Zero-turn mowers are renowned for their maneuverability, ease of mowing, and comfort. They have a zero-inch turning radius allowing you to maneuver in tight spaces.
Moreover, zero-turn mowers support wider cutting decks ranging from 42 inches to 72 inches and powerful engines up to 26hp. As a result, many shoppers opt for zero-turn units given a chance.
This guide examines Cub Cadet vs John Deere Zero Turn. How do they compare, and which is better? Read on to find out.
About the Cub Cadet Brand
Founded in 1960 by International Harvester (IH), Cub Cadet is an American outdoor power equipment brand. IH sold the company to Modern Tool and Die (MTD) in 1981 following financial troubles.
However, MDT later sold the company to Stanley Black & Decker. The final share transfer happened in 2021. Cub Cadet’s brand colors are orange-yellow and black.
Best Cub Cadet Zero Turn mowers
Cub Cadet makes six zero-turn mower models. These are the ZT1-50, ZT1-54, ZT1-42, ZT1-54P, ZT1-46, and ZTS1-42, priced between $3500 and $4900.
They range between 22 horsepower and 24 horsepower. The ZT1-42, ZT1-46, and ZTS1-42 are rated 22HP, the ZT1-54P and ZT1-50 are 23HP tractors, and the ZT1-54 a 24HP unit.
However, all six are dual hydrostatic transmission systems allowing for up to 7mph forward and 3.5mph in reverse. The deck sizes form part of the model names.
For instance, the ZT1-42 is a 42-inch deck mower while the ZT1-46 is a 46-inch deck mower. Cub Cadet mowers use AeroForce fabricated decks that deliver a signature cut with finer grass clippings.
About the John Deere Brand
John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company. It’s an American conglomerate that manufactures heavy equipment, agricultural machinery, forestry machinery, drivetrains, diesel engines, and lawnmowers.
The company was founded by the Mazzotti family and has been around for close to 85 years having been founded in 1937. The company’s brand colors are green, yellow, and black.
Best John Deere Zero Turn mowers
John Deere makes 21 zero-turn mower brands grouped into three categories – Z300 Series, Z500 Series, and Z700 Series. There are six models within the Z300 Series, namely Z320R, Z320M, Z330R, Z330M, and Z325E.
Meanwhile, the ten Z500 Series zero turn mowers models are Z515E 54-Inch, Z515E 60-Inch, Z530M 48-Inch, Z530M 54-Inch, Z530M 60-Inch, Z530R 54-Inch, Z530R 60-Inch, Z545R 48-Inch, Z545R 54-Inch, and Z545R 60-Inch.
Finally, there are five Z700 Series models, Z720E, Z735E, Z730M, Z735M, and Z740R. Z300 Series mowers are designed to mow up to two acres at 7mph (max) and up to 24 horsepower.
You can choose from 42-inch Accel Deep Decks, and 48-54-Inch forged Accel Deep Decks. Meanwhile, Z500 Series mowers are designed for lawns up to four inches.
They move at speeds up to 9mph, delivering a maximum of 25 horsepower. Deck options include 48,54, and 60-inch forged Accel Deep Decks and 48, 54, and 60-inch forged High-Capacity Decks.
Finally, Z700 Series John Deere mowers are designed for 8+ acre lawns. They mow at up to 10mph, delivering a maximum of 25 horsepower. Deck options here are 48, 54, and 60-inch forged High-Capacity PRO decks.
Cub Cadet vs John Deere Zero Turn Mowers: Head-to-Head
Now we have a brief overview of the two brands, their zero-turn riding mower models, and a few details of the mowers.
So, let’s compare the two brands heat-to-head to discover the brand with the best zero-turn mowers.
1. Efficiency and power
John Deere and Cub Cadet zero turn mowers boast powerful engines between 21hp and 25hp The gas-powered engines work well for level and hilly areas.
However, they differ in a few areas. For instance, Cub Cadet zero-turn mowers are powered by Kohler and Kawasaki engines.
Moreover, the tractors use twin-cylinder OHV engines for exceptionally smooth and quiet operation. However, you are limited to 22hp, 23hp, and a 24hp option.
Meanwhile, John Deere offers more powerful engines, up to 25 horsepower. The FX, FS, and FR engines are strong enough for all terrain types, including sloppy hills.
