Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Review

By now, there’s a good chance you’re aware of the Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower. Its unusual drive system has caught the attention of nearly everyone who’s seen it.

More than 5 years ago Ryobi released its first battery-powered riding mower, the RM480E. It featured a lead-acid battery and a 38-inch stamped steel deck. That was followed by a Ryobi RY48ZTR100 48-inch zero turn mower and, eventually, the 54-inch brushless ZT with a fabricated deck. So this isn’t Ryobi’s first rodeo with a battery-powered riding lawn mower and the design team has plenty of real-world experience to draw from.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Size Options

Ryobi 80V Zero Turn riding mowers

Let’s start with the models and deck sizes. You can get a Ryobi 80V iDrive zero-turn with a 30-, 42-, or 54-inch deck.

Ryobi continued the use of a fabricated steel deck on the 54-inch mower and uses 10-gauge steel for it. The 30-inch and 42-inch models use a stamped steel design made from 12-gauge steel.

The blades on the 54-inch and 42-inch models include CrossCut stacked blades. That means you have six 18-inch blades in the 54-inch and four 21-inch blades in the 42-inch. The result is an extra-fine cut that grabs a lot more grass during bagging and leaves finer clippings when mulching.

Zero Turn mower cross-cut blades
CrossCut blades on the Ryobi Z54Li 54-inch ZT.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower Power Source

These mowers operated using an 80V battery platform that has an interesting twist. Each 80V pack resembles a small suitcase and features 100 individual battery cells. A small LCD screen next to the handle shows you the percentage of the charge remaining.

Ryobi 80V lithium-ion suitcase battery pack

The 42-inch and 54-inch models support up to three 80V batteries and four 40V auxiliary batteries. The 30-inch mower supports two 80V batteries and two 40V auxiliary batteries. That’s the twist—you can use Ryobi’s 40V batteries to boost the overall capacity and supplement the 80V packs.

Ryobi 80V and 40V Mix

So how do the Ryobi 80V riding mowers mix 40V and 80V batteries together? That’s a great question. While the mowers prioritize the 80V packs for operation, they use any additional 40V packs to add more runtime.

And lest you think it needs to operate these 40V batteries in pairs—it doesn’t. Ryobi uses electronics to step up their 40V packs to 80V and deliver the required voltage. Think of it as doubling the voltage and cutting the amp-hour capacity in half. The point is, you can add just a single 40V battery and extend your runtime.

Each Ryobi 80V Lithium-ion battery pack operates at 72 nominal volts and specs out at 10Ah (amp-hours). That gives it a capacity of 720 Wh (watt-hours). Each 12Ah 40V battery pack yields 432 Wh once you factor in the 36V nominal voltage.

Three 80V battery ports

Do the math, and you can fully load either a Z42Li or Z54Li with 3,888 Wh of lithium-ion battery power!

  • 3 x 80V/720Wh = 2160 Wh
  • 4 x 40V/432Wh = 1728 Wh

Since the 30-inch only holds two 80V and two 40V batteries, its highest capacity is 2304 Wh. That’s not a big concern considering it’s made for smaller lawns.

Onboard Charging

Ryobi 80V fast charger wall-mountable

Where the older lead-acid battery-powered mowers took a long time to charge, the new 30-, 42-, and 54-inch zero-turns use a 120V external fast charger that you can mount on your garage or shed wall. It’s super quick—and yes, it charges both the 80V batteries and the 40V batteries at the same time. Here’s what those charge times look like:

Charge Time
With Included Batteries
Charge Time
With Maximum Battery Loadout
Ryobi iDrive 30-Inch1 hour, 30 minutes2 hours, 30 minutes
Ryobi iDrive 42-Inch2 hours, 30 minutes5 hours
Ryobi iDrive 54-Inch5 hours5 hours

Even if you don’t plan to use the 40V ports to extend your runtime it might make sense to make use of the fast charger for the rest of your handheld 40V power tools.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero Turn Riding Lawn Mower Drive System

Ryobi iDrive Joystick Controls

Right off the bat you can’t help but notice these mowers don’t use either a steering wheel or lap bars. Instead, Ryobi spent over a year developing a single iDrive joystick that lets you maneuver the mower quickly and easily. You have complete 360° control in your right hand, including direction, acceleration, and speed adjustments.

