- Riding Comfort
- Mower Handling and Performance on Hills/Rough Terrain
- Quality of Cut
The John Deere E180 model riding lawn mower includes a 54″ cutting deck and a 25HP John Deere branded engine. This John Deere riding lawn mower is assembled in the USA at a Greenville, TN plant. Let’s take a look at the good, bad and ugly of this mower.
The John Deere E180 riding mower does come with an adjustable seat (front and back) that also has a lumbar support controlled by a knob on the left side of the seat. While that is better than nothing, unless you are mowing flat ground, you will still have a pretty rough ride.
It is really kind of the nature of the beast if you have a riding mower and rough terrain. There is very little you can do outside of maybe lowering the PSI in your tires a little bit or adding a suspension seat. Adding any kind of seat is going to boost you up a bit and could lead to you feeling a bit unstable.
There is cruise control on this model, so if that excites you, you have the option by activating a lever on the right side of the machine while moving at your desired speed. Personally, I am not a fan of cruise control.
The E180 mower is powered by a John Deere branded 25HP engine. Basically, this looks like a Briggs & Stratton Intek engine that is made to “John Deere’s Specs”.
It is 724cc (hmm B&S also has a 724cc engine as well.)
There is a 2.4 gallon gas tank which I feel is quite small to accommodate a 25HP engine. Especially when you consider this mower is rated for 4 or more acres, there is no way you would be able to mow probably more than about 2 acres without a refill. The gas tank fill is under the rear seat which is unique as typically they are under the hood right behind the engine. I would think having it under the seat (you just flip the seat forward to access the gas tank) would make it slightly easier to fill.
One nice feature is the included hour meter which makes it really helpful to keep track of service intervals. Speaking of service intervals, this E180 mower’s engine comes equipped with the “30 second oil change.” John Deere boasts that you’ll be able to change the oil in just 30 seconds. It should be noted that the oil filter is rather expensive, coming in at around $40.
Depending on where you stand, this could be a pro or a con. I’m typically on the old school side of changing the oil and filter but I can definitely understand how this would be beneficial to a large array of people that have no mechanical ability what-so-ever but still want to properly maintain their mower themselves.
One thing to consider with this engine is that if you are using it heavily on slopes you may see pre-mature failure (before 400 hours) due to the engine oil lubrication design. It is using a splash lube system where the oil pump is really only pumping the oil through the filter but internal components are just relying on splashes of oil to remain lubricated. When you are going uphill or downhill constantly it is possible some parts are being starved for oil. Flat ground or very gentle slopes should not be a problem.
The engine and mower are covered under a two year warranty for residential users and only 90 days if you use the mower for commercial purposes.
Mower Handling and Performance – Hills/Rough Terrain
The John Deere E180 riding mower is sitting on 22in rear tires and 16in front tires. You can mow at a max forward speed of 5.5 MPH and in reverse at 3.2 MPH.
This mower says it is rated for properties of 4 acres or more and is good for steep/hilly terrain. Let’s look at that a little bit more.
The transaxle is a Tuff Torq K46AC (which can be found in the John Deere D160 and D170 style mowers also.) This is a very popular transaxle found in a lot of mowers, probably millions of mowers really. The problem is these transaxles will not hold up to constant uphill climbs. They’re just not rated for this type of mower. The K46 should be used with a 48″ deck or smaller and 20″ or smaller rear tires. As you know, the E180 has a 54″ deck and 22″ rear tires.
If you are so mechanically inclined, some people have actually serviced the K46 like here and one person swapped it out (and had to modify the mower in the process) with a K71 transmission which you can read about here.
I share this with you as a point of caution if you are interested in buying this mower for use on steep/hilly terrain. If you are mowing flat ground I don’t think you’ll have any issues at all.
That being said, this mower has a relatively good 18″ turning radius. What does that mean?
Well, it basically means if you were to drive the mower in as tight of a circle as you possibly could, the circle created in the lawn by the outer edge of the rear tires would be 36″ wide. Half of that would be 18″, IE your turning radius.
The weight of the John Deere E180 mower is 523lbs so that coupled with the tire size mean traction issues should be minimal.
Quality of Cut
John Deere is known for providing a pretty nice cut and this mower is no exception. The only hang up is that in tall grass some reviewers say it doesn’t handle well. That you would have to cut it on it’s highest setting (4″) and then mow over it again at a lower setting. Take this for what it’s worth. If you plan on maintaining your yard week after week I don’t see it being an issue for you.
Three blades are under this 54″ deck to chop your grass clippings to smithereens. The 54″ 11 gauge stamped deck has 4 anti scalping wheels on the front of the deck which should do a decent enough job of keeping the deck appropriately level while mowing. The E180 features a PTO blade engagement knob switch instead of a lever engagement.
Cutting levels range from 1″ to 4″ and are easily adjusted with a simple lever on the left side of the rider.
Mowing in reverse is possible by pushing a button they call Reverse Implement Option or RIO.
A mulching kit is also optional if you’d rather go that route.
John Deere has a wide variety of accessories that go with this mower. From baggers to carts, aerators, spreaders and even a front blade and snow blower attachment! Keep in mind with the K46AC transaxle you will need to be very careful pulling any attachments with weight to them. I would not recommend a front blade, for example. Also, if pulling a cart try to keep the load light. The cart + load + person should not be more than the mower itself (523 lbs) so basically keep your loads somewhere around 200 lbs.
If you are thinking of storing this mower outside, I would at least recommend a cover.
This mower is a tough one for me to rate. I want to like it, and I mostly do, but I’m not a fan of the K46AC transmission because it has a long history of longevity issues in a mower of this size. Again, if you are just mowing a normal flat yard, by all means this is a great tractor. If you are like me and have a very hilly/steep yard then I just don’t know if I could recommend this lawn mower. I think if that fits your description you might want to look at the next model up John Deere’s and spend a little more money to get a better transmission that will last you. Or a different lawn mower altogether might be a better option for you.