Best gas lawn mowers 2019: Great walk-behind mowers for the perfect lawn

Here are the best self-propelled (walk-behind) gas mowers, ranked by their cutting performance, conveniences, design and warranty

If you’re looking for the best gas lawn mower, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve tested, rated and ranked ten of the top gas lawn mowers on the market today.

How big is your lawn or garden? If you only have a small lawn that’s easily accessible from your house, you might prefer an electric lawn mower, but those models still struggle to rival the output and results produced by its gas-powered counterparts. On the other end of the scale, if you have a truly giant lawn or garden, where a regular push lawn mower just won’t cut it – literally – you’ll want to check out our guide to the best riding lawn mowers instead.

But what’s our top pick of gas lawn mowers? At the end of our testing, our top choice was the Honda HRX 217VKA. Of all the lawn mowers we reviewed, it scored the best marks in our performance tests. This Honda gas lawn mower has a variable self-propulsion system that you control with a simple flick of your thumb. It cuts a 21-inch path, which cuts down on the number of passes needed to cut your entire lawn. And it has a 2.5-bushel discharge bag, so you’ll have to empty your bag less often compared with other mowers. This saves you precious time, especially when you have a large lawn to maintain.

Blade width: 21-inches | Bag capacity: 2.5 bushels | Noise level: 98.2dB | Cutting positions: 7 | Self-propulsion: Variable rear wheel | Engine size: 190cc | Warranty: 5 years

In our tests, the Honda HRX delivered a uniform cut, courtesy of its specialty MicroCut blades, which have four cutting surfaces. Most other gas-powered lawn mower blades have only two cutting surfaces. The Honda’s technology results in a finer cut, which reduces clumping and makes for easier cleanup.

Cutting your grass to the precise length you want is easy with this gas lawn mower, too. It has seven distinct cutting levels, ranging from 0.75 to 4 inches. This range represents both the highest and lowest cutting lengths among the lawn mowers we evaluated in our group test.

Read the review: Honda HRX 217VKA

Blade width: 21-inches | Bag capacity: 1.9 bushels | Noise level: 94.6dB | Cutting positions: 6 | Self-propulsion: Front wheel | Engine size: 159cc | Warranty: 2 years

When you activate its front-wheel self-propulsion system, you shouldn’t have any problems pushing this lawn mower across your grass. Additionally, the 21-inch cutting path on this lawn mower is just as wide as the highest-ranking models we reviewed.

However, there are some trade-offs for the money you save. The most notable is the lack of a cushioned handle. The best lawn mowers we evaluated feature either a foam or rubber handle. You should keep in mind that you may rub your hands raw, or even get blisters, if you use this machine without wearing gloves.

The clipping bag is also quite small, holding just 1.9 bushels – 2.4 cubic feet – of grass. If you have a larger lawn, expect to make several stops to empty the bag.

Read the review: Troy-Bilt TB210

Blade width: 21-inches | Bag capacity: 1.9 bushels | Noise level: 98.5dB | Cutting positions: 6 | Self-propulsion: Variable rear wheel | Engine size: 160cc | Warranty: 3 years

It weighs just 84 pounds and is rear-wheel-drive, which makes it great if you need something that you don’t want to struggle with.

It has great handle cushioning, which means you get fewer jolts and vibrations when mowing. Other mowers on this list lack the feature and means they can be more tiring to use. The handle height is also relatively low at 41 inches, which is good news unless you are very tall.

The 1.9 bushel bag capacity is one of the largest in our list and means fewer trips to empty it while mowing.

The only downsides are that it’s quite noisy and sometimes requires a few pulls to start. We would like to have seen it pack an electric starter to make life a little easier. Still it’s well priced, comes with a 3-year warranty and packs enough power to create clean, smooth lawns.

Read the review: Honda HRR 216K9VKA

Blade width: 21-inches | Bag capacity: 2.5 bushels | Noise level: 97.7dB | Cutting positions: 6 | Self-propulsion: Rear wheel | Engine size: 149cc | Warranty: 2 years

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Easy to useLarge bag capacityThe engine is on the small side.
The Lawn-Boy 17734 has an electric start function, which is an unusual feature for a gas lawnmower. There is also a pull cord in case the electric start isn’t working.

This is a lightweight, rear-wheel drive mower with generous 11-inch wheels on the front and back, which gives it stability over various terrain. It has an average 21-inch cutting path and a 149cc engine that is on the small side, which are two reasons it might be best suited for small to medium-sized lawns.

One of its best features is the large 2.5-bushel (3 cubic-foot) bag. This means you may not have to empty more than a couple times on a lawn of a quarter acre or so. Its unusual green color is a refreshing feature that sets it apart from the competition, too.

