Consumer Reports: Lawn Tractors For Less

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More and more people with lots of grass to mow are buying lawn tractors. More than a million tractors were sold last year. And Consumer Reports says sales are expected to increase now that a wide variety are available in stores like Lowe's, Sears, Wal-Mart and The Home Depot.

Since The Home Depot started selling John Deere lawn tractors this year, prices have dropped significantly. This one costs 1800 dollars — far less than you would have paid for a similar tractor a year ago.

It was among the 24 lawn tractors Consumer Reports just tested. The tractors range in price from 800 dollars to well over 4,000.

The most expensive allow you to make a tight U-turn at the end of each row. That means faster mowing. But testers found the tight-turning mowers don't cut any better than conventional tractors and they don't handle as well on hills.

The least expensive tractors have gearshifts. Peter Sawchuk, who directed the testing, says these are awkward to use and give you a jerky ride.

A lot easier to operate are tractors with hydrostatic transmission. You can change speed automatically without having to shift.

"It's similar to an automatic transmission in your car. You simply push with your foot or a lever to go forward and the more you push, the faster you go."

All the tractors can discharge clippings out the side and many can be reconfigured to mulch.

With all the mowers, if you want to bag your clippings, you'll have to pay extra for a bagging kit.

In the end, Consumer Reports named this tractor a Best Buy. It's John Deere model number L110. It costs 1800 dollars and 250 for the bagging kit.

It's impressive at mowing and its hydrostatic transmission makes it easy to operate.

Lawn tractors wind up in the repair shop more often than most other products that Consumer Reports tracks for reliability. However John Deere has proved to be one of the more reliable brands.

View more Consumer Reports stories here.

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