John Deere Riding Mowers Reviews - 2020 Buyer’s Guide for Best Lawn Tractors

Plenty of us grew up with a push mower or similar tool for mowing the lawn. If you're like many people, you probably grew up with a simple push mower. And while these mowers may be well-suited to very small lawns, a ride-on mower can prove to be a real time-saver.

And while these may be suitable choices and for very small lawns, the fact is that a riding mower (also called a lawn tractor) can make mowing your lawn much more efficient. Of course, these mowers are often big investments, and as such, you want to make sure you get one that is reliable.

And when choosing a riding mower, many people turn to John Deere, a company that started with the vision of one blacksmith in the early nineteenth century. This where John Deere Riding Mowers come in. Founded in 1837, John Deere started making mowers in the 1960s.

Today, John Deere manufactures some of the world's most reliable riding mowers. And whether you buy a new or used mower, you're sure to find an impressive variety of choices. While the famous jumping deer logo is often a sign of quality, there is a huge variety of mowers available.

Below is a comparison table with a detailed list of technical specifications for the 29 riding mowers series of models we will discuss here, to help you understand the differences between the series of Best John Deere Lawn Tractors. After the table, we will discuss each model and what uses it may be best suited for.

Technical Specification Table - Specific Series

Mower Series

Years Made

Approximate Horsepower

Interesting Features

Vintage Model Lawn & Garden Tractors

1963-1974

6-12 horsepower

Most of these models have 2-speed or 6-speed gear transmissions

Old Model Rear-Engine Riders

1970-1983

5-8 horsepower

Most of these models have 2-speed or 3-speed gear transmissions

G Series Rear-Engine Riders

1991-1996

5 horsepower

Many of these have upgraded 5-speed gear transmissions

Electric Series Rear-Engine Riders

1972-1976

25 horsepower(in combination with 12V battery)

This series is cleaner running, since it's powered by electricity

R Series Rear-Engine Riders

1984-1990

8-9 horsepower

Later models in this series begin to move away from the traditionally boxy mower silhouette

S Series Rear-Engine Riders

1984-2003

8-13 horsepower

This line is essentially an upgraded version of the R Series

CR/LR Series Rear-Engine Riders

2004-2010

5 horsepower

These mowers were made as John Deere was beginning to move away from rear-engine riders in favor of the more powerful front-engine tractors.

100 Series Lawn Tractors

1975-2006

8-25 horsepower

This series goes from the very beginnings of the lawn tractor to verymodernized versions.

G100 Series Lawn Tractors

2003-2005

25 horsepower

This short-lived series was made with a larger fuel capacity and higher horsepower than most lawn tractors up to this point.

L100 Series Lawn Tractors

2003-2005

17-23 horsepower

This series has plenty of variety, with higher-end model featuring hydrostatic transmissions and higher horsepower.

LA100 Series Lawn Tractors

2007-2010

5-26 horsepower

This series features customizable seats that can be adjustable, as well as optional canopies.

D100 Series Lawn Tractors

2011-2017

5-24 horsepower

Some models in this series include lumbar support, 10-way adjustable seats, a sunshade, and a 12-volt power outlet

S240 Sport Series Lawn Tractors

2015-current

5 horsepower

Though these aren't the highest horsepower mowers, the combination of 18.5 horsepower and a 2-cylinder engine makes them fairly efficient.

E100 Series Lawn Tractors

2008-current

5-25 horsepower

Many of these mowers also feature John Deere's Easy Change oil system, making maintenance very simple.

X100 Series Lawn Tractors

2007-current

4-18 horsepower

These large, powerful lawn tractors are especially good for mowing larger lawns.

LT Series Lawn Tractors

1998-2001

13-16 horsepower

These mowers have an impressively tight turn radius for their size.

LX Series Lawn Tractors

1990-2005

14-18 horsepower

This series of mowers also has cruise control, which can be useful when mowing long, flat tracts of land.

200 Series Lawn Tractors

1975-1987

8-16 horsepower

This series has classic good looks, although the engines are usually less powerful.

300 Series Lawn Tractors

1975-1992

16-18 horsepower

This line is essentially an upgraded 200 Series - one of the most important upgrades is the hydrostatic transmission.

400 Series Lawn Tractors

1975-1992

9-22 horsepower

This series was especially important, as it was the series where John Deere introduced power steering.

GT Series Lawn Tractors

1992-2005

14-20 horsepower

This series has expanded attachment compatibility, making it great for small homesteads.

GX Series Lawn Tractors

2002-2005

18-20 horsepower

This series is essentially an upgraded lversion of the GT series.

HDGT X Series Lawn Tractors

2002-2005

21-24 horsepower

This line is designed to be John Deere's premier line of garden tractors.

X300 Select Series Lawn Tractors

2006-2015

17-22 horsepower

Some models in this deluxe series had four-wheel steering for better handling.

X500 Select Series Lawn Tractors

2006-2015

25 horsepower

Lower-end models have manual steering, while higher-end models have power steering

X700 Select Series Lawn Tractors

2006-2012

23-27 horsepower

This high-performance has a lot of variety, including 2WD and 4WD options.

X700 Signature Series Lawn Tractors

2013-current

5 horsepower

This series revamped the X700 Select series for the 2010s.

X900 Series Lawn Tractors

2018-current

5 horsepower

This line is essentially the diesel-engine counterpart to the X700 series

SST Series Zero-Turn Mowers

2000-2003

15-16 horsepower

This mower type is ideal for large tracts of land.

Now, we'll progress to a detailed breakdown of each series and some of its benefits.

1. John Deere Vintage Model Lawn Tractors - Antique First Riding Lawn Mowers

John Deere started making lawn and garden tractors from 1963 to 1974s. This is the class of mower most of us picture when we imagine a riding mower. These are commonly simply called "lawn tractors" or "garden tractors". They are ideal for smoother, more traditional lawns that don't have especially bumpy or difficult terrain.

