Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor Worth It?

I tested John Deere’s premium 100-series lawn tractor for two weeks during spring cleanup season. Here’s what I discovered.

By Mark Wolfe | Published Apr 21, 2022 9:10 AM

John Deere S130 Review

Photo: Mark Wolfe

For anyone maintaining a half-acre or larger property, a lawn tractor makes life easier. A really good lawn tractor offers a combination of power, maneuverability, reliability, and operator comfort for a wide range of chores. More than simply a ride-on mower, a lawn tractor might be used to collect leaves and grass clippings, tow a dump cart or lawn aerator, push a snow blower or snow plow, or assist in many other chores. The John Deere S130 has established a solid track record as a premium lawn tractor for midsize properties.

Illinois-based Deere & Company has been one of the most successful farm equipment manufacturers since the 1830s. First entering the lawn tractor market nearly 60 years ago, the John Deere brand builds customer loyalty with its strong reputation for quality, performance, and durability. I recently had the opportunity to test a John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor during peak spring cleanup season. Thanks to a smooth, comfortable ride; powerful engine; ergonomic design; and numerous convenience upgrades, it more than lived up to its name.

John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor: At a Glance

Rating: 8.5/10

John Deere S130 Review

Photo: Mark Wolfe

PROS

  • Excellent power and size for 0.5 to 2 acres
  • Tight turning radius
  • Smooth, comfortable ride
  • High vantage point
  • Easy maintenance
  • Compatible with many handy attachments
  • Manufactured in Greeneville, Tennessee

CONS

  • Higher price than the similarly equipped competition
  • Limited capability on hilly terrain

Get the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor at:

What Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor?

Built in Greeneville, Tennessee, the S130 marks the point of separation between entry-level and premium John Deere 100-series lawn tractors. It uses the same 42-inch Edge mower deck as the S100 and S120 models but boasts numerous performance and convenience upgrades found on the S140 and higher models, such as:

The powerful engine with a full-pressure lubrication system, 12-gauge solid steel frame, solid cast-iron front axle, and many other quality construction details indicates that this machine is built for decades of dependable service. John Deere S130 attachments include both branded and universal implements, like baggers, snow blowers, dump carts, and many others (sold separately) that expand its capabilities well beyond summertime and mowing.

John Deere S130 Review

Photo: Mark Wolfe

How Comfortable Is this John Deere Lawn Tractor?

Immediately after accepting delivery, I couldn’t resist taking the S130 for a quick drive around the yard at dusk. A few details stood out immediately. First, sitting on the mower provides a high vantage point. At 32 inches above ground level, the seat base was 3 inches higher than my old lawn tractor. And the seat itself is made in two sections, the bottom and the backrest with a small space between rather than a one-piece molded seat. The configuration allowed for good ventilation, and I found it to be quite comfortable.

Regarding the controls and startup, the S130 has a convenient layout. The easy-to-read fuel gauge, parking brake, single-lever spring-assisted choke and throttle, electric push-switches for blade engagement and mowing in reverse, and the ignition are all located in the dashboard cluster around the steering wheel. The ergonomic spring-assisted deck lift lever is located on the mower frame to the right side of the seat. On the floorboard, side-by-side forward and reverse pedals are located on the right and the brake pedal on the left. The fuel tank fill cap is located beneath the seat where it is very easy to access, rather than being tucked under the hood as in many other lawn tractors.

A few more features stood out as I drove around the yard. The hydrostatic transmission operates quietly, with almost none of the typical whining noise. The large 20×10 tires, both taller and wider than those on other lawn tractors, provided excellent cushion to smooth out the bumps. Also, where other lawn tractors skid their front wheels around the tightest turns, the S130’s front wheels tracked extremely well to deliver tight, articulate turns. Finally, the headlights were super bright and effective working in near-dark conditions.

John Deere S130 Review

Photo: Mark Wolfe

How Powerful Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor?

Most 42-inch riding mowers are built with engines rated between 17 and 20 horsepower, so the S130’s 22 horsepower exceeds expectations. Testing coincided with my yearly extra-low mow to remove the excess brown foliage on my warm-season grass as the new growth started pushing out. The extra horsepower prevented the blades from bogging down, allowing the mower to proceed at a normal pace.

Also during the test period, I was working on a project that required hauling a dozen 60-pound bags of concrete to the back corner of the yard, for a total weight of 720 pounds. The maximum tongue weight for this lawn tractor is 443 pounds, and my route included a few upward slopes. I attached my garden trailer via the S130’s drop pin hitch and loaded a 360-pound load, stacking the bags just forward of the trailer axle where they would transfer downward pressure onto the rear wheels of the mower. The result was mixed.

Although there were no symptoms that the weight was too much for the engine, the tires lost traction in a couple of the steep spots so that I had to push the weight farther forward to complete the run. It is worth noting that the manufacturer instructs owners not to mow on slopes greater than 13 degrees (about 4.5 feet in elevation change in 20 linear feet) to avoid accidents and injuries. The wider than average tires increase surface contact but reduce pounds per square inch, which is a great formula for protecting grass but not the best for grip. For snow removal, I would recommend purchasing rear weights and tire chains for best performance.

John Deere S130 Review

Photo: Mark Wolfe

Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor Worth the Money?

At an MSRP of $2,399, the John Deere S130 is priced as much as $500 higher than other 42-inch ride-on mowers from top brands at nationwide retailers. However, a long list of features on the S130, like the hydrostatic transaxle, 22-horsepower V-twin engine, heavy-duty steel frame, large rear tires, electric blade engagement system, and more place it in lonely territory at the top of the list. This lawn tractor is built for decades of dependable hard work, year round. Compared to competitors’ products, it appears to be fairly priced for premium equipment.

Is the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor Right for You?

If the lowest price is your number one concern or if your property is much less than a half-acre, then the John Deere S130 may not be the best fit. It may not be the right choice for properties larger than 2 or 3 acres, or where steep hills present a challenge. But for shoppers with 0.5 to 2 acres who are looking for power, durability, versatility, comfort, and overall performance at a fair price, this lawn tractor should be a top contender.

Two of John Deere’s closest competitors in this category are the Cub Cadet XT1 LT46 ($2,399), and the Husqvarna YTH22V46 ($2,299). While the Husqvarna beats the S130 price by $100, John Deere covers the $100 difference with added comfort and performance. Both Husqvarna and Cub Cadet boast similar 22-horsepower engines and larger 46-inch decks, but the S130 has a higher vantage point, tighter turning, and larger rear tires for a smoother ride. Additionally, John Deere’s 30-second oil change system is a game changer for routine maintenance. From my experience with the S130, I am convinced that it would be a great choice.

Where to Buy the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor

Get the John Deere S130 Lawn Tractor at: