Honda HRN216VKA Walk-Behind Self-Propelled Gas Lawn Mower Review
(1) Self-propelled lawn mower with Smart Drive®
Honda has been pumping out incredibly reliable small gasoline engines for decades. Their well-earned reputation is founded on innovation, quality, thoughtful engineering, and value. You see this reflected in the Honda HRN216VKA.
This self-propelled gas-powered lawnmower has a 4-stroke 166 cc Honda GCV170 engine as it’s beating heart. It transfers significant torque down to the dual cutting blades of the 21-inch cutting deck. The deck can also be easily adjusted to as low as 1-inch or as high as 4-inches. The dual blades essentially create four distinct cutting surfaces, to maximize the harvest rate. It also helps reduce vibration compared to single cutting blade lawnmowers.
The self-propulsion system is engineered with Honda’s proprietary “Smart Drive.” This allows the user to easily adjust the speed of the mower to closely match their own walking gait. It gives the Honda HRN216VKA a maximum speed of 4 miles per hour. Just bear in mind that as you reach the top-end speed, you might see a slight decrease in the percentage of grass clippings harvested in a single pass.
It’s also worth noting that the Honda HRN216VKA is a true 3-in-1 gas-powered lawnmower. You can set it up right out of the box for side discharge, and the dual cutting blades nearly match a lot of traditional single mulching blades. When you set it up as a mulcher, it veritably purees the grass clippings into tiny pieces that easily decompose into your turf, without turning into dry choking thatch.
If you have a compost pile, you might want to think about setting the Honda HRN216VKA as a bagging mower. It has a 1.9 bushel or 17.6-gallon heavy-duty cloth bagger that’s surprisingly easy to connect and disconnect.
The powerful 166 ccs 4-stroke GCV170 engine starts with a smooth pulling recoil system. It has an automatic choke, which makes for easy startup.
- 166 cc 4-stroke Honda gasoline engine
- Smart Drive variable speed self-propelled
- Maximum 4 MPH speed
- 21-inch cutting deck
- Twin blade cutting system
- Adjustable cutting height from 1 to 4-inches
- 3-in-1 versatility
- 1.9-bushel bagger
- Automatic choke and recoil start
The 166 cc 4-stroke Honda gasoline engine imparts a robust amount of torque to the dual cutting blade system, while also powering the self-propulsion system. The Smart Drive engineering allows you to vary the speed up to a maximum of 4 miles per hour.
Ease of Use
The Honda HRN216VKA is surprisingly easy to use for a gas-powered lawnmower. Yes, you do need to perform seasonal oil changes, and put in the general upkeep that you have to do with all gasoline engines. Still, Honda made every effort to take the labor out of it and made the instructions in the owner’s manual easy to read.
It’s also worth noting that the automatic choke and smooth pull of the recoil make for easy and reliable starting.
Cut Quality & Options
The dual cutting blades truly do a good job of harvesting grass clippings. The four cutting surfaces do a great job of processing the grass clippings into tiny pieces that nearly replicates the mulching effect of a traditional single blade system.
When you set the Honda HRN216VKA up as a mulching mower it truly minces the harvested grass clippings efficiently. This creates tiny particles that are rich in available nitrogen to help refeed the roots of your lawn’s turf.
The 1.9-bushel cloth bagger is easy to use. It’s a great way to add nitrogen to your compost pile or side-dress garden plants. While the bag itself isn’t specifically designed to be dustless, it does a good job of not letting excess dust and pollen breath through the weave of the fabric.
The cutting deck height adjustment is also very easy to use. You can set it down as low as 1-inch for times when the lawn is trying to get away from you. Then you can dial it up as high as 4 inches for prolonged dry times when you want to leave the grass long to keep from baking the soil, but don’t want it to have a wild, untamed look.
Oil changes and other routine maintenance measures will be needed with the Honda HRN216VKA. Still, Honda made a serious effort in trying to make this as easy as possible. The well-engineered Honda GCV170 four-stroke engine doesn’t have a lot of the carburetor buildup and spark plug problems you see in two-stroke engines of the same size.
The dual cutting blades though are a little tricky to sharpen on your own. If you’ve got a deft hand with a mill file, you might be able to pull it off. Otherwise, you should consider buying some replacement blades every year or two.
When set to the mulching mode, the fine cut of the dual blade system can sometimes leave excess wet grass clippings matted to the underside of the cutting deck. If you’ve been cutting moist, or thick-bladed grass, you might want to give the underside of the cutting deck a good wipe down after you’re done.
The Honda HRN216VKA has all the safety hand controls that you expect in a self-propelled, walk-behind gas-powered lawnmower. You could also argue that the variable speed of the Smart Drive self-propulsion system as it allows you to carefully dial into your walking speed, as well as slow down quickly to avoid potential obstacles.
The twin cutting blades certainly improve the overall harvest rate, as well as nearly mimicking a traditional mulching effect.
The Smart Drive self-propulsion system lets you set it to your natural walking speed. Then you can slow it down when you need to weave around landscaping features and trees.
The dual cutting blades on their own do a great job of mimicking a traditional single mulching blade when set up for side discharge. So, when you switch it over to mulch you’re really making a green puree. This goes a long way toward cutting back on the need for seasonal aeration.
- Two cutting blades for maximum harvest
- 166 cc 4-stroke engine
- 3-in-1 mulcher, bagger or side discharge
- Variable speed self-propulsion
- 1 to 4-inch adjustable height
- Mulcher can leave debris under cutting deck
- Blades might be hard to sharpen yourself
- Slightly high price tag