Cub Cadet vs John Deere

Cub Cadet or John Deere Riding Lawn Mower: Who’s Got The Edge?

If you have always mowed your lawn with a walk-behind mower, upgrading to a riding variant can be tough, especially since both the initial and running costs are higher.

But if you have moved to a bigger house with a bigger lawn, you may want to buy a riding mower or a lawn tractor that is more powerful and doesn’t require someone to walk behind it or put any effort into it. You can simply ride your way around the lawn as your mower does its job!

So, here I have prepared a comparative review of two excellent models from the most popular lawn tractor makers in the US. For this review, I have chosen the Cub Cadet’s XT1 Enduro Series Kohler®LT 46 vs. John Deere’s E160 48ELS– two of the best lawn tractor-makers’“more durable” variants. Both these tractors come strapped with high-powered twin-cylinder engines, custom-made for enhanced performance.

In this review, I will tell you why these models are the best in their class and why one or the other will be better suited for you.

But first, a bit about the two brands:

Cub Cadet 21 in. 159cc 3-in-1 High Rear Wheel Gas Walk-Behind Push Mower

$315.54  out of stock
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as of November 23, 2020 4:06 am


EAN ListEAN List Element: 0043033578580
Item DimensionsHeight: 42; Width: 21
Package Quantity1
Part NumberSC100HW
Product GroupLawn & Patio
TitleCub Cadet 21 in. 159cc 3-in-1 High Rear Wheel Gas Walk-Behind Push Mower
UPC ListUPC List Element: 043033578580

Lawn-Boy 17732 21-Inch 6.5 Gross Torque Kohler XTX OHV, 3-in-1 Discharge Rear Wheel Drive Self Propelled Lawn Mower

$333.39  in stock
2 new from $333.39
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as of November 23, 2020 4:06 am


  • Rear Wheel Drive System provides a better traction and control on hilly terrain
  • 2-Point Height-of-Cut System allows you to quickly adjust cutting heights from one side of the mower. Height of Cut- 6 Position 1.25 - 3.75 inches. Cutting Width- 21 inch
  • 3 year Tru-Start Commitment - starts with 1 or 2 pulls or Lawn-Boy will fix it for free
  • Kohler 149cc/ 6.5 ft.-lbs. Gross Torque/ OHV Engine
  • CARB Compliant for the state of California

Cub Cadet

Cub Cadet is an American outdoor power tools and machine manufacturer that markets its products across the world. Its range of products includesutility vehicles, lithium ion- and gasoline-powered handheld and chore products, snow-blowers and many other such equipment, besides lawn and garden tractors.

Headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, the company first started production at a shed in Gloria Drive, Kentucky, in 1960,where the first Cub Cadet model, the International Cub Cadet Tractor, better known as the Original, wasmade. This model was powered by a 7 HP and 8 HP-replacement Kohler®engine. From there, the company has come a long way to establish itself as the most popular riding lawn mower company in America.

The company has an excellent team of engineers, who have so far designed some of the best and advanced technology, including:

  • The 4-wheel steer zero-turn riders with steering wheel technology, which is the first and only one in the world (1990)
  • The 4-wheel steer or Synchro-Steer™ technology, which is also the first in the industry (2007)
  • The Cub Cadet zero-turn riding mowers that allow the tightest turning radius in the industry (2009)
  • The most advanced zero-turn riding mower with lap bar technology (2010)

The XT1 Enduro Series LT 46 is one of its finest creations so far – reliable, durable, powerful, effective and cost-efficient – what more can you ask for? Some of its identifying features are:

  • Priced below $2000
  • 46-inch stamped, twin-blade deck
  • 22 HP Kohler® 7000 Series twin-cylinderengine
  • Tuff Torq® foot-controlled hydrostatic transmission (K46)
  • Mow-in-reverse feature
  • Soft-touch cruise control facility
  • ¾-inch heavy-duty front and rear axles
  • Optimized steering system
  • Automotive-style disc brakes
  • Easy-to-use quick electric start
  • 230 cold crank amps battery

Its Cub Comfort™ high-back seat with 10 degree incline and slide made me feel quite at ease with this powerful machine.

