Comparing the Exmark and Toro 30-inch Walk Mowers

The new Exmark Commercial 30 walk mower has been the most-viewed product on greenindustrypros.com so far this year. Second behind that is Toro's new TurfMaster 30-inch walk mower.

With 43% more cut area than a traditional 21-inch mower, these two new mowers can greatly improve productivity.

Seeing as how Exmark is owned by Toro, a question posed by a greenindustrypros.com reader makes a lot of sense: "Why would I buy the Exmark over the Toro, especially since the Toro is cheaper, or so I'm told?" Great question … so let's try to answer it.

What's in a price? First of all, prices can be very relative in this industry. Contractors, for the most part, buy equipment from local dealerships. Those dealerships often adjust pricing to their own circumstances.

What we do know is this: The suggested everyday retail sales price for both machines is $1,799. All in all, these two machines match up evenly at the cash register.

Evenly matched on the basics. Both models are powered by a 179cc Kawasaki FJ180V engine. Additionally, both feature:

  • Twin-blade design
  • 18,000-plus-fpm blade tip speed
  • Blade-stop safety feature
  • One-gallon fuel tank
  • 1.5- to 5-inch cut height in half-inch increments
  • Weight of roughly 170 pounds (Toro at 167).

The Exmark features an infinitely variable ground speed of up to 4.2 mph. The Toro tested in at 4.1, so they are evenly matched when it comes to speed, as well.

Finally, both are three-in-one mowers, allowing for conversion from side-discharge to bagging to mulching.

For most commercial users, durability is the name of the game. Both mowers have been designed with this in mind, so let's look at some of the features.

Frame construction. Both mowers feature a cast-aluminum frame. The Exmark then features heavy-duty side braces and an engine guard. Toro, too, features an engine guard, along with a steel brush guard.

Deck construction. Both models possess the following features:

  • 13-gauge stamped-steel deck with steel reinforcements, including deck skid plates, 1/2-inch-diameter side-wear bars, and 1-inch tubular front bumper
  • Reinforced rib door which better maintains its shape over time while reducing blowout at the rear
  • Heavy-duty spindle assemblies with sealed ball bearings, a forged spindle, and die cast aluminum construction.

Additionally, both models feature a deck drive system which incorporates an alignment feature and shear pin for easier service; the shear pin is designed to protect the timing system from impact damage.

Drive system. Both models feature a variable-speed, rear-wheel-drive, sealed transmission. Exmark says its transmission has been custom-built to its specifications using internal wet clutches for increased life.

What's unique? As you can see, these are both solid mowers designed with the professional user in mind. So how do you decide which one to buy? Look at some of the unique features.

For instance, Exmark's patented front height adjustment system is designed to minimize wear to the front height adjusters while making it easier to replace an entire assembly if necessary. Also, the single-point rear height adjustment system isolates the transmission and frame from impact-loading damage.

Toro likes to highlight its two-point cut-height adjustment for both front and rear, eliminating the need to walk around the mower to change the cut height. Also, Toro says its single bail-design control system simplifies operation.

Get out to area dealers this spring and take a look at both of these mowers. Challenge your dealers to show you how one will be better than the other. Test the mowers out. Consider the reliability of the dealer you'll be purchasing from. These are both well-designed mowers, but you're going to need service and parts from time to time—so aftermarket support should always be factored into your decision-making process.

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