Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 in. 23 HP Zero Turn Mower Review


Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 is a zero-turn mower that is designed for homeowners with large yards. It is available in two deck sizes: 50-inch and 54-inch. Both models are powered by a Kawasaki FR Series engine that provides plenty of power for even the toughest mowing jobs. The ZT1 also features dual hydrostatic transmissions for smooth, effortless maneuvering.

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Technical Specs

  • Engine: 23 HP Kawasaki FR691V Series, twin-cylinder OHV engine
  • Drive System: Dual Hydro-Gear™ EZT-2200™ hydrostatic rear-wheel transmissions for easy maneuvering
  • Cutting Deck: 50-inch fabricated steel deck with SmartJet deck wash system for easy cleaning
  • Cutting Height: 1 inch to 4.5 inches, adjustable with a foot pedal (15 positions)
  • Ground Speed: 7 mph forward and 3.5 mph reverse
  • Ideal for: Mowing large yards (up to 4 acres) with obstacles and slight inclines.

Overview of the Cub Cadet Ultima Z1

The Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 Zero Turn Mower stands out for its combination of robust performance, comfort, and durability. Designed with a 50-inch fabricated deck, it offers a wider cutting area compared to its counterparts, making it an efficient choice for larger lawns. Priced around $3700, it may be on the higher side for some, but its features justify the investment. One of the mower’s core strengths is its Kawasaki engine, known for reliability and requiring minimal maintenance, a factor that resonates well with users who prioritize longevity and consistent performance. The comfort of the seat is tailored for taller individuals, ensuring a pleasant mowing experience without compromising on posture or ease.

bright yellow Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 riding lawnmower on a lush green lawn

Despite being fully assembled upon delivery, which adds to its convenience, the mower did require minor adjustments. Notably, the incorrect installation of the hitch was a small hiccup that was easily rectified by the owner. The mower’s design also accommodates personal adjustments and upgrades, such as the addition of an hour meter and a cable beneath the seat for better accessibility and protection. The Ultima ZT1’s large rear tires enhance its stability and traction, a significant advantage when navigating diverse terrains or slopes. While it lacks a built-in fuel gauge, which some may find inconvenient, this mower compensates with other user-friendly features like an easy-to-operate oil change system and adjustable control arms for balanced speed control.

Design and Build Quality

Tubular Steel Frame

yellow lawnmower’s wheel on freshly cut green grass.

The mower’s backbone, its tubular steel frame, is known for its exceptional strength and resistance to stress and bending. Such a frame is pivotal for the mower’s longevity, providing a stable and durable foundation that can withstand the challenges of rough and uneven terrain. This robust construction ensures that the mower maintains its structural integrity over time, offering reliability and peace of mind for the user.

Triple-Blade Cutting System

undercarriage of a yellow lawnmower showing wheels, belts, and motor on grass

The Ultima ZT1 is outfitted with a triple-blade cutting system that significantly elevates the mowing experience. This setup ensures a clean, uniform cut across the lawn, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of the cut grass. Moreover, the triple-blade system increases the mower’s efficiency, enabling it to smoothly cut through thick and tall grass without bogging down. This means less time spent on mowing and more consistent results, making lawn care both efficient and enjoyable.

Heavy-Duty Components

bright yellow riding lawnmower labeled “ULTIMA 50” positioned on a wooden pallet.

Every element, from the cutting deck to the wheels, is selected for its durability and strength. The mower features a fabricated cutting deck, which is more robust and durable than standard stamped decks, ensuring it can handle impacts and tough conditions without damage. The larger rear tires provide better traction and stability, particularly on uneven ground, making the mower more maneuverable and less prone to getting stuck. Additionally, the mower is equipped with commercial-grade engine components that are designed to withstand the rigors of extended use, ensuring that the mower remains operational and reliable even with frequent use in various environmental conditions. This careful selection of heavy-duty components guarantees that the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 can endure the daily demands of lawn maintenance, providing a long-lasting, dependable mowing solution.

High-Back Seat

Cub Cadet’ riding lawnmower seat outdoors.

