Back in the Fall of 2003, we received an invitation to a big Honda press event that took place in Louisville, Kentucky. Senior Editor Tuan Nguyen was summarily dispatched. There, he would rub shoulders with editors from publications such as Handy Magazine, Yard & Garden, Diesel Progress, Consumer Reports and others. And in this esteemed company, Tuan would be one of the first to try Honda's latest walk-behind mower - the top of the line HRX.
Did the fact that the Temple of VTEC was represented raise a few eyebrows? Hmmm, probably. After all, the main focus of our site is skewed more towards Honda's roadborne products. But a good number of TOV readers and members don't stop there, and we realize that. Take a peek in their garages and you will likely find Honda motorcycles, dirt bikes, scooters, ATVs, watercraft, and yes, string trimmers and lawn mowers.
Tuan did a pretty good job of going over the basics of the mower in his review, but as a recap, here are some of the highlights of the HRX 217: Xenoy® composite deck construction (virtually indestructible, impervious to rust), 6.5HP OHC 4-stroke GCV190 gasoline engine, MicroCut™ twin blade design, variable hydrostatic CruiseControl™ propulsion system, VersaMow™ bagging/mulching feature, and RotoStop™, which only engages the blade when you want it engaged, permitting the mower to idle safely until you're ready to cut again.
Tuan was suitably impressed by the new HRX, but the lofty price (currently $699 at my local Home Depot) takes the HRX off the table for a lot of people. In fact, I'll fess up - in my own short history of lawnmower purchases, my personal selections have skewed towards the lower-end models. And usually only those that were on sale at the time (under $200). Features such as hydrostatic self-propulsion, variable mulching/bagging options, and indestructible decks are not on the menu for these mowers. Would a lawn-eating tour de force such as the HRX be enough to convince someone like myself who doesn't exactly look forward to mowing the lawn?
In order to find out, I spent a full mowing season testing one on my own lawn. My lawn isn't exactly huge, as my home consumes a good portion of the 1/3 acre plot that it sits on, but with a mixture of Bermudagrass (up front) and Tall Fescue (back yard), it's fairly representative of the average lawn in this part of the country.