If the Lawn-Boy 17732 self-propelled mower offers nothing else, it makes a staunch case for being wary of any manufacturer’s resume until experiencing their machine’s performance yourself. On paper, you wouldn’t think that anything built by Toro, powered by a Kohler engine and bearing the trusted Lawn-Boy name could do anything but rewrite the book on durability, versatility and all-around outstanding performance. Price the finished product under $300, and you won’t have to say much to part plenty of intrigued and enthusiastic buyers from their money. Tragically, as promising as the specs might seem in print, the Lawn-Boy 17732 deserves to be remembered as a black mark on all three brands due its disappointing workmanship and frequent failures to carry out its two primary jobs: propel itself and cut grass.
- Rear-wheel drive
- CARB-compliant emissions meet state of California’s exceptionally rigid standards
- Two-point adjustable cutting height
- Kohler 149cc OHV engine generates 6.5 ft.-lb. of gross torque
- Variable speed control
- Steel 21-inch Tri-Cut deep dome deck
- Change between mulching, bagging and discharging your clippings at will
- Tru-Start Commitment: three-year promise that it starts on the first or second pull, or manufacturer will fix it for free
- Two-year warranty
At least the Lawn-Boy 17732 starts smoothly. Everything pretty much tumbles downhill from there.
A lot of mowers get a whole lot more done with far less power than the 6.5 ft.-lb. of gross torque mustered by the 149cc Kohler OHV powering this model. In this ecologically enlightened time of ours, when they should have long since fallen far out of favor for producing several times the noise and air pollution of electric or motorless reel counterparts, gas-powered mowers have retained a certain advantage among consumers by supplying robust, enduring strength under virtually any set of conditions. Independent propulsion should theoretically allow manufacturers to design their machines with bigger, more potent engines without having to worry about making their increased bulk prohibitively more difficult to push. The Lawn-Boy 17732’s transmission has a habit of failing in the face of as little as two inches of grass and suddenly converting itself unexpectedly into a push mower.
Granted, it’s still a push mower that weighs only 66 pounds, but let’s hope you didn’t buy it hoping to tackle a particularly large, hilly landscape.
Ease Of Use
There really is no “ease” in using the Lawn-Boy 17732. That speaks volumes when considering that a self-propelled mower is meant to infuse regular lawn care with just that: ease. The decision to employ dual height-adjustment levers in front and back supports a certain general argument that any device can potentially become more complicated to operate smoothly as more moving parts are added. There is little, if any added benefit to forcing owners to reposition a deck with two mechanisms when scores of mowers do so perfectly well with just one. That goes double (at least) when one of those controls rarely stays in place after being raised or lowered to one of its settings between 1.25 and 3.75 inches. More on that in a bit.
There are fleeting glimmers of hope that sometimes shine through its dependability. When it actually maintains its propulsion, the Lawn-Boy 17732’s rear-wheel-drive actually handles quite smoothly and maintains an especially sure-footed balance on its respective seven-inch front and eight-inch rear wheels when traversing hills. That would be promising, if only any owner could ever be sure exactly when it would or wouldn’t quit marching forward. I hate to see an otherwise encouraging set of specs from a triumvirate of trusted names go to waste for want of simple quality control.
Cut Quality & Options
Under any normal circumstance, the Lawn-Boy 17732’s steel 21-inch Tri-Cut deep dome deck would be a tremendous asset. The substantial air flow stands up each blade of grass as tall as possible to enable clean, smooth cuts that leave behind a uniformly tidy finish and finely minced mulch that distributes evenly throughout your lawn for optimal nutrition. That such a solid body could also feel so light and easy to guide is a testament to the reality that Toro’s designers indeed nailed certain aspects of their mower’s composition. Unfortunately, there’s also the reality that mulching is just about the only guaranteed entirely effective dispensation option for clippings. The Lawn-Boy 17732 transfers shards of grass neatly enough to the bag itself, but the receptacle fills decidedly quickly and becomes a growing burden to haul around the heavier it gets. I hate to say it, but discharging clippings is no more of a suitable substitute. Instead of shooting clippings off to the side in perfect rows, they somehow end up collecting beneath the deck and left directly behind for you to step through again and again.
Generally speaking, never misplace your warranty documents. Surprisingly, starting the Lawn-Boy 17732 will likely never be an issue, but the three-year terms of the Tru-Start Commitment to replace your mower if it should ever take more than two pulls to start within that span are admirably clear. Conversely, a mere two-year warranty on any gas-powered mower should give rise to skepticism toward the manufacturer’s genuine commitment to quality. Anything less than three years had better be offset by a lengthy, distinguished roll call of outstanding critical and consumer reviews the likes of which this mower couldn’t begin to claim.
Like almost any self-propelled mower, releasing the bailout lever will instantly kill the engine and cutting system. Meanwhile, there is a much more frequently cited problem to be keenly aware of before dropping just under $300 on the Lawn-Boy 17732: its front height adjustment. Unlike the rear mechanism’s acceptably strong metal fastenings, the front wheels are known to fall off and slip beneath the deck when the thin metal lever that raises and lowers them jumps out of the frail plastic teeth intended to hold it in place. If not properly secured, this seems to happen easily and frequently – so much so, in fact, that another review has recommended bending the adjustment knob slightly inward to create added tension.
For all my high hopes for the Lawn-Boy 17732, I cannot recommend it in good conscience. Plenty of recently released mowers priced about $270 actually defy the “get what you pay for” notion, even when tending unforgiving thick, high grass spread over sloping, rough and wet terrain. Given this model’s tendency to lose self-propulsion or stall when faced with anything much taller than a halved Coke can, woeful failure to side-discharge and disastrously defective front height adjustment built with cheap plastic parts, its actual usage achieves the twin feats of both reminding users why that cynical phrase exists in the first place and quite possibly swearing a good many first-time buyers off of Lawn-Boy for life. If your budget cuts off sharply in this same neighborhood, I would strongly recommend reading Amazon’s verified purchase reviews carefully and looking closely at average ratings before deciding on any other similarly priced model. There are surprisingly impressive options out there for about the same coin, including several that can’t depend so strongly on such established brand recognition to make lifelong customers out of first-time buyers.
- Excellent handling, especially on hills
- Bags and mulches without a hitch
- Undersized bag
- Shoddy front height-adjustment mechanism
- Mower struggles against grass two inches tall or higher
- Clippings discharge beneath deck
- Mechanically unreliable