11 Best Zero Turn Mower for Hills – Updated Reviews

best zero turn mower for hills

It is completely unacceptable that something as mighty and earth-sculpting as a zero-turn mower should be bested by a hill.

We’ve all heard the stories and seen the sad sights of overturned zero-turn riding mowers that couldn’t handle slopes, some as low as 6 degrees.

With that in mind, lawn mower manufacturers have been working day and night to create their next masterpiece: the best zero-turn mower for hills.

Here are some of the best zero turn mower for hills, but of course, there can be only one. Spoiler alert….na, you have to keep reading to find out.

Best Zero Turn Mower for Hills

  1. Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP KohlerBest for mild slopes
  2. Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1 50 inBest for steep slopes
  3. Ariens IKON XD 52 inch 23 HP (Kawasaki)Most comfortable ride
  4. Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP KawasakiBest safety features for residential
  5. Troy-Bilt Mustang 42 inBest Budget-Friendly
  6. Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 inBest for slight rolling hills
  7. Toro TimecutterBest bang for your buck
  8. EGO Power+ 42” Z6Best Electric
  9. DEWALT Z260 Commercial 60 inBest for pros
  10. John Deere Z345M 42 inBest for modest slopes
  11. Toro Titan Max Havoc Edition 60inEditor’s Pick

11 Best Zero Turn Mower for Hills Reviews

1. Best for mild slopes – Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler

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We begin this list with a company that makes its intention clear to be known as the number 1 lawn mower manufacturer in the world.

The Husqvarna Z254 was designed to make you look no further by packing a powerful mower into a gorgeous exterior.

It has a decent 54-inch reinforced steel stamped mower deck, which is great for projects of varying sizes, and a powerful 26 hp Kohler engine.

You get three cutting options: side-discharge, mulching, or bagging, and you can use any of these when mowing on hills.

When dicing up a lawn, the Z254 uses an air induction mowing technology that draws air from over and under the deck, which yields a finer cut even on one pass.

This tech comes in handy when working on slopes. Another feature that makes this great for hills is the automatic parking brake, which is a time and lifesaver.

This will give you faster control if you are forced to stop on a hill. While the Z254 ticks nearly all the right boxes, it is limited in one area.

You cannot use this zero-turn mower on inclines above 10 degrees. Considering this is a residential mower, this is still adequate as most yards don’t exceed 5 degrees.


  • Superior cut
  • Compact body
  • Three cutting modes
  • Automatic parking brakes


  • Light on safety features
  • It can only handle 10-degree slopes

2. Best for steep slopes – Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1 50 in

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At first glance, you might think it is a lawn tractor, but don’t let the steering wheel fool you; this is a zero-turn mower.

The major advantage of this radical redesign is that now you have control of all four tires, which will allow you to conquer more challenging terrains.

As a result, this is the only zero-turn mower on the market that can handle 20-degree slopes. Given its success, we won’t be surprised to see other manufacturers come up with their own designs.

As for the cut itself, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1 has a 50-inch fabricated deck and a 23-hp Kohler twin engine. This gives you the power to deliver fine cuts on up to 4 acres of grass.

You also get a 20in high back chair with seat suspension for a comfortable ride, even on bumpy lawns. Cub Cadet tops off their genius riding mower with a 3-year warranty.

Admittedly, you lose some of the dexterity of a lap bar, but it’s a small price to pay to contend for the best z.ero turn mower for hills.


  • All-wheel drive
  • It can handle 20-degree slopes
  • Runs a powerful engine
  • Very comfortable ride


  • Slower responses than a lap bar
  • It doesn’t have an hour meter

3. Most comfortable ride – Ariens IKON XD 52 inch 23 HP (Kawasaki)

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Here’s another residential zero-turn mower that delivers more than its money’s worth.

The Ariens Ikon XD is the next generation from the Ikon X, designed to deliver improved performance, durability, and ease of maintenance.

The first thing to rave about is the 11-gauge steel fabricated deck, as opposed to a stamped deck, which is more common for residential mowers.

While this makes the riding mower heavier and more expensive, it will last a very long time.

To keep this zero-turn mower running smoothly all day is a 23 hp Kawasaki engine, which is as good as you need to mow up to 2 acres at a time.

