cub cadet ultima review
Cub Cadet Residential Zero Turns

Cub Cadet Ultima ZT Zero Turn Mower Review

Cub Cadet has always been known for its quality residential mowers. The new Cub Cadet Ultima zero turn mower is no different. This is a quality zero turn mower for most homeowners with a relatively small yard.

The Cub Cadet Ultima Zero Turn delivers outstanding value and the consistent performance you need as well as being easy to mainten.

It is an ideal choice for residential maintenance use and handles mowing up to 4 acres with hills and obstacles. It has an accessible and easy to handle open-frame design, ergonomic seating, and rubberized grips for responsive handling that lets you get right on and mow.

Mower:Ultima ZT 1Ultima ZT 2Ultima ZT 3
Engine:22-24 hp Kohler 7000 Series23 hp Kawasaki FR 691 or 24 hp Kawasaki FR73024 hp Kawasaki FS
Transaxles:Hydro-Gear EZT 2200Hydro-Gear ZT 2800Hydro-Gear ZT 3100
Deck Size:42″, 46″, 50″, and 54″50″, 54″, and 60″60″
Deck Material:11 ga fabricated steel or 13 ga stamped steel11 ga fabricated steel11 ga fabricated steel
Spindles:Sealed cast aluminumsealed cast aluminumSealed cast aluminum
Fuel Tank:3.5 gal3.5 gal3.5 gal
Seat:20″ high back seat20″ high back seat24″ high back seat
Speed:7 mph/3.5 mph7.5 mph / 3.5 mph7.5 mph/3.5 mph
Warranty:3-year / unlimited hour3-year / unlimited hour3-year / unlimited hour
Price:$2,699 – $3,099$3,699 – $4,199$4,499

Ultima ZT1

cub cadet ultima zt1

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is the entry level of the Ultima series. It is for the homeowner with a 2 – 4 acre yard with a relatively low budget. It has everything you need to make quick work of your lawn maintenance.

The 42″ model is the only stamped deck offering in the entire Ultima series. The ZT1 also offers a 46″, 50″, and 54″ width cutting deck. These deck sizes should allow you to find the perfect size for your lawn.

The ZT1 offers the Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 transaxles. These are the lowest grade of transaxle offered by Hydro-Gear. However, it is also the most popular used for zero turn mowers in this price range. They are durable and will last but will not hold up quite as well as higher grade transaxles offered by Hydro-Gear.

Overall, for the price, the Ultima ZT1 model is one of the best residential mowers in the industry. The specs are extremely competitive and the price is very low for a quality residential zero turn mower.

Ultima ZT2

cub cadet ultima zt2

The Ultima ZT2 is the next step up in the Ultima series offered by Cub Cadet. The big improvements are the engine, transaxles, 60″ deck option, large tires, and a little more speed.

The ZT2 model will come with a Kawasaki FR engine. This is an upgrade from the Kohler 7000 series engine but still a “residential” engine offering. These are very durable engines and proven to do well on residential zero turn mowers.

The transaxles in the ZT2 are upgraded to the Hydro-Gear ZT 2800. These are still considered residential grade but a little step up from the EZT transaxles offered on the ZT1. This will also allow the mower to have a top speed of 7.5 mph instead of 7 mph.

The ZT2 also has a 60″ deck option. This could be a deciding factor for those with an open yard without many obstacles. This mower also has larger rear and front castor tires than the ZT1. This can help with stability on hills.

Overall, the ZT2 has several upgrades over the ZT1. If you budget allows I would highly recommend moving up to this model primarily for the upgraded engine and transaxle options.

Ultima ZT3

cub cadet ultima zt3

The Ultima ZT3 is the top of the line mower in the Ultima series. The upgrades of this mower include the engine, transaxles, and seat. This may not sound like much but these improvements are very drastic in terms of durability and longevity.

The ZT3 offers the Kawasaki FS series engine. This is their “semi-commercial” engine. It is a big improvement over the Kohler 7000 or Kawasaki FR series. The FS series will last much longer and deliver a little more power. The big upgrade in this engine is the air filtration system.

The Hydro-Gear ZT 3100 transaxles are in the ZT3. These are considered commercial grade by Hydro-Gear standards. This will provide the longevity you will expect from a zero turn mower. It will also be much better if you plan to tow any kind of lawn mower cart or other accessories.

The final upgrade is the seat. The ZT3 is equipped with a 24″ high back seat. This will improve the comfort of the mower a little compared to the ZT1 or ZT2.

The ZT3 definitely has some upgrades over the other mowers in this series. If your budget allows or if you have a 4-5 acre yard I would highly recommend upgrading to this mower. You won’t regret it!

Comparison

This zero turn mower clearly exceeds the standard specifications of the many other competitors. The specs of the Ultima when matched with the price proves to be a very value-packed purchase.

When comparing the Cub Cadet Ultima to competitors such as Hustler, Snapper, and Husqvarna below are some things that stand out on the Ultima.

