John Deere X350 Review
There’s a hell of a lot to like about John Deere’s X350 lawn tractor, a hell of a lot! The X350 is a machine well suited to pros and serious lawn care devotees. It boasts a long list of features that make it an attractive package for heavy-duty jobs while delivering enhanced operator safety with durable and economic operation. But best of all, is it is surprisingly affordable for such a fully optioned machine.
The X350 Lawn Tractor is certainly a premium product; however, it is positioned in the market at an attractive price, which makes it machine well worth consideration.
Dene Mackey is the Sales Executive at Midland Tractors in, Longford, Tasmania and as well as being a down to earth bloke that understands his customer’s needs, has a wealth of product knowledge to assist customers to choose the right mower and implements from the extensive John Deere range.
One thing he insists on first is ascertaining the customer’s mowing needs. Once the customer has outlined their mowing requirements he can suggest a few possible mower options which allow the customer to select from a price and feature range.
For mowing 2.5 acres of grass and utilising a few tow-behind attachments, Dene suggested the X350 lawn tractor with the electronic PTO would be an easy machine for my wife to operate. Then he suggested a few additional options which would make the machine more versatile and worth exploring for our review.
The X350 comes with a smooth-running FS600V iTorqueTM 603-CC V-twin engine built by Kawasaki that produces 18.5 HP (13.8 kw). The engine features a flywheel alternator that delivers 15-amp battery charging that is regulated to keep the battery at full charge without risk of overcharging and enables electrical equipment, such as lights or auxiliary equipment like sprayers to be powered. The digital dash display includes a voltmeter to show the battery charging condition during operation.
Hardware-wise it has cast-iron cylinder liners, overhead valves, full-pressure lubrication with a replaceable spin-on oil filter and dual-stage air cleaner that all add to the durability of this engine.
The hydrostatic drive is the Kanzaki® K46 transaxle and features the Tuff Torq® hydrostatic transaxle which encloses the hydrostatic pump and motor rotator groups in the same housing with the differential and axle housings. This design is exceedingly efficient and reduces the number of sealing surfaces to minimise the potential for leakage.
The dual foot controls combined with the hydrostatic transmission functions similarly to that of a car’s automatic transmission, which is why the term automatic is often used to describe the operation of this transmission. The mower features cruise control that allows you to set the speed you like and focus on what’s in front of the riding mower instead of your speed.
The X350 can be specified with a wide choice of mower decks, from 42-inches (107-cm) to 54-inches (137-cm), with side discharge, mulching, or bagging grass options.
This mower came with the 42-inch (107-cm) Accel DeepTM Mower Deck side-discharge cutting deck.
The deck is easily lifted from one inch to four inches in quarter-inch increments, with minimal foot effort in its standard form. However, to make it easier for my wife, Dene specified the optional spring-assist kit ($64.50). The lift effort can be easily adjusted by turning the spring assist bolt, located on the tractor’s front bumper.
Another option well worth investing in is the BM24794 MulchControl attachment ($232.96) which gives the operator the ability to quickly change between side discharging and mulching. The BM24794 MulchControl attachment is an innovative, simple design that is easy to use and maintain and includes a baffle to control the flow of material under the deck. The attachment’s operation is controlled by a lever on top of the deck. When the MulchControl baffle is open, most of the material flows freely out of the discharge deflector. When the MulchControl baffle is closed, the material stays within the deck and gets chopped into mulch and deposited in the turf.
The serviceability of this deck is one of the best we’ve seen. The spindles are greaseable, but unlike other mowers that require the deck to be removed to grease, the John Deere X350 has the grease nipples located on the top of the deck minimising servicing time. A belt diagram decal is attached to the deck for ease of belt installation when belt replacement is required. The left-hand spindle has a lift up safety cover to enable easy cleaning of the spindle area, while the right-hand spindle is open and protected by the mower frame. The deck also features a garden hose nipple that features a high pressure washing nozzle that is activated with a garden hose is attached to the nipple.
When it comes time to remove the deck, it’s a simple operation that only takes a few minutes, and only requires the removal of the two locating pins, one either side of the rear of the deck then drop the deck belt from the engine PTO pulley. The procedure is reversed when the deck is to be reinstalled.
John Deere has given a lot of thought to the usability of this machine. A deck levelling gauge and deck adjustment tool is located under the seat. To level the deck, it’s simply a matter of placing the deck-levelling gauge at the appropriate location under the left rear, right rear, and front of the mower deck. Then using the adjusting tool rotate the adjusting screws on either side of the rear of the deck and the front drag arm adjusting nut to fine tune the deck to ensure it is cutting level.
