The lobby at last January's North American International Auto Show featured a Craftsman CTX lawn tractor touting an 8-mile-per-hour ground speed, a race car compared to the usual tractor, plus a feature more common to automobiles, traction control. The trend of mowers sporting car features is growing, according to what we saw at the annual Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+Expo).
Husqvarna's R322T, an articulated riding mower, goes one better than the Craftsman's traction control with all-wheel drive. The dealer-sold model has a flip-up cutting deck (for easy access), and you can swap out the 48-inch deck for attachments such as a snow blower and flail. Such performance perks, however, don't come cheap; the R322K will cost $5,200.
Want dual exhaust to show off to neighbors next spring? Check out Husqvarna's 48-inch SpeedZTR 48 SE zero-turn-radius rider or the 2013 LS lawn-tractor series, all models of which will have this feature, complete with rumble. We saw—and heard—the SpeedZTR 48 SE in particular at the outdoor-demo space of GIE+Expo.
Also turning heads with automotive features was the privately shown Simplicity Conquest lawn tractor, the 2013 version of which will sell for $5,499 (50-inch deck) to $6,699 (52-inch deck) at Simplicity dealers next spring. The Broadmoor and Prestige tractor lines share some features. Besides the LED headlights common to many tractors and riding mowers, the Conquest had a contoured steel hood (for wind resistance?), front and rear springs and shocks (see photo), push-button start, and a tachometer with gauges showing fuel level, cutting height, and other readings, including "quality of cut"—determined by engine RPM. All have the same 27-horsepower Briggs & Stratton EFM V-Twin engine.
When we see a mower with built-in GPS, we'll know they've gone too far.