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13 Best Zero Turn Mower Under 3000 (Expert Mower Reviews 2020)

I’ve reviewed 13 mowers and found the best zero turn mower under 3000. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on the best zero turn mower! The mowers in this 2020 review are all great value. Our best zero turn mower for large yards is the Husqvarna Z254, closely followed by the Cub Cadet ZT1 54 Ultima.

The best zero turn mower under 3000 for small yards is the Bad Boy MZ 42, closely followed by Snapper’s 360Z. Both of these mowers are maneuverable and easy to store, but the Bad Boy came out on top because of its exceptional deck construction.

I’ve included 13 zero turn mowers under 3000, something for everyone! Use the table of contents for a quick overview or scroll down for what to look for in the best zero turn mower.

Best Zero Turn Mower Under 3000

  1. Husqvarna Z254 hydrostatic zero turn riding mower. Best zero turn mower overall. 26HP Kohler engine and 54″ cutting width.
  2. Cub Cadet ZT1 54 Ultima. Best zero turn mower for large yards. 24HP Kohler engine and 54″ cut.
  3. Bad Boy MZ 42″ zero turn mower. 42″ cutting deck, 5-gallon fuel tank, and 540cc Kohler engine.
  4. Snapper 360Z 19HP 500cc Briggs professional 36″ mower. Best zero turn mower for small yards
  5. Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″ zero turn. Best for small yards – Runner-Up.
  6. 452cc engine and extra-wide 34-inch side discharge cutting deck.
  7. Troy-Bilt Mustang Z50 Zero Turn Rider. 50″ cutting deck and 679cc V-twin OHV Troy-Bilt engine.
  8. Husqvarna Z242F. 18 HP Kawasaki engine and 42″ ClearCut deck.
  9. Cub Cadet ZT1 50 Ultima. 23 HP Kawasaki® FR691V series Twin-cylinder engine and 50″ cutting deck
  10. Cub Cadet ZT1 46 Ultima. Great zero turn mower for the money with 46″ deck.
  11. Cub Cadet ZT1 42 Ultima. The same as the ZT1 46 but with 42″ deck.
  12. Husqvarna Z142 Zero Turn Mower. Solid Husqvarna brand, 17HP Kohler engine, 42″ cut.
  13. Troy-Bilt Mustang Z46 Zero Turn Rider. Exactly the same as the Z50, especially for deck size. The Z46 is 46″.
  14. Troy-Bilt Mustang Z42 Zero Turn Rider. As above, but with 42″ deck.

1. Husqvarna Z254 Hydrostatic Zero Turn Riding Mower 

Best zero turn mower under 3000 overall


One of the best budget zero turn mowers on the market is the Husqvarna Z254 zero turn riding mower. Yes, it’s just over 3000, I apologize for that, but it’s only $100 over and it’s worth it. This lawnmower offers a very powerful engine and a wide cutting deck of 54 inches that make it very efficient to cut large lawns.


  • 54″ cutting deck
  • 26 HP Kohler engine
  • Max speed of 6.5 MPH
  • Park brake system that automatically activates or deactivates as the steering levers are moved outward or inward
  • Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck made of heavy flat-stock steel
  • spring-assisted deck lift
  • LED lights
  • Chrome-plated valves
  • Big cooling fan


  • Lots of torque delivered by the powerful 26 HP Kohler engine
  • Very user friendly
  • Good for heavy-duty use
  • Compact size
  • Very efficient performance overall
  • Maintenance-free transmission


  • Bagger and mulcher attachments must be bought separately
Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic...
  • 26 HP Kohler engine provides reliable startups and a max...
  • A patent-pending park brake system automatically activates...
  • Air induction mowing technology draws air from the top and...
  • Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck is made of heavy...
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit...

