New Generation Lawn Tractor

By Michael MacCaskey

Lawn care professionals have long opted for zero-turning-radius (ZTR) mowers because they're fast and maneuverable. They can, literally, turn on a dime. But ZTR mowers never caught on with homeowners because of their dual lever steering. While easy enough to learn, most homeowners shied away from the necessary learning curve.

Now, with the introduction of its Spin-Steer Technology, John Deere has redefined the lawn tractor category. Their new SST lawn tractors are as maneuverable as a ZTR, but via the familiar steering wheel of a traditional, front-steer lawn tractor. The engineering is complex, but is based on a differential steering mechanism that continuously matches steering response to ground speed. The slower you go the tighter the turn; faster ground speed produces a more gradual turn. Two foot pedals, one for forward and one for reverse, allow you to change direction quickly and easily. And unlike ZTR mowers, the steering is self-centering, making straight tracking a breeze.

Deere offers two models, the SST 16 and SST 18, with 16- and 18-hp Briggs & Stratton V-Twin Vanguard overhead-valve engines respectively. The SST 16 has 2 blades and cuts a 42-inch swath with either a dedicated mulching deck or a convertible mulching and bagging deck. The 3-blade SST 18 mows a 48-inch swath with an all-purpose deck. In both cases you adjust the deck height with a foot pedal, not a lever. The engine-up-front design exceeds ANSI safety standards for weight distribution. Both models have an electric PTO for tow-behind attachments and a 2.5-gallon fuel tank.

Prices start at $4299. If you want to test-drive an SST tractor, call (800) 537-8233 for a John Deere dealer near you.

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