Kawasaki FJ180V KAI vs. HONDA Commercial Engine--Comparison

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by Nik_Danger, May 12, 2007.

  1. Nik_Danger

    Nik_Danger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    Hello all! I have owned the Honda HRC216HXA commercial mower for 2 years now and swear it is one of the sweetest mowers I've used to date. Recently I bought a new Toro commercial with the new Kawi KAI engine. The new engine was redesigned to address issues that arose with the original FJ180V. This new mower is pretty sweet but I will concentrate on engines only since you can buy the toro with either and I am almost positive that honda quit making commercial 21's.

    Honda: Mechanical >
    extremely well made, I've been around full blown pro mod engines for some time and for this engine to impress me says a lot!
    >air cleaner...small part but absolutely essential to engine performance and longevity. They didn't take "dual element" lightly at honda with both parts designed for maximum efficiency in both air flow and extent of clean air.
    >No oil filter but if you are serious about your equipment running for season after season you will change the oil before filtration becomes an issue ;-)
    >The engine itself is cleaner. I have 2 full seasons on the honda and the engine itself still looks new, with absolutely no grease or oil buildup! The engine runs like a champ starting on the first pull requiring 2 pulls only in the winter time...and even then it starts on the first pull 99.9% of the time. It has a completely different sound from most other mowers, being quieter and...forgive me but I must...better made =) I know I know that sounds stupid but...this whole comparison is objective so why the heck not! I can honestly say that I can see this engine lasting as long as my beloved toro 2 cycle...and that says a lot!

    >Air cleaner is "dual element" but they went with the cheap stuff with the outer element being tissue paper thin, not oiled and the paper filter being pretty weak too. It still does the job, but considering its competition its pretty flimsy.
    >Has oil filter like previous Kawi FJ180V engine. I change the oil before it ever needs filtration like every other crew I know. But if it stops one detrimental piece of debris then it was worth it! ;-)
    >Louder than honda engine
    >Already had mechanical issues with the carb. The week that I bought it...it started stalling. I took it to the mechanic who by the way put more scratches on my machine then the most careless crew...it was warranty work but now the engine smokes. You can't see the smoke with your eyes but I coat the muffler with WD-40 to prevent rust and I always wipe carbon build up off after each use. The dealer says that is normal. I say he is full of SHI...quiet thoughts...
    >Power...this thing is a beast! My honda has balls...but not like this! Last week I took a one hitter against my best judgment. It hadn't been mowed in at least a month and the grass was maybe 8 inches tall or taller. The Kawi only bogged twice but never died. My honda would of died every 10 feet!
    Kudos to the power dept.
    >Kawi is already dirty where trace amounts of oil collect dirt at the main engine gasket. I know it's a lawn mower...but the honda has it beat there. Clean equipment gets compliments and makes you look more professional against a crew that uses red equipment...at least you know in the beginning it was red but now it looks like they pulled it out of a fire or something.

    Overall I would say hands down if you are in the market for a commercial 21 go with the honda engine. I have yet to have the dealer up the rpms on my honda so I really don't know what I'm missing. Everyone here goes ape poop for the suzuki 2 cycle and I know why. In 10 years the honda engine will earn that kind of respect too because each one is consistently made with quality being #1 on the list of priority. The kawi is cheaper but I just bought a brand friggin new one and I already see the superiority of honda engineering.

    Right on!
  2. z_clark

    z_clark LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 369

    Nice write up! I agree!

    We own 12 of the Toro 21"s. I bought all Kawi powered 4 years ago because of price / gas tank size / and oil filter. MISTAKE!!! I have been selling off Kawis and replacing them w/ the Honda powered. We still have 4 of the Kawis, and have them on the trucks as backups.

    Price: Cost me more in the long run as every mower had to go back for warranty work the first year. Head gaskets and sump gaskets went out two or more times on each mower. Down time = $ out of pocket.

    Gas tank size: Honda gets better "gas mileage" .5 gallon on the Honda does not go as far as the 1 gallon on the Kawi, but the guys fill both two times per day (morning and after lunch) on both anyways.

    Oil filter: Kawi's oil filter is a disadvantage! If you buy the OEM it is around $7. Wix are about $4. ($4 X 16 change a year X 2 years = $128). Our Honda's oil is still clean after 50 hours of running. Kawi's oil is filthy!

    Bottom line - my guys go for the Hondas first.
  3. saw man

    saw man LawnSite Bronze Member
    from utah
    Messages: 1,041

    How do you figure Honda quit making Comm. 21" mowers?
  4. Nik_Danger

    Nik_Danger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    the dealers and a few members here posted that because last years models and previous HRC216HXA models are still running strong with their owners people aren't buying enough for Honda to keep producing. According to what I have heard they will only offer their residential models after all of the 06's are sold off. I could be wrong but thats what I have heard from multiple sources. I just hope parts stay plentiful for a long time because I love my HONDA!
  5. saw man

    saw man LawnSite Bronze Member
    from utah
    Messages: 1,041

    You are wrong, they have out K3 models now. Which is HRC216K#HXA. 07 models
  6. Nik_Danger

    Nik_Danger LawnSite Member
    Messages: 45

    well there ya go! I'm happier wrong than right on that one ;-)
    Is that model on the honda power equip. website yet?

    What is the K3 model. The website says nothing of that...???

    My honda dealer has only toro now...no hondas in stock. They try to sell honda whenever they can so it seems odd they they have only nice shinny bright red toros that they used to bash all the time...
  7. joed

    joed LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,202

    I have both the kawasaki powered toro and the honda commercial unit and concur with the analysis of the engines by the original poster. Honda is quiter, less maintenance, more fuel efficient but not as powerful. The kawasaki is more powerful but has more maintenance and runs rougher. My toro was purchased last August and the FJ180V on it is already blowing black smoke on start up. However, I still think the toro is the better unit of the two. It's more productive and a better mulcher. I see that toro/exmark now have an updated version of the FJ180V called the FJ180V KAI. How is this new engine different than the first version of the FJ180V?
  8. lawnboy dan

    lawnboy dan LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,718

    back when the kawi 180 first replaced the 150 -there was ample warning that this engine had problems but no one listened.. its a pos ! avoid buying it when possiable. no suprize to me the honda tests out better . i knew this back in the early 90,s when i bought a brand new one thats still running with no major repairs even today with an est of 20,000 hrs. too bad the robin engine has faded from sight=best engine ever

    NORTHMAN LawnSite Senior Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 313

    Nik_Danger,its all your fault,I was going to buy an Exmark Metro with a Kawasaki when my Toro Personal Pace dies,but oh-no you had to come out with this great post compareing the two engines ,now I'm thinking about the Honda engine.Thankyou,well done.
  10. Paul in Maryland

    Paul in Maryland LawnSite Member
    Messages: 46

    Yep. That's why I recently bought a "brand new" 2004 Ariens 21: It came with the 6hp, 37-pound Robin EH18V OHV engine. It's quiet, smooth, and powerful, but I often find it hard to restart after it's hot: I must pull the rope as quickly as I've ever pulled a starter rope, using all my strength.

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