Toro vs. Cub Cadet: Which Zero-Turn Lawn Mower Is Better?

Toro vs. Club Cadet

Freshly cut lawns are not only visually appealing, as they feel and smell great too. But achieving a lush, vibrant lawn can be tough work, especially if there’s a lot of ground to cover. It’s here where zero-turn, ride-on mowers are a tremendous help. And to know which is better—a Toro or a Cub Cadet—read through this guide!

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 is more powerful and durable than the Toro TimeCutter ZS 4200S, but this additional strength makes the Cub more expensive than the Toro. The Toro is an efficient, easy-to-operate mower that’s fitted with most of the components the Cub utilizes. Both mowers are ideal for residential homeowners.

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What Is a Zero-Turn Riding Mower?

While zero-turn mowers do in fact turn, they get their name from their ability to turn in a full circle without ever exceeding the boundaries of their own footprints. This is possible because of lever control mechanics.

Zero-turn mowers are ideal because they ensure no patches of lawn go uncut, and they’re also pretty easy to get the hang of.

Is Your Yard Suitable For a Zero-Turn Mower?

Consider the size and shape of your yard. Are there any inclines present? What about bushes, trees, lawn furniture, and other outdoor fixtures?

In general, if your yard is or greater than 1/3 of an acre, a residential zero-turn mower will work great. A homeowner doesn’t need a commercial-grade zero-turn mower, as these are intended for very large areas.

Toro vs. Cub Cadet

The Toro TimeCutter ZS 4200S and Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 are often compared, as both residential zero-turn mowers are sold at most big name home improvement stores and advertised regularly. In short, you can’t go wrong purchasing either model, but there are some major and minor differences that may cause you to prefer one over the other.

Model

Toro TimeCutter ZS 4200S

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42

Price

$2,599

$2,899

Chassis

Unibody steel frame

Tubular steel frame

Engine

Toro 452cc gasoline engine

KOHLER 7000 725cc V-twin engine

Transmission

Dual hydrostatic transmission

Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 transmission

Controls

Lap bars

Lap bars

Deck Size

42 inches

42 inches

Dimensions

~71.8 x 71.8 inches

80 x 54 x 47 inches

Weight

511 pounds

~500 pounds

Fuel Tank

3 gallons

3.5 gallons

Design & Body

The body of a zero-turn mower is important for several reasons. It should be durable while providing maximum comfort during mowing. Here’s how the bodies of both mowers differ:

Toro

The Toro TimeCutter ZS 4200S features a sturdy 10-gauge unibody steel frame, and the engine—which is protected by a rear engine guard—is situated directly behind the driver’s seat. The transmission is mounted to the rear tires and cutting deck.

The mower’s battery, fuel, and some other electronic components are under the seat. In front of the seat is a non-slip floor pan, and it’s here where one rests their feet while mowing. Two small wheels are at the very front of the mower, and these always move in conjunction with the main wheels.

The Toro mower doesn’t have an all-metal deck, as it employs plastic parts. Plastic breaks and metal bends, so the inclusion of plastic isn’t the end of the world. Metal, however, can be straightened out after bending, whereas broken plastic is useless.

Cub Cadet

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 has a similar build. The engine is at the back with the transmission underneath, and the seat and floor pan setup resembles the Toro’s quite closely. Two small tires are also utilized at the front of this mower for balance.

One significant difference between the two mowers is that the Cub employs an open-frame and hinged floor pan. The mower is constructed this way so the operator can easily access the engine and cutting deck.

Unlike the Toro, the Cub lacks an engine guard, as well as fenders which keep the mower clean. The mower is, however, equipped with two LED headlights, which are absent on the Toro.

Tires & Seat

For the Toro, the front tires are 11×4 inches and the large rear tires are 18 x 7.5 inches. The Cub utilizes a similar tire setup, with the only difference being the 20 x 8-inch rear tires.

Both mowers have a padded high-back seat, and these can be adjusted to ensure maximum comfort. A Cub Cadet owner can also purchase armrests for their mower, whereas the Toro doesn’t accommodate this extra convenience.

Cutting Deck

The cutting deck is the part of the mower which houses the blades. Whereas some mowers utilize reinforced plastic cutting decks, the Toro and Cadet alike employ all-metal cutting decks.

Both mowers make use of 42-inch steel cutting decks, but the Toro has two front rollers while the Cub has two front and two rear rollers.

