Cub Cadet SC500Z 21″ Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower Review

What’s most noticeable right off the bat about the Cub Cadet SC500Z 21-inch self-propelled lawn mower is the caster wheels with locks that give the machine zero-turn maneuverability on passes. Most front wheels on mowers don’t look like the ones on the SC500Z, and you’ll be able to tell right away that they do something special. Its second awesome feature is what’s known as the Cub Cadet Signature Cut, which offers a pristine cut every time thanks to a deep-dome 21-inch deck design that allows for increased airflow and an optimal space for the blade system to triple cut the grass into very shredded clippings that can fertilize your lawn.

The SC500Z has a specialized look and is tailor made for yards that have specialized terrain such as slopes or tricky obstacles that are difficult to maneuver around. There are many great highlights to this above-average gas-powered mower, which is capable of, as stated, mulching, discharging clippings to the side, and bagging grass when you want an ultra-pristine yard to show off to your neighbors. Known as one of the easiest walk-behind mowers in the industry, the durable Cub Cadet SC500Z comes with a three-year limited warranty, a Sure Start guarantee, and has the capability to last for seasons and seasons to come.

Key Features

  • 159cc Cub Cadet Performance-Tuned OHV Engine
  • Caster wheels have locks and offer zero-turn maneuverability
  • Impressive MySpeed™ Premium Drive Control System for super-smooth engagement and top-of-the-line speed variability
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • 3-in-1 mowing options (bagging, mulching, and side discharge)
  • Thermal auto-choke with SureStart guarantee
  • Ergonomic soft-touch 3-way adjustable handle
  • Dust-blocking bag
  • Integrated mulch plug
  • Patented SmartJet™ high-pressure deck washing system
  • Cutting height ranges from 1.25 to 3.75 inches
  • Industrial-tread, full ball bearing wheels (7 inches in front, 8 inches in back)
  • Comes with bottle of oil, grass catcher, and side-discharge chute
  • 95 pounds
  • 3-year limited residential warranty


Chock full of outstanding features, this Cub Cadet mower handles well on terrain that is uneven or has unusual obstacles. It maneuvers well around trees and things such as sandboxes, swingsets, and mailboxes, and it’ll go right under tight areas such as pine trees with low-hanging branches and come out no worse for wear. Once you get used to the look of the front wheels, you’ll be impressed with how movable they are, including on straight-line passes where you can take advantage of zero-turn capability. The rear-wheel drive pushes the SC500Z up slopes and hills with ease, and it’s one of those mowers that can maneuver in and out of obstacles with no problem. It’s designed to do just that, in fact.

Only discerning mowers may notice that the noise of this mower is a bit less than your typical gas-powered machine at 94 decibels. Though the handles may “sink” a tad the longer you use the mower, it does not affect the pristine cut you’ll get in any way. In any case, the handles are adjustable if you do notice them lowering upon repeated use. They can be set at three different heights, making the mower accessible to all. Additionally, the pitch of the soft-grip handles can be adjusted, and the handle is comfortable and ergonomically designed.

Ease of Use

With impressive 11-inch rear wheels and the unique front wheels that swivel, the SC500Z is way more maneuverable than many other mowers when it comes to handling tough terrain. This mobility, as well as the machine’s self-propulsion, makes the 100-pound machine seem lighter than it is.

One thing you won’t see every day on a typical mower is the function to adjust to the speed you want to walk. Feeling sluggish? The SC500Z will slow down to your pace via its MySpeed Premium Drive Control System. If rain is imminent and you need to finish the job as quickly as possible, you can walk at a faster speed and this self-propelled machine will heed the call.

Adjusting the cutting height on the SC500Z is both an easy and non-easy endeavor. See the next section below.

