Trading up to a riding mower can be a daunting proposition if you’re used to a walk-behind mower. They’re much bigger and pricier than your walk-behind mower, and the myriad controls might look confusing. Unless you have acres and acres to cut, an entry-level model, typically with a 42-inch-wide cutting deck and costing $2,000 or less, should suffice. In our tests, many models in that price range cut as well or better than their pricier counterparts with a wider deck. Two entry-level riding mowers to consider are the the Cub Cadet XT1 LT42, $1,700 (above left), and John Deere D130, $1,900 (above right). To find out, Consumer Reports paired them in a this lawn tractor face-off. The Cub Cadet XT1 LT42 and John Deere D130 cut really well in side-discharge mode, and both aced our bagging test. There the Cub Cadet gets a slight advantage, earning perfect marks for churning grass clippings into fine fragments that recede into the earth and nourish the soil. The Deere mulches well enough that you won't be disappointed with its performance. (The mulching kit costs $30 to $60. ). The winner: Cub Cadet.