Easy to maneuver in tight areas
  • Small enough to fit through most gates
  • Some tire durability issues
  • A little uncomfortable for shorter folks
  • Steering column jerks a bit over bumps

7. Beast 48ZBM20R

The best commercial riding lawn mower for hills

Beast 48ZBM20R

Brand: Beast | Power: Gas | Width: 48″ | Turn Radius: Zero-turn | Price: 💰💰

The best pro-level, commercial-grade riding lawn mower for hills is, naturally enough, a Beast. As well as a roll bar for safety, especially important when steep slope mowing, the gas-powered Beast 48ZBM20R offers a 48” cutting width, zero-turn radius, and hydrostatic transmission. We also like 11-gauge steel deck, ¼-inch steel frame components, and 7-gauge reinforced clutch plate. This thing reaches speeds of up to 10 MPH, and the tires are the largest in the category, with a blade tip speed reaching nearly 19,000 feet per minute. 

Trust us when we say, this mower lives up to its name. Users call the control and speed amazing, adding it’s easy to operate, powerful, and nimble. The mower does take a bit to warm up, according to reports. Still, otherwise, the mower works well at an angle, some say, and at extreme temperatures. Even those who’ve never used a riding mower say it’s easy to get the hang of with a bit of practice, and for what you get, the price can’t be beat.

  • Real metal
  • Very sturdy
  • Comfortable seat and headlights
  • Ride a bit bumpy
  • Brakes a little tough to engage
  • Gotta move the seat forward to refill gas

8. Husqvarna MZ61

The best riding lawn mower for hills

Husqvarna MZ61

Brand: Husqvarna | Power: Gas | Width: 61″ | Turn Radius: Zero-turn | Price: 💰💰💰💰

Mow that hill in style and luxury with the Husqvarna MZ61. With a 61” inch cutting width, among the largest in our list, and a zero-turn radius, the gas-powered MZ61 has an 11-gauge steel cutting deck and a hydrostatic transmission. Earning the mower, our pick for best luxury is the ergonomically designed deck lifting system, helping the rider make adjustments directly from the operator’s seat, and the high-back seat with armrests. 

But that’s not all. In terms of comfort, the MZ61 also boasts foam-padded hand grips and vibration dampeners. As far as hills are concerned, the uphill traction is great, users say, though try to plan your trip to avoid steep downgrades. Otherwise, though, the mower runs great and is powerful. Turning is easy, according to one report, and it’s easy to use for a beginner. Some lawn striping issues have been reported, however.

  • Easy to start and clean
  • Bagger attachment available
  • Deck height pedal works well
  • Bit loud
  • Takes a while to master steering and speed control
  • Better suspension would make it even better for hills

9. Cub Cadet XT1

The best fuel-efficient riding lawn mower for hills

Cub Cadet XT1

Brand: Cub Cadet | Power: Gas | Width: 42″ | Turn Radius: 16″ | Price: 💰💰

In terms of fuel efficiency, the best riding lawn mower for steep hills is the Cub Cadet XTI. With a 42” cutting width and a 16” run radius, the Cub Cadet offers a hydrostatic transmission and an optimized steering system for handling around obstacles, especially important on an incline, as well as an automotive-style turning radius for better maneuvering and better cutting in uneven or bumpy terrain.

The Cub Cadet also earns high marks for comfort, with push-button cruise control, a high-back seat, and comfort-grip steering. Consumers report more than enough power for hills. According to one report, the Cub Cadet performed well on a property with hills and steep inclines, and provided a clean cut on a property with some hills, another user said.

  • Mows wet grass on hillsides
  • Turns sharper than other mowers
  • Deck Hose connection to wash away clippings
  • Some starting issues reported
  • Armrest upgrade recommended
  • Blades a little thin compared to other mowers

Our Process

For this guide on riding lawn mowers for hills, our team spent 5 hours researching the most popular options from over 45 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about twenty seven user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each riding lawn mower for hills. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 9 on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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Further Reading

Best Riding Lawn Mowers
The 6 Best Riding Lawn Mowers
Best Battery Powered Mowers
The 7 Best Battery Powered Lawn Mowers
Best Lawn Mowers for Hills
The 10 Best Lawn Mowers for Hills
Best Cordless Lawn Mowers
The 5 Best Cordless Lawn Mowers
Using the Best Lawn Sweepers to clean leaves during autumn
The 8 Best Lawn Sweepers
Lawn Tractor vs Garden Tractor
Lawn Tractor vs. Garden Tractor