When looking at the most feature-rich mowers on the market today, it takes more than an impressive bulleted list of standout talents alone to make me a believer. Judging from their self-propelled 961420127 PR625Y22RHP Briggs 625ex gas mower, Poulan gets it: though far from a “flawless” model, it demonstrates just how affordably even a somewhat under-the-radar manufacturer can price an easy-to-use lawn mower without skimping on performance. This is a promising offering from a company that just needs to acknowledge what its competitors are doing right.
- 625Ex 150cc Briggs & Stratton engine with auto-choke
- Wide 22-inch deck
- Variable-speed transmission
- Nine height settings with separate levers to adjust each wheel
- Choose from three clipping disposal options: mulch, bag or side-discharge
- Front-wheel-drive propulsion
- Manual pace control
I’ve put a lot of self-propelled gas mowers with bigger, more powerful engines than the 961420127 through their paces lately. That might skew my opinion, but the 150cc Briggs & Stratton 625Ex engine feels conspicuously underpowered driving an 84-pound mower with a 22-inch deck up and across hills. That’s the kind of duty a self-propelled mower should be designed to appeal to, and this one doesn’t feel so much like a “failure” as simply a model that could do with about a 10cc-larger powerhouse.
The balance of eight-inch wheels in the front and a taller 12-inch set bringing up the rear does lend to something resembling the kind of sure-footed traction one ordinarily expects from a rear-wheel-drive mower. Having the big boys in the back also took a notable amount of effort out of turning the 961420127 around or lifting it over obstacles. The handle-mounted throttle also has a comfortable, natural action that fine-tunes the mower’s speed nicely between what best suits slopes, flat stretches and contrasting thicknesses of grass and weeds. Make sure to work it carefully, however; the 961420127’s pathing often veers in one direction or another.
More on that below.
Ease Of Use
I have a theory as to why the 961420127 exhibits such dodgy control, and frequent readers who glanced at its key features might already know where I’m headed: for the life of me, I cannot comprehend why some mowers continue to create separate height adjustments for each wheel. Perhaps Poulan’s engineers liked the idea of being able to angle the deck for better access to hard-to-trim areas. Whatever the reason, the annoyances and theoretical hindrances to a mower’s stability far outweigh the situational benefits. Yes, there are nine respective settings for each wheel, but it would be vastly simpler to control them with one lever raising and lowering all four wheels or even dual controls connected to the front and rear axles. Four individual controls is needless inconvenience.
There’s no joy in pointing that out, because this is otherwise a reasonably easy mower to use. Assembly is a matter of putting the handle together. That’s it. After that, while the engine may want for muscle, the auto-choke function eradicates the need to pump the primer three or four times before the engine will come to life. Just pull the cord and you’re off to the races without ever again worrying about flooding it due to over-priming.
Cut Quality & Options
As long as you don’t push your luck with particularly steep hills or expect the cutting mechanism to chew through twigs and debris like a mower with about a 50cc-larger engine, the 961420127’s sizable deck and appreciably fine blade will cut consistently and cleanly every step of the way and leave behind a respectably tidy finish. Unless it happens to cross paths with some ugly patches of weeds or unusually wet, tall grass, I have to admit, the look of your lawn should pretty well acquit this mower of its flaws. As for disposing of your clippings, you have a total of three options to switch among at your discretion, but I only entirely recommend two. The 961420127 lacks the power to dice clippings into mulch quite as thoroughly as its more powerful competitors, but it side-discharges and bags remnants with the best of ‘em. That being said, a bigger receptacle would make a nice future improvement.
I’m a big fan of deck-wash ports. Thankfully, the 961420127 simplifies rinsing away dirt, mud, stray clippings and miscellaneous debris down to hooking a hose up to the deck, getting the water flowing, starting the engine, and letting the whirling blade dispense the spray. Poulan doesn’t exactly receive universally high marks for repair and replacement services, so beware any unexpected mechanical complications. I also have to admit, two years is a woefully brief warranty.
The 961420127 includes a bailing lever that must be held down as long as the mower is in operation and will kill the engine as soon it flicks upward.
When it comes to getting what you pay for, don’t be fooled by the 961420127’s drawbacks. Could you do better buying a self-propelled mower for a massive lawn dotted with rolling hills? Sure. If you tend a large, reasonably flat yard just a little bit too big for a push mower to be practical, on the other hand, bear in mind that nothing about this model renders it entirely ineffective. The cons amount to a few standout points that “could be better.” Priced often as low as $350, I would be hard-pressed to argue against Poulan’s value proposition. For that little coin, this actually isn’t half-bad.
- Quick assembly
- Starts easily, thanks to auto-choke
- Smooth cuts along a broad path
- Versatile range of speeds, deck heights
- Big wheels maneuver effortlessly over and around obstacles
- Wheel heights adjust separately
- Lack of power
- Disappointing mulching
- Small clipping bag
- Inconsistent handling