Honda Commercial Lawn Mower Pulls Out All the Stops in Lawn Mower Shootout
We consider lawn mowers one of the crown jewels of the OPE world, so we brought in 24 various models to see which ones handled its business the best. We looked at gas-powered lawnmowers, battery-powered lawn mowers, residential mowers, commercial mowers, and every variation of those categories. On the gas-powered and commercial side of the equation, the HRC216HXA Honda commercial lawn mower stood out as the top dawg in a short field of worthy competitors.
- Rock-solid build
- Super quiet at 86 dB(A)
- Roto-Stop: engine runs even when mower and self-propel bales disengaged
- Twin blades
- Near-unstoppable power
- Incredible fuel efficiency
- Forced hand position when self-propel is engaged
- Expensive at $1269
We use a variety of tests to come to our conclusions and feel free to take out word for it. However, you’re welcome to hold us accountable and check out the details in our slef-propelled lawn mower reviews article.
The faster the cutting edge of the blade is moving, the better it cuts. We measured the blade tip speeds under lighter loads as well as heavier loads to simulate your normal working conditions. We wanted to see how these mowers handled both maintenance cuts as well as those thicker grasses you’ll inevitably run into over the course of the day.
Under a light load, the Honda commercial lawn mower topped out with a blade tip speed of 194.8 MPH, the fastest of the commercial mowers we tested (interestingly, almost all of the residential models were faster).
However, when we threw the Honda commercial lawn mower into a heavy load simulation, we noted that the blade tip speed only dropped by 2.2 MPH. The Honda model still maintained a blade tip speed of 192.6 MPH. This type of consistency in power means that you can expect a smooth, even cut, even when trekking through the thicker grasses.
As I said, that was a simulation. So we decided to see how well it can handle mowing in a worst-case scenario.
Obviously, your mower’s engine has a lot to do with how well your blade tip speed is affected by thicker grasses, and we put the Honda commercial mower’s 163cc GXV160 engine and MicroCut twin blades to the test. We ran it, along with some of our other top contenders, through two weeks’ worth of overgrowth. We set the cut height at 2.5″, the walking speed at 2.5 mph, and mowed until the mower bogged down and stalled out.
The Honda commercial lawn mower dominated every other mower we put through these particular paces. Of course, grass consistency will always be an inconsistent factor, so we didn’t use this test in our final calculations for scoring. But the Honda’s performance was definitely noteworthy as we traveled 113.5 ft before bogging it down. The next closest competitor, interestingly enough, was EGO’s Peak Power Dual Battery model. Every other mower paled in comparison.
One of the benefits of gas power over electric is that, if you run out of fuel, grabbing the gas can and refueling takes a lot less time than waiting around for your batteries to charge back up. However, it still takes time and effort. So, the less you have to stop to refuel, the better.
Your blade size, fuel capacity, walking speed, and a variety of other factors can affect the area you’ll be able to cover on a tank of gas. For instance, the Honda HRC216HXA lawn mower, with its 21″ blade and 60 oz tank, could mow 1.21 acres on a tank when at 2.5 mph.
This type of cutting area capability is nothing to shake a stick at, but it’s worth noting that it came in second for our commercial mowers. It was bested by the eXmark Commercial X-Series mower, which topped out at just over 1-3/4 acres on a tank thanks to its massive 120 oz tank size.
Having said that, we need to talk about fuel efficiency. While the eXmark model did mow through significantly more acreage than the Honda commercial mower, the Honda model has better fuel efficiency.
When both engines were run with 4 oz of TruFuel, the Honda commercial lawn mower ran for 9.1 minutes compared to eXmark’s 6.8 minutes. Teasing that fact out to its logical conclusion, what can we expect from Honda’s fuel efficiency?
That gives it an overall fuel efficiency of 2.57 acres per gallon of gas. The tank doesn’t hold an entire gallon, but it gives us a mark to measure by. Snapper was second with 2.12 acres per gallon with eXmark in third with 1.88 acres.
This type of fuel efficiency sets the Honda HRC216HXA apart by leaps and bounds over the other commercial mowers for this category.
Self-Propelled Drive & Roto-Stop Blade Brakes
A self-propelled drive isn’t anything new to the world of walk-behind mowers, particularly in the commercial realm. But this is no ordinary self-propelled drive. The Honda commercial mower features a hydrostatic transmission that seamlessly lets you adjust your speed without the jumps and bumps of a belt-driven system.
It also has the Roto-Stop blade brake system that allows you to stop the blades from spinning without stopping the engine. It’s great to be able to stop to move something out of your path or empty your bag without having to stop and restart the motor.