On both the Toro and Cub, cut height is adjustable, with a range of 1 inches to 4.5 inches. On the Toro, however, height is controlled using a lever that’s beside the speed control. To change cut height on the Cub, use the dial that’s on the left side of the chair in conjunction with the lift pedal.

Cleaning both cutting decks is a breeze. A washout port is included with both mowers, and this component allows an operator to rinse off their cutting deck without the hassle of flipping the deck over.

Controls

Both mowers make use of lap bar controls. Here’s how operation works:

  • Pull the lap bars together in front of you, as this will disengage the parking brakes.
  • Pushing both bars forward makes the mower go forward, while pulling back makes the mower reverse.
  • To steer right, pull back the right bar while keeping the left bar pressed forward. Opposite hand positions will turn the mower left.

The Toro TimeCutter employs the patented Toro’s Smart Speed Control System, and this allows the operator to choose a trim speed that’s best for the area about to be mowed. There is a low, medium, and high trim speed.

The Toro also makes use of precision steering. While this feature makes operation a little more demanding, it helps ensure a smooth mowing process. Steering is better and you won’t have to worry about a minor bump jerking you around.

Engine & Transmission

A mower’s engine and transmission are two of its most important components. The Toro and Cub Cadet use different engines and transmissions, so these mowers hardly perform identically. That being said, both mowers are powerful and efficient, in large part because of the engines and transmissions they employ.

Toro: The Toro utilizes a patented Toro 452cc gasoline engine and a duel hydrostatic transmission. The mower can go as fast as 5.5 miles/hour, and its engine is also safe from branches, rocks, and other debris because of a heavy-duty steel guard. The mower’s translucent tank can store three gallons of gas.

Cub Cadet: The Cub Cadet’s 725cc professional-grade KOHLER 7000 V-twin engine is a lot larger than the Toro 452cc, and this mower can reach 7 miles/hour. The Cub’s transmission is a Hydro-Gear EZT 2200, and its tank is 0.5 gallons larger than the Toro’s.

Accessories

If the basic version of either mower model isn’t enough for you, take comfort in knowing that a range of enhancing accessories can be purchased. For the Toro, the following are popular accessories:

  • Cargo carriers
  • Twin baggers
  • Anti-vibration floor mats
  • Hour meters
  • Deck lift pedals

For the Cub, these accessories are often bought:

  • Plow blades
  • Mulching kits
  • Tire chains
  • Haulers
  • Double Baggers

To know more about the accessories that are commonly purchased for mowers, read this post.

Related Questions

A zero-turn mower is no light purchase, which explains why so many potential buyers ask questions about both of the mowers we’ve discussed. Here are some of the frequently asked ones.

Is an electric mower better than a gas-powered mower?

While electric mowers are becoming more popular, in large part because they don’t emit exhaust, there isn’t one electric mower on the market today that can match the power and efficiency that gas-powered mowers are known for. Take, for example, the Cub Cadet—its powerful engine is one of its most appealing qualities, and without it this mower would be a shell of its current self.

How are single-cylinder and twin-cylinder mower engines different?

Single-cylinder engines are less efficient and typically very loud. Single-cylinder engines are, however, more affordable, and someone who mows once a week can make good use of a single cylinder.

Someone who mows more than once a week is better off with a twin-cylinder engine, as they are more fuel-efficient and durable than their single cylinder counterparts. These mowers are also quieter, but you’ll be paying for all these benefits.

Is it wise to purchase a mower online?

While purchasing a mower online is possible, it’s not recommended for the following reasons:

  • An issue during the transit process could damage the mower.
  • It’s best to test drive a mower beforehand, as this way you can get a feel for the machine.
  • You may get a better deal at a local hardware or home improvement store.
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Final Note

All things considered, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 42 is a powerful, durable mower whereas the Toro TimeCutter ZS 4200S is great at delivering a refined mowing experience. The Cub Cadet is more expensive than the Toro, so this additional power comes at a cost. Both mowers run smoothly, and both are equipped with top-notch structural components.

If you own a large patch of land, the Cub Cadet will serve you well for a long time. If there’s less than an acre to mow, a Toro will do just fine at delivering precision, efficiency, and comfort. And to make your mowing experience even better, consider the tips in this post.

Matthew Mountain

Matt loves everything DIY. He has been learning and practicing different trades since he was a kid, and he’s often the first one called when a friend or family member needs a helping hand at home. Matt loves to work with wood and stone, and landscaping is by far his most favorite pastime.

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