7 Best Gas Lawn Mowers | Push and Self Propelled

Choosing the best gas lawn mower seems like a simple task. I have tried and tested push mowers for over two decades and watched the industry grow.

Competition is great, but most modern push mowers offer similar features, so it’s not so easy to pick out the true gems.

The moment you realize what you bought comes when you’re trudging uphill, adjusting your speed, and notice that the bag is full of grass and needs a quick change. Suddenly, you realize that the self-propel system, easy bag release, and sturdy handle are lifesavers.

If you’re nodding your head, this guide is for you.

Best Gas-Powered Lawn Mowers

If you’re short on time then check out the 3 best gas-powered lawn mowers. I have selected my best overall based on its 3-in-1 function and outstanding reliability. I have included a 30-inch Toro mower for very large lawns. Plus, including a great option for under $350 that still has a fantastic array of features for the money.

Honda 21-in Nexite Deck Gas 4-in-1 Versamow

Best Overall Gas Mower

Honda 21-in Nexite Deck Gas 4-in-1 Versamow

If you want a perfectly level flat-top lawn with or without mulch, rely on Honda’s custom 190cc GCV200 engine powering Versamow.

Toro TimeMaster 30 in. 223cc Gas Mower

Best For Large Lawns to 1 Acre

Toro TimeMaster 30 in. 223cc Gas Mower

223cc Briggs & Stratton engine powering twin blades on a 30-inch deck. Easy to go up hills and mow large properties.

Craftsman M125 21-in 163cc Gas Mower

Best Gas Mower Under $350

Craftsman M125 21-in 163cc Gas Mower

Does everything pricier mowers do, just without the bells and whistles? A quality 3-in-1 mower under $350.

Choosing A Gas-Powered Mower

Many factors go into the selection process. Don’t get overwhelmed by the number of lawn mowers on the market. You just need to give some consideration to what features or functions will work best for you and your lawn work. Remember, at the end of the day you’re just cutting grass.

So your lawn size matters, as this will determine the deck size of your mower and will have a bearing on whether or not you choose a self-propelled model. Engine power matters, but only to the extent of how hard you plan to work your lawn mower. Cranking it up hills cutting long wet grass, then yes you will need serious torque. But outside of that, all of the mowers on my list below will be perfect for general use. Finally, do you need a mulching option…if, so look out for the 3-in-1 type mowers that can mulch, bag, and side discharge?

All that said, let’s get into some detail and unravel each of these topics that will shape your final decision on the best gas mower for your personal requirements.

Lawn Size and Terrain

Whether you believe mowing grass can be technical or not, let me tell you that choosing a mower based on lawn size and terrain can get pretty detailed.

For simplicity, I like to divide the factors that lead to my purchase into five categories—lawn size, terrain, push mower, riding mower, and zero-turn mower. 

Even though the topic here is push and self-propelled mowers, I’m including the whole list because there are so many different terrains, regardless of lawn size.

The next thing I like to do is think of my area as a quarter, half, three-quarters, or full football field. A football field is a pretty large area to mow equalling 1.32 acres. Most people don’t have such big lawns.

The next factor is, regardless of size, which type of terrain do you have?

  1. Level and clear – Push Mower
  2. Small hills and a few rough patches – Push Mower
  3. Moderate hills and rough terrain – Riding Mower
  4. Large hills and rugged terrain – Zero-Turn Mower

The roughness of your terrain is very subjective in terms of human description, but mowers have clear boundaries. Underpowered mowers will not cut certain parts of rugged terrain.

The easiest part of the decision comes when judging the area. If you determine that you have half a football field or less, you should have no problems with a push or self-propelled mower. If your mower offers self-propelled movement, and your land is a bit more than half a football field, you will probably find the job manageable.

At over half and up to three-quarters of a football field, switch to a self-propelled or riding lawn mower.

Starting at three-quarters of a football field and up, a zero-turn mower is ideal.

Gas Vs Electric Push Mower

I know you’re here to check out the best gas lawnmowers, but it would seem amiss not to address the gas vs electric debate.

There are a lot of considerations when comparing gas and electric, like weight and replacement parts. However, the two most important considerations have to be engine or motor power and the fuel or battery run time. So let me start by dealing with this issue first.

When you’re considering whether to go gas or electric what you really want to know is how does the power output compare. Well, in truth it’s complicated. Because electric motors are measured in Volts or Amps, whilst engines are rated in cc or for power output Horse Power (hp). 

We also have the complexity of how the machines are built and what auxiliary functions on the mower are drawing on the engine’s power. So there is no simple like-for-like comparison to use when looking at the ‘real world’ power of an electric mower vs a gas mower, when in use. 

