Worst Zero-Turn Mowers: My Brutally Honest Review!

I hope you love the products that I recommend! As an Amazon Associate I earn small commissions from qualifying purchases. Thank you if you use my links, I really appreciate it!

Zero-turn brand websites can be highly misleading, often showcasing the most favorable reviews – many of them paid – and descriptions driven to swindle you into a purchase. Even visiting brand dealers may not solve the problem as some of them are moved towards making a sale rather than genuinely leading you to the correct machine which is almost no different than looking up fake reviews on your own. Your safest bet will be going through undiluted and honest feedback, comments, or sourcing a sincere discussion like this one.

For clarity, being the dubbed “worst zero-turn mower” doesn’t mean the brands shouldn’t be patronized, no. Instead, the standards are quite high for zero-turn mowers covering both residential and commercial use. So, while a model may be thriving, it could be far from satisfactory compared to its competitors by the bars of quality.

To prevent you from buying the worst zero-turn, I’ll be discussing five mower brands, why they made it into our list, and why you might need to avoid them!

worst zero-turn brands and their drawbacks

5 Zero-Turn Mower Brands With Their Major Problems Explained

Worst Zero-Turn MowersDrawbacks
Country ClipperHorrible customer care. They’re either so unreachable or offer little to no help for your problems.
Dixie ChopperGreat lifespan but poor engineering or user functionality.
Ryobi electric mowersPoor capacity.
Troy BiltInsufficient quality build.
Cub CadetPoor quality residential mowers.

1. Country Clipper- Infuriating Customer Care Department

Country Clipper zero-turns has been in business since the 1900s. Their company is known to produce highly innovative and competitively fast zero turns that aim to cut your mowing time in half. Specifically, if you’re seeking a zero-turn that employs a joystick to navigate instead of the traditional twin levers or steering wheel, Country Clipper is the best brand to go to.

However, I find that they have a major problem with their customer care and dealership department. Compared to other zero-turn brands, Country Clipper is less popular and as a result, seems to be out of touch with their consumers due to their frequent lack of response. It’s always so tedious to get in contact with the department before or after a purchase. This, I believe, is due to their resurfacing after breaking their initial contract with Snapper mower company.

It wasn’t until the 2000s before Country Clipper ZTRs entered the limelight, producing their lawn machines under their name. Still, it makes no sense for the only brand that produces joystick zero-turns to have a poor customer care team! Due to this, I suggest you steer away from Country Clippers’ old residential models as I’m forced to believe they were the trials and errors for the modern high-end residential and commercial models today. Regardless, the company has put effort into remodeling older models to meet the quality expected by their consumer base.

If the Country Clipper’s customer care department was great, you could replace parts as easily as every other brand offers, and they in turn will have enough data on how to better their brand.

2. Dixie Chopper- Terrible Engineering

The Dixie Chopper Corporation has had a tumultuous journey in the mower market. The production of their machines changed management for the entire company more than once which may have affected the quality of their mower production. Unlike most zero-turn brands, Dixie Choppers has a line of Generac engines on some of the models that have been nothing but problematic most of the time. The engines fail so commonly that there are “backup kits” for replacements, which are usually difficult to access because of their problematic dealership operations.

My take on this brand is that they’re still developing and growing their models. Hopefully, more thought will be put into the functionality and engineering of their mowers.

Frankly, Dixie Chopper ZTRs are good machines on a general term; they last long enough for you to make a good reap of your money. Although they have durable materials, I’m not quite confident in the engineering. This is the only excuse as to why there are a lot of problems with such good-quality material.

3. Ryobi- Underperforming Battery Power

The difference between Ryobi zero-turn mowers and most brands is the immense thoughtfulness exerted into manufacturing their mowing machines. Every aspect was highly considered before being incorporated into the mower. Being a new type of zero-turn line only introduced in 2022, they’ve pulled quite the traffic to their name. Especially with gas prices rising through the roof making electric lawnmowers convenient for the economy.

However, despite electric power being Ryobi’s zero-turn mower’s strongest selling point, their lead-acid batteries come with a ton of difficulties to manage such as charging and maintenance. If you’re the type to find comfort in routine, you may not be too happy with the irritable changes that come with lead-acid electric riding mowers.

4. Troy Bilt- Unsatisfying Quality

Troy Bilt Company is one of the pioneers of the lawn machine industry thanks to its versatility in production. When it comes to building lawn care equipment, they’re highly recognized by their peers. However, it seems like less thought or intention was put into building their zero-turn machines.

Though the engineering and functionality of the machines are great, the materials used to build the zero-turn mowers are lacking in quality. Poor materials in turn lead to anything from serious accidents, mower malfunctions, and unsatisfactory lawn tending which is why Troy Bilt’s zero-turn has made it to this list.

