A Cut Above

Mowing the lawn appears to be getting easier.

Nearly half of all lawn mowers sold these days are now self propelled.
And of the 42 Consumer Reports just tested, many boast lots of other hand features.

The lawn mowers Consumer Reports tested promise to do more than just cut the grass. They promise to cut down on the work.

This EZ Walk lets you vary the speed with the touch of a handle. And with others, the faster you walk, the faster the mower goes. The action is controlled by a sliding handlebar.

If you find your mower hard to start, a Troy Bilt promises 30 percent easier pulling.

Testers found it easy, but say all mowers are easier to start than they used to be. And with some, you just use a key.

Some Craftsman promises another convenient feature, an easy empty bag. Peter Sawchuck says it's easy, but he's found some you can empty with one hand.

Besides being easier to use, you want a mower that cuts evenly and if you're mulching, doesn't leave behind a bunch of grass on top of your lawn.

Consumer Reports tests for that. Peter and his team get down on their hands and knees to judge the results. "Overall this looks pretty good."

So if you want a self propelled mower, Consumer Reports named a $400 Toro, a best buy. It's the Toro recycler model number 20041.

Despite reliability problems in the past, Lawnboys are now manufactured by Toro and have been redesigned with lots of convenient features.

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