Basic models often come with easy oil-change technology and simple pedal-based operation and using the steering wheel as in a car. The Old John Deere Lawn Tractors tend to be slow and stable, but they're known for being affordable and reliable. You can still find used models in good working condition today.

Pros:

  • Often a more affordable option
  • Good for many residential lawns
  • Custom options available

Cons:

  • May not mow as smoothly on rougher terrain
  • Currently, no residential models are made

Table for Old Model Lawn & Garden Tractors

Mower Model

Years Made

Approximate Horsepower

Interesting Features

Model 60 Lawn & Garden Tractor

1966-1969

6 horsepower

Safe mowing of the lawn, comfortable adjustable seat, smooth control of the machine and rich attachments that give versatility

Model 70 Lawn & Garden Tractor

1970-1974

7 horsepower

All the best from the model 60, easy to maintain, antique tractor, manufactured to the traditionally high standards of John Deere

Model 110 Lawn & Garden Tractor

1963-1974

7-10 horsepower

Peerless three speed transmission with speed variator. A full hood and grille protecting the engine, battery, starter, etc. Rear tires and drive belts enclosed and shielded for operator protection. Quick-Tach style mounting of attachments.

Model 112 Lawn & Garden Tractor

1966-1974

10-12 horsepower

Cast-iron engine, electric start, dry-type air filter, variable speed drive, 4-speed transaxle with super low for tilling, fiberglass hood, 1.9 gal fuel tank, worm gear steering

Model 120 Lawn & Garden Tractor

1970-1971

12 horsepower

Model 140 Lawn & Garden Tractor

1968-1974

12 horsepower

2. John Deere Old Model Rear-Engine Riders - Vintage Riding Mowers for Smaller Lawns

John Deere makes a seemingly endless line of riding mowers, but very few are rear-engine riders. A rear-engine rider is almost exactly what it sounds like. Rear-engine riding mowers tend to be slow and stable, but they're known for being affordable and reliable. Unlike lawn tractors (which are built like small tractors) and most of John Deere's Z-turn mowers (which are front-engine riders that have the engine closer to the front of the mower), a rear-engine rider has the engine at the back of the mower.

Why is this type so rare? While rear-engine riding mowers are usually easier to maneuver, the front-engine models are faster and have more space, making them a clearer choice for most people. At one point, John Deere 68 was offered as a residential rear-engine riding mower. John Deere's older models of rear-engine riders were made starting in 1970, but you can still find used models in good working condition today. And while you still may be able to find one used, the series has been officially discontinued. However, while they may not be right for the average homeowner, John Deere does offer a few commercial mowers with a rear-engine configuration.

Pros:

  • Very affordable compared to newer models
  • Are reliable and easy to maintain
  • Many are higher horsepower engines
  • Great maneuverability

Cons:

  • Tend to be somewhat slow
  • May be hard to find due to age
  • Currently, no residential models are made

3. John Deere G Series Rear-Engine Riders - Updated Rear-Engine Riding Mowers

The G Series rear-engine riders were made in the 1990s, and they combine the sturdiness and reliability of the older models with improved features - most newer rear-engine riding mowers were made with higher horsepower engines and with a five-speed gear transmission. The result was a more efficient cut for your lawn.

Pros:

  • More power than their predecessors
  • These models still have the reliability of the older models

Cons:

  • These models tend to be hard to find because of their age
  • They don't have all of the attachment capabilities and comfort features that newer lawn tractors have

4. John Deere Electric Series Rear-Engine Riders - Environmentally Conscious Lawn Care

It may come as a surprise that John Deere made electric-powered mowers in the early 1970s. And while the Electric Series Riding Mowers what somewhat short-lived, it nonetheless made its mark on the industry. If you can find one of these mowers to purchase today, you'll be in luck - with a clean-running battery, these mowers won't pollute the environment, and they're very quiet-running machines.

Pros:

  • Battery powered mowers aren't as loud as those powered by traditional gasoline
  • This series still maintains most of the positive features of John Deere's rear-engine riders

Cons:

  • If you find one of these, the battery may be worn down and need to be replaced
  • Because they were made for a limited amount of time, this series may be hard to find

5. John Deere R Series Rear-Engine Riders - Decades of Open-Cab Mowing

Many of John Deere's rear-engine riding mowers are designed for those looking to maintain medium to large pieces of land. That's where the R series riding mowers were introduced. These series smaller lawn tractors were manufactured from the 1980s until 1990, and it saw considerable development during that time. R series riding mowers were made before the era of zero-turn mowers, the tight turn radius nonetheless made it easier to quickly cover small plots, which were designed to be easy to maneuver and shift gears.

The R series was, in many ways, an economy version of the S Series of rear-engine riders. As the years passed, the silhouette of these mowers gradually became more rounded and streamlined, giving it a modernized, more aerodynamic appearance. Some of the higher-end R Series models even have transmissions of up to seven speeds. While these are no longer made, the contemporary E100 series may provide something comparable.

Pros:

  • Good for small plots of land, which applies to most suburban homeowners
  • Built for durability with a welded steel frame
  • This series saw some improvement in the transmission
  • Because they were made as an economy version of the S Series, most of these are very affordable

Cons:

  • These models have been discontinued for decades, and they may be difficult to find
  • The low horsepower engine may not be ideal for larger plots

6. John Deere S Series Rear-Engine Riders - Witnessing the Evolution of Ride-On Mowers

This John Deere S series riding mowers, made about the same time as the R series, served a similar purpose, but for those with slightly larger land. Still suited for small plots, S series mowers had slightly more horsepower, along with an electric start and a cutting width of a full 30". Making both the R and S series demonstrated that John Deere hadn't forgotten about those with smaller lawns, even as they were developing higher-powered mowers.