2. Cub Cadet ZT1 54 Ultima Zero Turn Mower – $2999

Best zero turn mower under 3000 for large yards


  • 24 HP 725cc KOHLER 7000 series V-twin automatic OHV engine
  • 54″ cutting deck
  • Great mower for slight, rolling hills. Suitable for yards up to 4 acres with several obstacles
  • Lap bar-controlled dual-hydro transmissions
  • Open frame design with hinged/removable floor pan. Gives you easy access to the deck and the engine for maintenance
  • Finance available
  • 3.5 gallon fuel tank capacity
  • Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 transmission


  • Great Kohler engine
  • Good size mower deck
  • Deck access from the top of the deck
  • Square frame makes this mower solid


  • Collects a lot of grass on the deck. It compacts inside the spindle covers, on the pulleys, and the tension spring. Does come with hose attachment for deck cleaning.
  • Some customers mentioned the tires don’t have a lot of traction, making it only suitable for slight hills.

Buy at Cub Cadet


Cub Cadet Ultima Series Zero Turn Mowers

Cub Cadet offers a few zero turn mowers under 3000 in their Ultima series. They’re all well-priced, but our pick here is the Cub Cadet ZT1 54 zero turn mower. For the price, it’s not worth choosing the others as you’re getting a more powerful engine and a bigger mower deck.



3. Bad Boy MZ 42″ Zero Turn Mower – $2999.99

Photo credit: Bad Boy Mowers

The Bad Boy MZ 42″ zero turn mower under 3000 is the underdog in our review today, and it got a boost up from 9th position to best in class after speaking to Chad Belding of the Fowl Life and Bad Boy Mowers.

Chad provided some very helpful feedback about his mowers and why he believes the Bad Boy zero turn mower is “the best-built mower in its class for the best value”.

Now, my mechanic husband is the main reason this mower got moved up to top position for best small zero turn mower under $3000. He states:

The main things you want in a mower are a fabricated deck, decent deck steel thickness, and the spindle shaft size. You don’t see anyone listing the spindle shaft size, but the other details should be readily available. The most important part about a mower is the mowing part, so a tough deck is a must.

Once a deck is bent, it’ll never mow straight again. You can have a great mower but if the deck’s bent, it’s useless. A weak deck will need constant repairs, deck straightening, new spindles – hopeless.

Chad informed us that their deck is fabricated, 7-gauge steel. Compared to, for example, Cub Cadet’s ZT1 54 at 11-gauge, Snapper’s 12-gauge, and Troy-Bilt’s 13 gauge, that’s a helluva lot thicker and tougher.

This is personal to us. We have a great John Deere mower, great engine, plenty of power. But it’s never, ever mowed straight. Right from the get-go, it’s mowed with ridges in the grass. The flimsy pressed deck was bent straight from the shop.

Dan’s put in a huge amount of bracing to hold the deck together. It’s tough now but it still doesn’t mow straight. This is more an issue when you’re on rough country. If your lawn is a bowling green, you’ll get away with a thinner deck, but if you’re on a rougher country property like we are, the deck is all-important.

Chad also mentioned the Bad Boy MZ has a cast-iron spindle, not aluminum. Dan says he’d like to see billet steel, but since you can’t get that, cast-iron is definitely better than aluminum. Chad recommends this mower for properties up to 1 acre.


  • 42″ cutting deck
  • Solid steel construction, 2″ x 2″ heavy-gauge steel rail frame
  • Fabricated, 7-gauge steel deck
  • Single cylinder, 540cc Kohler engine, with a possible upgrade to 725cc Kohler.
  • Triple fusion blades
  • 5 gal. fuel capacity
  • Dual integrated hydro-gear hydrostatic transaxle transmission


  • Big gas tank compared to the other zero turn mowers today, most of which have a 3.5 gallon tank. You’ll mow for ages with this mower.
  • Commercial-quality deck
  • Very easy to drive
  • Small enough to maneuver around obstacles


  • Quite loud. Not the engine, more so everything else, such as the steering, engaging the deck, etc.
  • Narrow rear tires
  • Only suitable for very slight hills
  • Bit low on power in tall grass

Buy at TractorSupply.com


4. Snapper 360Z 19HP 36″ Zero Turn Mower

Best zero turn mower under 3000 for small yards – runner up

Credit: Snapper.com

This is a really great zero turn mower for small yards. It has a 36″ cut which will get your lawns done in no time, and being a zero-turn, you’ll zoom around flower beds and obstacles.

