Review of the Top 5 Poulan Pro Riding Lawn Mowers 2017
Which is the right one for you?
Most people who own lots that are more than city-sized (more than a half acre) consider buying a riding lawn mower at one time or another, if they don`t already own one.
Riding lawn mowers dramatically reduce mowing time compared to walk behind mowers, or they even make mowing possible for people who simply weren`t able to mow a certain lot at all if they couldn`t sit on the mower. This may be true even if you own a very small lot - there are riding lawn mowers especially made for these, as you will find out further down in this review.
If you are new to all this riding mowing business, the terminology may be a bit confusing: There are lawn, yard and garden tractors and zero-turn mowers for residential purposes - you can sit on all of these, so they all are riding lawn mowers. Read about the differences if you want to know which one is right for you.
Why a Poulan Pro Riding lawn mower?
A lot of people just want a good and reliable riding mower for a great price. They don`t want to pay extra for a big brand name, but would really love to have the quality of brand equipment anyway.
In many industries there are a lot less manufacturers than there are brands - and lawn tractors are such a field: The renowned Swedish manufacturer Husqvarna also builds all Poulan Pro lawn tractors (in the USA, not in Sweden!). So if you get a Poulan Pro riding lawn mower, you will get Husqvarna quality for considerably less money.
And let`s be honest - that is what most people want. They have lots ranging from small city size to about 2 - 3 acres and want best-bang-for-the-buck equipment to mow and do other work on them. It should just do the job and come without any flaws, but it also shouldn`t cost more than it has to.
So does Poulan Pro have winners for the different needs in this range of applications? And which one of them is the right one for you? That`s what we`re going to find out in this review of the best Poulan Pro riding lawn mowers of the model year 2017.
There is one thing to keep in mind: If you are shopping in the cost-efficient niche, it sure helps if you are able to do your own maintenance, because maintenance costs are a considerable part of the overall costs of a lawn mower over the years.
Lawn mowers are not very complex machines and they don`t require heavy or expensive equipment to service them. They are indeed a fun way to learn a little wrenching and save money along the way if you buy the parts and fluids yourself and do the required work.
Poulan Pro is a good brand in this regard, because all parts are available online or through Home Depot, and a lot of components are identical to Craftsman and Husqvarna. They offer a standard 2 year limited warranty for their riding mowers and have a network of service stations if you have a warranty case or do want your equipment serviced by professionals.
Poulan Pro PB301 Rider
The most cost-efficient rider
Ease of use
Bang for the buck
The Poulan Pro PB301 Rider (model number 960220027) is a rear-engined barebones small riding mower that is one of the most cost-efficient ways of mowing your lawn and not having to walk while doing it. And it does that very well - the cut is really good for a single blade deck, and it`s the only Poulan Pro riding mower that comes standard-equipped with mulching blades. It is available exclusively at Home Depot.
The 10.5 HP Briggs and Stratton 1 cylinder engine gets plenty of power out of its 344cc for the little 30 inch rider that weighs only 293 lbs. In mulching mode or with the chute up, it is only 44.5 inches wide.
Combine this with the rapid and smooth steering and the ability to mow in reverse gear, and you see why it can go pretty much anywhere that a walk behind mower can go - without having to walk behind it. It is small enough to squeeze around flower beds and fits through almost any gate.
The little Poulan Pro Rider offers cutting height adjustments from 1.5 to 4 inches in 4 steps, just like most of the other residential riders. The manual blade engagement and the solid 4 speed transmission make for a reliable riding mower for that small city lot I mentioned earlier. Both of these controls are easily accessible left and right of the basic seat (which isn`t much to write home about).
Earlier models had automatic transmissions like all the other Poulan Pro riders, but the one Husqvarna chose for the predecessor of the PB301 was too weak, so they replaced it with said rock-solid 4 speed. Be careful while shifting it though - it can shake things up a bit if you just ram the gears in.
The PB301 offers great reliability if you only mow smaller lots up to 0.5 acres once or twice a week. We absolutely recommend it for small lawns with lots of things to mow around, and if you are looking for an entry level rider.
There is a bagger available as an accessory, and it even has a cupholder as a luxury item (that`s the only "luxury" you get though).
Poulan Pro PP175G42
The basic lawn tractor
Ease of use
Bang for the buck
The PP175G42 (model number 960460075, or 960460076 which is the CARB-compliant California version) is the cheapest way of buying a real lawn tractor, with the engine in the front under a metal hood, from Poulan Pro - and one of the cheapest ways to buy a lawn tractor that is not flimsy or unreliable, period. This one is also exclusively available at Home Depot.
The 17.5 HP Briggs and Stratton single cylinder power plant gives you enough grunt to mow relatively level lots and even to pull carts, aerators or other light attachments. You start it with a key, which is also used to put it in reverse (in which it will mow - a nice feature that many more expensive lawn tractors don`t have, but all Poulan Pros do). You can choose between 6 forward gears, which set the speed at which you go - there is no accelerator pedal.