However, time passes quickly on this zero-turn mower thanks to its top speed of 7 MPH.

What makes the ride comfortable is the plush high back seat and padded armrests. The armrests come in handy, especially when moving slow and steady on a hill.

Perhaps the best thing about this is that you can mow on inclines up to 15 degrees, and you can choose how you want to mow, whether side to side or up and down.

The one issue that may come up is that some of their products have defective parts. Fortunately, this is a family-run business that cares about its reputation, so its customer service is excellent.


  • Comfortable seat with padded armrests
  • It can mow inclines up to 15 degrees
  • You can mow hills in any direction
  • Excellent customer service


  • Quality control issues

4. Best safety features for residential – Husqvarna MZ61 61 in. 24 HP Kawasaki

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The second Husqvarna on our list is one that’s come back with a vengeance. This one has a 61-inch mower deck that is made from fabricated 11-gauge steel, so you know it means business.

Powering this zero-turn mower is a 24 hp Kawasaki. Note that newer models have an even stronger 27 hp Briggs & Stratton engine that makes cutting tall grass feel like child’s play.

Even though this is a residential mower, it has a commercial-grade hydrostatic transmission, which is the best way to control a zero-turn mower.

It also comes with safety features usually reserved for commercial zero-turn mowers. The rollbar comes attached, so you don’t have to buy it as a separate accessory.

Of course, you also get a seat belt and, best of all, a parking brake. The separate parking brake lever will minimize the risk of rolling or skidding, which is great when using a zero-turn mower for hills.

Another feature we love is that the adjustable seats have vibration absorption. This gives you the best comfort when tackling inclines, which also means you have excellent control.

However, you are still limited to inclines of 10 degrees, and you can only mow up and down.


  • Powerful engine
  • Seats have vibration absorption
  • Good safety features
  • Separate parking brake lever


  • It can only handle 10-degree slopes
  • You can only mow up and down hills

5. Best Budget-Friendly – Troy-Bilt Mustang 42 in

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Troy-Bilt is the king of small but mighty mowers, and the Z42 Mustang is further proof of their genius.

In our research, this proved to be one of the best zero-turn mowers for hills despite being one of the lightest. The 42-inch mower deck is made from stamped 12 gauge steel.

Even though the deck isn’t as strong as others on this list, the lightweight design makes it a lot easier to maneuver, especially on slopes, where it can tackle up to 15-degree inclines with ease.

If you want to use the bagger, you should stop operations at 10-degree inclines. However you choose to use it, you will enjoy the V-twin 22 hp Kohler engine that tackles high grass with ease and even wet grass on flat terrains.

You will enjoy a comfortable ride thanks to the high back seat and the padded lap bars. While this was made for yards up to 2 acres, you can stretch it out to 4 acres, thanks to the large 3.5-gallon fuel tank.

There are other features we like, but the most important one is the 3-year warranty. There is also a limited lifetime warranty on the frame.


  • A comfortable ride with minimized vibrations
  • It can mow 15-degree inclines
  • Narrow body great for residential use
  • 3-year warranty


  • Made from 12-gauge steel, not the stronger 11-gauge
  • Low on safety features

6. Best for slight rolling hills – Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 in

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Cub Cadet makes a return to our list, and this time, it’s the zero-turn mower that inspired the steering wheel upgrade.

Nevertheless, the Ultima ZT1 is a worthy candidate for the best zero-turn mower for hills. Like its successor, this also has a 50″ fabricated mower deck.

However, this packs a more powerful 25 hp Kohler engine. This gives you the juice you need to conquer 4 acres all in a day’s work without breaking a sweat.

You can mow at blistering speeds in both directions, with a top forward speed of 7.5 mph and reverse at 3.5 mph.

The mower deck height can be adjusted to cut as low as 1 inch and as high as 4.5 inches. One of the niftiest features is the electronic fingertip PTO.

This will help you easily and quickly engage the mower deck when working on a hill, and you need to maintain control at all times.

While the ZT1 can’t mow on inclines as steep as the ZST1, it does go up to 15 degrees, which is impressive and ideal for most jobs.

We would have loved to see this come with ROPS, but you’d have to spring for the premium ZTX4 to get that as standard.