5. Cub Cadet- Underwhelming Functionality

Before you throw an angry fist in the air, Cub Cadets are well-balanced and durable zero-turn mowers. The reason why they’re listed is highly centered on the functionality of the residential grade models, which if I’m being honest could be better. Though the machines are sturdy to an extent, the problem is cub cadet zero-turns look better than they perform so you have to do a lot of ignoring this or that to enjoy them.

If you must relish Cub Cadet zero-turn mowers, you’d have to go for the high-end residential and commercial models that have better quality. I find this reality to be unfair considering the low-quality machines are still being purchased by regular homeowners hoping to tend to their lawns in peace.

The Worst Zero-Turn Mower Models: Mowers You Should Avoid

To take you deeper into this analysis, we’d be discussing the worst zero-turn mowers and why you should avoid them.

Country Clipper: Challenger Series

The Country Clipper models, specifically the Challenger series, have a little less reinforcement compared to the other models. Note that the brand generally produces great equipment, however, this model series has a suspicious problem with oil leakage, the valves, and traction on angles and slopes. I know they claim to govern steeps well, but the make of the mower isn’t tough enough to manage such extremities, so I wouldn’t advise you to mow slopes with them.

Model Specifics:

  • Engines: 24 HP Kawasaki or 25 HP Kohler
  • Cutting Widths: 48″, 52″, or 60″
  • Speed: Up to 9 mph
  • Fuel Capacity: 7 gallons
  • Productivity: Can reportedly mow up to 5.4 acres per hour
  • Steering Options: Point and Go Joystick or Twin Lever steering
  • Stand-up Deck: The deck can be lifted to nearly 90° for easy access to the underside of the deck
  • Pivoting Front Axle and Deck: Each floats independently of the frame for a more manicured lawn, even on rough terrain

Dixie Chopper: 3366 EFI XCaliber Model

The problem with this model begins with the cut quality. Heaven knows how the deck was assembled, but there is serious scalping and left-behind stragglers when the mower is put to use. Though the machine can cut through tall bushes of Bahia grass thanks to its immense power, it still struggles with damp turf which is ironic and confusing, to say the least.

In addition, there is the inability to handle slopes efficiently – that being the 15-degree angle mark for every zero-turn mower – which is often related to uneven tire pressures, poor traction tires, and a weak transmission. Belt and spindle troubles associated with the poor deck build are also common with this model which further boils down to a faulty assembly.

Model Specifics:

  • Engine: 33 HP Kohler EFI
  • Deck Width: 66 inches
  • Fuel Capacity: Two 7-gallon fuel tanks
  • Drive System: Hydro-Gear ZT-5400 transaxles
  • Speed: Up to 13 mph
  • Productivity Rate: 6.9 acres per hour
  • Deck Construction: X2 Wind Tunnel cutting deck
  • Suspension: Springer forks and suspension seat
  • Tires: 24 x 12-12

Ryobi: RM480E, RY48ZTR100, and RY48ZTR75

The electric riding mower can make you forget gas mowers exist– you no longer have to deal with gas, fuel tank problems, annoying engine oil & hydro oil maintenance, choke issues, or long-term ear problems. Sounds good huh?

Here’s the bummer though: the RM480E, RY48ZTR100, and RY48ZTR75 models will enrage you with how poorly the batteries perform. The ZTRs use Lead-Acid batteries– the kind of batteries that are only commendable for their affordability. Charging the batteries fully would take ages to reach 100%, and as if this wasn’t a bother on its own, you’d have to prevent the battery power from depleting below 50% to prevent the capacity from quickly dwindling. So in simpler terms, half battery power is already a red bar for the Ryobi zero-turns– not 20%, not 15%, but 50%!

Here are the specs for the Ryobi RM480E, RY48ZTR100, and RY48ZTR75 zero-turn mowers:


  • Weight: 617 lbs.
  • Deck Size: 42 inches
  • Cutting Height: 1.5 inches – 4.5 inches
  • Replacement Battery: Leoch LPC12-75


  • Deck Size: 42 inches
  • Cutting Height: 1.5 inches – 4.5 inches
  • Weight: 597 lbs.
  • Battery Capacity: 100 Ah
  • Cut Acres per Charge: Up to 3 acres
  • Max Speed: 7 mph


  • Weight: 617 lbs.
  • Deck Size: 42 inches
  • Cutting Height: 1.5 inches – 4.5 inches
  • Replacement Battery: Leoch LPC12-75

Troy Bilt: Mustang Series

The overall build of the Troy Bilt Mustang models is user-friendly as there isn’t much stuff going on– it’s just simple and straight to the point. However, Troy Bilt zero-turns are notorious for being made with rather low-grade materials that, of course, will wear and tear faster than you can anticipate. After they turned in their production to MTD in 2001, the durability and performance of their zero-turns took a nosedive.

