Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 54 vs Troy Bilt Mustang 54 Zero Turn Mower

Cub-Cadet-ZT1-54-zero-turn-mower

Wondering which zero turn mower to buy? Here’s my review of Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 54 vs Troy Bilt 54. Both are 24HP, 54″ cut but there are some differences between the two.

Scroll down to see the features of Cub Cadet vs. Troy Bilt. I’ve added a table of contents and a comparison table below to make it super easy to see which suits you best. For me, there’s a clear winner which I’ve listed below.

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 54 vs Troy Bilt Mustang 54 Zero Turn Mowers

Zero Turn Mower:Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1Troy Bilt Mustang Z54  
Image:Cub-Cadet-ZT1-54-zero-turn-mowerTroy-bilt-Mustang-Z54-zero-turn-mower
Price$2999$3099
BuyCub CadetTroy Bilt
Engine24 HP 725cc Kohler 7000 series V-twin automatic OHV24 HP 724cc Briggs & Stratton Professional Series V-twin OHV
TransmissionHydro-Gear EZT 2200Hydro-Gear EZT 2200
Cutting Deck54" AeroForce, 11-gauge fabricated steel54" 12-gauge steel
Cutting Height15 positions, 1" - 4.5"9 positions
Forward speed7 MPH7 MPH
Reverse speed3.5 MPH2.5 MPH
Fuel tank3.5 gal3.5 gal
Warranty3-year / unlimited-hour warranty. Limited lifetime warranty on frame and fabricated deck shell3-year limited residential. Limited lifetime frame warranty

Main Differences

Both zero turn mowers are of excellent build quality. Both are manufactured in the US, a huge plus in my books. Power is pretty much the same at 24HP and 725cc (724 for the Z54). Both feature the EZT 2200 Hydro-Gear transmission.

There are some differences between the two mowers that could sway your decision to buy one over the other.

  • Price. The Troy Bilt 54 is slightly more expensive than the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 54, by $100. However, at the time of writing, the Cub Cadet is on special. Its regular price is $3099, which makes it the same price.
  • Engine. Although both mowers have roughly the same power, the Cub Cadet ZT1 has a Kohler engine and the Troy Bilt Z54 has a Briggs and Stratton engine. We’ll compare the two below.
  • Cutting positions. The Cub Cadet ZT1 54 has significantly more cutting positions than the Troy Bilt. The Cub has 15 positions, where the Troy Bilt has 9. The significance of this depends on what you want. I’m not personally worried about having that many positions, I make do with 5 at the moment, so 9 is still a lot more than that. If you want the perfect height setting though, the Cub Cadet Ultima is your best zero turn mower.
  • Deck. They’re both 54″ but the Troy Bilt is made from 12-gauge steel and the Cub Cadet is made from 11-gauge steel. The smaller the number, the thicker the steel, so you’re getting a more heavy-duty deck with the Cub Cadet ZT1. Approximate thickness in fractions of an inch: 11 gauge = 1/8, 12 gauge = 7/64 (source).
  • Reverse speed. If you want to go fast in reverse, go the Cub Cadet. Its reverse speed is faster than the Troy Bilt Z54 by 1MPH (3.5 MPH vs 2.5MPH)

Cub Cadet’s Kohler vs Troy Bilt’s Briggs & Stratton

troy-bilt-mustang-z54-vs-cub-cadet-zt1

Let’s start with the Kohler engine in the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 54. 

The Kohler 7000 series is described as “A V-Twin Beast for Backyard Warriors”. I particularly like that statement! Then, we move onto “Rule the Yard”. Heck yeah! This engine is engineered and assembled in the USA, tick. Its build quality is excellent and made to last, based on Kohler’s Command PRO commercial engine designs.

You’ve got “Consistent-Cut”, which makes sure you can consistently cut even tall, wet grass. Kohler’s “Smart-Choke” technology makes it easy to start, even in temperatures below freezing.

Now for Troy Bilt’s Briggs and Stratton Professional Series.

The Briggs and Stratton doesn’t have any power statements for “backyard warriors” but simply states “Power and Performance”. Great! Made in the USA, tick. These are Briggs’ features:

  • Advanced Debris Management System which helps keep your engine clean, therefore lasting longer.
  • Full Pressure Lubrication system which reduces wear.
  • Electronic Fuel Management helps it start super easily and consistently.

You can see all the specs inc stroke etc. on Briggs’ website.

Finance for Your Zero Turn Mower

Both Cub Cadet and Troy Bilt offer finance. Check out the website for each for full details but here’s a quick glance:

  • Cub Cadet: $131/mo | 0% APR3 (check website)| 24Mo with $125 Promo Fee. Total: $3,124
  • Troy Bilt: $135/mo | 0% APR3 (check website)| 24Mo with $125 Promo Fee. Total: $3,224

Which Zero Turn Mower to Buy

Zero Turn Mower Accessories

cub-cadet-ZT1-54-zero-turn-mower-attachment

I just wanted to have a quick look at which accessories are available for each mower. Versatile equipment is the best on a homestead, so if you can hang a snow plow off it or add a mulching kit, all the better!

As far as I could tell, the accessories were fairly even in price. For example, Cub’s armrest kit is $96.64, Troy Bilt’s is $112.17. Cub Cadet’s Hauler Cart is $299.99 and Troy Bilt’s is $299. Check out the prices before you choose a zero turn mower though. The mulching kit is $10 cheaper for the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1.

Cub Cadet ZT1 54″ Mower Accessories

  • Lawn striping kit
  • All-season plow blade attachment (turns your mower into a dozer!) $879.99
  • 3-Stage Snow Blower Attachment
  • Hauler cart
  • Armrest kit $96.64
  • Double-bagger catcher
  • Triple-bagger catcher
  • Xtreme Mulching Kit $99.99
  • Tire Chains
  • Snow cab

Troy Bilt Mustang 54 Mower Accessories

  • Lawn striping kit
  • Snow blower attachment
  • Plow blade attachment $339.99
  • Smart Battery Charger
  • Hauler cart
  • Armrest kit $112.17
  • Double-bagger catcher
  • Triple-bagger catcher
  • Mulching kit $109.99
  • Tire Chains
  • Sun Shade
  • Front bumper kit

Winner, Cub Cadet vs Troy Bilt

For me, there’s a clear winner – the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 54″.

My reasons:

  • Costs less.
  • Kohler engines are awesome and last forever.
  • Thicker, heavy-duty deck
  • Great warranty.
  • Lots of accessories
  • Fantastic reviews from users, see below.

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 54 reviewsCub-Cadet-ZT1-54-zero-turn-mower

“Cub Cadet has made all the upgrades I used to complain about and then some. The frame and front spindles have been beefed up as well as the fabricated steel deck. The seat is great, they’ve added deck access from the top of the deck and headlights. Couple that with a terrific Kohler motor and you have the best bang for your buck mower.”

“I bought this mower to replace an older Cub Cadet 42” ZTR with a 17 HP engine and the transition was seamless. Crawling under my old mower to pop the belt back on is a thing of the past with the access panel!”

“Living out in the country and having the amount of land of we have and using a small riding mower to going to this awesome machine, why didn’t I get one sooner. Not only do you get to mow in half of time due to the 54″ blade which is also very easy to adjust with the ball level but you can go from slow to fast and wow is it fast and mows just as good with each speed.”

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