  • Fast cutting in both directions
  • It can handle 15-degree slopes
  • Solid build quality
  • Fingertip PTO engagement


  • Low on safety features

7. Best bang for your buck – Toro Timecutter

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There’s nothing that gets people more excited than when a premium brand makes a pocket-friendly version.

That is why the Toro Timecutter has been one of the most popular zero-turn mowers. Even though this is billed as a residential mower, it is in a class of its own.

The first thing that sets this apart is the mowing deck. Unlike many others on our list, it is made from fabricated 10-gauge steel, which is nearly 50% stronger than 11-gauge steel.

As for size, you can choose between 50″ – 60″. The smallest deck can still handle 4 acres in a hurry, thanks to the 23 hp Kawasaki engine and the 7 MPH -top speed.

The next thing you’ll enjoy is the Smart Speed Technology. You can set the pace you want, beginning with trim mode (4 MPH), tow mode (5.5 MPH), and mow mode (7 MPH).

When mowing a hill, the trim mode offers an exceptional cut without the need to double back. In building this zero-turn mower, Toro was mindful of the consumer, and it shows in their service.

Rather than the typical crate delivery, a Toro professional will assemble this for you and ensure everything is working right before you sign off. If you do have any issues, this comes with a 3-year warranty.


  • It can mow on a 15-degree incline
  • Very durable mower deck
  • It comes with professional assembly
  • Smart speed technology provides easier control


  • It doesn’t come with ROPS as standard

8. Best Electric – EGO Power+ 42” Z6

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Whoever said the best zero-turn mower for hills can’t be electric clearly hasb’t head about this company.

Ego Power+ 42-inch zero-turn mower was designed to conquer the most stubborn yards and look good while doing it.

Hidden in the compact body of this residential mower is a powerful brushless motor that delivers the equivalent of 22 hp.

This electric zero-turn can be configured to run on six 56V lithium batteries or four. Even with just four batteries, you can mow 2 acres on a single charge, and that’s not even the best part.

Ego has somehow made riding a zero-turn mower even more fun by introducing three driving modes: control, standard, and sport.

When in control mode, you can mow hills with an incline of up to 15 degrees with phenomenal control.

Unlike typical zero-turns, the caster wheels on the Z6 have mini treads that provide extra traction. You also get the benefit of adjustable seat suspension and padded armrests for a comfortable ride.

One thing we also like about using this zero-turn mower for hills is that the lowest speed is 3 mph, which is better than the minimum 4 mph you get with other mowers.

This allows you to take even more care on rolling hills.


  • It can mow on 15-degree slopes
  • Limited 5-year warranty
  • It can mow 2 acres on a single charge
  • Very low maintenance


  • It only comes with four batteries
  • Low on safety features

9. Best for pros – DEWALT Z260 Commercial 60 in

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When the king of rugged construction machines finally decided to make a zero-turn mower, we knew it was going to be good, but this is exceptional.

The DEWALT Z260 commercial 60-inch mower is a grass-cutting perfectionist.

Built with a 1.5in x 3in tubular steel frame and a reinforced fabricated 10-gauge steel deck, this zero-turn riding mower is one of the most durable in its class.

Under the tough exterior is a 24 hp Kawasaki engine that can mow at speeds up to 9 mph.

This commercial mower was designed to take on the hard turf jobs and can handle 4-10 acres of the toughest terrain, including steep rolling hills.

When you’re conquering slopes of up to 15 degrees, you feel safe with the seat belt and rollover protection bar as standard.

The 23-inch tall and 12-inch wide rear wheels also provide exceptional traction. What’s more, is that the 5.5-gallon tank will allow you to work nonstop.

This comes in handy when you’re hauling a grass carrier (on slopes below 10 degrees). To put one over the competition, the Z260 comes with an industry-leading 4-year warranty with an 800-hour limit.

The only thing missing are LED headlights that would allow you to work at night, but maybe that’s just nitpicking.


  • Solid build
  • Large 5.5-gallon tank
  • It can handle 15-degree slopes
  • 4-year warranty


  • No headlights

10. Best for modest slopes – John Deere Z345M 42 in

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There’s a reason the John Deere brand has lasted this long. They make solid, affordable products that are easy to use and can handle the toughest tasks. All of these are embodied in the Z345M.

