For years I used a 5HP front-tine rototiller to till a huge garden (and loved it). Then came years when I had no vegetable garden, and I got older too. When I retired and moved here I bought a 6.5HP rear tine Poulan tiller--always wanted a rear-tine tiller--but found it was way too big for me to maneuver. About 1/4 mile turning radius. So I sold it yesterday and need to buy a new tiller. Can't afford to make another mistake, so I need some advice.
Considerations: front-tine or rear tine? counter-rotating tines or standard rotating tines? large enough to till an area 40x60 at least and able to incorporate organic matter without clogging up every few minutes? maneuverable? I'm not young any more. Don't have many rocks to contend with.
Two tillers that I am considering are the Troy Bilt Bronco (small, counter-rotating rear tine) and a front-tine standard rotating Poulan.
I just used a mantis today. Borrowed it from a guy down the street and I was impressed. I have pretty sandy soil so I don't know if it will work for you. I made about a 20X40 garden in a half hour. I pulled it backwards which did take a little effort but it was easy to put where ever I wanted it and after 3 passes everything was all tilled up. Forgot to say there wasn't a bed where I tilled, just dead grass. I was impressed that it really didn't have a problem going into a lawn and tilling it up. First pass broke up the top, second got it down to 3-4 inches and the third finished it off. I hit a couple of pine roots which slowed the mantis down but I really thought it worked better than I thought it would.
I don't how old you are, but I am 63 & still do all the tilling here with a TroyBuilt horse model with 8HP. I bought it maybe18 years ago. It has had a band-aid here & there, but has been pretty good. It is still "run it with one finger" tiller. Here is an old thread about it. http://davesgarden.com/forums/t/426150/
We have a huge garden, 5 acres. We don't do any major tillage with it anymore, we have tractors for that. We use it at planting to make seedbeds. After the soil is worked with tractor machinery, we make a pass with the tiller where the row will be. You can then put in plants up to 8" deep with no effort, just kind of poke a hole in with your fingers. We also have an Earthway seeder. It plants really nice in that seedbed.
I also use it for cultivating between rows. Our rows are 38" apart, go down & back & weeds cease to exist. I always go with the row on the right side of the tiller. I can get super close that way.
This tiller is completely self-propelled, so all you do is steer.
You also mentioned turning. This tiller turns on a dime. You can come out of a row & go right back on the same row.
Granted you need some extra room on the end of the rows.