  • Greater deck cutting with of up to 60″.
  • 3 precision-engineered blades
  • 15 height of cut positions
  • Powerful Kawasaki or Kohler engine.
  • Easy access to essential maintenance points.

This mower is as good or better than almost every residential zero turn on the market. It is an extremely great mower at a great price.

Power

The Cub Cadet hits hard with excellent engine quality, specs and performance which are only matched by the upper end of the optional upgrades of its competitors.

You have the assurance of the twin-cylinder Kawasaki FR series, FS series, or Kohler 7000 series on the Ultima mower. Each model has a 3.5 gallon fuel tank, meaning you should always finish your mowing on a single tank.

The Ultima series mower will come with Hydro-Gear EZT 2200, ZT 2800, or ZT 3100. As you step up in the mower’s line up you will realize the transaxles improve. The ZT 3100 is the only “commercial grade” transaxle available on the Ultima zero turn mower.

Features

Stand out features provide reassurance that the build quality and engineering of this zero turn mower will provide lasting performance.

  • it does well on hillsides for a residential mower
  • Maintenance is easy with an open-framed design that features a hinged floor pan for easy access to the deck
  • Nice rubber floor mats
  • The powerful AeroForce cutting deck ensures exceptional cutting
  • 2″ x 2″ tubular steel frames
  • Triple Guard Corrosion Defense System
  • 3 – way adjustable ergonomic lap bar
  • Integrated parking break system
  • High back seats with polymer seat suspension system
  • Dual-LED headlights
  • 3-year / unlimited hour warranty
Ultima ZT1 design

Cut Quality

As mentioned above, the Cub Cadet Ultima benefits from trademarked AeroForce engineering which means that you enjoy a superior cut quality with:

  • Fewer stragglers
  • Less clumping
  • A more even cut

This mower deck has been independently assessed and found to deliver a ‘best in class’ cut for a residential mower. The fabricated deck is built to last and will stand up well in normal grass cutting environments.

The maintenance free aluminum spindles have proven to hold up well on this mower. The convenience of these spindles is very nice and they seem to hold up for at least 500 or more hours.

Most of the deck options in the Ultima series will feature triple blade decks that are ideal for a quality cut.

Overall, the cut quality of the Cub Cadet Ultima is very good and will be acceptable for most homeowners.

Durability

With the Cub Cadet Ultima you enjoy excellent longevity due to a superior build quality and materials used in fabrication. The square tubular frame that underpins this model has been designed for lasting service. This is the strongest way to design steel for a frame so it will definitely last a long time.

The rest of the mower is quality as well. The ZT2 and ZT3 will especially be very durable with the upgraded transaxles and a little larger build.

Comfort

If you are experienced in using zero turn mowers, you will know that comfort makes all the difference in getting the job done. Cub Cadet has not overlooked your needs with a deeply upholstered and adjustable command center, with seat suspension, that has everything up front where you need it. The padded lap bar is 3 way adjustable to minimize operator fatigue from prolonged use.

This mower is very intuitive and has a very comfortable seat to insure a great ride. I tested this mowered for several hours and felt pretty good after. It isn’t quite the ride quality of some of the high end commercial zero turns but it is good when compared to other residential zero turns.

ultima zt suspension

Aesthetics

This mover has the same great aesthetics people have come to expect from Cub Cadet, with a signature yellow frame with yellow and black accents on this compact and nimble design.

The Cub Cadet Ultimas have one of the best looks in the industry. The new half rollover bar design gives it a really cool look. Others, like Ariens, have began to adopt the same type of design.

The mower is sure to impress your friends and neighbors. You’ll be riding in style for sure while cutting your lawn.

ultima bumper

Build Quality

The Cub Cadet Ultima is manufactured with Cub Cadet’s commitment to excellence. Their US manufactured ride-on mowers has always led the market and they offer a generous 3 year, unlimited hours warranty, with an additional Lifetime Limited Warranty on the frame and deck.

The warranties pretty much let the build quality speak for itself. Cub Cadet stands behind these mowers and it shows. They are quality build mowers.

Safety

Cub Cadet pays attention to your safety with the following features of this ride on mower:

  • Seat safety switch which does not allow the mower to be started without the operator sitting on it.
  • Brake pedal lock mechanism ensures the brake is engaged as you start the engine.
  • Blades disengage if you come off the seat.

Our Rating

Performance:4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)
Cut Quality:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Durability:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Comfort:3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)
Price:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)
Overall:4 out of 5 stars (4.0 / 5)

Price

The Cub Cadet Ultima starts at $2,699.00. Each of the three models are priced very well for the quality of the machine. They are very competitive with the rest of the industry.

Wrapping It Up

If you are looking for a zero turn mower with a quality build, great features, and amazing price, the Cub Cadet Ultima is for you. This reliable and rugged mover offers comfort and ease of use, even when taking on slopes.

If you have a yard less than 4 or 5 acres I would highly recommend looking at the Cub Cadet Ultima. These are truly great mowers that will last a very long time.

What do you think?

Have you own or have you ever used a Cub Cadet Ultima? Which model do you have and how do you like it?

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Images are from Cub Cadet

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