There’s a reason lawn care professionals only use gas lawn mowers to make their living.
Gas lawn mowers are better for people serious about lawn care:
- They cut lawns better and faster than cordless battery powered mowers.
- They easily get through tough and even long, wet grass with ease.
- You only spend 20 seconds refilling the gas tank vs. 2 hours charging the battery.
Yes there are pros and cons.
Jump to picks:
- Best self propelled: Honda HRX217HYA
- Runner-up self propelled: Honda HRN216VKA
- Budget option: Toro Recycler (Variable Speed)
- Best push mower: Honda HRN216PKA
- Runner-up push mower: Toro Recycler (Push)
Who Is A Gas Lawn Mower Best For?
Do you have a small tennis court sized lawn in a crowded suburb?
You probably don’t need the best lawn mower we recommend below. You can get an EGO or Makita electric – which are also good – just not as rugged.
But if you have a bigger lawn (0.25 – 1.5 acres), with tough grass, tough terrain and you prefer the smell of regular gasoline in the morning…
…Then you’ll love the Honda’s and Toro’s we recommend below.
What Does “The Best” vs. Popular vs. Value Mean When It Come To Lawn Mowers?
Here’s the thing: Nearly all the bestselling lawn mowers are battery powered or corded electric.
Only 3 of the top 20 are self propelled gas mowers.
And, it makes sense for most people.
As the price of fuel increases. And as we move into suburban sprawls with smaller lawns… Electric mowers are sometimes better suited for the job.
- The best gas mower has the best of all worlds. Best value for money because it is a good price for what you get. Yes, it may be expensive but it will last you 20 years and mow your lawn like a golf fairway every mow.
- You will always see the more affordable gas mowers be more popular. Simply put: Budget is usually the top buying criteria. These mowers are usually decent but an entry level model.
- The perfect example of a gas lawn mower with high value for money is “The Best” mower but used or refurbished. We feel “The Best” gas mower is the best value as well. But to some it means bang-for-buck. So maybe it could be any off brand lawn mower with a Honda small engine.
With all that out of the way let’s take a look at the actual best mowers.
We own, regularly use and constantly update this list with our thoughts on these mowers.
We have used and abused all these models and are extremely confident they are the best of the gas lawn mower world. We only recommend Honda and Toro for the reason mower rental shops only hire out Honda and Toro: They have the least downtime no matter the abuse they receive.
Best Self Propelled Gas Lawn Mower
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1. Honda HRX Model: HYA
Hands-down the best mower we have used that is still considered affordable for homeowners is the $999 Honda HRX217HYA.
Instead of just regurgitating features let’s talk about the specific reasons this mower will make you enjoy mowing like no other mower can.
What’s Great About This Mower?
- Stupid simple bag and mulch adjustment knob. With the pull and push of a knob behind the engine you can quickly go from mulch, to bag, to leaf shred, to discharge. Literally in seconds this adjustment slides a door above the blades to allow full mulching, bagging or whatever combination in between – there are 10 positions to choose from.
- Completely adjustable self propel speed. This model of Honda HRX is the second best model they make and 1 of 2 with a hydrostatic transmission control. This means you can adjust the self propel speed with a knob and the mower will keep that speed. Lower model mowers only allow you to choose fast, medium and slow. This HRX Honda transmission control is great for helping you control the mower going up or down hills and through thick, wet grass.
- Never rust NeXite mower deck. We have a 20 year old Honda lawn mower in the shop. It works great. But the mower deck is rusty with a few rust holes. Since Honda small engines last so long – you want a deck material to match it. And that’s what Honda has delivered with the lifetime warranty NeXite deck. Not bad!
- Fast dual blades provide suction to lift the grass and give a superior cut. You know how when you go to the barber and the put your hair between their fingers and pull it tight so they can get an even cut? That’s what this dual blade Honda is doing with its superior suction. It is pulling the grass leaves tights so it cuts even and smooth to get your lawn that golf fairway look.
- Peace of mind with 5 year engine warranty. And just for good measure Honda gives you a 5 year engine warranty. And they have one of the largest dealer networks in the world. So no matter where you bought it and where you are now you can get your engine repaired if something goes wrong.
Anything Not Good With This Honda HRX Mower?
As with anything you have used for extended periods – no matter how much you love it – there will always be things that annoy you.
Here’s what we think could be improved (minor things):
- Better bag handle. We understand they designed the new grass catcher to be light. It’s obvious the engineers were simply told: Make it as light as possible. But we feel somewhere between the solid old grass catchers and the new fabric skin with wire frames could be ideal. When emptying the grass into the bin we often think about the solid old handles which made it easier. All good though it’s not even close to a deal breaker.
- Shift (self propel speed) lever location. This is really nit-picky. And maybe you wouldn’t even agree. But we feel the throttle lever and shift lever should switch.
- Currently, both these levers are in the same control box at the top left of the mower handlebar. The throttle lever – which you never touch (it always stay in fast mode) is on the outside. The shift lever – which you use to change the speed of the self propel feature – is on the inside. Since most people are right handed and not left handed we feel it should make more sense to have the more used lever closer to the handle bar so when using your left hand to adjust – your palm can be supported. This is something you won’t even notice but we thought was a weird design decision worth mentioning.
Even on special you won’t find this lawn mower for less than $900 brand new.
It is the second highest model Honda and is designed for pro users.
It is truly the best-of-the-best so you can decide if you want the mower that will last you 20 years and cost you $1,000 now. Or you can choose a lower model Honda or Toro (Picks below) that will last you 12-15 years and cost you $550 – $750 today.
Where To Buy:
Pros: Quick delivery. Easy returns. Cheapest price. Can select from different sellers. Can choose a refurbished option. Very trustworthy. You probably already have an account.