This engine is the only difference between the PP175G42 and the more expensive PP19A42, which has 19 HP.
The stamped steel 42 inch cutting deck has dual blades and is adjustable from 1.5 to 4 inches in 6 steps. It doesn`t have anti-scalp wheels like the more expensive models, so we recommend to mow only on level terrain (and to not drive it on any slopes, it has neither enough power for that, nor has it the pressurized engine lubrication necessary). It also doesn`t come with mulching blades (none of the Poulan Pro lawn tractors do), but these are available from Poulan Pro or third party manufacturers.
The turning radius of 16 inches is ok, but not as good as the 6 inches that some of the more expensive Poulan Pro tractors offer. It even has headlights, which wasn`t the case for the cheapest Poulan Pro lawn tractor until recently.
The PP175G42 needs some assembling, by the way - more than one might guess from the info that sellers provide, so either you are capable and have the tools to do that, or order delivery and assembly services. The manual requires you to have 4 different sizes of socket wrenches, pliers, a utility knife and a tire pressure gauge, to give you an idea of the assembly work that is required.
If that doesn`t scare you, you get a good and reliable lawn tractor for properties up to 1 acre for one of the most competitive prices on the market!
Poulan Pro PP20VA46
The lawn tractor we recommend for most home owners!
Ease of use
Bang for the buck
The Poulan Pro PP20VA46 (model number 960460079) is our recommendation for anyone who wants a best-bang-for-the-buck riding mower but doesn`t want to compromise to save, and also doesn´t mind shopping at Home Depot, because this is another model that Poulan Pro sells exclusively through them. The PP20VA46 with its 46 inch deck is good for properties up to two acres.
Equipped with a 2 cylinder Briggs and Stratton engine that delivers 20 HP from its 656cc, this machine is up to any task that a lawn tractor faces - pretty much any mowing or pulling work that doesn`t involve ground engagement. It features pressurized internal lubrication, so it can operate on slopes without running dry of oil.
It has a starter key and Poulan Pro`s ReadyStart system (making fiddling with chokes unnecessary). The speed is controlled with a foot pedal, just like in your car! The automatic CVT transmission makes this possible, you don`t have to change gears if you want to adjust your driving speed. But also you don`t have a way to hold a constant speed while moving your foot, because it has no cruise control.
The PP20VA46 has a really good CVT transmission that can handle mowing on slopes and pulling heavier stuff. It also has the nice mow-in-reverse feature, which you control with a second foot pedal set a little back from the main accelerator pedal.
The 46 inch floating deck is stamped, but it has reinforcements that make it more durable than the plain stamped decks that the cheaper mowers have. It draws air from the top of the deck through vents, helping to keep the air flow moving under the deck in longer grass. And it has 4 anti-scalp wheels to keep you from cutting your lawn too short, even if it is uneven. This is really a quality deck for the money!
It features a higher and more comfortable seat than the cheaper Poulan Pro lawn tractors. It is labeled 11" mid-back and offers some lumbar support, but it still is a basic seat not meant to spend your whole day on.
And best of all: An oscillating front axle with a 6 inch turning radius that makes this still inexpensive lawn tractor with a good-sized deck come close to zero-turn mowers in regard to turning radius! This 428 lb. tractor nearly turns on a dime.
Poulan Pro even extends the standard 2 year limited warranty to 10 years for the deck and the CVT transmission belt.
We consider this the go-to model if you want a lawn tractor without any chills and frills that is capable of covering some acreage and rougher terrain with slopes, and that`ll last you for years to come.
Poulan Pro PP24VH54
Poulan Pro`s top lawn tractor in 2017
Ease of use
Bang for the buck
The PP24VH54 (model number 960420186) offers everything that Poulan Pro`s cheaper riding mowers like the aforementioned PP20VA46 have, but with one of the largest mowing decks of all lawn tractors - a giant 54 inches. This deck makes quick work of lawns even larger than 3 acres, while still being in a very competitive price range.
But keep in mind that larger decks cut more unevenly from side to side, so buy the larger deck only if you really need it - bigger is not always better. And measure the places where you have or want to go with it, and consider that the mower is 59 inches wide with the discharge chute down.
By the way, this tractor is not a Home Depot exclusive. It´s also available at Amazon, for example.
The large seat with a 15" high back for better comfort and back support comes in handy during longer mowing sessions. You really can spend time sitting in this seat without feeling the urge to move. One thing that`s missing for longer mowing sessions is a cruise control which would relieve your right foot.
A 24 HP Briggs and Stratton 2 cylinder OHV engine with pressurized lubrication powers this riding lawn mower - enough power for any terrain. The ReadyStart system makes starting it as easy as starting a car.