Unlike most of the JD products, this is strictly a residential mower. The 42-inch stamped mower deck is made from 12-gauge steel, so don’t expect to use this on 10-foot tall grass.

The JD engine delivers 22 hp and can move from 3 mph to 7 mph, with a maximum reverse speed of 3.5 mph. Even though this is a small riding mower, you can cut up to 2 acres of grass.

What we like most about the Z345M is that john Deere has tried to make it as simple as possible to own and operate.

Starting the mower is easy because there is no choke. But what is more impressive is the delivery.

A certified technician will assemble and inspect the zero-turn riding mower upon delivery, so you don’t have to worry about crates, a forklift, or anything else.

When you do take it out, you can use this on slopes with a 13-degree incline. Considering this is for residential use, this is more than suitable.

We would have liked to see a roll over protection system on it, but you’d have to buy a separate attachment.


  • White glove service
  • It can handle 13-degree inclines
  • No choke start
  • Budget-friendly


  • Low on safety features
  • No headlights

11. Editor’s Pick – Toro Titan Max Havoc Edition 60in

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Last but certainly not least on our list is the dark and grizzly Toro Titan Max Havoc Edition. While we could have gone with the regular Max version, this is slightly cheaper, looks way cooler, and it’s new.

There’s so much to cover on this, so we’ll start with the white glove delivery. A certified Toro technician will set up this black beauty for you in your driveway, so you can get to cutting immediately.

The second thing you’ll notice is that the Havoc not only looks different but is built differently.

The 26 hp Kohler engine helps you get up to 9 mph, which is twice as much as you need on 15-degree slopes, but comes in handy when mowing up to 7 acres a day.

Beneath the black paint is an iron-forged body made from 10 gauge steel with a toughness rating of grade 50.

You can take on the toughest grass and won’t notice, thanks to the 23-inch rear tires and the fastest blade speeds in its class. Toro wants you to enjoy sitting in this rider all day.

They provided a comfortable seat and a whopping 7-gallon gas tank, so you won’t need a refill any time soon. You can also mow at night with the headlight accessory.


  • Conquer 15-degree rolling hills
  • Strongest body in its class
  • Large gas tank
  • White glove delivery


  • It runs loud

Buyer’s Guide: How to Choose the Best Zero-turn Mower for Hills

The idea that you can use just any zero-turn mower for hills is very misleading and dangerous.

Despite manufacturers being very explicit in their manuals, some owners try to either use the wrong zero-turn or use the zero-turn the wrong way.

Before we get into how to choose the best zero-turn mower for hills, we need to look at why it is important.

What Are the Dangers of Using a Zero-turn Mower on a Hill?

According to the CPSC, zero-turn mowers account for roughly 4,000 accidents per year. These are only the numbers for people that sought medical help, so the actual figure could be many times more.

Unfortunately, about 70 of these accidents are fatal. Using even a good zero-turn mower in the wrong place is a key contributor, with slopes being a major contributor.

Here are some of the things that can go wrong when using a zero-turn on a hill.


When a zero-turn lawn mower loses traction on a hill, it can slide down. This can happen even when the mower is off and has been put in park, so the tires aren’t rolling.

Usually, this will only occur if you try to mow a slope much steeper than what the zero-turn can handle.

It could also happen by accident when mowing on a flat surface with a dropoff and the rider gets too close to the edge.

Unfortunately, not many people know what to do when their mower begins to slide, which then leads to tragic accidents.

Zero-turns tend to slide when trying to go up a slope. If you notice the mower sliding, don’t try to engage the brakes but rather turn into the slide and ride it out.

By turning the mower to face downhill, you are in more control and it reduces the chances of the zero turn rolling over.

Loss of traction

Just like with a regular car, zero-turn mowers lose traction on steep hills. The same is true of lawn tractors; it’s just a matter of how steep it gets.

Zero-turns are more prone to losing traction because they only have two tires that firmly grip the ground, which is the rear tires.

The front tires are caster wheels, and most of them don’t have any treads. The caster wheels help with zero-radius turns, so they are great for flat land.

To avoid losing traction on a hill, you should ride slowly and avoid making sudden speed changes.

When you’re moving at 7 mph or higher, and you lose traction to even a second on a hill, you could end up seriously hurt.

