Cub Cadet Vs. John Deere: Which Riding Mower Is Better?

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf
Both Cub Cadet and John Deere are always mentioned in the same breath as being among the best riding lawnmowers. Generally, Cub Cadet is the better option for homeowners on a budget, and John Deere is the best mower when it comes to performance. Follow along as we explore how Cub Cadet and John Deere vary in terms of cost and performance.

Making the switch to a riding mower can be an exciting prospect but an ultimately confusing one if you don’t know where to start. After all, they are not only much bigger but much more expensive than the push mowers you are used to.

There are two brands, in particular, John Deere and Cub Cadet, that stand at the top of the mountain. They are two of the most recognizable brands when it comes to lawnmowers and outdoor accessories. By and large, the two are extremely similar in terms of both quality and features. You really can’t go wrong with either for your summer mowing needs.

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When Would You Need a Riding Mower?

While the answer is fairly obvious for those with huge properties, there may be some still using a push mower to get the job done. That is because there are circumstances where a riding mower becomes overkill and much more difficult to manage.

The simple fact is that most small- to medium-sized yards don’t require a riding mower. A push mower is more than capable of getting the job done and will do so in a reasonable amount of time. For anything above medium-sized lawns, a riding mower is undoubtedly the best option available.

Cub Cadet vs. John Deere

Both Cub Cadet and John Deere have become recognizable brands within the lawn care community. While Cub Cadet is popular, there is perhaps no more popular brand on the marketplace than John Deere is.

The latter is featured on t-shirts and hats worn casually by those who may not even own a lawnmower. They both have a historically positive reputation for producing durable, quality lawn care equipment. Both companies have offerings that are rated among some of the very best for riding mowers out there.

Cutting Quality

Cut is one of the most important aspects of a lawnmower. After all, that is kind of the entire point of buying a mower in the first place, right? Both companies stack up very comparably when it comes to the completeness and cleanliness of the cut.

If we are splitting hairs, Cub Cadet may have a very slight edge. Their mowers are able to turn clippings into very small fragments, creating an effective mulch. But overall, the difference is so negligible that it is hard to even declare an edge.

Overall Comfort

While the cut is perhaps the most important part of a riding mower, it has to be comfortable. There is nothing quite as bad as sitting out on a riding mower in complete discomfort the entire time. Besides the entire point of a riding mower was to bring greater comfort and ease.

Both John Deere and Cub Cadet feature high-back seats as well as rubber floor matting. Depending on what model you pick, you may even get a beverage holder in your John Deere riding mower for a cool break from the activity.

Both manufacturers also have an automatic drive system to it. That makes mowing cleaner and smoother, adjusting the transmission of the tractor for you. It all comes together to create a simpler, more effective, comfortable riding mower experience.

Handling Ability

Handling is an underrated aspect of a riding mower. After all, if the thing turns like a boat, you will not only take longer to get stuff done but you will ultimately door a worse job. Not to mention the wasted gas costs.

John Deere holds the edge in the handling apartment with a more refined ride. Some John Deere models even offer cruise control so you can focus on the line of your cut instead of your gas pedal.

Both models, however, have proven to be smooth when it comes to steering balancing on uneven terrain. With the built-in hood, Cub Cadet offers superior protection against flying rocks and other protruding obstructions.


It is important that the riding mower you choose be durable. After all, it is going to get regular use during the summer when the temperatures are the highest and the sun is shining the brightest. The last thing you want to contend with is a broken-down riding mower.

Both are quite durable and sturdy. The good news is that should you run into an issue that needs repairing, the average cost of repair for each is just a shade north of $100. That means an affordable fix instead of having to wait to find a technician to do the job.

Price Comparison

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is in pricing. Generally speaking, Cub Cadet is the more affordable of the two, with riding mowers running the gamut in pricing. Their lower-tier models can run in the $1,500 to $2,000 range with their better offerings pushing $4,000-$5,000.

John Deere is quite a bit more expensive. On average, their riding mowers run well north of $3,000. There are a handful of more cost-effective options but nothing like the offerings of Cub Cadet. If you are looking for a more affordable yet reliable riding mower, the edge here lay with Cub Cadet.

Power Rating

Having the right level of torque and power is definitely important. The less power, the more effort that your mower has to put in to get the job done. That means more time spent out in the yard and more fuel burned.

Cub Cadet is fine in terms of its power output, especially its higher-end options. But John Deere riding mowers tend to be much larger with bigger engines powering them. With big or sloppy hills, you may find that the Cub Cadet struggles a bit. John Deere mowers do not have this issue, thanks to one of the most powerful engines in the mower market.

Overall Efficiency

The overall efficiency of a mower measures how well the machine makes use of the power and torque that the engine delivers. Efficiency also determines just how useful the mower is in comparison to others.

John Deere stands out here. John Deere mowers are perfect for huge mowing jobs. They not only provide a quality cut but do so with minimal effort. The engine just keeps chugging along no matter how rough and tough the terrain.

What Makes for a Good Riding Mower?

With a better knowledge of Cub Cadet and John Deere, it is now time to look at what makes for a good riding mower in the first place. After all, they can all kind of look the same at first glance. So, how can you tell a good mower apart from the competition?

Mower Size

Each lawn is different in its own way and requires a mower fit to do the job. Believe it or not, there are specific cutting widths that work best for certain types of lawn. You can get away with using a mower that is better served for another size of lawn, though you may be losing out on optimal cutting performance.

For instance, a 1-2 acre lawn would require a mower between 42-in and 52-in in cutting width. A 2-3 acre lawn would require a 50-54-in cutting width. A 3-5 acre lawn would require a 54-62-in cut width and a lawn bigger than 5 acres would require a cut width larger than 60 inches. Get the most out of your mower by picking the right size.

Related Guide: The Best Riding Lawnmowers For 3 Acres

Zero-Turn Mowers

If the mower you choose has zero turn functionality, that means there are no obstacles that can get in your way. These mowers are able to navigate and pivot at sharper angles than your normal garden or lawn tractor.

Keep in mind that zero-turn mowers don’t handle quite the wide array of tasks that a tractor does. That said, it has a higher forward speed, making it easier to cut large spaces. On top of that, it can easily cut around garden beds, landscaping, and trees.

Grass Clippings

One part of the mowing experience that does not get talked about enough is the handling of grass clippings. There are a wide array of options here. It all comes down to what you plan to do with those clippings – toss them or use them for mulching.

Side-discharge puts the clippings right back onto the lawn. If the clippings become too thick, they might need raking. There are also bagger-capable mowers that collect the clippings as they go. Emptying the bag does add to your cut time, however. Finally, there are mulch-capable mowers that can turn clippings into mulch. Mulch adds nutrients to the soil and can help your grass grow thicker and more lush.


No matter what mower you go with, keeping it running efficiently is of the utmost importance. There are methods for maintaining riding mowers so that they can keep performing optimally for a long time to come.

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Which is the Better Choice?

Both manufacturers produce a quality riding mower. That much is evident from the fact that they are two of the most reliable and trusted names in the market. But you came here for a winner and that is precisely what we will give you.

Though they are similar in most ways, John Deere delivers a better overall quality of mower. It delivers a more powerful motor and handles rougher terrains a bit better than its counterpart. It is a bit more expensive than Cub Cadet but consumers are getting more than what they paid for out of their mower.

All that said, Cub Cadet is the more affordable option. While it may not quite meet John Deere in terms of overall power and performance, it can provide a quality cut no less. If you are looking to save a bit on your mower and go with something that will simply get the job done, Cub Cadet works just fine.

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Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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