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Best Mower on Hills – Read this first!

So you’re cutting up to a half-acre of hilly lawns, then the Honda self-propelled is the right mower for you, its got lots of pulling power, it’s smooth and simple to use. The model featured here has an optional electric start – making mowing just effortless.

So what are the best mowers for hills? The best mower for hilly lawns should have:

  • Lots of horsepower
  • Strong self drive system
  • Easy to use variable speed drive
  • Rugged wheels with lots of grip
  • Lightweight
  • Nicely balanced

If you’re cutting more than a half-acre, you’d be better to consider buying a lawn tractor, it’ll save you lots of time and effort over many years of service.

Check out Toro vs Honda where I compare Toro recycler against Honda HRX.

First Impression

I tested the Honda HRR216vya its titanium color scheme looks confident and business-like. I like Honda’s no-nonsense approach to design and execution. Some modern mowers can look a little intimidating, with large control panels sporting lots of levers. I like that Honda kept it simple and lightweight. The mower is very approachable, looks simple, and is simple. 


The Honda feels agile and sure-footed, it weighs eighty-eight pounds but feels lighter. The eight-inch wheels are fitted with bearings, ensuring a smooth ride. The tires look more like real road-going rubber.
The soft grip handlebars have two set positions and a fold-flat option for storage, all operated by a tool-less quick release knob. The controls all feel really well made and are easy to figure out – you won’t need to read the manual.


Controls are nice to use and the instruction stickers are easy to follow.

Self Drive

The self-drive console is fitted in the center of the handlebars. The speed is continuously adjusted by pushing down on either of the paddles with your thumb. You’ll find matching your stride is instinctive (0 -4 mph) and very quickly you’ll forget your using it. 


Self Drive – Variable self-drive is simple and intuitive.

The position of the console is adjustable, allowing for personal preference. Maneuvering around flower beds and traversing slopes (20 degrees max) is smooth and the rear-drive offers lots of grip. The drive system, it’s strong and well designed, it even has a tool-less adjustable toggle wheel, for DIY maintenance. I love that Honda thinks of the person maintaining the mower.

Transmissions are very durable, control cables and drive belts as you expect to wear out, but will last many years, and longer if winterized properly. I have replaced transmissions and they are not cheap, but the mowers were all 10 years plus old and had a rough life. If you do the maintenance, you won’t have a problem. Check out this post it covers the repair of Honda transmission.


The Honda is fitted with Roto-stop, a big yellow release button on the handlebars must be pressed before pulling and holding the bail lever, this spins the blade.
The beauty of Roto-stop is you can run your mower without spinning the blade, especially useful if like me you have to cross a graveled yard several times to cut smaller lawn areas. The 21″ deck is made from stamped sixteen gauge steel. The guards are made from tough durable rubber which does an excellent job at protecting the operator. The bag is as you expect, quality.


Honda’s exclusive secret weapon – Twin blade micro-cut. This is a stacked, offset pair of winged blades with four cutting surfaces. Each blade of grass gets cut twice on the first pass, the leading blade cuts higher up and then the offset trailing blade makes a smaller second cut, the winged blades recirculate the clippings and repeat the process many times.
A common complaint in my workshop is a mower that won’t bag very well, or leaves trailing’s when mulching. The problem is usually caused by the 2 in 1 hybrid blade. (Blade designed to mulch and collect) Very often the blade technology just isn’t up to the job.

Honda blade

Hondas twin-blade – This is as good as blade technology gets, you have the best of both worlds, great at collecting and mulching.

Clip Director

Honda clip director

Honda features a tool-less three-in-one system, bagging, mulching, and discharging. To move from one to the other, just move the clip director knob from bag to mulch, that’s it.

Mulching or bagging the results really are first class. The twin blade design – Clever!

Deck Height Adjustment

The deck height has six positions from one to four inches, and requires adjustment at each wheel – Please Honda, can we have one lever, some lawns require a different cut height and so adjusting all four wheels can get old pretty quickly. 

Deck Material

The deck is made from 16 gauge steel, so you need to clean it down at the end of the season really well. Grass eats metal for breakfast, I have replaced lots of decks over the years and it is because the mowers weren’t winterized. Check out “How to winterize your mower”.

Easy Simple directions make this foolproof.


The GCV160 overhead valve engine is a well-tried and trusted unit. Honda reliability is legendary, I see lots of Honda engines in my workshop and they’re a pleasure to work on, but more importantly, engine failures are rare.
Overhead valve engines are more powerful. Honda squeezes 6.9 ft. lbs. of torque out of 160cc, it’s super smooth, cleaner too, and complies with CA (CARB). 

These units are pretty much bulletproof with exception of the crankshafts. The crankshafts are prone to bending if you hit a curb or tree stump – like really hard (Rare).

I’ve replaced a few, it’s not a difficult job thanks to Honda’s engine design and the availability of their parts is excellent. 


I like this Honda, it’s reliable, durable, and user-friendly. It’s nicely balanced, has plenty of power for pulling and cutting a hilly lawn. The best bits – auto choke, set throttle, so it really pulls and goes. You can check out the price and availability of the Honda on Amazon, it arrives fully assembled, but don’t forget to put the oil in first before starting. I wrote this guide to help you check your oil level.

Check out Toro vs Honda where I compare Toro recycler against Honda HRX.

  • Horsepower
  • Smoooth reliability
  • Diy Tune-up

Features I love about this engine, the revised large gas filler neck, tethered gas cap, manual fuel shut-off tap, easy-to-use oil dipstick, and tool-less air filter cover. If you like to tune up your own lawn equipment, you’ll love this engine, I promise.

Maintenance Tips

To dip the oil on a Honda, remove the dipstick clean it but don’t screw it back in to check. This is a four-stroke engine and Honda engines like 10W30 oil. I like to change the oil on a new mower engine after just 5 hours of use, and then every fifty hours of operation or once before the new season starts.

Maintenance infographic

Check and clean the air filter every twenty-five hours. Replace the spark plug once per season or every one hundred hours. If you need to turn your mower over, turn off the fuel at the fuel tap and always with the carburetor side up.

Sharpen blades once per season or more often if dull, tighten blade bolt to 43 ft. lb. (59Nm).

Check out “Lawn mower maintenance”, or check out the mower maintenance video here.


Comes with a manufacturer 3-year warranty. You’ll hardly need it.

Cutting a Hill

I’m not going to tell you how to cut grass, I’m guessing you like me have lots of experience. This is what I have learned about cutting slopes in my garden – It’s easy to lose your footing, my garden has lots of hills, and so I cut across slopes.


I avoid cutting in the evening when the grass is damp. I make sure that my mower has the correct amount of oil.

A full gas tank is also important because when the tank gets low, often being on an angle will starve the engine of fuel.

The angle of slope is important to know because all lawnmower manufacturers will have a max operating angle for the engine, (upsets the lubrication system) ignoring this will void the guarantee. If you’re not sure, just print and use this simple guide to estimate what angle of the slope you’re working with. Most mowers are happy up to max 20°. 

About the Reviewer

Hi, I’m John, I run my own repair workshop and I service a lot of lawn care equipment of all kinds – two-stroke, four-stroke, gas, diesel, and electric. I see a wide variety of makes and models, young and old. I think by now I’ve met them all – good and bad.

I like kit that lasts and kit you can get parts for easily is an important consideration before investing in equipment. I use my knowledge and experience to only review equipment that will go the distance, I promise I won’t waste your time or money reviewing a cheap throwaway kit.

Throughout this site, you’ll find links to products, I do earn a small commission if you make a purchase through these links, but it doesn’t cost you an extra cent.