What I really like about this mower is the integrated rear cargo bed. It’s a little carry platform where you could store a bag of fertilizer to disperse while you’re mowing, or anything else you might want to take with you. As Snapper says: “Haul dirt, carry tools and flowers, and of course, cut the grass with the 360Z Zero Turn Mower


  • Fully 12-gauge welded steel frame
  • 19HP Briggs & Stratton engine
  • Integrated rear cargo bed with 50lb capacity
  • Thick-walled front axle
  • Durable steel mower deck
  • 36″ cutting width and 7 cutting positions from 1.5″-4.5″ height


  • Easy access maintenance points
  • 3-years limited residential warranty
  • Integrated cargo bed with rail system so you can use third-party ATV/UTV accessories like tool clamps and cargo nets
  • Very comfortable, adjustable seat


  • 3-gallon gas tank is the smallest on this list
  • 36″ cutting width is much smaller than the top mowers on this list

Snapper 360Z 19HP 500cc Briggs Professional 36"...
  • 19hp Briggs and Stratton Engine
  • 3 gallon fuel capacity
  • 0-6 mph forward drive speed
  • 36-Inch Fab Deck 2-blade deck
  • 18-Inch rear tires


5. Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″ Zero Turn Mower


The Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit 34″  is the cheapest zero turn mower on my list today. It is a great choice if you want to go with a zero-turn pivot lawn mower that is also very simple to operate.

The Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit has the smallest deck/cutting size of all the zero turn mowers under 3000 on my list, at 34″, with a twin blade system. This means it’s one of the easiest zero turns to maneuver around smaller yards and obstacles, but is not the best choice if you have acres and acres of mowing to do.

When you compare this mower’s 34″ cutting capacity to the top 2 mowers in the list today, you’ll see that you can mow nearly twice as much in one sweep with those two. The Cub Cadet ZT1 54 and the Husqvarna Z254 both have a 54″ cutting capacity.

For that reason, this is my favorite mower for small yards today. If you have the space though, I recommend the two bigger mowers at the top of my list.


  • 452 cc Troy-Bilt engine
  • Dual hydrostatic transmission
  • Reinforced heavy-duty frame
  • 8-position height adjustment. Adjust the cutting height from 1.25″ to 3.75″
  • Limited lifetime frame warranty on the frame and a 2-year limited/120-hour warranty on the other components


  • Compact enough to fit through most standard gates and is easy to store in the garage or shed
  • Easy to maneuver around flower beds and obstacles
  • Excellent warranty


  • You need to buy attachments like a rear bagger or mulch kit separately
  • Tires are quite small
  • Mows well, except for wet grass
  • Turns a bit jerky in tighter turns
  • Exposed drive belt sometimes jumps off with twigs or things like pine cones
  • Difficult to see the gas level without removing the gas cap
Troy-Bilt Mustang Fit Riding Lawn Mower with...
  • Powerful 452cc engine with EZT hydrostatic transmission...
  • Zero-turn maneuverability allows you to turn on a dime and...
  • Extra-wide 34-inch side discharge cutting deck cuts a wide...
  • Operator-controlled mow-in-reverse capability for ultimate...
  • Comfortable high-back seat with dual suspension springs and...

6. Troy Bilt Mustang Z50 Zero Turn Rider – $2899



  • 50-in cutting deck
  • 679cc V-twin OHV Troy-Bilt engine
  • Dual EZT 2200 transmission
  • Support of deck wheels and a front roller to smooth over bumps
  • Adjustable high back seat
  • Built in America
  • 3.5 gallon fuel tank
  • Heavy-duty, full length, fully welded, 2-in tubular frame


  • A comfortable ride with the adjustable high back seat
  • Built in America
  • Limited lifetime frame warranty
  • Large 50-in deck
  • Foam grip steering controls
  • Easy to use and maneuver


  • The guard sits quite high, which means cut grass blows a distance. Use caution if you have rocks etc. on your property in case they shoot out
  • Hard to see how much gas you’ve got left
  • Can be a bit hard to get out of the crate

Buy at Troy-Bilt


Troy-Bilt Zero Turn Mowers

Troy-Bilt’s zero turn mowers are quite similar to Cub Cadet’s, although possibly not as popular, as you can see by the number of reviews.