Ryobi dialed in the sensitivity and control to help make it an easier transition from other riding mower styles. At a launch event, we were able to run through slaloms, maintain straight lines, and even execute 360-degree turns in place without much of a learning curve.

Back at our shop with more hands-on time to work with, we dug deeper. The controls are very natural for folks used to using a joystick or analog sticks on a game controller. Drone operators also have an easy time getting used to the system. For those folks, 15 – 30 minutes of practice time should have you in good shape to mow comfortably. For others, give yourself 1 – 2 hours for the muscles in your hands and arms to get used to the movements.

At first, it’s best to make your turns, arcs, and cuts close to equipment and vehicles slowly while you get used to the sensitivity of the joystick. We found that after 2 or 3 mowings, our team was pretty well dialed in and comfortable with the iDrive system.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Controls

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Controls

If that weren’t enough, Ryobi updated the control system on these mowers as well. Now, an LCD screen lets you independently configure Low, Medium, and High drive and blade speeds. The screen shows you the remaining runtime and battery life. It also displays whether the vehicle is in Drive or whether the center-mounted golf cart-style parking brake is engaged.

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Design Features

The air-ride seat suspension on the 42-inch and 54-inch models makes for a very comfortable ride. A dial on the front lets you adjust for your weight—which works well since I weigh significantly less than Kenny and we both have been using the mower regularly.

air ride adjustable seat

You pull up on a red knob to activate the blades—just as you would with a gas zero turn. It’s also keyed, so not just anyone can jump on and start it up.

blade control keyed start

Deck height is adjustable using a side pull lever from 1.5 to 4.5 inches. You also get LED headlights that activate with the push of a button underneath the LCD panel. Finally, a USB port lets you recharge your smartphone or other electronics as needed. And, yes, you get a couple of cupholders.

cutting height adjustment and LED headlights

Ryobi 80V iDrive Zero-Turn Riding Lawn Mower Bagging Options

Ryobi is offering several bagging systems and releasing them alongside the mowers. Notably, there’s a “Bagger Boost” system. Bagger Boost works with both the 30-inch and 42-inch models (the 54-inch does not have a bagging option):

  • 30-inch ZTR Bagger Boost Model Number: ACRM018
  • 42-inch ZTR Bagger Boost Model Number: ACRM026

The Bagger Boost button is located on the control panel. With just the press of a button, Bagger Boost sends a powerful gust of 700 CFM into the bagger chute. This helps clear out clogs and clumps of grass. This keeps you from having to stop mowing and manually clear out the chute.

The Ryobi Bagger Boost accessories are sold separately and run $599 for the 42-inch or $500 for the 30-inch.

Ryobi iDrive 80V Riding Zero-Turn Mower Price

Below is a breakdown of the pricing and the batteries that come with each mower. Keep in mind that the mowers have a 5-year warranty. The 80V batteries have a 5-year warranty if you register them and a 3-year warranty if you don’t. At $899 each, they’re worth registering to get the extra two years of coverage. The 40V batteries have a 3-year warranty.

Z30Li 30-InchZ42Li 2-InchZ54Li 54-Inch
Included Batteries(2) 80V x 10Ah(2) 80V x 10Ah
(2) 40V x 12Ah
(3) 80V x 10Ah
(4) 40V x 12Ah

