Help me choose a zero turn.

Messages
385
Location
Oklahoma
I've been doing some homework and am in the process of going through every manufacturer's entire fleet of mowers. I'm probably halfway through sorting through all of them and want to narrow down my candidates to less than 5 to go physically test out. I'm trying to identify the best bang for the buck, while keeping quality before price. I don't really have a budget. My guess is that I'll land somewhere between $3,200-$5,500. A $7,000-$8,000 price tag does sound outlandish and I know I can buy a rock solid commercial unit for that, so I guess that is the ceiling. I will be mowing a single acre. It does get thick and wet in the spring, and gets very sandy & dry in the fall. No big hills or other oddities. I've essentially been borrowing/renting a zero-turn from my buddy who has a Hustler 52" deck and ZT-2200s (6mph), and that unit typically takes me 3 hours to mow in the spring and 1.5 hours in the fall (I have lots of fencing/cross-fencing and a few obstacles to navigate around). I don't plan on actually buying one until at least spring 2021, but I do understand year-end clearance (now) is the time to buy. To be clear, I AM open to input and suggestions, and welcome any criticism or concept questions even if outside my criteria. I will update this thread over the next week with some choices and eliminations, but I think I have my criteria figured out:
  • Kawasaki engine - good luck trying to convince me otherwise, but it's not set in stone.
  • 52"-60" non-stamped deck - I may be talked into a 48" if the price is just irresistible, but ideally want a 54" width.
  • Serviceable Hydros - this is probably the most important criteria, I'm thinking ZT-2800/3100 or better.
  • Time spent - I don't want to downgrade from what I'm using now (52" width @ 6mph). This contradicts the 48" mention above, but if the price is right...

Bonus features that are a want but not a need (meaning I would actually pay for these add-ons if available):
  • Hour meter - helps for OCI purposes
  • Fuel gauge - some mowers don't have a way to check other than lifting the seat
  • Deck hose attachment - I'd like to be able to easily clean the deck between manual hard scrapings. I know Deere offers this, not sure about others.
That's really it. The rest is fair game. I think the most limiting factor is the engine brand choice. I've always heard mediocrity from Kohler, and every Briggs I've ever seen was hard to start and smoked. My buddy's Kawasaki is essentially bulletproof. Never a single puff of smoke, and never even need to use the choke.

That said, my front-runners so far are:
  1. 2021 Hustler Raptor XD (these look so good, on the eyes and on the spec sheet) - 54" deck, Kawi FR691, ZT-2800s, hour meter. And those new Big Bite tires...:love:. Go look at this thing. It really looks incredible. Just don't go directly to Hustler's website, as they haven't added the 2021 models yet. Better yet, I'll upload a pic below.
  2. 2021 Gravely ZT HD - 52" deck, Kawi FR691, ZT-3100s.
  3. Spartan RZ-PRO - 54" deck, Kawi FR691, Parker HTEs. Just not sure about the company, considering I've never heard of them until yesterday (and they're local!).
The brands I've eliminated so far:
Ferris, Kubota, John Deere, Toro, Simplicity.

These were all due to either not offering Kawasaki, not offering a package fitting within at least half of my guidelines, or being overpriced for the same package I can get elsewhere. I do understand Deere relabels engines under their own name and does offer Kawasaki engines, but they were way overpriced. But again, I can be talked into anything if the reasoning is sound.

I haven't looked at Big Dog, Bad Boy, and many others yet. Those will be covered asap.

So what do you guys suggest. Am I overlooking anything? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Here's that new Raptor pic as promised:
2000000002.jpg
 
Messages
9
Location
Metro Detroit
Hustler owner here.... I have a Raptor Limited with the 52" deck and Kohler engine. I cut an acre with some elevation changes and it handles it just fine. The Kohler engine starts like its fuel injected and has never missed a beat. The oil filter is messy to change, no worries about frame rust in that area!

I wish I went with larger deck, but was out of my price range at the time. The XD model you posted a picture of looks to be quite the beast!
 
Messages
7,983
Location
The Midwest
That Hustler Raptor XD looks nice.
There sure are a ton of zero turn brands to choose from.

My home is on 5 acre's with 3 acres of grass to mow. I have a Ferris stand-on zero turn with a Kawasaki engine.
If I had to buy one over again, I'd get a Wright.
Stand-on mowers aren't cheap, but I feel it is faster and more productive.