For our purposes, "S Series" covers not only the S Series of mowers made in the 1980s, but also the upgraded SX Series, which was made up until the early 2000s. Later models, like the SX85, boasted an impressive 13 horsepower engine and a streamlined chassis with ergonomic seat. These mowers were fairly expensive when they came out, in part because they had so many additional comfort features.

Pros:

  • These mowers are affordable if you can find them
  • Later models look much like modern John Deere mowers despite their age
  • These models have a decent amount of horsepower for mowers of their age
  • For those with small to medium plots of land, the S series offered a viable option
  • The sturdy, no-frills approach provided good value

Cons:

  • While they were state-of-the art when released, these mowers can't match contemporary ones in terms of power or features
  • Like the R series, this line is also discontinued

7. John Deere CR/LR Series Rear-Engine Riders - Compact Mowers for Any Homeowner

John Deere may be known for their tractors and tractor - style riding lawn mowers, but their ride-on for smaller lawns may be ideal for those who don't need heavy-duty features. The LR series rear-engine mowers are designed to be easy to maneuver, making cutting small lawns (usually those up to about 3000 square feet) easier. It is often marketed alongside the CR series rear-engine mowers, which have similar features but are made for slightly smaller lawns.

The combination of the CR Series and LR Series is an interesting one, mostly because it serves as a record of when John Deere started moving away from the rear-engine rider model. CR Series mowers look most like a combination of a rear-engine rider and a lawn tractor, while the LR Series looks more like a contemporary lawn tractor. This era was when John Deere first began introducing newer hydrostatic transmissions.

Pros:

  • Some of these mowers are made with hydrostatic transmissions
  • While some of these models are fairly old, they look more like contemporary mowers than most older models do
  • These are fairly powerful mowers, especially considering their age
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Designed for smaller lawns
  • May be more cost-effective than larger models

Cons:

  • While they look fairly modern, these mowers likely aren't compatible with John Deere's attachment system for newer mowers
  • While they look fairly modern, these mowers likely aren't compatible with John Deere's attachment system for newer mowers

8. John Deere 100 Series Lawn Tractors - The Beginning Of John Deere Riding Lawn Mowers As We Know Them Today

You might be wary of this series at first since it is the least expensive of the John Deere lawn tractor line. However, unlike some inexpensive mowers that are made overseas, 100 series mowers are made in Greeneville, Tennessee, the home of John Deere. If you are new to John Deere and their models, it may seem confusing. You may have heard of the G100, D100, E100, etc. While the 100 series has always been the company's most economical lawn tractor line, the 100 in the name is preceded by a different letter each time a newer model comes out. As we will see as we go into detail on each of the models, newer models may come with a change in deck width, horsepower, etc.

The John Deere 100 is, in many ways, the quintessential lawn tractor. Though it was made starting in 1975, it looks surprisingly modern. However, this model was just the start of the 100 Series, which endured until the 2000s.

The original 100 series started in 1975, with only eight horsepower. It progressed until the 190C, which was made in 2006. You may still be able to obtain one of these older models used, but John Deere revamped this series with the G100 series, D100 series, and E100 series. Though it may cause confusion for those who remember the original 100 series, John Deere markets the 2018 E100 series as simply the "100 Series."

Regardless of what model year they were made, however, the 100-series lawn tractors all have a few things in common:

  • They are relatively straightforward to operate, even if the operator is not very mechanically inclined.
  • They are more affordable than most of the higher-end lawn tractors made.
  • They often have less horsepower than higher-end models.
  • They are best suited to traditional residential lawns.

Pros:

  • This series has a lawn tractor for just about everyone - you can choose older,lower-horsepower models or newer ones with significantly more power
  • Most of these models are faster and easier to control than rear-engine riders
  • Good for homeowners seeking reliability at a good price
  • Come in many different variations for a variety of needs
  • Many still available used

Cons:

  • Older models in this series may be difficult to find, especially if you need a mower in good condition
  • May not be the right choice for those with larger lawns
  • Doesn't have a zero-turn radius option

9. John Deere G100 Series Lawn Tractors - Turn-of-the-Century Lawn Mowers

Often, a series of lawn tractors have an extensive list of different models. Comparatively, John Deere's G100 Series was fairly abbreviated - the model G100 was made one year, in 2003, and the model G110 was made from 2003 to 2005. Though they were made in the early 2000s, these mowers bear a striking resemblance to modern lawn tractors.

The G100 series is especially known for a rugged, durable body. With 25 horsepower engines, they are designed to have the speed and horsepower of larger tractors in a relatively compact size. Paired with smooth, modern contours and hydrostatic transmission, the G100 Series was ahead of its time.

Pros:

  • Buying one of these mowers gets you a similar machine to modern lawn tractors, but at a fraction of the cost
  • This series is ergonomic and comfortable to drive
  • This series also has a greater fuel capacity than many mowers
  • Higher horsepower than many lawn tractors
  • The rugged body is built to last

Cons:

  • If you have significant acreage to mow, you may want a newer or more powerful mower
  • Those who simply need to mow a regular lawn may not need to spend money for this much power
  • These models are somewhat hard to find used

10. John Deere L100 Series Lawn Tractors - The Evolution Continues

Like the G100 series, the John Deere L100 series was also made from 2003 to 2005. In that time, though, John Deere continued to improve and modernize their lawn tractors. Because lawn tractors have front-mounted engines, they have better power and more traction than the classic rear-engine rider. Thus, as John Deere continued to make mowers with more horsepower and improved handling, they stuck with the lawn tractor design.

