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June 18, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros


Toro Self-Propelled Lawnmower Reviews | Personal Pace Models

PTR Review
  • Pro Rating 9.0

We took on several Toro self-propelled lawn mower reviews to check out both standard Personal Pace and AWD. These lawnmowers offer excellent power and cut quality. Whether the grass needed a short trim or a serious cutting, the Toro 22" Recycler mowers seemed up for the challenge and left a professional-looking yard.

Overall Score 9.0 (out of 10)

When I drive around the beautiful countryside of Pennsylvania in the summer, I notice a lot of local landscaping companies keeping yards trimmed up and looking great. The brand name I see most often on their machines is Toro. It’s no doubt that Toro makes a lot of great professional and consumer level mowers trusted by business owners and homeowners alike. Pro Tool Reviews decided to take on a couple of Toro Self-Propelled lawnmower reviews to test out the line.


We brought in both the Toro 22″ Personal Pace Recycler Lawnmower (20332) and the all-wheel-drive model, the 20353. Both mowers share the same features save for the self-propelled drive system.

Toro Self-Propelled Lawnmowers Under the Hood

The Toro 22” Personal Pace Recycler line brings some innovative features to Toro’s self-propelled lawnmowers. These lawn mowers feature a 163cc Briggs & Stratton Engine with 7.25 ft-lbs of torque. That makes them a great choice for small to medium-sized yards. With the implementation of the all-wheel-drive self propel system, yards with moderate to medium slopes are a breeze. The 22″ deck also reduces the number of passes necessary to efficiently cover as much area as possible before moving up to a riding mower.

Toro self-propelled lawn mower reviews

Guaranteed to Start?

As the name states, the “Guaranteed-to-Start” promise actually proved accurate. Toro’s ReadyStart is an auto choke feature, which means you don’t have to prime or choke the engine. The Briggs & Stratton EXi 163cc starts after one or two pulls with no problem. In fact, the most I’ve ever had to pull it was twice and 95% of the time it started on the first pull.


Toro also placed the recoil start handle in a comfortable position that I found easy to use.

Personal Pace First Impressions

A few years ago when shopping for a new push mower, I had to decide between a standard mower and a self-propelled model. I cared most about weight, gas consumption, and ease-of-maintenance. In the end, I opted for the self-propelled model and never looked back.

On the AWD model, Toro’s Personal Pace feature gives you three basic options for operation. You can go fully manual, use the fully-automatic self-propelled handle that moves forward as you move forward, or use the traction assisted handle that gives you the ability to control how much assistance you want.

I’ll admit the fully-automatic handle took some getting used to because it’s not a static bar. As you put pressure on the handle, it moves forward—giving you more or less assistance according to how hard you press it. At first, it felt like mowing the lawn with a bungee cord because the gripped handle constantly moves back and forth as you walk.

Traction Assist Handle

Once I got used to it, Personal Pace became very intuitive and the mower became an extension of my body. I found myself using the traction assist handle in the center of the handle for hills. To control how much assistance you want, you have to hold the mower in the center of the bar—a tad bit awkward. I understand why they had to place the handle in the center, but I’d like to see something on the sides for a more natural pushing position.

I like mulching with my mower because I don’t want to deal with emptying the bag. Some people, however, prefer only to mow with a bag—particularly those with lots of leaves. Toro includes a quick change lever that easily goes back and forth between recycle mode (which mulches the grass using Toro’s Atomic blade lift system) or bagging mode. Even better, you can make the switch while the mower runs.

Bagging and Cleanup

You can’t do adequate Toro self-propelled lawnmower reviews without checking how it bags. In some areas of the country—that’s a huge deal. In the bag-on-demand mode, I noticed that it would sometimes not throw the clippings to the back of the bag—causing it to clog. When this happened, I had to empty the bag more often. The bag is very easy to get on and off because it sits on a sturdy two-point hinge system.

Toro could stand to open up the mouth of the bag a bit more. When dumping the clippings, several times I had to reach in to get them empty—even with dry grass. Also, there were a few times that after dumping the bag, it would leave a trail of clippings once I started mowing again.

Adjusting the Toro Mower Cutting Height

The cutting heights available range from 1 inch to 4 inches with seven stops/half stops between. Each wheel is independently adjustable which Pros seem to prefer for stiffness over single-lever systems. Another upside is that durability increases as you have less moving parts to break.

Cleaning Using the Washout Port

Like many mowers, the Toro 22” Personal Pace Recycler Lawnmower comes with a washout port for hooking up a hose to clean the blades and deck. Hold the plastic nut securely while spinning it onto your hose.

While it does make the deck easier to clean, it doesn’t get everything. We recommend (and appreciate) it for those who cannot lift the mower up and hose it off manually. If you can, turning the mower on its side and spraying it down still wins. For me, the wetness of the cut grass determined whether I used the quick wash connector or tilted it up to spray it off.