The Ultima ZT1 is equipped with a high-back seat that offers substantial support for the operator’s back, which is crucial for minimizing discomfort during prolonged periods of mowing. This thoughtful inclusion caters to the comfort of the user, ensuring that even after hours of operation, fatigue and strain are significantly reduced. The high-back design provides a level of support that is akin to an ergonomic office chair, making the mowing experience more akin to sitting in a comfortable workspace rather than performing a labor-intensive task.

Adjustable Controls

Control panel of a yellow machinery with safety instructions and a set of keys in the ignition

Recognizing the diversity in operator sizes and preferences, the Ultima ZT1 comes with adjustable controls. This feature allows each user to tailor the position of the control levers and other critical controls to their specific needs, ensuring that everything is within comfortable reach. The ability to adjust controls means that operators won’t have to overextend or strain to operate the mower, making the mowing process smoother and more user-friendly. This customization enhances the mowing experience, making it feel more intuitive and less like a one-size-fits-all solution.

Smooth Steering

Person operating a yellow riding lawnmower on a sunny day

The mower’s zero-turn capability, coupled with its responsive and smooth steering system, makes it exceptionally agile and easy to maneuver. This precision control allows operators to navigate around obstacles, garden beds, and tight corners with ease, reducing the need for manual adjustments or repositioning. The smooth steering mechanism contributes significantly to reducing the physical effort required to operate the mower, making it possible to tackle complex landscapes without the workout associated with traditional mowers. This ease of maneuverability not only makes the mowing task more efficient but also more enjoyable, as operators can appreciate the responsiveness and control at their fingertips.

Performance and Efficiency

Engine Power and Performance

Kawasaki FR691V 23.0HP engine on machine

The Ultima ZT1 is a robust 23 HP Kawasaki engine, renowned for its power and dependability. This engine ensures that the mower operates smoothly under various conditions, from tackling thick, overgrown grass to maintaining well-kept lawns. The Kawasaki engine’s reliability is a significant asset, minimizing downtime due to maintenance and ensuring consistent performance throughout its lifespan. This powerful engine makes the Ultima ZT1 suitable for both residential and commercial use, offering the strength needed to complete mowing tasks quickly and efficiently.

Cutting Efficiency and Precision

Freshly mowed grass field with a partial view of a tire.

The Ultima ZT1’s 50-inch cutting deck is a cornerstone of its efficiency. This wide deck, combined with sharp, durable blades, ensures that each pass of the mower results in a clean and precise cut, enhancing the lawn’s appearance. The quality of the cut is consistent across different types of terrain and grass conditions, which is crucial for maintaining a professional-looking lawn. Furthermore, the mower’s zero-turn capability is a game-changer in terms of efficiency. It allows the operator to easily navigate around obstacles like trees, garden beds, and outdoor furniture, significantly reducing the time needed to complete mowing tasks. This maneuverability, combined with the wide cutting deck, means that the Ultima ZT1 can cover large areas quickly, making lawn maintenance less time-consuming and more effective.

Table Comparison

FeatureCub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50-inchHusqvarna Z254F
Engine23 HP Kawasaki FR691V Twin Cylinder26 HP Kohler KT745 V-Twin
Deck Size50 inches54 inches
Deck ConstructionFabricated with Triple Blade SystemFabricated
TransmissionHydro-Gear EZT 2200 HydrostaticHydrostatic ZT-2200
Speed7 MPH forward, 3.5 MPH reverse6.5 MPH forward
Cutting Height Range1″ – 4.5″1.5″ – 4″
Fuel Tank Capacity3.5 gallons3.5 gallons
Warranty3-year unlimited hours, lifetime limited frame & deck3 years limited


Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50-inch The Cub Cadet features a robust 23 HP Kawasaki engine and a large 50-inch AeroForce fabricated deck designed for fewer clumps, finer clippings, and increased evenness. It has Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 hydrostatic transmissions for smooth operation. The Cub Cadet stands out with its cutting height range, offering versatility for different lawn needs. The mower is built with a strong tubular steel frame for durability and offers a range of attachments for versatility​​​​.