Their mowers are of great quality however, so don’t discount them because of the lack of reviews. Have a look at this video, “overtesting” Troy-Bilt mowers.


7. Husqvarna Z242F 42″ 18HP Zero Turn Mower

Another great little zero turn mower by Husqvarna. Great price for a top of the range zero turn mower.


  • 18 HP Kawasaki engine
  • No-maintenance hydrostatic transmission
  • Park brake system that automatically activates when you move the steering levers
  • ClearCut deck with 42″ cut


  • Hydrostatic, no-maintenance transmission
  • Automatic park brake system
  • High-performance blades and superior airflow offer better bagging
  • Plenty of power for yards up to 4 acres, and for heavy leaf mulching
  • Very easy to operate
  • Excellent turning radius


  • Slightly lower max speed than some of the other mowers, at 6.5 mph
  • Mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately
Husqvarna Z242F 42 in. 18 HP Kawasaki Hydrostatic...
  • 18 HP Kawasaki engine provides reliable startups and a max...
  • Hydrostatic, no-maintenance transmission is worry free,...
  • A patent-pending park brake system automatically activates...
  • ClearCut deck offers a best-in-class 42 in. cut and better...
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit...

8. Cub Cadet ZT1 50 Ultima Zero Turn Mower – $2999




  •  23 HP Kawasaki® FR691V series Twin-cylinder engine
  • 50″ cutting deck
  • Open frame design with hinged/removable floor pan. Gives you easy access to the deck and the engine for maintenance
  • Great mower for slight, rolling hills. Suitable for yards up to 4 acres with several obstacles
  • Adjustable lap bars with soft-touch ergonomic hand grips
  • 3.5 gallon fuel tank capacity
  • Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 transmission
  • Financing available


  • Cuts from 1″ to 4.5″ and it’s a level, even cut
  • Goes about 7mph forward and 3.5 in reverse
  • The seat is adjustable and comfortable
  • Headlights to be able to see and maneuver at night
  • The deck has a hose attachment to enable you to clean underneath the deck


  • The deck has a lot of vibration and can “jump” when you engage it
  • Gas tank could do with a fill level indicator of some sort. You have to pull the seat over or open the gas cap to see the fuel level
  • Choke lever is in an awkward location. Can be confused with the PTO but pulling the choke instead.

Buy at Cub Cadet



9 & 10 Cub Cadet ZT1 46 and ZT1 42 Zero Turn Mowers – $2699+


I’m not going into a lot of detail on these two, mainly because they’re very similar to the ZT1 54 and ZT1 50, with different deck sizes. These two are a bit cheaper than the other two, so the choice is up to you. Value wise, I recommend the two zero turn mowers above. You’re getting more power and bigger cut width for not much more money.

The $300 you save with the ZT1 42 and ZT1 46 is not worth it when you look at the extra HP you get and the bigger deck size.

The only reason to consider one of these two is the more compact size due to the smaller cutting deck. They’re similar in features to the ZT1 50 and ZT1 54.

Buy at Cub Cadet


11. Husqvarna Z142 42″ Zero Turn Riding Mower

This mower mainly didn’t make it to the top because it’s not available anywhere that I could find, and Amazon, for example, doesn’t know if it will be in stock again. It may well be an outdated model. Listing features for inclusion purposes anyway, in case it does become available.

This turn mower offers a bit less power than several other competitors but still has a very wide cutting deck at 42 inches.


  • 17HP Kohler engine
  • No-maintenance zero-turn transmission
  • Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit and bagger attachment sold separately)
  • ZT-2200 transmission
  • Air induction technology, meaning that air is drawn from the top to the bottom of the deck.
  • 3.5 gallon gas tank


  • Pretty decent Kohler engine. Not like the 24HP Cub, but still not too bad for the price
  • Excellent maneuverability for rounded corners and tight conditions
  • 3-year warranty


  • You need to buy mulching kits and bagger attachments separately
  • Lower engine horsepower than several competitors, but still suitable for residential use
Husqvarna Z142 42 in. 17 HP Kohler Hydrostatic...
  • 17 HP Kohler engine provides reliable startups and a max...
  • No-maintenance zero-turn transmission is worry free,...
  • Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck is made of heavy...
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit...
  • Air induction mowing technology draws air from the top and...