The cutting height of the deck is set with a rotary dial conveniently located in the center of the mower body’s cockpit. As discussed earlier the X350 has a foot operated lifting mechanism to raise and lower the deck which a lot of operators, including my wife, find less strenuous than using a hand-lift lever. The easy-to-use raised position lock on the left-hand side of the dash operates similarly to the park brake lock located on the opposite side. Considerable thought has been given to the location of the lift foot pedal which is located out of the way and not likely to catch on bushes and tree limbs when mowing.
The X350 features a heavy-duty electric PTO clutch with is actuated by dash mounted switch.
Reverse Implement Option
Safety is paramount with this machine, and it comes standard with “Reverse Implement Option” (RIO) which enables the X350 to operate attachments or mow in reverse. The operator’s handbook strongly discourages operating the machine in reverse, however, if there is no other alternative then you have the option to press and hold the yellow RIO button to enable the machine to operate while in reverse.
The backbone of the X350 is a 12-gauge formed and welded steel frame which is reinforced in critical areas for greater strength. Meantime the front bumper and hitch plate are formed from 9-gauge steel, with the rear hitch plate capable of supporting two 19kg Quick-Tatch weights. There is a combination of mounting holes in the tractor hitch plate that accepts pins or shoulder bolts to support heavy rear-mounted equipment.
Steering of this mower is lightest we’ve seen on a mower in this size range and that’s thanks to the large 360mm (14-inch) steering wheel that is connected to a large sector gear that pivots on a shaft rather than a bushing which ensures proper mesh and eliminates binding and provides a higher steering ratio. A higher ratio equals lower steering effort, combine this with long dual drag links to help equalize the steering loads and reduce steering error which also improve the mechanical advantage of the steering system through the full range of motion. The X350 boasts one of the tightest turning circles, 406 millimeters (16-inches) in the lawn tractor range which gives the machine exceptional maneuverability and precise control.
It’s also one of the easiest mowers to refill with fuel. It has a large 76 millimeters (3-inch) diameter filler opening located on the left-hand side of the rear fender. The dash display has an electronic fuel gauge which makes it easy to monitor the amount of fuel in the tank so you won’t run the machine out of fuel way down the back paddock.
The 380 millimeters (15-inch) seat is the medium size in the John Deere lawn tractor range and is comfortable enough to spend a solid hour or two in mowing an acre or two. However, for added protection and comfort I optioned the LP92324 seat cover ($51.79), which also features a couple of handy pockets in the back of the seat cover for gloves and other hand tools. The cover can be removed in a matter of seconds for easy cleaning and maintenance.
The contoured dash has clean, attractive styling and colour coded ergonomic controls that are labelled with English words for easy identification and use by the operator. The power take-off (PTO) switch allows the operator to get fingers underneath it, like a T-handle, to pull up for easy activation. The latch control on the foot-lift and the park brake latch are pivot levers for low effort. Cruise control activation is handled by an automotive-style button. There is a separate engine speed lever and choke control that make starting and warming up the engine easier especially in cold weather. The choke lever is spring-loaded to eliminate the chance the X350 being unintentionally operated with the choke partially closed.
When it comes to serviceability, the X350 is well suited to the DIY handyman. The Kawasaki FS600V has a spin-on oil filter and the oil drain features quick release oil drain on the left-hand side of the mower. The owner’s handbook recommends an initial service after the first eight hours of use. Regular service intervals are recommended after every 100 hours or 12-months whichever comes first.
One other option that I was pleased that Dene specified was the bumper brush guard BM23057 ($200.38) for added protection the front of the tractor. The bumper has a locating bar that lets it fold forward to allow the bonnet to raised when service work is required. Another feature of the John Deere X350 is the inclusion of a 12-volt fast connector located under the fuse box which allows for quick installation when additional attachments that require 12-volts are fitted. The four-cavity connector includes battery, ground, and key switch terminals and is turned on and off with the ignition switch.
The X350 can comfortably tow a 283-litre (10-cubic feet) wheelbarrow with a 300kg (660 lb) capacity. John Deere has a magnetic pin CPLP63768 ($27.45), which makes coupling and uncoupling the barrow and other implements a simple operation. This tow behind wheelbarrow is extremely handy for collection garden weeds and cuttings and transport them to the composting area.
Overall, the John Deere X350 is an exceptional lawn tractor, coupled with the additional options made cutting our 2.5 acres of grass effortless. With the MulchControl baffle closed there were no grass clippings to collect and the result was a neat clean cut. It certainly ticked all the boxes in terms of performance and economy, the Kawasaki engine is one most economical we’ve used. With an asking price of $5518 it certainly nests itself in the premium market segment, but with all the standard features it is really a standout machine. There is just a hell of a lot to like about this mower, so much in fact, that I bought it.