Ever since, we’ve been getting a ton of low-quality mass-production ZTRs specifically in the Mustang series. There is a case where one of the mowers caught fire and burned a huge chunk of the machine, which was later traced to engine leaks and poor wiring. If getting down from my zero-turn mower in one piece is a probability, then there’s a serious problem with the build of the machine, and it should be taken into consideration urgently.

If you want to make good use of your mowing machine and still be safe under all circumstances, I would certainly not suggest a Troy Bilt Mustang, or the entry-level or low-grade residential products manufactured after MTD acquired the brand.

Mustang Z42

  • Engine: 17.5 HP Briggs & Stratton
  • Transmission: Dual EZT
  • Deck: 42-inch stamped
  • Fuel Tank: 2.8 gallons

Mustang Z46

  • Engine: 20 HP Kohler
  • Transmission: Dual EZT
  • Deck: 46-inch fabricated
  • Fuel Tank: 3 gallons

Mustang 50 XP

  • Engine: 24 HP Briggs & Stratton
  • Transmission: Dual hydrostatic
  • Deck: 50-inch fabricated
  • Fuel Tank: 3 gallons

Mustang 46 XP

  • Engine: 22 HP Kohler
  • Transmission: Dual EZT
  • Deck: 46-inch fabricated
  • Fuel Tank: 3 gallons

Mustang 54 XP

  • Engine: 24 HP Briggs & Stratton
  • Transmission: Dual hydrostatic
  • Deck: 54-inch fabricated
  • Fuel Tank: 3 gallons

Cub Cadet: Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is easily the most infuriating model on the residential line. It’s understandable that since they’re entry-level machines, the quality could be compromised. Still, it doesn’t excuse the horrible engineering of the model. It is simply poorly made both in terms of logic and functionality; the seat falls like a dead limb when you raise it to view the tank and the deck wobbles like a leaf at the slightest weight.

Added to this, the machine is heavily gas-thirsty and poor on slopes. While the mower will last a lifetime under good maintenance, there are a lot of mishaps here and there that are rather shameful for such a reputable zero-turn mower brand as the Cub Cadet. If you’re seeking to tend to your quarter-acre simple lawn, nothing too complicated or difficult, you may enjoy this mower. Otherwise, it’s better to leave them be and seek alternatives that will be better suited for your mowing needs.

Model Specifics:

  • Engine options range from 22 HP to 24 HP, with brands like Kawasaki and Kohler
  • Dual hydrostatic transmissions for smooth and efficient operation
  • Cutting widths of 42 inches to 54 inches
  • Weight ranging from approximately 500 lbs. to 585 lbs.
  • 3-year/unlimited warranty for peace of mind

Alternatives: Zero-Turn Mowers To Get Instead

Discussed Zero-Turn MowersAttributesProblemsAlternativesBenefits
Country ClipperDurable, fast, and affordableHorrible dealership and customer careScag, Bad Boy, and Toro.A good customer care system with a better dealership including easy access to spare parts.
Dixie ChopperImpressive powerBad quality and functionalityHusqvarna and ScagPowerful engine with better engineering and longer lifespan.
RyobiRechargeable and ergonomicPoor battery capacityEgo Power lithium-ion models, Ryobi lithium-ion models.Better battery life and better longer lifespan.
Troy BiltAffordable with great functionalityLow-quality building productsToro-TimecutterHighly ergonomic design with better quality
Cub CadetAffordable and ergonomicLow-quality residential grade modelsBad Boy, Toro-TimecutterGreat entry-level models for the value with better quality

A Befitting Summary!

Deciding the worst zero-turn mowers for you are distinct to your needs such as hard or soft labor, or commercial or residential uses. Although there are quite some ridiculous design flaws that shouldn’t exist, no matter how slandered a riding mower brand could be there’s always a happy customer out there dropping the only thumbs up in a stream of boos and profanities.

The major aspect to consider if you must go for any of the listed zero-turn mowers is a good dealer and dependable customer care service, including the specific model you’re looking into.

Ultimately, Country Clipper and Troy Bilt still have a few steps to climb before they’re considered competitive brands. The mower market is fast changing and improving to suit our mowing needs, yet there are still minor problems like customer care services and poor quality experienced by the company. I suggest you consider the alternatives I have provided to ensure you get your money’s worth through and through.

Photo of author


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.