If all I had was one acre, I'd get a walk behind with a sulky. I see far too many pros that have the wrong equipment for the job.
Like using a sit-on zero turn to mow a customers 1/4 acre lot, they screw the grass up in spots where they gotta do a 180, need to use the weed wacker a bunch more because of the poor choice of mower.. .

I bought my Ferris only because I want something that will last for year after year.
 
Messages
120
Location
Central Illinois
I second the recommendation to look at Scag mowers. I’ve spent a decent amount of time on a Scag and found them to be top quality, almost purchased one myself earlier this year but decided a GT was more suitable for my needs. The Patriot model would meet most all your needs (minus the deck wash). The Patriot has ZT-3100’s on the 52” model and ZT-3400 on the 61”. Your choice of Kawasaki or Kohler Command Pro for engines. On a side note, I’m typically a Kawasaki fan but am so far very impressed by the Kohler Command Pro on my Cub.

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OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
385
Location
Oklahoma

Not the cheapest but they've got everything on your list except the deck wash
I probably wouldn't have found this brand if not for you. Thanks. The XR 540 looks like a solid candidate. My only reservation is that I feel it can be beat on price. We'll see.
 
Messages
212
Location
Great Lakes
In that price range look at the Ariens Apex series identical to the gravely but get it for a few hundred less and can be purchased online. I had one really liked it but traded for a larger machine.



 
Messages
6,327
Location
KY
My Cub Cadet Commercial Enforcer ticks every mandatory box and also has the deck wash feature. I love it- I don't know what the new equivalent would be.
 

OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
385
Location
Oklahoma
My Cub Cadet Commercial Enforcer ticks every mandatory box and also has the deck wash feature. I love it- I don't know what the new equivalent would be.
I actually went and looked at Cub Cadets today. I went in assuming disappointment, and came out very impressed. The ZT2 and ZT3 were rock solid contenders. The ZT2 checked almost all boxes with ZT-2800s (the only missing box was a fuel sight/gauge), the ZT3 just adds creature comforts and ZT-3100s. I'm leaning toward the ZT2, but I may splurge. The only negative thing I noticed was the deck height selector dial felt a little cheap (compared to the same type of dial on a Bad Boy that felt very solid). Bad Boy is also a contender, but they seem a bit overpriced and flashy.

I'm still doing some research, and will report back when I have something worth mentioning.
 
Messages
929
Location
AR
I love my Dixie Chopper Zee2 - 48" Deck (available 54" also) -23hp Kawasaki, Hydrogear ZT-2800....got mine for $4400 out the door. ($4000 without sales tax) 3 year warranty - @0% finance.
 
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Messages
493
Location
VA
For 1 acre, you don't need anything other than a big box store mower.
I have 9 acres to cut so I have a Ferris, local dealer brought me a Scag, Dixie, bad boy, exmark and a ferris to try out before I made my decision. They all have something they do slightly better than the rest, try a bunch out before you decide.
 
Messages
6,477
Location
Connecticut
I definitely like the Scag, Hustler, and ExMark machines. I've worked on quite a few zero turns and here is my advice:

1. Don't rule out anything that doesn't offer Kawasaki. While they are great engines, many of my customers that have them have significant oil consumption. Kawasaki even stepped up their oil recommendation to 15w50 for this reason. The Kohler Pro engines are very good engines, and so are the Briggs Vanguards.

2. Make sure you test drive them all. You will only be mowing an acre, so it's not like you will be sitting on it for hours at a time, but the ergonomics is certainly different between brands, and some are more comfortable to operate than others.

3. See what the dealership service is like. If they seem to have long waits and unhappy customers, you might want to look elsewhere if another dealer for that same brand is an inconvenient distance away. A good vs. bad dealer can make or break the ownership experience if you have a warranty issue.
 

OilMagnate

Thread starter
Messages
385
Location
Oklahoma
For 1 acre, you don't need anything other than a big box store mower.
Need? Perhaps that's technically correct. But I must counter with this argument:

Remember the forum we are on. All someone technically needs in their 1998 Chevy C/K pickup per the owner's manual (see page 6-16) is a XW-30 with the API Certified Starburst. No API rating was even specified. I think it's safe to say less than 0.01% of members here use Super XXX Platinum motor oil. That's all you "need" to use, right?

Of course some of us want something more suitable to our preferences. That's why I'm discovering what my options are and what I like & dislike.
 
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