The L100 series lawn mowers went through several more models. While the L100 series is slightly smaller and has slightly less horsepower, it features incredible versatility. Through a CargO Mount System, it can connect to a variety of attachments. These include extra blades and even a bagger that can hold up to eight bushels of grass clippings. Because of its smaller size and attachment abilities, it may be useful for those with more extensive mowing jobs to do.

Pros:

  • This series has a mower for many price ranges - you can save money with a 5-speed gear transmission or choose a hydrostatic transmission
  • Plenty of features, high fuel capacity, and high horsepower mean you can quickly mow even fairly large tracts of lawns
  • Many different models may make it easier to find used

Cons:

  • Because this series was only made for a few years, it may be difficult to find used
  • While features are attractive, they may be unnecessary for those with smaller lawns

11. John Deere LA100 Series Lawn Tractors - The Riding Lawn Mower Gets A Modern Touch

The name of this series is similar to the L100 series and with good reason. From a technical standpoint, these models are very similar to the L100 series, with many parts being interchangeable. However, the newer John Deere LA100 Series Lawn Tractors, which was made from 2007 to 2010, offered the public an opportunity to purchase a tractor of similar specifications new from a dealer.

The LA100 Series Lawn Mowers has a few advantages over the L100 Series. One of the more important features is the adjustable seat and an optional canvas canopy. While it may not make much of a difference when mowing smaller lawns, these features help those who need to mow larger lawns to stay secure and comfortable. Wider mowing decks and the ability to use snowblower and blade attachments round out this impressive series. However, this series has received mixed reviews, with some owners complaining about a lack of durability.

Pros:

  • Comfort features and the ability to use attachments make this a versatile series ability is a plus
  • Some models have a very high capacity fuel tank (4 gallons), making mowing larger lawns much easier
  • Larger size is good for those who want the look of a larger garden tractor

Cons:

  • Because of their extra feature, these models may be more expensive, even when buying used
  • Many owners have complained about a lack of general durability

12. John Deere D100 Series Lawn Tractors - The Dawn of the Luxury Riding Mower

When looking at a list of John Deere riding lawn mowers, you might initially think that the D100 would be a precursor to the E100. However, this isn't the case. The D100 series refers to variants of existing models that you can purchase at a Lowe's or a Home Depot. Despite costing roughly half of what their licensed-dealer-sold counterparts cost, the D100 series mowers regularly make top lists in Consumer Reports. So how does this model keep quality while lowering the price?

While adjustable seats were a feature of some series before this one, the D100 Series was the first to have true luxury features. Some models include seats with 10-way adjustment and lumbar support, and some also include shade canopies and cup holders. With a modern silhouette and new braking systems, these mowers continue to be a favorite of many homeowners.

The D100 series lawn tractors typically have a much lighter weight overall, usually due to a less-durable chassis. While they still have quality engines and transmissions, manufacturers save costs by choosing sub-par smaller parts and components. The balance of price and quality seems to be a good one since this series is consistently rated well. For those who want to compare, some licensed John Deere dealers also sell the D100 series, allowing you to compare these models to standard John Deere mowers.

Pros:

  • Most models have unique comfort features to protect your health while mowing
  • These mowers can be used with John Deere attachments
  • They are new enough that you can easily find them used today
  • A good balance of price and quality
  • Good for those who want to save money

Cons:

  • If you're looking for something truly state of the art, you may need to buy a newer mower
  • Often less durable than more costly models

13. John Deere S240 Sport Series Lawn Tractors - The Sportscars of the Mowing World

Though it was first manufactured in 2015, the S240 is still made today. Its sleek chassis and two-cylinder engine come together to make a high-performance mower that looks the part. It also features a high-backed seat that is both supportive and cool, along with John Deere's specialized Edge Cutting System for a beautifully trimmed lawn every time.

Pros:

  • Includes Edge Cutting System and very supportive seat
  • Made with a powerful V Twin engine
  • Streamlined, sporty look is great for those who don't like the look of tractors

Cons:

  • Though it's a powerful and well made mower, it is somewhat expensive

14. John Deere E100 Series Lawn Tractors - The Best Basic Riding Lawn Mower Gets a Facelift

Now we come to one of the most modern lawn tractors on the list. The E100 series, which John Deere markets as simply the 100 series, offers a modern twist on classic quality. Designed for traditional lawns without especially rugged terrain, the E100 series is especially ergonomic for comfort. This series features mowers in a few different power levels. The John Deere E100 Series Lawn Tractors only started in 2018, and it's still offered.

One of the most unique impressive innovations of this series is John Deere's Easy Change Oil system, which only takes most people 30 seconds to complete. One of the most innovations here This makes vital maintenance easier than ever. This particular innovation reaches past the realm of lawn tractors. In fact, it was recognized in Popular Science magazine as one of the "Best of What's New" innovations of 2018. Because this new feature is unique to John Deere, it is a key focus in marketing the E100 series.

Pros:

  • New oil change method Easy Change system means you spend less time on maintenance
  • Wide, comfortable operator station is great for mowing larger lawns
  • Edge Cutting System gives you a precise cut each time
  • Designed for comfort, ergonomics, and ease of use is appealing

Cons:

  • These mowers can be somewhat costly, especially if you prefer a higher-end model
  • May not be ideal for those with very large or bumpy lawns

15. John Deere X100 Series Lawn Tractors - High-Capacity Mowers for Larger Lawns

Launched in the late 2000s, this is one of the more modern series of lawn tractors. The John Deere X100 Series Lawn Tractors is another riding mower designed for those with small to medium lawns or plots of land. Despite being a small-sized riding mower, though, the X100 series has a lot of practical features, including a 42" cutting width and compatibility with several attachments.

In addition, the models of the X100 series vary somewhat widely in horsepower, making it so that there's likely to one for a variety of applications. These models combine two-cylinder engines with user-friendly features. This makes them a wise choice for those who want to mow lawns up to about 5000 square meters. Though they were first launched in 2007, the X100 Series proved to be popular enough that these mowers are still made today.

