As riding lawn mowers go, Husqvarna tends to prove time and again that “biggest” and “best” are not always synonyms. The YTA18542 actually sizes up a bit on the small side among its peers, but more than makes up for its relatively comparatively compact stature with tight handling, brilliantly engineered performance and design geared toward remarkable simplicity and convenience. At its current price point, this “undersized” mower’s dependability, functionality and automobile-inspired comfortable usability makes it an utter steal.
- 42-inch stamped steel deck
- Air-cooled 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek single-cylinder engine (540cc)
- Pedal-controlled CVT automatic transmission
- Automotive-style key or push-button ReadyStart for Ride technology – no choke needed
- Advanced Debris Management deflects and ejects debris from engine’s moving parts
- Superb comfort, smooth ride courtesy of Advanced Vibration System technology
I’ve rarely had the pleasure of test-driving a riding mower this affordable that operates as smooth as the YTA18542. Although the satisfying potency of its air-cooled 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton Intek single-cylinder engine and incredibly responsive pedal-controlled CVT automatic transmission still feels a bit underpowered on most inclines over 15 percent, it hits a brisk top speed around 7.4 mph going forward and 2 mph in reverse with ease up to that threshold and seamlessly accelerates and decelerates as needed without jerking or bucking between gears.
Steering its design focus away from pure all-purpose power shifts the focus to above-par agility. The superlative balance and stability of the heavy cast-iron front axle supported by Advanced Vibration System technology keeps the YTA18542 light on its feet through its 16-inch turning radius, producing an enjoyable ride on anti-scalp wheels that makes every pass feel like a light Sunday cruise down a country highway. Seriously, this mower’s handling and acceleration just might spoil you for any machine you own after it.
Ease Of Use
Sadly, the YTA18542 loses a few points of esteem for its failure to embrace cruise control. It’s quite a tragically blown opportunity, really. Would that one could ease into a steady clip with the press of a button or flip of a switch at the higher speeds it can hit, this mower would rise from a sleeper bargain of its price range to a categorical must-own. Even absent what would seem to be an obvious addition to its overall performance, this is still an astoundingly operator-friendly riding mower. Step-through design makes climbing into the cushy 13-inch ergonomic vinyl seat and taking the comfort-grip wheel as easy as mounting a bicycle, if not even easier. ReadyStart for Ride eliminates any need for a choke by simplifying ignition down to either turning a key or pushing a single button. Thanks to the reduced component-wear of its full-pressure lube system and Advanced Debris Management technology deflecting and ejecting stray debris from its inner workings, the YTA18542 just might enjoy one of the longer engine-life expectancies of any model Husqvarna has to offer.
Cut Quality & Options
The YTA18542’s 42-inch stamped steel deck uses air induction to lift your grass as you drive. The result? An absolutely outstanding cut from start to finish. Adding to its refreshingly uncomplicated user-friendliness and commendable versatility, the manual blade engagement controls are conveniently reachable on the dash and a single fender-mounted lever toggles between four height settings from 1.5 to four inches. The side-discharge disposal results in virtually no clumping, but the optional mulching attachment also produces a respectably fine nutrient supplement to spread as you cut.
If you have a garden hose handy, using the deck-wash port to rinse away stray clippings, debris, mud and dirt is as quick as shutting off the engine, hooking the water up to your mower, turning it on and starting the blade. The dashboard electrical hours meter with pre-programmed intervals provides a constant reminder of your mower’s progress toward the next stage in its recommended maintenance schedule. Husqvarna also generously offers a three-year warranty covering the mower and five years of coverage protecting the axle and chassis.
Should an emergency arise, the engine shuts down with as little trouble as it takes to start it. The ability to manually engage and disengage the blade allows for keeping the engine alive if needed without risking a mishap due to unwanted cutting.
On a $1,500 budget, you’ll find a few mowers that match Husqvarna’s package of features and performance but not very many. I would have a hard time turning this exceptional value down. The larger the mower, the bigger and more powerful the engine. With all due respect to that fact, the 436-pound YTA18542 can cover around 2.5 acres per hour powered by its 2.5-gallon fuel tank. Although it maneuvers awkwardly on smaller lawns despite sporting an underwhelming deck by riding mower standards, it’s hard to argue with just how much this smartly built model can get done in a day with such a modest tank to fill.
- Smooth handling
- 18.5 HP Briggs & Stratton engine
- Signature Husqvarna durability
- Easy to drive
- Fast auto transmission
- 3 yr / 5 yr warranty
- Small (for a riding mower) 42-inch deck
- Maneuvers awkwardly on small lawns
- Lack of cruise control
- Best for under 2 acres