MicroCut Twin Blade
Our shootout introduced us to some unorthodox blade designs, and Honda’s is one of the more unique. Rather than using a single blade, like some modern-day Philistine would, the Honda HRC216HXA mower opts for two blades stacked tall like pancakes. The idea here is that you get super fine clippings from the four cutting surfaces; it makes for better mulching and bagging applications.
Generally, gas mowers use a steel deck, and the Honda Commercial doesn’t depart from tradition here. This suits us just fine: steel is more durable than composite or plastic, and since the drive system is doing the heavy lifting, the increased weight won’t affect you, the user. It also includes deck guards and a front bumper for protection to the deck, as well as another point to tie down to.
Single-point cutting height adjustment is easier than the 4-point adjustment that the Honda model opts for, but putting all the weight of a commercial gas lawn mower on one lifting point is a bit too much. Most commercial level mowers avoid single-point adjustments because of that. It can also introduce additional flex into the system.
It might be annoying to adjust the height at all four wheels individually, but we can’t argue with the sturdiness of the build.
Pro Tip: When you’re bagging, set the front wheel height one notch higher than the rear. It’ll help the mower bag clippings more effectively.
This Honda lawn mower has 8 height levels ranging from 0.875″ to 4.125″. This is a wide enough range that you ought to be able to properly mow just about any grass species you’re likely to find in the States. Further, you can adjust the handles to 2 different positions, giving you a couple of height options.
Like almost all of the lawn mowers we tested before or during this shootout, the Honda Commercial mower allows you to mulch, bag, or discharge your clippings out the side of the deck.
Honda’s 9″ wheels are strong, lightweight, and easy to replace should you ever need to. They also include precision sealed ball bearings in all four wheels that make for smooth, easy movement.
- Deck Wash via hose connection
We don’t usually put a ton of stock into a gas-powered mower’s noise levels. If you’re running gas, you’re going to need ear protection. But the Honda HRC216HXA lawn mower runs at 86 dB(A), which is the quietest gas mower we tested. It’s even legitimately competitive with some of the battery-powered mowers we looked at.
You’re still going to need some protection when you’re mowing. Our test tells us how much noise the engine produces on its own and it will be higher when you’re cutting.
There are no two ways about it: the Honda Commercial lawn mower won’t come cheap at $1269. Even for a high-end commercial model, this mower is on the pricey side of things. It comes with a 2-year commercial warranty on the engine, and a 1-year warranty on the rest of it.
Ultimately, this is the category that separates budget shoppers from those willing to pay more for higher quality. No matter which side of that statement you’re on, it’s not a knock against you. Just realize that if you want the best, it comes at a premium.
The Bottom Line
The HRC2163HXA Honda commercial lawn mower presents itself as the pinnacle of Pro walk-behind mowing technology. It’s sturdy, exceptionally quiet, and has enough power that it’s actually pretty difficult to bog down. We love the Roto-Stop blade brake and MicroCut twin blades as well. It has a few quirks to it, and a price that makes budget shoppers shudder, but if you want one of the best mowers money can buy, this is your ticket.
Honda Commercial Lawn Mower Manufacturer Specs
- Model Number: Honda HRC216HXA
- Engine: Honda GXV160
- Deck Material: Steel – 16 ga
- Cutting Width: 21″
- Mowing Height Range: 3/4″ – 4″
- Mowing Height Adjustments: 8
- Transmission: Cruise Control (Hydrostatic)
- Ground Speed: 2.1 to 4.0 mph
- Starter: Recoil
- Choke System: Manual
- Throttle Control: Manual
- Drive: Shaft
- Handle: 1″ Steel Tube
- Steel Deck Guards: Standard
- Wheels: 9″ Nexite
- Ball Bearing Wheels: All
- Standard Functions: Mulch, Bag, Side Discharge
- Bag Capacity: 2.5 bushels
- Blades: Twin blades (MicroCut System)
- Blade Control: Blade stop system (Roto-Stop)
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 0.37 gallons
- Operating Weight: 127 lbs
- Residential Warranty: 2 years
- Commercial Warranty: 2 years engine, 1 year all other components
- Price: $1269
For more information about the Honda HRC216HXA, check out the product page by clicking here.
I had a commercial Honda mower for 23 years until I couldn’t get transmission parts any longer and still started on the first pull. I currently have a HRX217HYA. Great mower engine wise but tranny issues all the time. I am going to use it as my back up and ready to buy the HRC216HXA , it will out live me at 69 yrs. of age.
Great review! Honda is one of the last companies that offer a true commercial 21″ mower in their lineup. I remember a time when practically all manufacturers had commercial 21’s: 4 and 2 stroke. I owned Lawnboy commercials, a John Deere 14SX, and even a Toro with a 2 stroke Suzuki, and the look on customers faces was priceless when they knew I had spent 1K on a “push mower”!! It’s quite a shame to see how quality and craftsmanship has declined these days in this size mower…..Again, great article, GREAT mower!