Well I got a request for a photo of the new mower, so here you go:
So that's what $300 will buy you in terms of a major-brand lawnmower these days. It's red and shiny and has that 'new mower smell.' It's a Model 20065, made here in the US, sporting a 190cc Model 120000 Quantum 650 Briggs and Stratton Engine rated at 6.5 HP.
I used the self-propulsion more than I thought I would as dark began to descend last night. I've never been a big fan, and I'm still not, but it did get things done a bit faster. The mulching feature is very nice and I will only use the bag during leaf season I think. The longer handle takes a bit of getting used to, but I'll figure it out.
For comparison here's the 28 year old 22" Toro and it's 5.5 HP Tecumseh TVS100 engine and original bag:
I still haven't told my dad that the first mower he ever owned died, but as my brother Matt pointed out, it DID last two years longer than Dad's second mower, which passed away at 3447 a few springs ago.