Pros:

  • Since they are still in production, you can find mowers from this series sold new
  • These are especially good mowers for large lawns and/or bumpy terrain
  • Several horsepower levels to choose from

Cons:

  • Especially if you're looking at higher-end models in the series, these are somewhat expensive

16. John Deere LT Series Lawn Tractors - The Precursor to the Modern Riding Lawn Mower

If you just casually look at a photo of one of John Deere's LT Series mowers, you might think it was made within the last few years. The LT series was launched in the late 1990s. It quickly rose to prominence as one of the most popular John Deere riding mowers ever. Why?

To start, it was designed for those who spent long hours mowing. Specifically, it features an adjustable seat for operators, increasing comfort and reducing the risk of injury when working for hours at a time. These mowers were also made to be very fuel-efficient, making them suited to mowing larger tracts of land.

Because the LT series was made for extended periods of work, the exterior hood was made of Xenoy (which withstands weathering better) rather than steel. While these mowers were made in the late 1990s, but they can still be found for sale as used models.

This series was discontinued in the early 2000s. If you can find one used, it may be worth it - LT Series mowers are compatible with many different deck sizes, as well as with other John Deere attachments. Given their size and power, these mowers also have an impressively tight turn radius.

Pros:

  • If you can find one used, these mowers are generally affordable
  • They are compatible with a wide variety of John Deere attachments
  • They have a tight turn radius (usually about 15") for their size
  • Good for mowing large areas for long hours--more so than many John Deere ride-on mowers
  • Built extra tough
  • Good fuel economy

Cons:

  • These mowers aren't typically as durable or long-lasting as the LX Series
  • Because there are only a few models in the series, they may be harder to find used

17. John Deere LX Series Lawn Tractors - Luxury Lawn Tractors Ahead of Their Time

The LT Series proved to be one of John Deere's most popular series ever. The LX Series was made with similar power, but these mowers also have a very durable build quality. This makes them easier to find used. Additionally, since the LX Series mowers were meant to be luxury mowers, they have features (including cruise control) that many mowers do not.

Like the LR series, the LX series was launched in the 1990s. But unlike the LR series, this one stayed in production for 16 years. Part of its longevity was the fact that this series offered a wide variety of deck sizes, making it so there was a model suited to virtually every mowing need. Like many of the larger models available, this one also allowed for several attachments, including a snowblower. Because it was made for so long and in so many iterations, this one is likely to be somewhat easier to find for sale used.

Pros:

  • Great build quality makes these mowers worth buying used
  • Bonus features like cruise control help improve the mowing experience
  • It can be attached to a variety of implements, making it good for more than simply mowing
  • This model was (and is) popular for versatility
  • These were made for several years, and you should be able to find them used

Cons:

  • If you're just looking for a very basic riding mower, you may want to save your money and buy a simpler model
  • For someone needing a more powerful mower, this one may not be quite right

18. John Deere 200 Series Lawn Tractors - Classic Riding Mowers from the 70s

Series naming conventions for John Deere lawn tractors aren't always logical - the 200 series started in the 1970s. Like the 100 series, the first in John Deere's 200 Series Lawn Tractors, the 200, was made in 1975 with a mere eight horsepower. However, this series is remarkable for a few reasons.

One is that this series was designed to look like John Deere's full-size tractors. It also featured an engine with a muffler, which helps keep the noise down while mowing.

Also one of the distinguishing features of this model was its larger deck. The 200 series continued until the model 285, which was last produced in 1992. This model was much more powerful, with 18 horsepower.

It's a testament to the reliability of the 200 series that you can still find many used models. Possibly due to popularity and reliability, John Deere brought back the spirit of the 200 series with the S240, which began production in 2015 and is still made to this day.

Pros:

  • If you find one in good condition, a 200 series mower may be valuable as an antique or as a functional design
  • Unique chassis style sets this series apart
  • There's a range of horsepower in this series, making it easier to select the right mower for you
  • Popular lawn tractor line that is still marketed used
  • Often has slightly more power and more room than the 100 series
  • Still well suited to the needs of most smaller lawns

Cons:

  • Given that most of the 200 Series mowers were made in the 1970s, it may be hard to find one in good working condition
  • May not have the exciting features of newer models

19. John Deere 300 Series Lawn Tractors - Versatile Machines for a New Decade

The John Deere 300 Series Lawn Tractors was made at roughly the same time as the 200 Series, and it's essentially an upgraded version. It was also started in 1975, and involved more change over the life of the line compared to the 100 and 200. The 300 Series mowers have 16 horsepower engines for the most part, and they have an upgraded hydrostatic transmission.

From the beginning, the 300 series had more horsepower. But disaster struck when model 317, made in 1979, suffered severe mechanical problems resulting in countless engine failures. This, of course, became a nightmare for the company's public image.

But the disaster of the 317 led to a complete overhaul with the 318. This was the first lawn tractor to have true power steering, its turn radius was the tightest in its class, and the aesthetics were redesigned, making it look more modern than many lawn tractors of its time.

Most of these were discontinued in the 1980s, but some models, including the 318, were made into the 1990s. Additionally, with this series, John Deere moved the engine from under the hood to right beneath a rear fender pan, making it easier to access.

It may seem as though this is just a bit of tractor history trivia, but it has a lasting impact on the lawn tractor market today. Because of its high quality, the 318 is still seen as a desirable lawn tractor today, and its resale value is much higher than many riding mowers made at about the same time.