The only true comparison for the two options would be to compare horsepower output, but manufacturers of electric lawn mowers tend to state Max Torque and not Horse Power. Max Torque is the power of a motor in a static state not when under a load being used. 

If I’m being cynical…and I am…the reason manufacturers of electric mowers don’t publish power output in Horse Power is due to electric mowers are not as powerful as a gas-powered mower when under load, or in other words cutting your lawn or being pushed up a hill. 

In my experience gas will outgun electric in most cases, especially in situations when you need to call on a little bit more oomph.

Engine Power (hp)

Gas-operated mowers create their reputation through the reliability and longevity of their engines. Familiar brands come to mind like Briggs & Stratton, Honda, and Kawasaki as a few of the premium manufacturers that have proven their quality over many years of use. 

A more powerful gas engine will really show its worth, than you are plowing through long grass, or running it up a hill. The engine size or cubic capacity ‘cc’ is not directly correlated with the engine horsepower, but it is usually the case that the larger the engine the higher the horsepower output.

If you know you will face some challenges on your lawn, and want to be sure to have a powerful enough mower to do the job, make the safe play—choose gas power.

Fuel Capacity and Run Time

A lot of electric mowers only run for about 40min to an hour on a single tank. So your gas mower will give you a clear advantage if you’re planning to run it for extended periods of time. If you plan to work on a small area of lawn say up to 1/4 acre, then it may be worth checking out the Best Electric Lawnmowers.

Measuring how long a tank of gas will last depends on how hard the mower is working as a result of the speed setting and the type of grass you’re cutting. In general, a tank cuts an acre. 

Where I have tested each model I aim to provide you with an approximate run time for a single tank, in minutes and/or area covered. 

Electric Start or Pull Cord

It depends… The best advantage to using a pull start mower is the simplicity of design. The construction of the mower is not too technical with a pull-start, so people who like to do in-field or home repairs can work easier and faster.

The main pro with electric start mowers is starting the motor with the push of a button. Due to the layout of the flywheel and crank system, adding a self-propelled drive assembly is simple. Once you have a self-propelled mower you follow the mower instead of pushing. The downside is that when something breaks, you have a complex and potentially costly repair on your hands.

Self Propulsion Wheel Drive

Self-propulsion results in a more complicated machine and involves more expensive repairs if the drive system fails. The trade-off is of course that you can enjoy an easier mowing experience. Gradual terrain isn’t a big deal. Self-propelled mowers truly shine going up, down, or sideways on hills.

Front, Rear, or All-Wheel Drive

Rear-wheel drive provides more traction and results in straighter lines.

Front-wheel drive is usually less expensive. What you lose in rear-wheel drive’s ability to mow in straight lines, you make up for by gaining maneuverability. An advantage of front-wheel drive is the ability to bring the mower up on the back wheels to turn quickly.

Rear-wheel drive offers the same ability by cutting the self-propulsion temporarily or changing wheel speed to turn.

Which is Better, a Push or Self-Propelled Mower?

As with many products, such decisions are subjective. Personally, I like to use mowing the lawn as a form of exercise. So I would say push mowers are better with that in mind.

I’ve known many people who hate mowing the lawn and want to get the job done and out of the way quickly and will prefer a self-propelled mower.

If you’re on a budget and expensive repairs are not an option, stick with a push mower. You also may be using a mower commercially, and if the self propel system breaks, you will have a hard time doing repairs in the field. You also may not be able to repair the system yourself at all.

Not being able to do field repairs and having to rely on expensive professional repairs is a potential problem commercial outfits can’t afford. Mowing for commercial use probably means that a push mower comes in and cleans up the leftovers that a zero-turn leaves behind. The simpler mower probably makes the most sense.

Cutting Deck Width

The width of a cutting deck determines the width of the blade doing the cutting. A wider deck cuts more grass per second. Standard push mower cutting decks are 21-22in.

Specialty decks from some companies can range from 28-to 30in. These wider decks allow for speedier cutting which some people demand. However, they also come with more weight and bulk and can be a challenge for some people to handle. 

Cut Height Adjustment

Most lawns around most homes that people regularly maintain don’t require much cut height adjustment. Sometimes the length of the grass gets away from people, and mowing the lawn in stages works better.

Setting the cut height high, around 4 in, allows you to cut high grass down to medium-length grass during the first pass. Then you can adjust the height down for short grass, do another pass, and your long grass becomes short grass without overworking the engine.

cut height adjuster

The height adjuster is usually located over the wheel, and some models allow for separate front and rear height adjustment.