The Tuff Torq K46 Hydrostatic Transmission has a gas pedal like the CVTs do, but the pedal isn`t protruding as high - so you don`t need to raise your foot as high as with the CVTs. Hydrostatic transmissions are normally used for zero-turn mowers, but this one is way more robust than the standard small Hydro Gear EZTs used for the residential zero-turns.
The spring-assisted deck engagement of the cheaper lawn tractors makes way for an electric-clutch engagement system that lets you turn the blades on or off by pressing a simple button instead of having to turn a long lever in front of the steering wheel.
The 54 inch triple blade floating deck is stamped and reinforced, and also has the venting system. It is adjustable in 6 steps and has 4 anti-scalp wheels and a nose roller to always keep it level. You can regularly mow grass up to 8 inches and get a clean cut - the engine provides so much power!
It throws the clippings about 4 feet, so there definitely won`t be any clumping problems. If you attach the triple-bag bagger (available as an accessory), it will fill those up nicely, too. Or mulch well, if you install a mulching kit, which also is not included.
And it even comes standard with the deck wash port that is optional with the lower-priced models. This allows you to connect a garden hose to the deck and clean it with the power of the blades, without having to disassemble the deck or lifting the mower.
Poulan Pro gave their top lawn tractor the oscillating front axle with the narrow 6 inch turning radius - impressive, considering this is a 54 inch triple blade mower.
One thing that Poulan Pro could have done to improve this lawn tractor is install larger rear tires. They really limit the cutting height of the large deck, which doesn`t even reach the advertised 4 inches because it has the same 20 inch rear tires that all other, cheaper lawn tractors from Poulan Pro have. But if you want larger rear tires, you have to leave the realm of lawn tractors (at least with Poulan Pro), and buy a more expensive, heavier frame garden tractor.
Even though it`s the top of Poulan Pro`s lawn tractor lineup, it still is great value for the money, and it even comes with some bells and whistles. So if you really want a great riding mower and are willing to spend a little more, go for the PP24VH54.
Poulan Pro P54ZX
The Poulan Pro Zero-Turn Mower
Ease of use
Bang for the buck
These things have a way steeper learning curve than lawn tractors, at least if you buy a lap bar operated one like the Poulan Pro P54ZX (model number 967331001) and not one that has a steering wheel (Poulan Pro doesn`t make these). This one has the same cutting deck and the same engine as top lawn tractor from Poulan Pro, the PP24VH54 - a 54 inch reinforced stamped deck and a Briggs and Stratton 24 HP 2 cylinder engine. So mowing time in a straight line is the same as with the PP24VH54, because the max mowing speed is the same 4 - 5 mph.
It is one of the cheapest zero-turn mowers you can get. In this regard, it is the PB301 Rider of the zero-turn world. We would recommend it only if you really want a zero-turn mower, but don`t actually need one. And still, you have to learn to drive this thing if you don`t want to tear up your lawn with it!
It does cut your mowing time considerably, even compared to the largest 54" lawn tractors, if you know how to use it. You can mow around obstacles faster and make 180° turns without having to go back and forth. But still, the low-end residential zero-turns like this one don`t corner that much faster than a lawn tractor with a 6 inch turning radius, like the upscale Poulan Pro ones discussed above.
They are tricky on slopes and don`t hold straight lines well going sideways on them. The P54ZX really is at home on level terrain only. The traction is not good enough for slopes, and it can slide or turn over if you are not careful.
The rear wheels are powered by dual Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 hydrostatic transmissions, which is pretty standard for the low end of ztrs. They work well if you don`t pull anything heavier than a cart full of grass clippings with the mower. Really, don`t pull anything heavy or the transmissions won`t last - that`s why tow hitches don`t come standard with them.
All that being said, the build quality and reliability of this zero-turn mower is just as good as the quality of the Poulan Pro lawn tractors. It has 4 anti-scalp wheels, the same comfortable 15 inch high back seat as the PP24VH54 and a decent manually operated deck lifting system.
We include this mower in the top 5 Poulan Pro riding lawn mower list because it is a good and very cost-efficient mower overall, but only buy it if you are really sure that a zero-turn is what you want, and you are aware of the limitations of low-end zero turns like the P54ZX. These are limitations in regard to the zero-turn design in this price range, and not in regard to build quality or reliability, which is as good as the lawn tractors that Poulan Pro builds (and that should be expected due to major components like engine and deck being the same).
Poulan Pro has the best riding lawn mowers in the budget price range, period. No matter if you want "just a mower that you can ride on" or a good and reliable, but still cheap lawn tractor of various engine and deck sizes - Poulan Pro has a lineup of winners in 2017. We have picked the ones that we like the best, knowing that there are a lot more models available that also have their merits: Poulan Pro lists 17 lawn and yard tractors and 4 zero-turn mowers for the 2017 model year.
As a last remark: we know beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but we honestly think Poulan Pro has even developed a great, sleek-looking design for their 2017 lawn tractor lineup.