CLEVELAND - In its biggest lawn mower tests ever, Consumer Reports rates more than 70 mowers.
Here were the key grading criteria: how evenly they cut and mulch; how much their bags can hold; how well they discharge clippings.
Several of the mowers tested were electric, including some that are cordless. Electrics are better for the environment, and they're quieter.
But Consumer Reports found self-propelled gas mowers are generally much better at cutting grass.
"You'll pay more for a self-propelled mower, but if you've got a larger lawn, or if you just want an easier time mowing your lawn, then this is a feature that you should consider," said Peter Sawchuk of Consumer Reports.
But don't pay extra for large rear wheels. They're not worth it.
"We found in our testing that because these wheels are located father back, it takes more force to push down and turn the mower, compared to a conventional mower."
Among self-propelled mowers, Consumer Reports named the Toro Recycler a Best Buy for $350. It has rear-wheel drive and performs almost as well as mowers that cost twice as much.
Push mowers cost even less and are good for smaller, flatter lawns. There's good news with those, too.
"Inexpensive mowers have improved over the last couple of years. They're built better, and their cutting performance is also better, too," Sawchuk said.
Consumer Reports found several push mowers to recommend, including the Lawn-Boy available at Home Depot for $240.
Consumer Reports also recommends the cub cadet model
11a18mc. Testers said it's good at side-discharge and its handlebars are very comfortable.