Cut Quality & Options

Compared to other mowers in its class, the SC500Z is a tad lacking when it comes to cutting height positions. You have six different cutting heights to choose from, ranging from 1.25 to 3.75 inches. I know I like a wider range of cutting heights to match what I need for certain conditions, and I know other mowers do as well. On the positive side, it’s very easy to adjust the cutting height with a single lever. Going back to the negative, the bad part about the innovative swivel wheels in front is that they are not designed to adjust heights quickly. You’ve got to remove a pin and then select the level you want them at.

The mower’s Signature Cut feature provides a golf-course-like cut every time out, and you can bag your clippings, discharge them from the side, or make mincemeat fertilizer out of them by using the mulch function.


When you’re finished mowing, be sure to take advantage of the mower’s wash port, which lets you clean the machine’s underside and blade for optimal use. All you need to do is attach a garden hose to the port. Other maintenance includes:

  • Checking the blade and engine mounting bolts to make sure they’re tight
  • Keeping all nuts, bolts, and screws tight for safe working conditions
  • Inspecting the blade for damage and sharpening and replacing as necessary
  • Frequently checking the grass catcher and its components for wear and tear
  • Checking the fuel line, tank, cap, and fittings often for cracks or leaks
  • Making sure to observe proper disposal laws and regulations when it comes to mower’s fluids
  • Lubricating the pivot points on the blade and drive controls at least once per season
  • Lubricating the front wheels and casters at least once per season
  • Maintaining the engine (see owner’s manual)
  • Maintaining drive system (see manual)

When bagging, you’ll want to clean any extra grass that’s located in the rear opening of the machine. In particular, make sure the area between the transmission cover and sidewall on the left side and along the bottom are clean. This will ensure a tight fit of the bag onto the mower.

Replacement parts include the spark plug, fuel filter, air cleaner kit, wheels, discharge chute, mulching blade, and grass bag.

Safety Features

Like many self-propelled mowers, the SC500Z has a blade that is controlled on the upper handle. Depressing it and squeezing it against the drive control will engage the unit, and releasing it will stop the engine and blade. The blade control is a safety device.

Special Features

The Cub Cadet SC500Z is loaded with patented special features, which you’ve read about. They are:

  • MySpeed Premium Drive Control System
  • Cub Cadet Signature Cut System
  • SureStart Guarantee
  • SmartJet high-pressure deck washing system

Other outstanding features include:

  • Caster wheels with locks and zero-turn capability
  • Mulching, bagging, and side-discharge mowing options
  • Triple-cutting blade for super-fine mulching
  • Industry-leading control and traction
  • Exclusive super-soft rubber grip on handle reduces vibration and fatigue on operator
  • Three-year limited warranty for peace of mind

Cost Effectiveness

If you research the SC500Z and compare it to mowers within its class, you’ll see that it ranks at the top of the list in terms of performance, convenience, design, and maintenance support. Given its many special features, this Cub Cadet mower could be considered a top-of-the-line mower that will last many seasons and ultimately save you some time and energy.

That includes:

  • The ability to get a pristine cut on large yards every time with a comfortable mower, without expending lots of energy
  • The options to mow your yard in different ways depending on the time of season and whatever yard obstacles you may have
  • The choice to disintegrate grass into super-fine mulch that provides natural fertilization you don’t have to pay for
  • Zero-turn capability and superior drive control to get the job done as fast as possible
  • A generous warranty by a reputable company, giving you peace of mind when things may go wrong with the mower
9 Total Score
Exceptional Warranty + HQ Engine

  • High-tech cutting system
  • Zero-turn capability; highly maneuverable
  • High-quality engine
  • Starts on one or two pulls
  • 3-in-1 mowing options
  • One lever to adjust cutting height
  • Generous 3-year limited warranty
  • Pins to adjust front wheels, not a lever
  • Cutting-height range is limited
  • Gas and smelly fumes
  • Pull-cord starting
  • No blade brake clutch
  • Handles may lower a bit after repeated use
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Cub Cadet SC500Z 21″ Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower Review
Cub Cadet SC500Z 21″ Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower Review
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