Toro 20353 Lawnmower All Wheel Drive Feature

My favorite feature on the Toro 20353 lawn mower is the All Wheel Drive traction assist. The Toro 20332 Personal Pace lawn mower uses only the rear wheels. When mowing on uneven surfaces, you start to lose traction, especially while mowing up or down steep slopes. With All Wheel Drive, the front and rear wheels have a nice aggressive tread and spin independently. This gives you the best traction possible when mowing on inclines.

The Toro 20353 AWD mower definitely outperforms standard Personal Pace in this area. The maximum speed on these mowers felt similar—around 4.8 mph. I found that more than enough for fast-paced mowing.

Briggs & Stratton 7.25 ft-lbs 163cc Engine

The Briggs and Stratton 163cc engine is a beast! I travel for work a lot and often come home to an unruly yard after a week or two of being away. The top-notch cutting power makes it a breeze to get “caught up”.

Even the non-AWD Personal Pace model packs a punch. The 7.25 ft-lbs of gross torque at 2600 RPM shows itself when pushing the Personal Pace handle down as far as it will go in a thick St. Augustine lawn. The power coupled with the rear-wheel-drive on this model makes for a strong combo. The mower doesn’t bog down at all. Rather, it hums right along—even when carrying an increasingly heavy bagger.

Toro self-propelled lawn mower

I didn’t experience any hesitation from the engine even while mowing tall and wet grass. It took about one hour to mow a half-acre of St Augustine.

Also, the engine runs smooth and sounds surprisingly quiet. I could have a conversation with my Dad from 10 feet away while mowing the lawn. While we always recommend the use of hearing protection, the output of this mower allows for several hours of use without violating OSHA standards. Since I’m a musician and sometimes sing while mowing the lawn, I found out that the tone of the engine runs to the tone of F#/Gb (just in case you happen to write a great song while mowing!)

Toro 22″ Personal Pace All Wheel Drive Lawn Mower Specs

  • Model: 20353M
  • 7.25 ft-lb Gross Torque Briggs & Stratton EXi 163cc w/ReadyStart
  • Personal Pace All-Wheel Drive Self Propel System
  • 3 Year Guaranteed-to-Start Briggs & Stratton Engine
  • Easy Mulch or Bagging Settings
  • Weight: 78 lbs.
  • 2-year Full Coverage Warranty
  • Price: $399

Toro 22″ Personal Pace Lawn Mower Specs

  • Model: 20332
  • 7.25 ft-lb Gross Torque Briggs & Stratton EXi 163cc w/ReadyStart
  • Personal Pace Rear-Wheel Drive Self Propel System
  • 3 Year Guaranteed-to-Start Briggs & Stratton Engine
  • Easy Mulch or Bagging Settings
  • Weight: 78 lbs.
  • 2-year Full Coverage Warranty
  • Price: $369

Conclusion

Once you get used to the Personal Pace function, this mower works very intuitively and has plenty of power to tackle even thick St. Augustine grass (crab crass for northerners!). Bagging could improve, and you may find limited use for the washout port. The collapsibility of this mower makes it easy to store, but if you need to load it in and out of a truck bed, you’ll definitely need help.

Toro placed all of the serviceable parts in easy-to-access locations—I loved that. Whether your grass needs a short trim or a serious cutting, these Toro mowers seem up for the challenge. If you have lots of inclines, opt for the AWD model—otherwise, either Toro self-propelled lawnmower should leave you with a professional-looking yard.

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Lewis McCown

I pressure cleaned my 2020 Toro 50″ EZ ride zero turn mower and most of the decals label blew off in pieces. My 1988 John Deere never lost a single decal after numerous pressure cleanings. Toro will not send a new set of decals without having to pay for them.

Ron

After four months my Toro mower took minimum 7 pulls to start. No easy access place to drain the oil so it has to be tilted in order to do so. Upon needing to replace the spark plug if it’s not at an incredibly precise position and will strip the threading. Puller jammed multiple times so my family and I became acustomed to replacing it every year. In my personal experience I’m not using Toro ever again so I’m looking for better designed mowers where they take into account the consumer need high quality and easy access design. The good… Read more »

Peter

I have used my personal pace since 2002 or 2003. Best damn mower with very little maintenance required. Replaced the drive belt once, changed the oil a few times, third set of wheels went on last year, never run ethanol in it. Real pleasure to use. My only issue is it leaves ruts in my lawn. I change mowing direction but it likes to leave a rut on the flat lawn only North/South, never East/ West. I think aeration will solve this issue though. I liked it so much I bought a 26″ Toro snowblower the following year. Also a… Read more »

Joseph Lotempio

Toro lawn mowers are the best on the market. I have owned 2 of them over 30 some odd years. Starts every time with one or two pulls. I had one in the shed for 2 years without using it because I was sick. When I finally recovered, it started after 2 pulls. Amazing!

Bill

I bought a 22″ Toro Recycler June 2019. Had a problem early this spring. Seems that the belt drive area had filled up with grass causing the belt to jump off and burn up. Took it to a Toro repair shop in Tallahassee and he told me that he had quit serving Toro’s due to them not paying a fair price to do the work. I had to drive 50 miles to get to a dealer. That was one problem. My real complaint is the drive of the mower. It wants to go straight ahead but does not want to… Read more »

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