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Mower Showdown: Front-Wheel vs. Rear-Wheel vs. All-Wheel Drive Mowers

Mower Showdown: Front-Wheel vs. Rear-Wheel vs. All-Wheel Drive Mowers

A self-propelled mower can help maintain a lush, healthy lawn with little to no hassle. The latest models are available in three drive types: front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel drive. Each one goes a long way in making your grass look pristine all season. While they look similar, each type has distinct differences when it comes to handling. We've put together some advantages and limitations to consider when choosing from these mowers.

Front-Wheel Drive Mowers Rear-Wheel Drive Mowers All-Wheel Drive Mowers


Great for lawns with lots of turnsGreat for inclines & uphillGreat over hills, wet grass & uneven terrain

Lawn Conditions

Flat surfacesHills, slopes & uneven surfacesHills & slopes

Standard Cost

Most affordableMore affordable than all-wheelLeast affordable

Front-Wheel Drive Mowers

Advantages of Front-Wheel Drive Mowers

  • Maneuverability - Change direction easily by simply tipping the mower onto its back wheels. This can be great for yards that require a lot of turns.

  • Great for flat yards - A front-wheel drive mower is ideal for lawns without hills. This option is most efficient when the front wheels are planted on the ground.

Limitations of Front-Wheel Drive Mowers

  • Irregular yards - To move forward, a front-wheel model must have its wheels firmly on the ground. That makes this type ineffective when the wheels bounce up off the lawn, which can happen on hilly or bumpy terrains.

  • Not great with inclines - When going up an incline, you might need to lift the front wheels and blade off the ground, stopping the propel system. With all the weight towards the front of the mower, it can be somewhat difficult to move uphill.

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Front-Wheel Mower

Rear-Wheel Drive Mowers

Rear-Wheel Mower

Advantages of Rear-Wheel Drive Mowers

  • Traction - With the rear wheels always grounded, you get more traction. This is especially helpful when bagging since more weight is over the rear wheels. 

  • Creates a more manicured lawn - Since traction is better with this type, mowing a straight line is much easier so you can get a more precise cut and pristine look to your lawn.

  • Ideal for irregular yards - A rear-wheel drive mower can power up hills, slopes and inclines like a champ. It's designed to provide extra control on lawns that are bumpy and uneven.

Limitations of Rear-Wheel Drive Mowers

  • Maneuverability - While only slightly less efficient on yards that involve a lot of turning, this type requires you to manually change the speed or disengage the drive to turn.

  • Weight distribution - As the bag fills up with grass, excess weight builds toward the rear, typically leading to better traction. However, when the bag is not too full, you may have to do a little more pushing.

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All-Wheel Drive Mowers

Advantages of All-Wheel Drive Mowers

  • Added traction - With all wheels on the ground, you'll get ideal traction in hilly or sloped yards.

  • Better balance - The mower is more balanced since power is distributed evenly across all 4 wheels, making mowing simple in tough conditions.

Limitations of All-Wheel Drive Mowers

  • More costly - An all-wheel drive mower is typically more costly, and many models can require more maintenance over time.

  • Limited maneuverability - Similar to a rear-wheel drive system, this type also requires you to manually change the speed or disengage the drive to turn. 

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All-Wheel Mower