Husqvarna Zero-Turn riding mower review
If you measure your lawn in acres rather than square feet, a zero-turn mower may be right for you. Unlike lawn tractors that are designed to perform a range of chores in addition to mowing, such as pulling carts and spreaders or pushing snow blowers, zero-turn mowers are specialized. They mow a lot of grass quickly while navigating around obstacles with a high level of precision.
I recently spent a week testing the new Husqvarna Xcite Z350 zero-turn mower. I wanted to see how it compared to other popular models, like the Toro TimeCutter. As one of the best brands of outdoor power equipment for professionals and consumers, Husqvarna has a proven track record of creative innovation and enduring quality. For this reason, I was not surprised by the excellent results I had with this new mower.
Husqvarna Xcite Z350 zero turn mower: at a glance
- Weight: 794 pounds
- engine: Kohler 7000 Series 24 HP
- Fuel capacity: 4 gallon
- Cutting surface: 54″ 10 gauge steel deck
- Cutting height: 1.5 inch to 4.5 inch
- Tires (rear/front, inches): All Terrain 20 x 10-10/13 x 6.5-6
- Speed (forward/backward): 7 mph (mph)/3.5 mph
- seat: 15″ high back, cut and sewn
- Push-operated electronic on/off button and PTO (power take-off) controls conveniently located on the hand grips
- Digital dashboard with fuel gauge, mower status, and service reminders
- SmoothRide customizable suspension helps eliminate sway and wobble
- Foot-operated deck lift system with transport lock raises and lowers the deck without changing cutting height
- The deep cutting surface and fast blade speed produce powerful airflow that pulls the grass blades upright for a cleaner cut
- Available exclusively through the dealer network, some may not have a location nearby
- Too large to navigate through gates and other narrow passages
- Not compatible with steep and hilly terrain
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What is a Husqvarna Xcite Z350 zero turn mower?
Husqvarna designed the Xcite line to bridge the gap between its consumer and professional models. Both the Z350 and Z380 come with 54-inch cutting decks made of 10-gauge steel, DuraSharp blades, premium Kohler drivers, hand-grip controls, and best-in-class cut-and-stitch high-back seats. Adjustable suspension. Both mowers are trailer ready, with hitch holders built into all four sides of the frames.
Although it features heavy-duty construction, a powerful 24-horsepower motor, and a 15-inch high-back seat with optional armrests, the Z350 model I tested is slightly lighter, less powerful, and less expensive than the Z380 at $4,999.99. The Z380 features a 26-horsepower engine, commercial-quality transmission, larger steering wheels, and an 18-inch high-back seat with armrests, and retails for $6,499.00.
With these differences in mind, I think of the Z350 as the less expensive option for mowing a large property (2 to 5 acres) once a week, and the Z380 as an investment in upgrading comfort and durability for mowing larger properties (5 or more acres) or mowing multiple times a the week.
I tested the Husqvarna It did a great job in both spaces, with plenty of power to handle overgrown grass, plenty of speed, a comfortable ride, and easy-to-use controls.
Before cutting the first time, I wanted to adjust the suspension and seats to suit my height and weight, and then spent some time getting to know the controls and feel of the machine. First I adjusted the suspension bars on the sides of the mower. It was a simple matter of pulling the spring pin handle back, moving the pin to my preferred setting, and releasing the pin to lock it into place. Then I used the slide lock lever to adjust the seat position and climbed onto it.
As I sat down, the care and attention to detail that went into designing the comfort features and control layout became apparent. My 6-foot-2-inch, 200-pound frame felt perfectly comfortable in the seat, though I recommend splurging on the optional armrests. The controls are well placed on the rails and side consoles for easy monitoring and operation.
I really liked many of the unique control features, starting with the on/off and PTO controls on the hand grips. Husqvarna calls these “mounted controls” in its product literature. As soon as I sat in the seat, the display screen on the right console lit up. The display showed fuel level, mower status, and any maintenance alerts. I inserted the key, and with the parking brake engaged, I pressed and held the start/stop button for 3 seconds to start the engine. There was no need to choke. Then, to turn the blade on, I held down the PTO button for 3 seconds. To stop the blades or motor, you press and hold the button again for a second.
The cutting deck has two controls, a dial/knob on the left console to adjust the actual cutting height, and a foot-operated deck elevator. The deck jack is used to temporarily raise the deck while traveling, or it can be locked in the raised position for towing or traveling. The nice thing is that turning on the deck lift does not change the cutting height setting.
Is the Xcite Z350 comfortable?
In order to familiarize myself with the controls, suspension, and maneuverability of the mower before I started mowing, I took the Xcite Z350 for a spin around the property, with the deck locked in its transport mode. To me, it felt like a commercial grade mower with consumer grade speed.
Maneuverability and responsiveness of the roll bars were excellent, including on moderate inclines. As for the suspension, I stopped several times to adjust the screws until I found a setting that moved freely without bottoming out on hard bumps.