John Deere tractors also make less noise. Granted, Cub Cadet units move faster (7.5 to 17mph compared to JD’s 7.5 to 12mph tractors).
Above all, you’ll love that John Deere mowers lessen recutting time by granting better efficiency. Cub Cadet mowers are efficient too.
However, John Deere units, especially the more powerful models, blow them out of the water.
Winner: John Deere zero-turn mowers stand out for their higher engine power limits and better performance in hilly areas. John Deere tractors also make less noise.
2. Cutting performance
Again both mowers offer excellent cutting performance. Indeed, you may not notice the difference. However, John Deere edges this contest, too, for a few reasons.
First, a John Deere lawn tractor cuts grass level and neatly and performs equally well on small and medium-sized lawns and large garden beds.
More importantly, though, all John Deere zero-turn mowers attach to a mulching kit which makes all the difference.
The mulching kit churns grass clippings into fine fragments, facilitating easier decomposition and, thus, greater grass health.
However, the mulching kit costs an extra $30 to $60. Meanwhile, Cub Cadet mowers have a big deck that is excellent for cleaning lawns and weeds.
The lawn tractors perform excellently in all lawn sizes, small and large. A Cub Cadet zero-turn lawn mower also cuts deeply for healthy grass growth.
Also of note is Cub Cadet’s efficient lap bar controller, which affords a friendlier steering performance when working on large yards. You can easily move the mower left or right.
Winner: John Deere wins here, too, primarily thanks to the mulching kit. It cuts grass clippings into finer chips for easier waste management and healthier grass.
3. Regulation and control
There isn’t much difference between John Deere and Cub Cadet zero-turn mowers in regulation and control.
The two brands offer perfect reversing, turning, and steering. For instance, you won’t tell the difference if switching from a push mower.
Nevertheless, you may identify a few variations if you’re picky. For instance, Cub Cadet zero-turn riding mowers feature an open design with an efficient lap bar controller.
Additionally, Cub Cadet mowers boast strong decks that perform on fields and yards. Also, the mowers move well on all land types in all directions.
Meanwhile, John Deere mowers are designed for effortless control, featuring an hour meter, braking system, and ignition control, among other features.
They also feature a welded deck and high-lift blades constructed with solid steel, thus cutting grass level. The deck design also allows John Deere mowers to cut shorter grass better.
Unfortunately, John Deere zero-turn mowers aren’t great on large lawns. So, you should consider alternatives if you primarily work on tiny lawns.
Winner: Cub Cadet zero-turn mowers win the regulation and control contest because they perform equally well on small and large lawns. They are also easy to steer in all directions.
4. Comfort and convenience
Comfort and convenience aren’t the first things that come to mind when shopping for a lawn mower tractor.
Nonetheless, they make a big difference for professional lawnmowers who spend the best of the year working on lawns.
So, here’s what you need to know;
Cub Cadet offers cozy seating arrangement that many users find enticing. Additionally, Cub Cadet mowers feature a dial adjustment with a foot pedal.
Another advantage of Cub Cadet mowers is the super-light design. It makes mower handling and general lawn care effortless.
The company also offers convenient settings and knob adjustments so you can achieve the most comfortable seating position.
John Deere also offers a wide array of comfort and convenience features, including rubber floor mats, seating positions, steering levers, and a foot lift.
We also love the armrests where you can put your hands as you mow. Above all, John Deere affords users a less steep learning curve thanks to stiffer and sturdier steering levers.
The steering design ensures easier force application for beginners.
Winner: John Deere mowers win this contest as they provide more comfort and convenience features than Cub Cadet tractors. They also offer a less steep learning curve.
5. Cost and reliability
Upfront costs, maintenance costs, and the frequency of breakdowns are critical when choosing a lawn mower. For instance, it’s more cost-effective to pay more upfront and pay less in maintenance over the equipment’s life.
Similarly, you want equipment with lower repair and replacement costs. So, how do Cub Cadet and John Deere zero-turn mowers compare in this regard? It’s interesting.
First, Cub Cadet mowers are more affordable than John Deere mowers. For instance, the most affordable zero-turn Cub Cadet is the model ZT146 which costs $3,699.
Meanwhile, the most affordable John Deere zero turn is the Z515E, priced at $6146 (plus the mulching kit). Similarly, the highest-priced zero-turn Cub Cadet is the ZTS1-42, priced at $4899.