Husqvarna Z254F The Husqvarna Z254F is powered by a slightly more powerful 26 HP Kohler engine and has a slightly larger 54-inch cutting deck. It also uses a hydrostatic transmission, ensuring a smooth drive and easy maneuverability. The Husqvarna model offers a slightly narrower cutting height range compared to the Cub Cadet.

Both mowers are well-suited for residential use, offering powerful engines, large cutting decks for efficiency, and hydrostatic transmissions for ease of use. The choice between the two may come down to specific features such as deck size, engine brand preference, and the range of cutting heights that best suit your lawn’s needs.

Pros and Cons of Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1


  • Powerful engine tackles challenging terrain.
  • Zero-turn for sharp turns and clean edges.
  • Wide 50-inch deck mows large areas fast.
  • Comfy seat with armrests for long mowing jobs.
  • Easy control with hydrostatic transmission.
  • Deck wash simplifies cleaning after each use.


  • More expensive than regular lawn mowers
  • Tricky to use at night (no headlights on all models)
  • Takes time to learn to drive (controls and turns)
  • Bumpy ride on uneven lawns


  1. Change the Air Filter: Regularly replace the air filter to ensure the engine runs efficiently. Check the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific intervals.
  2. Replace the Deck Belt: Inspect and replace the deck belt as needed to ensure optimal mower performance. Signs of wear or damage mean it’s time for a replacement.
  3. Oil and Oil Filter Change: Regularly change the oil and oil filter to maintain engine health. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for frequency based on usage.
  4. Blade Maintenance: Keep the blades sharp and balanced. Sharp blades ensure a clean, even cut, while balanced blades reduce vibrations and wear on the mower.
  5. Inspect for Loose or Damaged Parts: Regularly check the mower for any parts that are loose, worn, or damaged. Tighten, repair, or replace as necessary.
  6. Clean Under the Deck: After each use, clean under the deck to prevent grass and debris buildup, which can affect performance and increase the risk of corrosion.


In conclusion, the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 50 in. 23 HP Zero Turn Mower emerges as a superior choice for those in pursuit of efficiency, durability, and precision in lawn maintenance. Its powerful engine, coupled with a robust build and intuitive design, ensures a seamless mowing experience that caters to both residential and commercial needs. The mower’s zero-turn capability enhances maneuverability, significantly reducing mowing time while maintaining a high standard of precision. Despite its premium price point, the long-term value, ease of maintenance, and consistent performance justify the investment, making the Ultima ZT1 a wise choice for anyone serious about achieving the perfect lawn.


  1. What type of engine does the Cub Cadet Ultima ZT1 have?
    It features a 23 HP Kawasaki FR691V Twin Cylinder Engine.
  2. How wide is the cutting deck on the Ultima ZT1?
    The mower has a 50-inch AeroForce fabricated cutting deck.
  3. Does the Ultima ZT1 have a fuel gauge?
    No, it does not come with a fuel gauge.
  4. What is the fuel tank capacity?
    The mower has a 3.5-gallon fuel tank.
  5. Can I adjust the cutting height on the Ultima ZT1?
    Yes, it has a cutting height range of 1″ – 4.5″.
  6. What type of transmission does the Ultima ZT1 use?
    It utilizes Hydro-Gear EZT 2200 hydrostatic transmissions.
  7. Is there a warranty for the Ultima ZT1?
    Yes, it comes with a 3-year unlimited hours warranty, with a lifetime limited warranty for the frame and deck.
Joel Cunningham
Joel Cunningham
Forestry Author

I'm Joel Cunningham, an expert in pruning and weed management with over a decade of experience. My skills are rooted in formal training and extensive practice, focusing on advanced pruning techniques and efficient weed control. I'm known for my quality work, precision, and deep understanding of plant health and soil dynamics. My contributions extend to educational initiatives where I share sustainable practices and advice, establishing myself as a reliable and authoritative figure in the gardening community.


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