Read the review: Lawn-Boy 17734

Blade width: 22-inches | Bag capacity: 2 bushels | Noise level: 99.5dB | Cutting positions: 9 | Self-propulsion: Variable all wheel drive | Engine size: 149cc | Warranty: 2 years

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Well equipped for tough mowing tasks9 cutting positionsWide blade widthEngine only 149ccNoisy
The Poulan Pro PR675AWD is a self-propelled gas lawn mower with nine cutting heights, which is more than any other gas mower in our reviews. This, along with its four-wheel-drive, variable speed functionality, gives you a great deal of flexibility when mowing over different types of terrain.

Having the ability to mow on a high cut setting is especially helpful over a tough patch of grass or uneven terrain. It has a wide 22-inch cutting path which will help you cut grass fast. This mower also adjusts height quickly with a lever that adjusts all four wheels at one time.

With the wheels adjusted together you are more lightly to get a clean, even cut. The side discharge is less prone to clogging. One drawback is the bag is only 1.8 bushels (2.2 cubic feet) which is on the low end when compared to others in our lineup, so you’ll have to empty it a few times when cutting large lawns.

Read the review: Poulan Pro PR675AWD

In our search for the best gas-powered lawn mowers, we gathered models from each of the leading brands and subjected them to a battery of tests. We spent more than 100 hours assembling, using and cleaning every lawn mower we reviewed. This amounts to over 500 pounds of grass clippings, dozens of gallons of gasoline, and more than a few blisters and grass-stained shoes. To complete our testing in time for prime mowing season, our team of reviewers traveled more than 400 miles in the wintertime so they could test each mower on grass.

During the testing phase, our reviewers kept meticulous notes about each gas lawn mower’s performance, ease of handling, the consistency of each cut, and time required to complete the job. This informed our rating and ranking of the best gas-powered lawn mowers.

We acquired each of the gas lawn mowers we reviewed either on loan from the manufacturer or by purchasing them outright. Manufacturers were not made aware of our testing methodologies and had no influence on our results.

We used each gas lawn mower to cut a standard 1/4-acre lawn that was reasonably flat with a common breed of grass. To qualify for our tests, the grass needed to have at least a week’s growth, but not more than two weeks’ growth, and be free of debris and gravel.

We preferred lawns with some trees or shrubbery to negotiate. We did not test on lawns that had been watered within the last six hours. We mowed in the morning or early evening hours, since mowing at midday is not good for the health of the grass.

We assembled each mower according to manufacturer specification and noted any difficulties or nuances required in setup. We then set mowers to maximum cutting height and engaged side discharge. We mowed six full passes without self-propulsion, noting how the mower rolls along – for example, excessive bouncing, how hard it is to push, whether it is difficult to turn at the end of the row, whether the side discharge gets blocked, etc.

We then set each mower to minimum cutting height and mowed six new rows with self-propulsion (if featured) engaged, taking note of the same criteria listed above, as well as noting how often we had to stop to empty the bag. We also determined how long each mower would run on a tank of gas.

How to maintain a gas lawn mower
We reached out to lawnmower professionals and businesses to tap into their expertise and further enhance the knowledge we gained from our online research and meticulous testing. One business owner we talked to was Matt Wilkinson of Wilkinson Supply, a company specializing in sales and services of lawn and garden equipment. Wilkinson said carburetor issues are the most common problem his shop deals with when it comes to repairing gas lawn mowers.

To guard against this common problem, Wilkinson suggested using non-ethanol fuels and performing proper maintenance according to the owner’s manual. This involves regular maintenance like changing the oil regularly and making sure you have the right mix of fuels. The maintenance schedule in your mower’s manual will provide a list of parts that need to be cleaned and replaced after a given number of hours.

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The least expensive gas lawn mowers run about $150, but to get good features you’ll start about a little higher at about $200. A fully equipped gas mower, with all the prime features can run up to $500 or $600. The mowers on our site are priced between $250 and $600. You can spend into the thousands but that would be for mowers with specialty features most people could probably live without. Electric mowers are priced comparably to gas mowers, but you do get more cutting power with a gas mower.

What to look for when buying a gas lawn mower
Blade width: the width of the cutting blade determines how many passes it takes to mow your yard. A wide path means you spend less time pushing your lawn mower.

Bag capacity: if you plan on bagging your grass clippings, consider how much each model can hold. A larger bag means you’ll have to stop less often to empty your clippings. The tradeoff is that it gets heavier to mow as the bag fills.

Noise level: all internal combustion engines can produce a lot of noise. Larger engines with more power tend to be louder, so if that is an issue for you, consider a machine with a smaller engine that produces less noise. For context, the quietest model we tested produces 85 decibels of sound.

Cutting height and positions: the best gas lawn mowers allow you to adjust the height of your cut and make it easy to adjust with levers located on each wheel.

Self-propulsion: the best gas lawn mowers come equipped with self-propulsion technology, which means the mower’s engine can turn the wheels, taking some of the strain off you. It won’t eliminate pushing, but it will make it more tolerable.

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