Rollover risk

Both sliding and loss of traction could cause zero-turn mowers to roll over, which is the leading cause of fatality.

Considering that the lightest zero-turn lawn mower on our list weighs nearly 600 pounds, you can imagine how bad it could be on a hill or in a lake.

It is because of this risk that most commercial zero-turn mowers now come with rollover protective structures (ROPS).

If you are going to use a residential zero-turn for hills, it would be wise to buy a ROPS attachment. Working on a hill isn’t the only thing that causes rollovers.

If you’re moving fast and you hit an object like a boulder hidden beneath the grass, it could cause you to topple. Trying to turn too quickly can also cause rollovers.

What makes Zero-turn mowers unreliable on hills?

In order to make zero-turn mowers fast and easy to maneuver, some design choices had to be made. Sadly, some of these choices make zero-turns terrible on hills.

Poor weight distribution

Zero-turn mowers are shaped like a wheelbarrow. As a result, a lot of the weight is based on the back, where the rider sits and the engine is housed.

The heavy mower deck is positioned close to the front of the riding mower, which helps maintain balance.

However, once you get on a slope, gravity begins to work against you, and the heavy rear gets considerably weightier. That is why zero-turn mowers tend to roll over or skid on high slopes.

Rear wheel drive and type of tires

To make matters even worse, the power generated by zero-turns is concentrated on the back. Rear-wheel drive is great in that it pushes the mower forward with serious torque.

F1 cars and many supercars use rear-wheel drive. However, these cars are built for flat land and not slopes.

The best control on a slope would be an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. This is not an option for typical zero-turns because the front tires are caster wheels, and their only job is to help change direction.

Caster wheels don’t have any traction, which isn’t great for hills.

Weird brakes

The best way to maximize brake pads is to have them on all tires. In the case of a zero-turn, there is only a parking brake that rests on the rear tires.

If you try to brake too suddenly, you’re placing uneven pressure on the riding mower, and it can tumble.

Some companies have been working on foot pedal brakes for zero-turn riding mowers, and some are pretty decent. However, their presence is not an invitation to drive fast, especially on a hill.

How to Safely Use Zero-Turn Mowers on Hills

The first thing you need to do when you start using a zero-turn mower for hills is put on your seat belt and use the ROPS. With these in place, you are ready to start riding.

Study the terrain

Always take the time to plan your route when using a zero-turn mower. You should inspect the land for stones or tree stumps that might be lurking beneath the surface.

You should also check to see that there are no dropoffs close to the hill.

Mow slowly

Many manufacturers suggest that you should only mow at the lowest speed. For most mowers, this means going at 4 mph.

Going slow has several advantages, such as yielding better traction, which then minimizes the risks of sliding or rolling over.

The other advantage is that it will prevent you from trying to brake too suddenly when you reach an edge or notice an obstacle.

Start at the bottom of the hill

Starting your work on an incline is considerably safer than starting from the top.

If your mower should lose traction at the bottom of the hill, you will have plenty of time to react as opposed to if it should happen at the top.

Cut from side to side, not up and down

This follows naturally from the previous point. You start at the bottom and mow side to side moving up gradually. This gives you more control than moving up and down.

It is difficult to maintain the same speed going up as you do coming down, so the cleanness of the cut won’t be even.

That said, Husqvarna says that you should only mow hills up and down in their zero-turn mowers.

No speed changes

Avoid sudden acceleration or deceleration when mowing on a hill. Sudden changes can make the tires spin and lose traction for a moment.

That momentary lapse is enough to cause the mower to slide or veer off course. Try to keep the lap bars as steady as possible.

Do not start or stop on a hill

Stopping on a hill increases the risk of sliding or rolling over. The only time you should do this is if you don’t have a choice.

In that situation, you may have to put the zero-turn in park, remove the keys and move away from it quickly.

Remember that even with the tires not moving, a zero-turn lawn mower can still skid.

Be careful with attachments

Any attachment that can worsen the weight distribution of the mower is a safety hazard.

This is especially true of grass catchers, which is why you should only use them on slopes no greater than 10 degrees.

Be careful when braking

You should never brake suddenly when using zero-turn mowers on hills. When you’re approaching a turn, you should begin to decelerate gently.