The tractor holds a good 3-gallon fuel tank that is easy to fill and remarkably rustproof to ensure your engine keeps purring happily.

Apart from being available at various retail stores, you can also purchase it online.

John Deere

John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company, which is an American corporation, manufacturing construction, agricultural, and forestry machinery, apart from diesel engines and drive trains (axles, transmissions, gearboxes) used in heavy equipment. The company also makes garden and lawn care equipment and machinery.

The company’s namesake founder John Deere started his company in 1837 from a humble 1,378sqft shop in Grand Detour, where he offered his services as a village repairman. Gradually, he started making large tools like pitchforks and shovels. What drew everyone’s attention at that time was his self-scouring steel plow, which he culled out of a Scottish steel saw blade.

In 2018, John Deere was ranked 102nd in America’s Fortune 500 list. The company truly lives by its slogan “Nothing Runs Like a Deere” by creating some of the best lawn tractors, among other heavy-duty machinery, in the US.

Currently, John Deere has manufacturing units all over the world, which the company set up in collaboration with large heavy machinery makers in the respective countries.

John Deere’s E160 48-inchis quite a powerful machine. This model belongs to John Deere’s ELS or extended life series, which makes the lawn tractor’s engine both hardy and durable. Its identifying features are:

  • 48-inch-wide deck, equipped with three blades, effortlessly lifts grass,providing a superior cut and smooth underside to prevent grass buildup
  • 24 HP twin-cylinder ELS engine
  • Advanced filtration system for better performance &longer engine life
  • Hydrostatic transmission
  • 300 cold crank amps battery
  • John Deere EZ change 30-second oil change system
  • Cruise control to set your own pace with speeds up to 5. 5 mph.
  • Ready Start starting system for choke-free, car-like starts

The E160 48’s adjustable high back seat, with lumbar support, wide and comfortable operator station, and smooth steering made for easy operation. Besides, I felt its side-by-side, forward and reverse, 2-pedal foot controls were easy to handle and the electric blade engagement quite simple to use.

Priced at $2449, the product also comes with a wash port to help clean the underside of the deck. This model is also available both in offline and on online stores.

We compare, you choose!

Cub Cadet v/s John Deere Mower

To give you a comprehensive idea about these two models and why you should buy one or the other, take a look at our comparative analysis based on some of the most critical parameters of riding lawn mowers…

1. Cutting Deck Width

The Cub Cadet’sXT1 Enduro Series Kohler®LT 46 comes with a 46-inch stamped deck, while John Deere’s E160 48ELS is equipped with a wider 48-inch cutting deck, providing for a wider trim. Both are great for lawn covering ½ to 2-acre area. The E160 48ELS can also manage on a 3-acre plot. But you will find it difficult to maneuver it in a lawn with many flower beds and trees or landscape features, forcing you to make tighter turns more frequently.

2. Number of Cutting Blades

XT1 Enduro Series Kohler®­comes with a twin-blade deck, whereas the E160 ELS has three cutting blades. While it may seem that the latter will provide you with a better cut, it isn’t necessarily so. Normally, all riding mowers with decks of 48-inch width and higher come with three blades, instead of two. The cut quality depends on several other variables, like the deck itself, blade tip speed, the height of cut, the mower’s forward speed, the type of blades being used as well as the person operating the mower. Although, the John Deere model may give you a better cut if you know how to work around the obstacles.

3. Speed Adjustability

The Cub Cadet model’s forward speed can go up to of 5.5 mph& reverse speed up to 2.5 mph, while the John Deere’s model of tractor mower has a maximum forward speed of 5.5 mph and reverse speed of 3.2 mph – that is almost the same for both. Speed on both these models can be quite easily controlled with the help of the foot pedals;a push-button cruise control system makes sure that the operator can maintain the desired speed for consistent mowing.