12 & 13 Troy Bilt Mustang Z46 and Z42 Zero Turn Mowers – $2499+


The Mustang Z46 exactly the same as the Z50, especially for deck size. The Z46 is 46″ and the Z50 is 50″. The price difference is $200, so you need to decide whether the extra 4″ of cutting size is worth $200. The Z42 has a 42″ cut.

They have the same engine, so you may find the Z46 has a little less trouble in tall, wet grass because it has less to push. However, bogging down was not mentioned by any Z50 owners.


  • 34″ mowing path
  • Twin blade system
  • Comes with a dual hydrostatic transmission


  • Not the best choice for inclined lawns
  • Only a single-cylinder OHV engine

Buy at Troy-Bilt


What Is the Best Zero Turn Mower for the Money?

Let’s talk about the things to look for in the best zero turn mowers.

The best zero turn mowers offer excellent maneuvering capabilities and high-quality performance. You don’t have to spend a fortune to buy one, as we’ve seen in the list above, all under $3000.

Size of the Cutting Deck

I’ve listed zero turn mowers here today with cutting widths between 34″ and 54″. You can get bigger ones as well, but you’re looking at spending more money. What size is right for you?

  • Less than 42 inches. This is the best choice for small to medium-sized yards, especially those with many obstacles. Properties up to 1 acre.
  • Between 42 and 46 inches. Best for medium-sized yards with obstacles. These mowers also generally fit in the back of your pickup, so you can transport them from one property to another, or around the farm. Properties up to 1 acre.
  • Between 48 and 50 inches. These zero turn mowers are best for larger yards, between 1 and 3 acres. These mowers have a very decent cutting width so you can mow large areas quickly.
  • Over 50 inches. These are best for large yards. Our biggest one today was a 54″ cutting width, but you can get much bigger. These zero turn mowers tend to be wider so more stable on uneven ground. Yards over 3 acres.

Power and Engine

You need power if you want to mow your lawn efficiently. This is why the horsepower of the engine should be the very first thing that you look for. The higher the horsepower is, the faster your lawn can be cut, plain and simple.

How much power you need in your zero turn mower depends on a few things.

  • The size of the deck. The bigger the deck, the more power you need.
  • The grass. Tall, thick grass needs more power than a manicured lawn that’s mowed regularly. If you’re skimming the lawn every week, you’ll need less power. Wet, tall grass can be a struggle for zero turn mowers with smaller engines.
  • The size of your property. On smaller properties with neat lawns, you get away with less power. On bigger properties and acreage, you want as much power as you can afford.

Dan’s tip:

Look for zero turn mowers with a full pressure oil system, the ones that actually have an oil filter. The old splash-fed technology is antiquated. Twin cylinders tend to have more grunt than single cylinders.

Engines with OHV are best. Some engines are underhead valve, which is very old fashioned. That’s what they had in cars 100 years ago. Nonetheless, they do seem to be pretty good and reliable. Motors like little Briggs engines, even single-cylinder underhead valve ones, seem to go and go. – Dan, Qualified Mechanic & Small Engine Specialist

Dan really likes Kohler engines. He made a good point in comparing some of these zero turn mowers with my John Deere mower. Mine has a 22HP engine with a 42″ deck. It has plenty of grunt, never really bogs down unless you try and mow tall grass too fast.

Some of the mowers in this list have 54″ cutting decks. You really wouldn’t want any less than 24-26HP engines in these mowers, especially if you’re on a larger property.

Hydrostatic Transmission

Being zero turn mowers, they’ll all have hydrostatic transmissions.

The difference between a standard mower and a zero turn mower is the transmission. In a standard mower, you have one transmission set up, which drives the back wheels. In a zero turn, you’ve effectively got two transmissions (in one unit), each driving a separate wheel.

With this setup, one wheel can go backward and the other forwards. This is what makes a zero turn mower turn on the spot, in zero space. The wheels are fully independently controllable with the steering bars.

