One of the frustrations of mowing the lawn is getting the dang mower to start. So when Honda introduced a nifty self-charging electric start feature on its self-propelled Honda HRR2169VLA it was a welcome improvement. Especially for homeowners who've been met with a recalcitrant mower at the beginning of mowing season when the weather is often too cold for the starter's battery to charge properly.
Mimicking a car's alternator, the battery charges as you mow. This keeps the mower ready to start without the pull-cord until the end of the season. But that's not the only thing we liked about the Honda HRR2169VLA, $500, which is one of two top-rated Hondas in our lawn mower Ratings. It mulched finely without clumping and filled its bag to capacity. The side-discharge mode of this and several other Honda mowers in our tests is a bit of a misnomer because the discharge is out the back, in the path of your feet. But the Honda HRR2169VLA did nearly as well in this mode and was easy to push, pull and turn.
If you don't want to pay $500 for a mower with this convenient feature, models that cost $400 or less also ranked among our picks of self-propelled mowers. The Honda HRR2169VKA cut equally well, falling a notch short in side-discharge. The Toro Recycler 20333 is the one to choose if you always mow in mulching mode. Both cost $400. If you prefer to bag clippings, you can save $60 more by opting for the Ariens Razor 911179, $340.
Our list of top mower picks includes 50 models from the $220 Craftsman 37432 push mower to the $4,000 John Deere X310 lawn tractor.
Copyright © 2005-2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission. Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers on this site.