Deck Material and Fabrication

With most mowers, deck material comes down to three simple choices—plastic, aluminum, and steel. Plastic is usually the cheapest but can be surprisingly rigid. In the case of Honda’s deck, the special, rigid plastic Next is the more expensive option.

Steel offers the most toughness for punishing types of work and is the most expensive.

Aluminum strikes a balance by offering the toughness and durability of metal with the corrosion-resistant abilities of plastic.

Fabrication usually becomes important when you get up to heavy-duty riding lawn mowers and zero-turn mowers where a material like steel and high-quality craftsmanship become key components.

Comparatively lightweight mowers with stamped decks will likely not experience any problems.

2 or 3 Function: Bag, Mulch, and Discharge

Mulching is a great option to introduce to lawn mowing because mulch returns much-needed nutrients to the soil for continued healthy grass in the future.

Two-function mowers mulch and bag grass. With the bagged grass you can make compost or a garden bed. Note that long grass will probably not bag easily.

Three-function mowers have mulching capabilities and mulch, bag, and offer a side discharge. Side discharging isn’t always necessary, but the option helps the most when you cut long grass with a high deck height. 

Bag the grass on the next pass after lowering the deck height.

Speed Controls

Mowers come with many different types of speed controls that may come in the form of a simple rod (bail), a squeeze handle, a push handle, or a lever. Usually, the speed increases the more you push forward.

The only way to decide if you like speed controls is to do a test run at the dealership or perhaps a friend or neighbor has the same mower.

Mower Storage

Push mowers have some different options. A shelf isn’t off the table if you can’t lift a push mower. You may be able to attach a ramp and roll the mower up.

Finally, various makes and models of push mowers have different options to fold handles over the engine so that you can store a push mower vertically or get the handle out of the way in a tight space.

Best Gas Lawn Mower Reviews

I’ve been around the houses so many times with these machines, that I feel that I have a very good grasp on what makes a great lawn mower. I have shortlisted these mowers from the perspective of a regular home owner, not a grounds person. So they are fit for purpose for residential use.

I have given priority to overall operating performance and versatility, so easy to start, comfortable to handle, mulching capabilities, and built to withstand domestic wear and tear. Then I have used my ‘real world’ experience of these products to pull out the most reliable mowers that won’t let you down, and will represent a great investment over their lifetime.

Best Gas Lawn Mower
  • Type: Self Propelled
  • Power: Gas Engine 190cc
  • Run Time: 1 Acre, 78 Mins
  • Start: Electric Start
  • Deck Size: 21-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1-4-Inch
  • Wheel Drive: RWD
  • Discharge: Rear, Bag
  • Weight: 95lbs

Pros

  • Top-quality materials
  • Comfortable mowing & easy storage with a 3-level folding handle
  • 5-year residential warranty for personal use
  • Lifetime NeXite deck warranty
  • Simple bagging and/or mulching with the Versamow system
  • High capacity bag

Cons

  • Not affordable (but you get what you pay for)

The Honda HRX217VLA has a lot of neat features, but the primary areas that define this mower are the Versamow system, and the blade design. The blade design is two blades for extra cutting power with more rapidity. 

Honda HRX217VLA Lawn Mower

When the blades finish their work, the Versamow system becomes the next stage the grass reaches. A rotating door connects to the selector knob, which offers ten settings between bag and mulch. 

The settings allow maximum control between bagging, mulching, or bagging and mulching. Put the selector knob in the middle, and the door opens halfway, allowing some grass to go in the back while some grass gets mulched.

Other key features include the handlebar which has three height settings. The bar also folds over the mower to make storage more compact. Another nice feature is the battery on the electric start recharges from an alternator just like a car battery.

Using this Honda mower is extremely simple. When mowing you must squeeze the blade control lever. This lever is a safety mechanism that cuts the engine when released. Open the fuel valve, turn the start switch and begin mowing. A recoil starter grip can also start the engine if the battery is weak.

The last key component is the Select Drive system when mowing. There is a control panel that fits your thumbs neatly. You can adjust the placement of the panel for comfort. When you press down, the mower begins self-propelling with a top speed of 4mph. The process is that simple.

Simplicity, reliability, and effective design are why the Honda HRX217VLA is the “Best Overall Gas Mower.”

