Look for a John Deere zero-turn rider at a dealer next spring, and you’ll see a bevy of new models. The manufacturer of everything from residential lawn tractors and riders to high-end construction, agriculture and forestry equipment will add several models to its line of Residential ZTrak Zero-Turn Mowers.
The ZTrak line will remain split among three segments, the entry-point E, mid-range M and higher-end R (shown above), with the Z500R models bordering on commercial, the realm often dubbed “prosumer.” Common to the selection of Z300 and Z500 machines, whichever the segment, are Accel Deep stamped decks. For certain models, you’ll get more choice in deck sizes, up to 62 inches.
Easy mode switching
An option on some of these is a feature Deere released last year, called MulchControl. Shown below, it uses a lever, mounted on top of the deck, that lets you use a single blade for either mulching or side-discharging grass clippings. Turn the lever to one position, and it closes the side-discharge baffle to keep clippings whirling around. In the other, it opens the baffle to let those clippings fly. Fewer riding-mower users bag their clippings, but those who do will need a separate bagging kit.
Other improvements to the line, as we saw at GIE+Expo last week, are better-contoured lever-steer controls, a deck lift you can operate with your foot, more comfortable high-back seating options and beefier tires. You can keep track of fuel levels, maintenance needs and more using the John Deere Mower Plus smartphone app, which also works with other brands and models.
John Deere residential decks, already commendable, have improved further over the past few years, and Deere machines are known for their durability. Full specs and pricing won’t go public till early 2017, but if you’re looking for a zero-turn rider and want to avoid budget models, these look worth waiting for.