Pros:

  • Upgraded power and functionality make them more versatile machines
  • Engine placement is more conveneient than with the 200 Series
  • Dramatic improvements in the 318 make it a standout
  • This series was when much of the modernization of John Deere lawn vehicles started

Cons:

  • Like many older John Deere models, 300 Series lawn tractors may be harder to find used
  • The 317's many mechanical issues make it one to avoid

20. John Deere 400 Series Lawn Tractors - True Tractors for Expansive Lawns

Made during roughly the same time as both the 100, 200 Series and the 300 Series, the John Deere 400 Series Lawn Tractors began in 1975 and was considered a top-of-the-line mower when it was built. John Deere 400 Series also brought with it a revolutionary innovation in the riding mower industry: power steering. Until the dawn of the 400 Series, even the most powerful mowers were made with manual steering.

One of the most obvious differences between this series and the 100, 200, and 300 is the size of the lawn tractors. The 400 series was up to 250 pounds heavier and significantly larger than the smaller series. It was also designed to look like the even larger tractors used on farms, giving it a distinctive aesthetic.

As the series developed, it eventually was able to achieve the same 26-inch turn radius of the much smaller 318. And due to stricter OSHA guidelines on mower operator safety, the 400 series posed significantly fewer dangers to owners. Because of its size, it was also able to work with a variety of attachments, including a snowplow.

Like the other series that started at the same time, the 400 Series mower was an impressive field of innovation until it ceased production in 2001. This line is discontinued, but like much older John Deere Lawn Mowers, many 400 series models can be purchased used.

Pros:

  • Very high-quality, durable mowers
  • Addition of power steering drastically improves handling
  • Larger size helps speed mowing of larger areas
  • Unique larger size makes it between the size of a lawn tractor and a farm tractor
  • Still handles much like smaller mowers

Cons:

  • Larger size may mean this mower isn't the right choice for those with smaller lawns
  • The larger size and more features make it more expensive

21. John Deere GT Series Lawn Tractors - High-Horsepower Machines for Efficient Work

While a few John Deere GT Series Lawn Tractors were made in the early 1990s, most were manufactured from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. Made from 1992 to 2005 the GT series lawn tractors, are technically "garden tractors."

These didn't have any revolutionary changes, but they were especially easy to use with attachments, both from John Deere and from other companies, with traditional mower attachments as well as tillers, plows, and similar equipment.

While well-suited to those who need to do more than just mow, they likely aren't needed by the average homeowner. While the extra capabilities are desirable in some cases, they likely aren't worth the extra expense for someone who doesn't need to use them.

Since GT stands for "Garden Tractor," this designation makes them more expensive, it also makes them extremely versatile. Like the G100 series, these tractors can till gardens, pull things, and clear snow.

Pros:

  • Expanded functionality makes these mowers work like small tractors
  • These can be used with more than just John Deere attachments
  • Can be used as plows or tills with proper attachment
  • Plenty of extra capabilities for heavier-duty work
  • Very rugged construction

Cons:

  • More expensive than many lawn tractors from this era
  • If you don't need to use attachments, this series may not be worth the expenditure
  • Many features are unnecessary for those looking mainly for lawnmowers
  • Can be very difficult to find used

22. John Deere GX Series Lawn Tractors - The Beginnings of Power Steering

While the naming conventions of John Deere lawn tractors may be a little confusing, there is some method to it. Like the GT Series, the John Deere GX Series Lawn Tractors is a line of garden tractors. This series has a few upgrades from the GT, "GT," for instance, stands for "garden tractor," and an "X" in a John Deere series name usually indicates that a given mower is a deluxe heavier-duty garden tractor.

While many of its components are similar to the GT, the GX series is designed for harder work, with more emphasis on towing capacity, attachment ability, and ruggedized construction, that can be used with just about every attachment you can think of. Thus these models are ideal for working on large gardens or small farms.

John Deere GX Series Lawn Tractors were made slightly later than the GT Series, so they are often easier to find used. As compared to other John Deere ride on lawn mower models, it may not be needed by those looking for a riding lawn tractor alone.

Pros:

  • Durable construction means the GX Series tends to outlast other tractors
  • Can be used with almost ant garden tractor attachment
  • Due to quality construction, can easily be found used
  • Optimal for heavy garden work while still being able to mow effectively
  • Very versatile

Cons:

  • Even used, these tend to be some of John Deere's more expensive offerings
  • Between being a garden tractor and being heavy-duty, it likely will be too expensive for those who just need a lawnmower, and they aren't usually worth the extra expense

23. John Deere HDGT X Series Lawn Tractors - Choose Gasoline or Diesel

The HDGT X series of John Deere riding mowers is truly unique. This series was made in the mid - the too late 2000s, and it's a great example of how John Deere riding mowers are constantly changing with technological innovations.

This series is set apart chiefly by a hydraulic transmission - this means that, rather than having the operator manually switch gears, the transmission automatically powers the wheels. This innovation was put to good use, as the HDGT X series included several models of various sizes. Most also included the edge cutting mechanism, making for well-manicured lawns.

Also, some models in John Deere HDGT X Series Lawn Tractors are somewhat unique in that they come equipped with diesel engines. This gives buyers the option to choose a top-of-the-line garden tractor that runs on their preferred fuel.

The HDGT X Series includes luxury appointments and options, including the option to purchase a tractor with a hard-sided or soft-sided cab. Just about everyone has all-wheel steering for better control. And with upgraded components and the ability to work with any attachment, these tractors are well suited to the small farm or homestead.

Pros:

  • Upgraded components and durable build quality means these tractors last a long time
  • Four-wheel steering and attachment capabilities make them very versatile
  • Unique hydraulic transmission sets it apart from similar models
  • Available in a variety of sizes

Cons:

  • This line is very large and very heavy, which may pose storage concerns for some people
  • Innovative features may make it more pricey

24. John Deere X300 Select Series Lawn Tractors - Precision-Turning Machines

The John Deere X300 Series, which was made in the 2000s, featured a range of enhanced lawn tractors, with the crown jewel of the collection being the X360. This is because this model featured hydraulic power steering, as well as lift.