Ryobi iDrive 80V Riding Zero-Turn Mower Comparison

Z30Li 30-InchZ42Li 2-InchZ54Li 54-Inch
Power Equivalence28 HP31 HP42 HP
Deck12-gauge stamped12-gauge stamped10-gauge fabricated
Blades2 x 15-inch2 x 21-inch CrossCut3 x 18-inch CrossCut
Included Batteries(2) 80V x 10Ah(2) 80V x 10Ah
(2) 40V x 12Ah
(3) 80V x 10Ah
(4) 40V x 12Ah
Max Runtime
(Included Batteries)
Up to 1 AcreUp to 3 acresUp to 4 acres
Charge Time
(Included Batteries)
1 hour, 30 minutes2 hours, 30 minutes5 hours
Max Battery Loadout(2) 80V x 10Ah
(2) 40V x 12Ah
(3) 80V x 10Ah
(4) 40V x 12Ah
(3) 80V x 10Ah
(4) 40V x 12Ah
Max Runtime
(Max Loadout)
Up to 1.5 acresUp to 5 acresUp to 4 acres
Charge Time
(Max Loadout)
2 hours, 30 minutes5 hours5 hours
DischargeSide discharge, mulch, bagSide discharge, mulch, bagSide discharge, mulch
Cutting Height1.5 – 4.5 inches1.5 – 4.5 inches1.5 – 4.5 inches
Top Speed7 MPH8 MPH8 MPH

Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch Riding Mower

The Ryobi Z30Li 30-inch mower fits through most gates and presents a great solution for delivering a rider that fits where most zero turns can’t. Ryobi even designed the bagging system to fit completely within the width of the body so it doesn’t expand the footprint. The side-discharge grass chute is made from rubber and won’t damage your shed or gates when you get too close. It’s a solid solution for anyone who wants a smaller battery-powered zero-turn mower that can tackle properties up to an acre in size.

Ryobi Z42Li 42-inch Riding Mower

Stepping up to the 42-inch Ryobi Z42Li, you get a mid-size option with all of the same great controls, max battery loadout, and features of the 54-inch but with a lighter-gauge stamped deck. Out of the box, it’s a good fit for lawns up to 3 acres and we expect it to be the most popular size of the three.

Ryobi Z54Li 54-inch Riding Mower

The 54-inch Z54Li is the way to go when you want to get your lawn cut the fastest thanks to its larger cutting deck. It’s the most expensive, but you get a fully-loaded battery set and the ability to cut up to 4 acres on a charge.

The Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a battery-powered riding mower with zero-turn capabilities, there aren’t many options on the market. Fortunately, the Ryobi iDrive series has you covered not only with joystick controls but with three size options to cover multiple lawn sizes. While the joystick drive system does take some time to get used to, it’s not a steep or long learning curve.

Shared Specs for all Ryobi 80V Zero-turn Riding Mowers

  • LCD control screen
    • Low/Med/High blade speed
    • Low/Med/High drive speed
    • Remaining battery and cut time
  • iDrive joystick drive control
  • External wall-mountable fast charger
    • Plugs into rear of mower
    • Chargers both 80v and 40v simultaneously
  • Power: 80V battery pack w/LCD charge level display
  • 40V battery compatibility
  • Armrests
  • USB charging port
  • Cup holders
  • Golf cart style parking brake
  • 1.5″ to 4.5″ deck height
  • LED headlights
  • Keyed start

Ryobi Z30Li 80V Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

  • 30-inch stamped steel deck
  • Max cut area: 1 acre
  • Batteries: 2 x 80V Lithium-ion
  • Spare 40V battery ports: 2
  • Charge time (w/rapid charger): 2 hours
  • Price: $4,999

Z42Li Ryobi 80V Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

  • 42-inch stamped steel deck
  • Max cut area: 2 acres
  • Batteries: 3 x 80V Lithium-ion
  • Spare 40V battery ports: 4
  • Charge time (w/rapid charger): 3 hours
  • Price: $5,999

Ryobi Z54Li 80V Zero-turn Riding Mower Specs

  • 54-inch fabricated steel deck
  • Max cut area: 4 acres
  • Batteries: 3 x 80V Lithium-ion
  • Spare 40V battery ports: 4
  • Charge time (w/rapid charger): 4 hours
  • Price: $6,999

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