Meanwhile, the highest priced zero-turn John Deere mower is the 730M which costs $11,800. However, John Deere tractors are more reliable, thus lower maintenance costs over the equipment’s life.
For instance, according to Consumer Reports. 22% of John Deere products break by the fourth year of use compared to 37% of Cub Cadet products. The 9-gauge steel frame is rustproof, and the deck and shells are extremely durable.
Winner: It’s a tie. Cub Cadet zero-turn mower systems are more affordable upfront, thus easier to own. However, John Deere mowers guarantee lower maintenance costs.
6. Warranty and customer service
Both companies offer great customer service. Cub Cadet mower owners say the company’s customer desk picks up calls and responds to online queries promptly. They are also happy to help.
Similarly, the John Deere company has a reputation for exceptional customer service. Therefore, the main disparities come in warranties, where John Deere just edges the competition.
John Deere offers a 4-year warranty or 750 hours cover, whichever comes first. Combine this with the fact John Deere mowers are made from 9-gauge steel for maximum durability, and you begin to see why the company is a fan favourite.
Meanwhile, Cub Cadet offers a 3-year warranty on all zero-turn mowers. It also offers a limited warranty on the frame and deck shell.
It’s excellent protection and good for your peace of mind. However, a shorter warranty is not very enticing, given that Cub Cadet parts aren’t as durable as John Deere mower parts.
The worst part is that Cub Cadet warranties are only valid for three years. The cover ends after three years whether you use the tractor or not.
Winner: John Deere offers a better machine protection deal. The 4-year or 750-mile warranty is way more enticing.
Finally, all mowers require maintenance – the costs notwithstanding. Engine breakdowns, powertrain issues, transmission problems, and noise issues are among the most common complaints.
Fluid changes are also a standard requirement. So, which brand offers more maintenance-friendly mowers?
Most users prefer Cub Cadet. First, Cub Cadet mower designs are more DIY-friendly. They’re easier to take apart and reassemble. Secondly, oil and fuel change on Cub Cadet zero turn mowers is straightforward.
The only downside is that removing the battery and keeping the blades clean and sharp is more difficult. Meanwhile, John Deere mowers feature an external oil filter, fill tube, etc.
The gas-powered mowers also make it easy to check the oil system and fuel conditions. Additionally, we love that they feature a spill-resistant design that also resists leaks.
These features make it almost as maintenance-friendly as Cub Cadet units. Unfortunately, DIY diagnosis and repairs on John Deere mowers are harder than on Cub Cadets. So, you mostly require professional services.
Winner: Cub Cadet wins the ease of maintenance contest because its units are much more DIY-friendly. In addition, fuel and oil change processes are flawless on Cub Cadet mowers.
Is Cub Cadet better than John Deere?
No, John Deere mowers are better than Cub Cadet mowers unless you’re shopping for a model that can run on electricity. For once, John Deere mowers are more reliable (longer lasting) and easier to maneuver. Moreover, John Deere mower tractors are slightly more affordable. That said, Cub Cadet mowers are better mulchers and can run on electricity.
What brand of Zero Turn is best?
Though the brand choice is often a personal preference, Husqvarna is the most dependable zero-turn lawn mower brand. The company makes powerful zero-turn mowers with durable, reliable engines. A comfortable driver’s environment, vibration dampening for greater comfort and fewer breakdowns, and easy-to-reach controls are other advantages of Husqvarna zero-turn mowers.
Cub Cadet vs John Deere Zero Turn Summary
John Deere and Cub Cadet are the two most popular zero-turn mower tractor brands in the US.
The two American companies make quality, durable zero-turn mowers for high performance and the ultimate convenience.
Indeed, many people don’t care too much whether they own a Cub Cadet or John Deere mower. Nevertheless, the two mower systems are not the same.
Go for Cub cadet when
Cub Cadet tractors are best if you seek a powerful zero-turn mower on a low budget. Additionally, Cub Cadet mowers are great if you want;
- Faster speeds
- Great performance on tiny grasses
- Cozy seating
- Ease of maintenance
Choose John Deere when
John Deere zero-turn mowers are the perfect choice if you’re primarily concerned with durability and reliability. Additionally, consider John Deere tractors if you seek the following;
- Low noise output
- Exceptional mulching performance
- A more comprehensive warranty
- Lower maintenance costs
Interesting read: Why Does Cub Cadet Mower not Start?