4. Mulching

Both Cub CadetXT1 Enduro Series Kohler® LT 46 vs. John DeereE160 48 ELSfared well in the side-discharge mode and bagging test. But when it came to the mulching test, I found that the Cub CadetXT1 Enduromodel surpassed John DeereE160’s performance, although only by a bit.

5. Horsepower

The Cub Cadet model is equipped with a 22 HP Kohler® 7000 Series twin cylinder-engine, while the John Deere model has a slight upper hand with 24 HP twin-cylinderJohn Deere-branded ELS engine. While the Kohler® 7000 Series are quite powerful engines, John Deere’s 24 HP gives it a slightly higher top speed, hence better performance. Higher horsepower helps if you have a lawn that has a lot of uneven ground and landscaping features, with tall grass and/or weeds. But, when it comes to these two models, they are both good enough for a 3-acre plot of greenery, having a lot of uneven surface and landscaping. Most riding lawn mowers of the tractor variety come with horsepower between 20-27 HP. So, both these models are a fair choice.

6. Stability

When it comes to stability, the John Deere E160 has a slight edge over the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series. It is much less bumpy and provides a smoother ride.

7. Comfort

As far as comfort is concerned, both the models provide adequate comfort in operation as well as in seating. After a while, however, the Cub Comfort™ high-back seat with 10° incline and slide doesn’t seem too comfortable. In contrast, E160’s adjustable high back seat, with lumbar support, provides for a much better ride for a longer period.

8. Cutting Height Adjustments

The Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series offers 12 easily adjustable cutting height positions and smooth single-lever engaged PTO provides a perfect cut. It ensures a cut not less than 1 inch of grass and a maximum height of 4 inches. The John Deere E160 gives you, more or less, the same advantage as far as cutting height is concerned.

9. Fuel Tank Size

The Cub Cadet model is harnessed with a 3-gallon fuel tank, whilethe John Deere E160’s tank can hold only up to 2.4 gallons of fuel. It is just the opposite for their oil capacities. While the Cub Cadet model has a 64 oz. oil capacity, the John Deere model can hold 73 oz. of oil.This only means that while the John Deere model will remain lubricated much longer, the Cub Cadet will effectively run longer on a single filling of the fuel tank. This I felt was an advantage, as refueling can take up a lot of time and can be quite tedious a task for people like me who have back pain issues.

10. Reverse Mowing

Both the models come equipped with reverse mowing feature. While the Cub Cadet has the capacity to mow backwards at 2.5 mph, the John Deere can do the same at a higher speed of 3.2 mph – a slight upper hand for the latter. But the mechanism in these models is little different. For the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series, the reverse pedal remains locked until you turn the ignition key 90°from the ‘drive’ position to the ‘drive in reverse’ position, and then press the safety button on. Whereas, the John Deere model has a 2-pedal foot control for the forward and reverse actions.

11. Overall value

When it comes to the initial price, the Cub Cadet is a definite winner at $1799, since the John Deere model will cost you $2449. However, the latter’s maintenance costs you a little less than the Cub Cadet model.

Our take

If you love to watch others look at your lawn with envy, you can go for either model, as they both come equipped with powerful engines and impeccable cutting capabilities. They are also both quite durable and effective for moderately sized lawns.

In fact, given their features, power, performance, and efficiency,they both qualify to be the industry toppers, especially since they belong to a category of models that usually cost more than $3000.

However, if you think you want a tractor that is a bit more cost-effectiveand mulches a little better, keeping your lawn healthier for a much longer period of time, then I would suggest you opt for the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series Kohler®LT 46.

Besides, the Cub Cadet model comes with a 3-year warranty, while the John Deere offers only a 2-year warranty on its model. This is a clear advantage for the Cub Cadet Enduro Series,as most conscientious consumers like me look at this aspect to ensure a longer life for our home improvement equipment.