Some models in this series also include four-wheel steering (as opposed to two-wheel steering), which improves handling and helps control the turn radius. This means that they can turn tightly without having to slow down.

They also feature multiple clipping collection bags so you can collect more at a time. Other features include the ability to attach carts and other attachments. Like with most series, the X300 series comes in a variety of options to suit each person's lawn needs.

John Deere X300 Series Lawn Tractors takes advantage of new technologies in order to make it possible to efficiently mow larger lawns. You may not need these features if you have a very small lawn, but for a larger lawn, and especially one with several turns, the X300 series may save time.

Pros:

  • Lots of cutting-edge features make this a desirable lawn tractor, even today
  • Includes sunshade as well as vinyl enclosure for bad weather
  • Has hydraulic power steering for easier handling
  • As a newer series, the X300 series has a variety of options when it comes to size and specifications
  • Since these are newer, they're easier to find and purchase

Cons:

  • Compared to many tractor series from the 2000s, the X300 series is fairly expensive
  • Not all models have all desirable features

25. John Deere X500 Select Series Lawn Tractors - High-Power Mowers for the Late 2000s

Next, we come to the John Deere X500 Series Lawn Tractors. This newer series comes in a few different sizes, and each is equipped with several of the company's newest technologies. The key difference between the X300 Series and the X500 Series is power - the X500 mowers are almost always built with impressive high-horsepower engines for high-performance mowing.

Many of them come standard with convenience features like a built-in toolbox and cup holder. However, the X500 mowers aren't all created equal. If you choose to buy one, look carefully at the specs. Some have manual steering, while higher-end models in this series have tended to hydraulic power steering that is designed to be like that of a car. This way, operating one might feel more familiar and less like operating a piece of machinery.

This X500 Series Lawn Tractors has the unique hydrostatic transmission described above, which means operators don't have to be concerned with switching gears as they mow uneven terrain. Also, these high horsepower models also can double as effective lawn tractors. They can tow various attachments, and each can come with the optional mulch kit so owners can put grass clippings to good use.

Pros:

  • Lots of versatility without the extra size of John Deere garden tractors help make mowing less stressful
  • Higher-end models come with upgraded steering and four-wheel turning
  • Addition of new John Deere engineering features makes these easier to operate

Cons:

  • Because of the higher horsepower, these are less efficient than some models
  • As is the case with many higher-end models, the average homeowner may not need all the included features

26. John Deere X700 Select Series Lawn Tractors - Upgraded for Modern Mowing

As you progress through the history of John Deere mowers, you'll probably notice that each new series has a few incremental differences over the last. the X700 Select Series offers a cornucopia of options, letting you choose a mower that has a slight edge over the X500 Series or for one that's a completely different machine. Mowers in this category come in buth 2WD and 4WD options, and you can also choose from four-wheel or two-wheel steering. A wide, comfortable operator station helps round out this powerful series, which can handle mowing even large lawn or homesteads.

Pros:

  • This series includes plenty of options for drive and steering
  • It's compatible with several John Deere attachments
  • It includes a comfortable, upgraded operator station

Cons:

  • Because these mowers are no longer made, it can be hard to find a model with the exact specs you want when you shop used

27. John Deere X700 Signature Series Lawn Tractors - A Step Up for the X700 Series

John Deere X700 Signature Series, which began in the early 2010s, was the successor to the X700 Select Series. Like the Select versions, these mowers come in a range of options - you can choose whether you want a 2WD or a 4WD, as well as whether or not you want the machine to come with two-wheel or four-wheel steering. However, unlike the Select versions, this series is still made today, which makes it easier to get a model with the options you want.

This series of lawn tractors are essentially becoming the luxury car equivalent of lawn care vehicles. While they are designed to be compact enough for suburban lawns, the X700 Signature Series strongly resembles larger farm tractors, just on a smaller scale.

The luxury lawn tractors comparison makes sense--these vehicles have many of the traits of high-end vehicles. Many have the option of a four-wheel drive, and they are of course equipped with hydrostatic transmission, eliminating the need to switch gears continually while operating.

And while not everyone may need a high level of horsepower, even the lower-end models of the X700 series comes equipped with more than 25 horsepower. Very high-end models combine four-wheel drive with four-wheel steering, allowing for precise turns even in slippery or difficult conditions.

Pros:

  • These mowers are still made today, so you can choose what specs you want
  • You can choose a model with a hard cab if you want to protect yourself from bad weather
  • 4WD versions are ideal for mowing in difficult terrain
  • Several high-end features make this an appealing lawn tractor
  • Specifically, driving features make this an ideal lawn vehicle for treacherous conditions

Cons:

  • While they are impressive machines, these are some of the more expensive mowers John Deere offers
  • While many of its features are appealing, this lawn tractor may fall into the trap of being too extravagant for a lawnmower, yet not powerful enough for a garden tractor

28. John Deere X900 Series Lawn Tractors - The Modern Diesel Standard

If your home is in the United States, you may not have heard of the John Deere X900 Lawn Tractors. And for good reason -- this model is just about exclusively available in the UK. But for lawn owners who strongly prefer the fuel efficiency of a diesel engine, the X900 series has an advantage over the X700 series.

The X900 series is very similar to the X700 in terms of features--it simply adds the diesel engine. As a fuel, diesel has the advantage of being burned a little more slowly than gasoline. Because large lawn tractors aren't always fuel-efficient, many homeowners have turned to diesel-engine tractors.