2. Toro TimeMaster 30 in. 223 cc Gas-Powered Mower
  • Type: Self Propelled
  • Power: Gas Engine 223cc
  • Run Time: 1 Acre, 73 Mins
  • Start: Pull Cord Start
  • Deck Size: 30-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1.25-4.25-Inch
  • Wheel Drive: RWD
  • Discharge: Side, Rear Bag
  • Weight: 140lbs

Pros

  • Briggs & Stratton engine
  • Wide deck
  • Quickly mows an acre
  • Very powerful
  • 3-year full warranty

Cons

  • 45-day warranty for commercial use
  • Two blades to replace down the road

The Toro TimeMaster earns its name with a 30 in. deck which allows for improved cutting time. The Personal Pace system allows for easy walking at your speed with a clever sliding handle.

Is The Toro TimeMaster 30" Lawn Mower the Right Choice for You?

Toro decided to achieve their large deck with a twin-blade system situated side by side in two cylinders. Switching between discharge, bagging, and mulching is a little bit more cumbersome than simply pulling a lever, but the process is still simple and only involves installing or removing a plastic panel that slides into place easily.

Where the rubber meets the road, the large 223cc engine provides all the power necessary to cut grass on flat or rugged terrain. The TimeMaster is perfect for people who have enough land to justify a riding lawn mower but prefer walk-behinds.

3. Craftsman M125 21-in 163 cc Gas Lawn Mower
  • Type: Manual Push
  • Power: Gas Engine 163cc
  • Run Time: .5 Acres, 52 Mins
  • Start: Pull Cord Start
  • Deck Size: 21-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1.25-3.75-Inch
  • Wheel Drive: Manual
  • Discharge: Side, Rear Bag
  • Weight: 73lbs

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Steel deck
  • Ease of 3-in-1 use

Cons

  • Bad for cutting straight lines
  • Difficult to clean air filter

While not the most exciting on my list, the Craftsman M125 is the best gas lawn mower at an affordable price. You also get a reliable Briggs & Stratton engine that almost always starts on the first pull. 

If you don’t mind the exercise you get with a manual lawn mower, the Craftsman may work for you. Apart from having no self-propulsion system, not much separates this mower from the more expensive ones on the list.

Simple spring-hinged doors allow quick changes between mulching, bagging, and discharging. Without having to drive propulsion and being lightweight, the 163cc engine has plenty of power to devote to cutting dry or damp grass.

4. Honda 21-In 170cc Steel Deck 3-in-1 Gas Lawn Mower
  • Type: Self Propelled
  • Power: Gas Engine 170cc
  • Run Time: 1 Acre, 78 Mins
  • Start: Pull Cord Start
  • Deck Size: 21-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1-4-Inch
  • Wheel Drive: RWD
  • Discharge: Rear, Bag
  • Weight: 79lbs (Dry) – 82lbs (Operating)

Pros

  • Sturdy long-life design
  • Easy-pull cord starts the engine on the first try
  • Intuitive controls
  • 3-Year residential warranty

Cons

  • Nothing bad to say, even the price isn’t a deal-breaker.

The Honda HRN216VKA lawnmower is, in many ways, a smaller version of my top pick. If you put the two mowers side by side and tried to pick out differences in features, you wouldn’t find much until you got to the lack of a battery. This Honda doesn’t have an electric start.

The thumb-driven Smart Drive controls on the self-propulsion system, top speed of 4mph, work the same. The bagging and the lever to switch between bagging and mulching are the same too.

Underneath the twin blades sit on top of each other and offer double-cut action. Due to the Smart Drive, this mower cuts clean lines with ease.

5. Toro Recycler 22-in 163 cc Gas Lawn Mower
  • Type: Self Propelled
  • Power: Gas Engine 163cc
  • Run Time: 1 Acre, 99 Mins
  • Start: Pull Cord Start
  • Deck Size: 22-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1-4-Inch
  • Wheel Drive: RWD
  • Discharge: Side, Rear Bag
  • Weight: 83lbs

Pros

  • Personal Pace is an ease-of-use multiplier
  • Engine starts reliably after winter
  • Simple switches between bag, mulch, and discharge
  • 3-Year Guaranteed to Start warranty
  • Briggs & Stratton engine

Cons

  • Underpowered for wet grass
  • Reversing is extra work due to Personal Pace
  • 2-Year Full warranty

There is no confusion about why people love the Toro Recycler. Owners love the Personal Pace system. As the name implies, the mower self-propels at your walking speed with a slide rail, especially useful on hills and slopes.

The whole mower is easy to use. Simple covers on the rear and side switch the mower between bagging and mulching. Lift the mulching door and the side-discharge hooks in with one hand.

You can mow about an acre on a tank of gas. The handle height is adjustable and folds over the engine for compact storage.