Next, I tested the maximum travel speed on rough terrain. (A top forward speed of 7 mph is really good for a consumer-grade mower, and a smart safety choice, but grizzled lawn professionals accustomed to commercial mower speeds in excess of 10 mph won’t be impressed.) With the suspension dialed in it felt great Surprisingly. I didn’t hear a lot of additional noise, such as hardware rattling, which could indicate loose connections or weak spots.
How well does the Husqvarna Xcite Z350 cut grass?
After drying, it’s time to cut. I started with grass in the residential area, where I knew I would have to work around landscaped beds, some choke areas, and a fenced driveway. The lot is typically serviced with a 48″ mower, and there were some tight spaces that this 54″ mower wouldn’t fit. One of them was the entrance gate to the backyard, but fortunately there was a secondary double gate.
The large size seems to be the only drawback to this mower. It had no problems following landscape bed lines or mowing circles around covered tree rings, and the tires didn’t damage grass on 180-degree turns. I also liked that the wide deck exceeds the width of the tires for mowing under spreading shrub branches.
Next, I moved onto the overgrown one-acre field. The area is mowed only once a month or so, and is covered with a mixture of grass species and some weeds. This was a good test of the Xcite Z350’s ability to hold grass blades upright for a clean, even finish. I raised the deck to the highest cutting height and cut at a somewhat slower pace. Even with some vibrant 12-inch weeds and weeds to begin with, the Husqvarna DuraSharp blades and heavy-duty deck handled the job well. Mowing the field to a height of 4.5 inches took about 35 minutes.
A week later I mowed the field again, this time to measure real-life mowing speed, which was at full speed except for turns. On paper, a 54-inch mower running at 7 mph should be able to cut 3.4 acres in one hour, or one acre in about 17 minutes. Since I cut 4.5 inches the week before, I set the deck to 3.5 inches this time. My goal was to cut as quickly as possible while prioritizing a precise, clean finish. I did it in 21 minutes. While results will vary depending on weather and several unique characteristics, I was most impressed with the 21-minute mowing speed. Even at top speed, the ride was comfortable, and the cut quality seemed great.
Is the Husqvarna Xcite Z350 worth the money?
After testing the Husqvarna Xcite Z350 lawn mower, I returned to my observations from testing the Toro TimeCutter 50 MyRIDE. These two gas-powered mowers were introduced to fill the gap between lightweight, consumer mowers designed to mow medium-sized yards once a week, and commercial machines designed to mow 8 to 10 hours a day. Both include power and performance upgrades not found in cheaper mowers, as well as premium convenience features that bridge consumer and professional equipment.
When it comes to price, the Xcite Z350, which is priced at about $5,500, may initially seem out of step with the TimeCutter 50 MyRIDE, which is priced at about $4,599. However, the value actually supports the higher price, and there are some general differences between the Husqvarna Xcite and Toro TimeCutter product lines.
Husqvarna offers only two Xcite models, both with a 54-inch bed, premium seating and suspension systems, and heavy-duty engines, but customization options are limited. Toro offers a more comprehensive range of models, with and without MyRIDE suspension, in different deck sizes (34 to 60 inches), and equipped with different engines from four different manufacturers, including Kohler. However, Xcite mowers include premium standard features, which not all TimeCutter mowers include.
While other features are the same, the main difference is the suspension systems. The Husqvarna Xcite adjustable suspension system isolates only vertical movement, allowing the operator to move laterally in accordance with the mower frame. This system is great in general and especially good on moderate slopes. On the other hand, Toro’s patented MyRIDE suspension system isolates both vertical and horizontal movement, which can outperform the Husqvarna system in some ways on flat, rough terrain, though it can be compromised if you reach down on moderate inclines.
Is the Husqvarna Xcite Z350 right for you?
The Husqvarna Xcite Z350 zero-turn mower is a strong contender for those looking for a powerful, comfortable mower for a large yard. With its commercial-quality 54-inch deck, heavy-duty motor, and premium seat and suspension system, it’s designed to maintain lawns larger than 2 to 5 acres, but it may not be the right choice for every property.
The Z350 mower is designed for flat and slightly rolling terrain, but its lack of a rollover protection system means it’s not suitable for steep terrain. The 54-inch deck is also too wide to navigate narrow aisles and traffic gates, so it’s best for open spaces. It tracks easily along curved landscape bed lines, moves around mulched tree rings, and reaches under low-hanging shrub branches to keep lawns looking great with less time spent on the mower and less time trimming the edges.
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Learn about the laboratory
Mark Wolfe is a writer and product tester with an extensive background in the nursery and landscape industry. For over 20 years, he has mowed, planted, pruned, cultivated, irrigated and renovated beautiful landscapes. He now tests and writes reviews on the latest outdoor power equipment, hand tools, lawn care products, and other outdoor living goods.