And while the X900 series hit the market after the X700 Series, its specs are fairly similar except for the fact that it has a diesel engine. With this series, you also can choose whether you want 2WD or AWD, as well as whether two-wheel or four-wheel steering is the best for you. These models also have high-capacity fuel tanks, meaning you'll get more mowing time in between refuels.

Pros:

  • Thee are powerful machines perfect for the homeowner who prefers diesel
  • 24.5, three-cylinder engine helps efficiently mow even very large tracts of land
  • Four-wheel drive options are great for those who mow on slippery or difficult terrain
  • Diesel engine is more efficient than gasoline
  • Has the features of the X700 series

Cons:

  • Very large size means this may not be the best choice for every homeowner
  • Just like with diesel cars, diesel mowers tend to be more expensive
  • May not be available in the United States

29. John Deere SST Series Zero-Turn Mowers - The Perfect Commercial Mower

John Deere Zero-Turn Mowers, which are also called Z-turn mowers, are named because their turn radius is zero (or at least close to this). This poses an advantage for larger lawns or those with an irregular shape.

With push mowers and many lawn tractors, you often have a patch of unmowed lawn in the middle of the turn, causing you to have to go back and cover the same area again. By contrast, a zero-turn mower will typically evenly mow grass as it turns.

These mowers also tend to be fast, meaning they may help you more efficiently mow larger areas. Lower-end Z-turn mowers can go up to 7 mph, while the higher-end models can frequently get up to 10 mph. Some models include storage for landscaping tools, and the higher-end models are better equipped to mow bumpy, root-filled, or otherwise difficult terrain.

The SST series is one of John Deere's zero-turn radius mowers. They were made in the early 2000s, although only a few models were released. Some models also came with a mulch kit, which allowed you to mulch your grass clippings for use on gardens or your lawn itself.

Many buyers complained that, while it was effective on flat land, it couldn't effectively mow hills. However, the SST zero-turn series provides a time-saving alternative to traditional mowers.

The SST Series mowers all have a turning radius of zero, meaning it cuts all grass under it as it turns. These mowers are often used for commercial mowing companies. However, if you have a significant amount of land, one of these may be worth the investment.

Pros:

  • Time-saving zero-turn feature is great for those with a lot of land to mow
  • 15-16 horsepower engines are powerful enough while still conserving fuel
  • Zero-turn radius makes mowing more efficient faster and easier
  • Optional mulch kit helps put clippings to good use
  • Better for bumpier terrain

Cons:

  • These mowers aren't as attachment-compatible as many of Deere's garden tractors
  • Often more expensive than lawn tractors
  • May not be needed for smaller lawns

John Deere and the Legacy of Technology

The list of mowers above essentially covers a brief history of John Deere mowers from 1975 until the present. And of course, not all of them are available to purchase brand new today. However, John Deere prides itself on quality and longevity. And in nearly any tractor sales board, you can see listings of many older John Deere mowers for sale.

Of the important features of these mowers is the fact that each new series brings in technological innovations. For instance, as we saw above, the 300 series saw the onset of true power steering. As engineering of these mowers has improved over the years, the turn radius gradually tightened. And eventually, this led to the development of zero-turn radius mowers and those better suited for rougher types of terrain. Even though one might not think there could be too much to add to the existing riding mower, the 2018 E100 series came with a major innovation in convenience, even in inexpensive models--the easy, 30-second oil change.

How Do I Choose What Kind of Mower I Need?

Of course, as more mowers are made and more developments occur, it may be difficult to choose a riding mower that's right for your needs. Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to you. To start, the technical specification table included with this article may help give you an idea of what you need.

If you prefer an interactive tool, the manufacturer offers online quizzes and other interactive tools to help you select the best mower for your needs. These quizzes are billed as "Product Selector Tools." In order to help you choose your ideal ride on mower, they will ask you a few questions, including the following:

  • The area you are planning on needing to mow
  • Your preferred deck size on a mower
  • The amount of trees or obstacles you'll need to mow around
  • How flat or hilly the terrain you plan to mow is
  • Ways you want to use the vehicle, aside from mowing

From there, you can explore a curated list of options for you. If you have more specific preferences, you can select a horsepower preference, a steering preference, and more. The goal is to find your ideal mowing machine. Of course, if it's too expensive, you can always change your options based on what's most (and least) important to you.

It's important to note that this tool is only for selecting newer models of John Deere mowers (or at least those currently sold by authorized dealers). As you likely recall, many of the models and series on the list above have been discontinued for years. But if you look on agricultural or even general-purpose sales pages, you will likely be able to find used models that come close to your specifications.

As you likely have already realized, though. purchasing any type of vehicle comes with its own set of issues. Thankfully, the internet abounds with tractor blogs that offer in-depth focuses on specific models. Moreover, you can read user reviews for each model: what was great, what worked poorly, etc. There are also many databases, some of which have been linked in this article, that offer very detailed specifications for each model of each series.

Even for someone who is mechanically inclined, the sheer number of models of ride-on mowers you can purchase can prove to be overwhelming. your local John Deere dealer will be well-equipped to help you narrow down options and choose the best new or used model for you.

Conclusion

To the new lawn tractor shopper, the amount of available options can be daunting. But as the years progress, newer and more exciting options are likely to continue developing. In the future, we may be able to look forward to increased fuel efficiency with higher horsepower, better lawn speed, and greater durability and value for every homeowner.

As one of the world's foremost manufacturers of riding mowers and lawn tractors, John Deere is an excellent choice for new homeowners or those who are simply tired of using a push mower. Plus, due to the durability of most John Deere mowers, it's entirely possible to save money by purchasing an older model used. Take your time and consider the options each model has to offer - many of the higher-priced options have extra features that many homeowners will find useful, but you can also find a basic, straightforward riding mower that will let you cut your grass even faster than before. Check product specifications carefully and do your research, and you'll be well on the way to owning your next (or first) John Deere riding mower.