Sudden braking will compromise your traction and control and is a rollover risk.

When shouldn’t you use a zero-turn lawn mower?

On a Steep Hill

Never use a lawn mower on hills beyond the manufacturer’s Guide. Even the best zero-turn mower for hills has slope limits, and going beyond that can cause serious accidents.

Wet Lawn

With the traction of zero-turn mowers being so poor, you should avoid situations that make it worse, such as mowing a wet lawn.

Near dropoffs

If a slope leads directly to a dropoff, embankment, or lake, you should not use a zero-turn lawn mower.

Ensure that you have at least 7 feet of flat ground at the bottom of the hill for you to land and turn safely.

How to Choose a Zero-Turn Mower for Hills

Now that we’ve covered why it’s important to only choose the best zero-turn mower for hills, it’s time to look at how to find it.

The incline of the slopes

This is the primary purpose of the zero-turn, so it has to come first. If the slopes are less than 10 degrees, then any of the zero-turn lawn mowers on our list will suffice.

Anything above 10 degrees takes out the Husqvarna options. The John Deere Z345 meets its plateau at 13 degrees, while the Cub Cadet Ultima ZTS1 is the only one that can handle 20-degree inclines.

Type of user

You will notice that the zero-turn lawn mowers are divided into residential and commercial. If you’re residential, then the slopes you cut today will be the same every week.

Plus, residential mowers get a better warranty. Pro users can’t determine the type of terrain they’ll face, so it’s best to stick with something that can handle at least 15-degree inclines.

The size of the lawn

A common mistake we see is people trying to estimate the size of lawn a zero-turn lawn mower can handle based on the size of the mower deck.

The only way to know for certain is based on what the manufacturer specifies.

The Toro Havoc and the DEWALT both have 60″ decks, but the former is meant for 7-acre projects, while the latter can handle 10 acres.

Safety features

Lawn mowers have come a long way in the past decade, and manufacturers have thrown in loads of great safety features. However, many of them still ignore basic things like seatbelts.

The best zero-turn mowers should make you feel safe, which is why we give an advantage to the ones that come with ROPS.

This doesn’t come as standard with many residential mowers, so check to see if you can buy this as a separate accessory.

Headlights are another important safety feature if you do a lot of your work at night.

Engine and power

The size of the engine is often a good indicator of how fast zero-turn mowers can move. When looking for the best zero-turn mowers for hills, we prefer more powerful engines for another reason.

Even though you are moving slowly, more horsepower means you have better control on slopes.

This means it will require less effort for a 26 hp engine to keep a zero-turn lawn mower going than it would a 22 hp engine.

You may also have a preference for engine brands. Typically, most people prefer Kawasaki over Kohler, even with equal horsepower.


The more time you spend on a zero-turn lawn mower, the more comfortable you need to be. Mowing on slopes requires moving at the lowest speed setting, so this will take a while.

A high back seat, padded armrests, and padded lap bars are great. Seat suspension, like you’d find in the Cub Cadet, and Ego+ are also great for bumpy hills.

Power source

Gone are the days when electric-powered lawn mowers couldn’t compete with gas-powered mowers. Now, it comes down to a matter of preference.

Electric mowers are quiet, require very little maintenance and look really nice. Gas mowers are more familiar, and they appear more rugged, so people prefer them for tougher tasks.

The challenge with electric mowers is usually with how many acres you’re cutting. The Ego+ can’t handle more than a couple of hours before it needs a recharge.

But with a gas lawn mower, simply top it up and be ready to roll in minutes instead of having to wait until the next day.

Slow and Steady Wins the Slope

There is a lot to love about zero-turn mowers, but their poor safety record is a real bummer. However, when you use the best zero-turn mowers for hills, you can be confident not just of the cut but your safety.

So, the best zero-turn mower for hills is the Toro Titan Max Havoc Edition. While it was close, it’s the little things that set it apart.

It has a strong body, a large 7-gallon tank, ROPS, headlights, and it gets assembled for you.

The runner-up is the Cub Cadet Ultimat ZTS1 and the best residential option, hands down. Plus, you can use it for a few pro-jobs when the inclines are steep.

Before you make your purchase, we’ve written a detailed post on how to choose the right size mower for your lawn.