Cub Cadet ZT1 vs ZT2: How Do They Differ?

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There are great benefits in seeking a Cub Cadet residential zero-turn; you have a crowd of dealers and users at your fingertips that can relate to any situation your mower might face, even for the tiniest scratch.

 So you’ve rounded up your decision to go for the ZT1 or ZT2, but which one of them? It’s a little tricky especially when it’s comparing apples to apples. Both of the models are specially for residential use and are both great options. At this stage, the only thing left to do is strongly consider your lawn’s requirements and seek the model with the best solution to your needs. Which is why I’m here!

There are a handful of differences between the two zero-turn mowers that you could take advantage of. So, I’ll be discussing how the Cub Cadet ZT1 and ZT2 differ so that you make the best decision for you and your yard. Let’s dive into it!

Cub cadet zt1 or zt2

A Contest For Power is a Fair Fight For Both Models

When you’re talking about residential mowers, especially the ‘very homely’ types like the ZT1 & 2, the most measure of acres you could chew on the machine is 3-4 acres. You’re even straining the mower on 4 acres, that’s the truth. Thankfully, the Cub Cadet ZT1 & 2 were created for 4 acres. The grand difference is that the ZT 2 will actually reach the 4-acre mark while the ZT1 struggles to. Here’s why: 

The ZT1 is paired with different engines depending on the deck sizes. You have the 22-horsepower Kohler engines for 42 and 46-inch decks, the 23hp Kawasaki for the 50-inch deck, and the 24hp Kohler engine for the 54-inch deck. You can admit that the machine is adequately powered for residential use. 

On the other hand, grabbing the ZT2, you have the 50 and 54-inch decks for 23horsepower Kawasaki engines, and a 60-inch deck for the 25hp Kohler engine.  

Now here’s the debate on which mower is more powerful. At first glance of the engine types and the horsepower, the ZT2 will suffice as the most powerful. However, we can’t completely rule out the fact that the engines are assigned to the deck sizes and the ZT1 is sufficiently as powerful as the ZT2. Although, because of the 60-inch & 24hp combo, the ZT2 will reach your 4-acre mark much better than the ZT1 will without a strain. 

The ZT1 Has a Welded Deck, While The ZT2 Has It’s Deck Fabricated

Choosing between fabricated and welded decks is purely based on preference. The fabricated decks are usually much tougher than the welded decks, although this would end up on the material used to produce the decks in the first place. Some people will argue that welded decks provide more resistance from the force of impact whilst mowing, but then again welded decks are much more prone to denting on impact. 

In this case, the ZT1 has a welded 11-gauge steel deck that comes in sizes of 42, 46, 50, and 54 inches. The deck also features a wash port for this model. The cut quality is awesome and the striping is crisp and clear. 

There’s not much of a downside to this deck, except if you’re a fan of fabricated decks. Also, if you have a much smaller yard and equivalently small storage space, I will advise you to consider the 42-inch deck so that you save a couple of bucks. 

The ZT2, on the other hand, is equipped with the same 11-gauge steel but is much more robust and rugged in comparison. The decks are fabricated and reinforced at the edges to reduce the damage of impact whilst mowing. You’re ensured of no easy dents or scrapes with this deck, and if your lawn features tough shrubs and hostile grasses, you’d be more than ready to run over the resistance with the ZT2 deck in comparison to the ZT1. Cutting quality is just as reputable; they cut, mulch, and stripe beautifully. 

Deck adjustments for both models are with the foot pedal and deck dial adjustment system and the cutting heights range from 1 to 4.5 inches 

You Get a Much More Robust Transmission System on The ZT2

The ZT1 is equipped with a non-serviceable EZT-2200 Hyrdo-Gear transmission system that propels the machine at a speed of 7miles per hour, which is good enough for its target performance. If you own a regular-sized lawn, nothing serious or acre-measured, you’d be very pleased with this speed. 

For the ZT2 model, you take a giant step to the ZT-2800 Hydro-gear serviceable transmission system with a visible and easy-to-access hydraulic fluid reservoir to change the fluid easily. 

There are a lot of advantages to the serviceable transmissions; it’s pretty DIY to change or fix parts and oil so you don’t have to tear the whole mower apart for that reason. For the non-serviceable transmission, problems are mostly a big deal and can most of the time only be fixed at your dealers. This is because it’s all sealed and dubbed for “lifetime usage”, so fixing and prescribing these types of hydros are quite challenging. If you’re unfortunate, you’d be required to replace the entire system. A bummer you wouldn’t have to face if you could simply drain the oil or change the filters. 