If you happen to come across a “zero turn” without hydrostatic transmission, don’t go there. You don’t want anything but hydrostatic.

Mowing Speed

Most of the zero turn mowers in this list have a top speed of 7.5mph, although a couple were slightly less. This is not something I’d put too much consideration on, unless you have a perfectly flat golf-course type lawn that allows you to “race” across it.

The slower you go, the better it mows. – Dan

Gas Tank Capacity

The higher the fuel capacity, the fewer times you will have to stop to refill your tank. The smallest gas tank today was 3 gallons, but most were around 3.5, so not a lot of difference. If you’re mowing long-distance, the bigger the better.

Which Offers the Best Zero Turn Mower Under 3000 Warranty

The better the warranty on your zero turn mower, well… the better. There’s no such thing as a warranty that’s too long!

The best zero turn mower warranties:

  • Husqvarna zero turn mowers: “Bumper to Bumper”, 3 years. Steel reinforced stamped deck shell only – 10-year limited warranty. Fabricated deck shell and steel guard deck shell – limited lifetime warranty.
  • Cub Cadet zero turn mowers: 3 year / unlimited-hour warranty. Limited lifetime warranty on frame and fabricated deck shell.
  • Troy-Bilt zero turn mowers: 3-year limited residential. Limited lifetime frame warranty.
  • Snapper zero turn mowers: 3-year limited residential. Lifetime frame warranty.
  • Bad Boy zero turn mowers: This warranty is more intricate. They’ll repair or replace for 2 years or 200 hours, unless it’s used for commercial, industrial, or rental purposes. Belts are covered for 90 days, seats for 1 year (excluding suspension seats). You will need to pay for the transport of the mower to the service place, or for a service call out. I didn’t see details on this for the other mowers, so it may be the same for them. I suppose Bad Boy are at least transparent with this… I do think though, that if something is wrong with your brand new mower and it’s a manufacturing fault, they should carry the responsibility for this! There are more rules, like the engine. They don’t cover the engine, they’re covered by their respective manufacturers. I recommend you read the entire warranty document before purchase.

Any of these mowers purchased through TractorSupply can also come with their “Protect your Purchase” plan. A 1-year service plan costs $299.99 and 2 years costs $389.99. They’ll fix it, replace it, or reimburse it for you.

That’s Our Top 13 Best Zero Turn Mowers Under 3000

All in all, my top pick for a zero turn mower at or under 3000 is the Husqvarna Z254.

Husqvarna Z254 54 in. 26 HP Kohler Hydrostatic...
  • 26 HP Kohler engine provides reliable startups and a max...
  • A patent-pending park brake system automatically activates...
  • Air induction mowing technology draws air from the top and...
  • Reinforced steel stamped cutting deck is made of heavy...
  • Clippings can be discharged, mulched or bagged (mulching kit...

This zero turn lawnmower offers a lot of power and very efficient performance. It’s a compact mower which makes it very maneuverable. The Kohler engine is Dan’s favorites (our mechanic, his quotes are above) and it’s properly proportioned in power vs cutting deck.

A very close second zero turn mower for large yards is Cub Cadet’s ZT1 54 Ultima mower. Plenty of grunt, great size cutting deck, great warranty – couldn’t ask for more.

For small yards, our winners are Troy-Bilt’s Mustang Fit and Snapper’s 360Z. Both are maneuverable, have good engines, and are easy to operate. Snapper came out on top because of its innovative carry platform on the back + the ability to use third-party ATV accessories with it.

But honestly, any of the zero turn mowers that I covered here today represent a solid choice, each has its own merits, pros, and cons. Hopefully, my list of features for each helps you make an informed decision and you’ll end up with the best zero turn mower under 3000!

Do you have a zero turn mower? Thinking of upgrading? Let me know what you think in the comments! I’m upgrading my John Deere to a zero turn in the near future, which is why my next article will be zero turn mowers under 5000.

I’m on 10 acres so I want to compare mowers under 3000 with mowers under 5000 to make the best choice possible. Any recommendations are much appreciated!

Last update on 2021-01-05 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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