Cons: Can’t touch it and wheel it around before buying.
Pros: Can go into Home Depot and take a look at mower before buying.
Cons: Not as fast delivery if order online. Usually a higher price. Not all items ordered online can be returned through UPS or similar – you need to go into store.
Your Local Mower Dealer
Pros: In-person expert advice. Local relationship for service & repair.
Cons: Most expensive. You may not have local dealer within a 1-2 hour drive.
The Bottom Line:
If you want the best performing and longest lasting self propelled gas lawn mower on the market then you want the Honda HRX217 Model: HYA.
It gives you the best mow. And that’s what you want the best lawn mower for, right?
2. Honda HRN Model: VKA
This is a model down from the #1 pick HRX. And it is our pick for the second best gas lawn mower.
There’s a bunch of differences between it and the Honda HRX – here are the main 4:
- It has a 16 gauge steel deck instead of the lifetime guarantee NeXite deck
- It has a smaller Honda GCV170 engine (instead of GCV200)
- It has a smaller bag for grass
- It has 3 year instead of 5 year warranty.
But it does have one main benefit:
- It is $400 or so cheaper than the HRX217
There’s not much more to say about Honda lawn mowers – they are the best. Honda’s make the best small engine and the engine is the heart of the mower. They have also been improving their lawn mower designs since they released their first in 1971.
If you want to save the money and get the second best Honda mower for most people then check it out here:
3. Toro Recycler 21″ Width
If you want a really good self propelled mower without the cost of a Honda then this model from Toro will be for you.
It is half the price of the above Honda’s and you’re still get a self propelled lawn mower from a premium brand – well-known in the industry.
Toro goes with the Briggs & Stratton 140cc which provide 18% less torque than #2 pick and 28% less torque than #1 pick. But that’s why you’re saving so much money – maybe you don’t need the beastly power.
Best Push Style (Not Self Propelled) Gas Lawn Mower
1. Honda HRN Model: PKA
The best push mower on the market is the Honda HRN216PKA.
It is the exact same lawn mower as the #2 pick self propelled Honda – without the self propel – and a tiny bit cheaper.
It does include a grass catch bag, we just haven’t included it installed in the photo.
It has everything you need in a push mower and outperforms all the budget push mowers by a mile.
- Honda engine.
- Easy oil fill and change.
- 16 gauge steel deck.
- 3 in 1 mulch / bag and discharge system.
- Most expensive push mower.
The bottom line: You can get a premium Honda lawn mower for a little cheaper by not getting the self propelled feature. You decide.
2. Toro Recycler (Push)
The next best push mower is of course the standard push model from Toro.
As mentioned above: Toro and Honda stand above the rest when it comes to residential use mowers.
This mower is exactly the same as the self propelled model – just without that feature.
How to Choose Between Self Propelled and Push
Self propelled lawn mowers are better in every way except cost. We recommend them over push mowers every day of the week.
Help In Tough Grass
If you are consistently mowing tough grass then the self propelled feature will save you. Literally, it could prevent an injury. You walk-behind the mower and let the mower do the work. It’s great.
A More Enjoyable Mow
Having used many old and new pus and self propelled mower it is clear the self propeller is more fun, easier, more relaxing and better for people that may not be super fit and healthy. Even taking into account a heavier mower the self propelled mower will be easier to move around than a push mower.
The only reason to get push over self propelled is if your lawn is flat, you want the most affordable option and you are fit and actually enjoy the extra colories burned (to really earn that after mow beer).
Lawn Mowing Daily
Maybe you have a landscaping or garden business and don’t need a riding mower cause your jobs are suburban residential. If that’s you then you’ll probably want to get the self propelled mower. At the end of a long hot day you’ll be thankful you did.
Hills and Slopes
This is a tricky one. Because you can always go side-to-side along the slope thereby never needing to actually go direct up it. But if your slope is a tight squeeze and it’s hard to do the side-to-side technique you can get a self propelled mower to help you go straight up it.
Other Walk-behind Gas Lawn Mower Brands We Looked At For This Review
Lawn Boy is owned by The Toro Company. All Lawn Boy mowers are made in the same factory as Toro and are the exact same mower but in green.
We included Toro instead of Lawn Boy because the name recognition is better.
Snapper is under the Briggs & Stratton umbrella of brands.
They only make 3 models of walk behind mower but they are great and just missed our list.
Snapper makes an amazing low end commercial duty walk behind mower with a Honda GXV160 engine and 14 gauge steel deck. But it’s not fair to compare a proper commercial duty mower to one intended for residential use.
Their more affordable entry model uses a Briggs engine and even has a cup holder. But for what you get Toro beats it to make the list.
Troy-Bilt was bought by MTD Products, which now sits under the Stanley Black & Decker umbrella of brands.
All Troy-Bilt’s are made/assembled by MTD Products with most of them using a Briggs & Stratton engine. They do have one model of mower using a Honda GCV160 engine.
Troy-Bilt walk behind mowers feel more cheaply built than Honda, Toro and didn’t make our list of the top 5 gas mowers.
Cub Cadet is better known for their riding mowers but they also make a 1 model with a Kohler engine. We couldn’t find where to buy this mower as it is out of stock and most likely discontinued.
Husqvarna is a Swedish company and they make great power equipment. It looks like they make a single model – a self propelled model powered by Kawasaki. However, the price is outrageous and we couldn’t find it available anywhere. They do have the most popular robot mower so that should be fun to test.
Stihl makes 8 walk behind mowers with various Stihl and Kawasaki engines. We haven’t tested these yet but with research of the reviews they are not touching Honda or Toro gas mower quality anytime soon.