 This extra boost is also an added advantage to the durability of the ZT2. For most of the boxes that both models are meant to tick during usage, the ZT2 will do much better because of the robust transmission. 

The ZT2 Comes With a Much Luscious Seating Feature

Compared to the ZT1, the ZT2 excels by far in terms of comfort. I emphasize this because if you’re planning to mow for more than an hour, especially if you ride over bumps, you will very much need to protect your spine and rest your tired arms. 

The ZT2 is equipped with a much more habitable seat complete with standard armrests and adjustability. Added to this, the seat doesn’t attack the deck with a thud when you swing it open– there’s a string connecting the perch to the platform of the machine offering a wedge for when you lift the seat to peep into the mower. To adjust the seat position on the ZT1, all you have to do is locate the hook underneath it and rectify it to your taste.

On the ZT1, there’s no wedge or similar, and it can be quite infuriating to have the seat falling over the deck. Also, if the seat is too far back or way forward for your taste, you have to raise the perch, grab some tools, and loosen a few knots to achieve that. It’s effective, but also much more stressful. 

Armrests are not standard on this model, you can purchase them separately (view on amazon). You will definitely need armrests if you mow 3 acres at a go. 

The ZT2 Offers Better Traction Against Slopes 

One of the distinct features that differ the ZT1 from the ZT2 is the obviously larger-sized tires the latter comes with.

The ZT1 comes equipped with 20 x 12-inch rear tires and 11 x 6-inch front tires respectively. They offer a good level of traction, but just not enough to be impressed. 

 For the ZT2, you get 13 x 6.5-inch front caster tires and  22 x 12-inch thick 4-ply rear tires that are greatly aggressive and resistant to punctures and wear & tear. They in general offer more traction going up those hills in comparison to the ZT1, but still not enough to confidently take on slopes that you could avoid. It is best to be careful dealing with slopes on a home-grade residential zero-turn mower.

The ZT2 is Equipped With a Fuel Gauge

Fuel gauges are luxuries for zero-turn mowers, surprisingly. With most models, you find the gauge only on commercial-grade zero-turn mowers. Fortunately, you can get the “luxury” of knowing the amount of fuel you have left in your tank with the ZT2. 

The fuel tank capacity for both zero-turn models is 3.5 gallons, which will last you about an hour under adequate conditions. 

Although for the ZT2 with much more robust transmissions, you might take 10-15 minutes out of the one-hour limit to get through 3-4 acres of your yard in one sitting.  

The ZT1 is Much More Affordable in Comparison to The ZT2

The spike in price is justified in this scenario. You have two models where one of them (the ZT2) has much more durable features in comparison to the other (ZT1). 

For the ZT1, the prices start from $3,499 and gravitate towards $4,000 depending on the engine type and deck size. 

For the ZT2, you start at $4,000 and end at about  $4,999, also depending on deck sizes and engine types. 

The prices also vary from dealer to dealer. I will advise you to entrust your needs and wants to a reputable dealer so that you don’t miss out on the best deals. However, you should strictly know what you require before setting out to a dealer to avoid getting swayed into a different and undesirably expensive outcome. 

Here We Are– The Summary

cub cadet zt1 vs zt2

There’s nothing like the bad model amongst the ZT1 & ZT2. Both zero-turn models were built to target specific requirements and are meeting them purposefully. Since they both represent features that could either be a blow of cool wind during your mowing session or pain in the spine, it’s best to consider your needs to make the right decision for you. 

If you intend to meet the marked 4 acres when you mow, you will do much better on the ZT2 no doubt. Otherwise, if your lawn isn’t much of a warzone, you can save up your cash for extra accessories like a mulch kit or tow cart while you go for the ZT1. If you still find it difficult to decide which one to choose, I suggest you go for a walk around your lawn to figure out certain features that would work well with the points I just highlighted above. That way, you can make a much clearer decision on which zero-turn mower to buy.

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EL Mehdi (Medi), the founder and voice behind Desired Lawn Mower. He is a riding mower enthusiast who enjoys spending more time discussing and covering various ride-on mower topics. He has been active in the industry for years comparing models of different ZTR and lawn tractor brands.