6. Toro SmartStow 22 in 150cc Gas Lawn Mower
  • Type: Self Propelled
  • Power: Gas Engine 163cc
  • Run Time: 1 Acre, 99 Mins
  • Start: Pull Cord Start
  • Deck Size: 22-Inch
  • Cutting Height: 1-4-Inch
  • Wheel Drive: RWD
  • Discharge: Side, Rear Bag
  • Weight: 83lbs

Pros

  • Personal Pace simplified self-propulsion
  • 3-Year Guaranteed to Start warranty
  • Sturdy 15-Gauge Steel deck
  • Compact storage

Cons

  • Tricky wheel height adjustment
  • A short 2-year full warranty
  • 150cc engine power questionable for damp grass

One of the nice features of modern lawnmowers like the SmartStow is ready-start. This design bypasses the need for a choke, and the engine starts easily every time, especially useful when you have a pull cord start.

Storage is the real winning category after you finish cutting the grass. The SmartStow folds up so that the mower stands vertically. The profile is slim enough to place the mower against the wall and forget you put an engine-driven machine there.

Toro makes well-designed lawn mowers that are reliable. Switching between the 3-in-1 features never becomes a hassle as everything intuitively locks into place with ease.

7. Honda Hydrostatic Self Propel 21 Commercial Lawn Mower
  • Type: Self Propelled
  • Power: Gas Engine 160cc
  • Run Time: 1 Acre, 60 Mins
  • Start: Pull Cord Start
  • Deck Size: 21-Inch
  • Cutting Height: .75-4-Inch
  • Wheel Drive: Shaft
  • Discharge: Side, Rear Bag
  • Weight: 123lbs (Dry) – 127lbs (Operating)

Pros

  • The best commercial mower on the market

Cons

  • No downsides besides being unaffordable for some people/businesses

If seeing the word “commercial” gave you a hint that the Honda Self Propel, HRC216HXA, is a different kind of mower, your hunch is correct.

Because of the intent for commercial use, this machine has a laundry list of upgraded features combined with some standard features that Honda kept because they work. 

The self-propel system possesses precision speed control via commercial-grade hydrostatic cruise control. A lever on the handle operates the cruise control. The hydrostatic control is so fine that the mower can crawl at a snail’s pace for technical work or open up to full speed a moment later.

If and when the cord breaks, you can take the lid off the recoil assembly, wind a knotted rope around, yank, and get the engine going. Having a strong branch rip the muffler off sound’s bad, right? Honda thought of that problem too and put a steel case around the forward-facing muffler.

The engine runs on automotive technology without any belts to stretch or break. A solid drive comes off the engine by way of a shaft that delivers the power where needed.

Lastly, this mower features a blade-brake clutch on the handlebar. Honda is the original inventor of blade-braking, first implemented decades ago. The safety impact was substantial enough for government regulation to step in and force manufacturers to install the blade brakes or engine cuts which are standard today.

Honda’s blade-brake clutch works in tandem with a gear system that stops the blades immediately, instead of the three-second blade stop time allowed.

Is the Self Propel the only commercial walk-behind mower on the market? Does any other manufacturer approach the level of detail, quality, and craftsmanship Honda puts into this mower? No, is the answer to both questions. 

Buy from Honda if you want the best, and you’re willing to pay the price.

Verdict: Best Gas Lawn Mowers

Now you’ve seen my list. I used all my years of experience to bring you the best choices I could find. I hope I’ve helped you make the best decision for your needs. 

Honda 21-in Nexite Deck Gas 4-in-1 Versamow

Best Overall Gas Mower

Honda 21-in Nexite Deck Gas 4-in-1 Versamow

If you want a perfectly level flat-top lawn with or without mulch, rely on Honda’s custom 190cc GCV200 engine powering Versamow.

The Honda 21-in Nexite Deck Gas 4-in-1 Versamow gets my highest recommendation. You have to pay a bit more money, but you receive the best quality. This mower does everything in every other category, except budget, well. The Versamow system makes bagging and mulching effortless.

The Select Drive system features simple controls that negotiate obstacles, such as hills, with ease.

Toro TimeMaster 30 in. 223cc Gas Mower

Best For Lawns Up to 1 Acre

Toro TimeMaster 30 in. 223cc Gas Mower

223cc Briggs & Stratton engine powering twin blades on a 30-inch deck. Easy to go up hills and mow large properties.

Craftsman M125 21-in 163cc Gas Mower

Best Gas Mower Under $350

Craftsman M125 21-in 163cc Gas Mower

Does everything pricier mowers do, just without the bells and whistles? A quality 3-in-1 mower under $350.

FAQs Gas Lawn Mowers

Here is one of the most common questions regarding gas lawn mowers.