Pros: Kohler engine, fast cut.
Cons: Poor quality mower deck, deck height adjustment won't hold, deck blow-back, poor bagging system
I bought a used 2009 model Mustang XP 50 14 months ago then added an OEM twin bagger. I mow about 1.5 acres of centipede in coastal South Carolina. I previously owned a 46” MTD riding mower (with a triple bagger) for over 17 years and was excited about acquiring a zero-turn mower since I have to maneuver around at least 30 pines and oaks. In fairness to Troy Bilt and fellow researchers, I waited to write this review until I had at least a year of experience using and maintaining this mower. Here are the results.
The Kohler engine has performed flawlessly although it consumes significantly more gas than my old 14HP Briggs & Stratton. I was apprehensive after reading some negative reviews regarding this engine, but so far it has not let me down. However, that is where the positive points end. The most glaring problem with this mower is the mower deck. Almost every time I hit a hole or root, the deck adjusting lever pops out of my set level and drops to the bottom, scalping my grass until I discover it’s all the way down. I made a plastic catch that would secure the lever but it broke after about 3 months, I intend to modify it with a metal catch. The next deficiency is the 3 blades are not the same height, which produces an uneven cut. I constantly tinkered with the deck adjustment, thinking that was the problem, but when I installed MTD Extreme blades this week I saw the individual blades were not on the same plane. I actually had to bend the deck metal and shim the pulley spindle assemblies with washers to align the blades. At that time I also noticed the previous owner had replaced the 4 bolts that hold down each spindle assembly with through-bolts on two of the assemblies, and the last assembly had stripped out 2 of its bolts causing it to tilt, contributing to the uneven cut. Also, the deck metal was broken at 2 of the bolt locations, but still manages to hold down the spindles. My next complaint is the blow-back from the front of the deck when mowing, I get covered in dust and clippings. I don’t know if it’s an inherent problem with zero-turn mowers, but my tractor-style mower never did this. My next complaint is poor pick-up into the bagging system. The riser tube constantly clogs with grass, so making a heavy cut or cutting dew-laden grass is out of the question. Installing the MTD Extreme blades has helped considerably but paying $60 for 3 pieces of stamped metal is a ripoff (but that’s another review). I don’t bag my grass every time, and converting the deck to mulching is rather laborious. Lastly, the drive levers require adjustment about twice a season to remain synchronized. It’s not a major problem, but annoying none the less. In retrospect, I would probably spend a little more for a quality mower. But unfortunately it seems cost rises exponentially for quality in zero-turn mowers.