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Honda GCV170 Engine – Reliable, easy starting power to tackle the toughest mowing conditions.
HRN216VKA Honda Self-Propelled Lawn Mower Brand new 2020 model. Engine has been upgraded from a GCV160 to a GCV170, providing 10% more power than previous years. Self-propelled, variable speed Smart Drive 3 in 1 with Clip Director – mulch, bag, and discharge Honda GCV170 engine with Auto Choke System
|Product Dimensions||61 x 22.6 x 40.8 inches|
|Item Weight||82 pounds|
3.6 out of 5 stars
|Best Sellers Rank|| |
#12,909 in Patio, Lawn & Garden (See Top 100 in Patio, Lawn & Garden)
Suburban homeowner with a 1/3 acre lot, mostly flat, with some structures to maneuver around. I bought this after considering a new Toro personal pace to replace my 15-year old mower. I’m glad I paid more and got this Honda. Instead of lifting from the shipping container as indicated, I used a box cutter and dropped the end flap and simply rolled it out of the box. Great idea. First thing I noticed is how easily it rolls when shut off. I can push it with one hand. This is a stark contrast to the Toro, which I had to give all my weight to in order to push it, when off. It was as stubborn as a mule. This is easy-peasy, so that’s a big difference and a big improvement. The handle extended upward and snapped into place with almost no effort on my part. The factory set height was perfect for me at 5’7″, so no fiddling required. One tiny plastic flange on the tightening screw for the height adjustment was broken off in shipping. This really should not be a plastic part – how can they last? They won’t, they will both break off in time. After removing the protective cardboard sleeves – all of which peel away easily because they are lightly glued – I added the engine oil and gasoline and assembled the clipping bag. The mouth for the gas tank seems to be extra wide, so I can easily see the level of gas as it rises. This is light gray in color, making it easy to see. In my Toro it was black and narrow, and every time I filled it, I overspilled some gas. The mower started on the first gentle pull. No hard yank required. In cutting my lawn I probably had to stop 25 times to empty the bag, and it re-started every single time without fail. I made a height adjustment to the front and back wheels with the large, easy-to-reach handles. On my Toro this handle was smaller and the mechanism was more difficult to adjust. This adjustment is simpler, easier, and the heights are labelled in inches, so you know what your setting is. I chose the “bagging” versus “mulching” setting on the large handle on this side, and this too was as simple as can be, and — none of these three handles extend outside the body of the mower far enough to catch on a fence or a tomato plant support, or on anything of that nature. My Toro had parts that would gouge the aluminum siding of my house, or hook on the fence, if I wasn’t extra careful. Driving the mower is great with the thumb-push lever. It can easily be done with one hand, and the amount of power it has is more than my Toro ever had, so it will really take off and go fast if you are up for a fast pace. I am not, but I found I needed that power sometimes in the thickest grass, from a dead stop. When going backwards, or pivoting in a tight circle, I found the touch to just ease off the accelerator and the mower backs up easily without a fight. This too is an improvement over the Toro. Overall it seems to weigh less. All this makes it a much more maneuverable device. It is more nimble and easier to control. The mower is not loud, by lawn mower standards. It is probably quieter than average, and this is important to me. If everyone on my block had one of these, we would have much quieter Sundays around here! Okay a couple of negatives … the clippings bag does not have a strap in the back, so when you remove it and lift it, you only have a handle in the front. You’ll need two hands to tilt it into a can or a bag, and you will wish that it had a simple strap for the second hand. Secondly, the shape and size of the bag does not fit inside the opening of your standard brown paper lawn bag from Lowes or Home Depot. That right there is a problem. I tried to the point of frustration, spilling all my clippings, trying to empty it into a bag, then I gave up. I would also describe the join of the bag to the mouth of the chute to be in need of improvement. There is nothing on the bottom lip to keep clippings from dropping in place as you remove the bag, so you need to sort of somersault the bag backwards to keep the clippings inside it. A straight-back pull will have all the clippings tumble forward onto your lawn. So my complaints have to do with those ergonomics. I think it is really well-made and will be durable and reliable if it is anything like the Honda cars I’ve owned for 30 years. Recommended.
My first Honda mower; I have owned this Honda HRN216VKA self-propelled mower for a big 2 days only, and one mowing for this review. I am getting used to the Honda features that are different from my old Craftsman self-propelled mowers. For example, Smart Drive. This feature is so clumsily presented; just a few more video seconds from Honda would suffice on its 5 positions. (update: I tried resetting the Smart Drive lever position, and I was successful; but not exactly how it’s shown in the Honda video; actually much simpler. btw, it’s not a cruise control; just a lever position for easier handling; I changed the lever position to make it even with the handle frame. Then from that point you press the lever down to engage the self-propel to make the mower move faster, or ease up on the lever to slow or stop.)
So back to the beginning. short version – My Craftsman that I liked died April 2020; age just 3 seasons, worst ever Craftsman (B&Stratton) engine. A very high reputation Ace repair shop for my region for all mower brands couldn’t get it purring, so I knew it was time to shop for a new mower. And I think that Ace lost their reputation on my repair, and so did Craftsman. My guess for the Craftsman is that the oil combines with gasoline and results in major sputtering.
So I tried an expensive yr 2020 Toro model 21386 just to get away from Craftsman, but on Toro day two I see the Toro with only one spinning wheel for its self-propel by lifting up its rear axle and observing. I returned the Toro to HDepot and HDepot fully refunded, since in practice HDepot tool rental doesn’t really repair mower problems as they say they do.
Next I read CReports, and I see Honda near or at the top, so I try this HRN mid-priced model. It cuts my dense grass and the HRN moves as fast as I walk; and I walk fast; even pulls me. I haven’t experienced that fast speed (4mph) from my last 3 Craftsman mowers; actually since the 1980’s. The HRN has just 2 deck height lifters instead of 4. The owners manual is generally nice, but try to find the nomenclature for its spark plug (found it on pages 14 and 18). It’s rear-wheel drive for the four 8″ wheels. The speed drops to zero on turns as you ease up on the speed control. A steel deck. Does not stow vertically like the Toro. It’s not quiet (other reviewers say the HRN is quiet), so I use ear muffs. A good idea to turn off the gas supply and empty the carburetor before storing each time (approx 3 min to empty the gas line) . A slightly refined appearance over Craftsman and Toro. A nice mower so far.
I initially read the reviews of the newer yr 2020 electric cordless mowers, higher voltages, but I get disappointed when I read just mow 1 inch max off the top. I’ve been there, done that, with the corded mower decades ago, and will not go back to electric until its power problem is really solved. You need power for lawns of moderate size; my lawn 1/3 acre; approx 10k sq ft lawn remaining subtracting house/deck/driveway/sidewalks. I would really like an electric to perform well; not settle for 1″ for $500. My lawn needs mowing more than once per week in the Spring, so playing with any under powered mower is a waste of my time and energy and sweat. I think a well designed electric motor(s) and energetic battery could do the job; hopefully on the horizon; kinda sad its not here already.
(update 4/15/2020 – fyi, my lawn service that adds fertilizer and weed controls throughout the year informed me to raise the mow height to 4″ for our tall fescue grass. I confirmed that with the Univ of MD Extension service who advises 3.5-4″ mow height for tall fescue. Now I know what the “tall” means, and I see different grass types get different mowing heights. I had been cutting at 2.5″, and now I will try the 4″. Since using a lawn service for a few years, my lawn never looked better. I had been using the typical Scotts lawn products from HDepot and Lowes frequently in years past, kept good records, and never got passed ugly.)
Very disappointed with you .. unable to have the refunds despite the malfunction of my lawnmower