2011 Poulan XT 42 in. 19.5 HP 6-Speed Riding Mower Review

This mower has been replaced by the Ariens 42 in 17.5 HP 6-speed Riding Lawn Mower. Yes there is a review of this mower in here somewhere:

I have seen this mower before. It looks like a very popular tractor from the last decade.  It took me a while to figure out exactly where I had seen it, but finally I figured it out.  It has the exact same specs as a 2008 Craftsman.  Right down to the hood, engine type, turning radius and controls. Because of this fact I will change my normal review layout to include a direct comparison of this tractor with the 2011 Craftsman it is competing against.

2011 Poulan or 2008 Craftsman?

What do you want to do with your riding mower? It’s Not The Best Lawn Tractor….It’s The Best Lawn Tractor For You!

What a compliment to Sears and their Craftsman tractors.  It’s one thing when someone copies your work because they like it and feel it is the only way to compete.  It’s another when they use your old, outdated technology to say they have a “new” riding mower.

This move by Home Depot makes me wonder two things. First, “If one of the world’s largest brands of mowers (Ariens) decides that using their name on old Craftsman technology is the best way to sell mowers, what does that say about the new 2011 Craftsman?”  Second, “Home Depot may feel that the only thing you are interested in is price.  These old technology Ariens and Poulan mowers are priced $100 less than the 2011 Craftsman mowers they compete with. It appears they are not interested in getting you the best mower, just getting you to buy their mower because of the price. This is my opinion only, and Home Depot, Ariens and Poulan are welcome to send me a rebutal that I will gladly post on this site.

Face it, Craftsman mowers are popular.  They consistantly are the best rated mowers in the industry for the price range/features they compete in.  They are so popular that it looks like Home Depot is now offering similar (read older) versions of them with Poulan and Ariens names and colors. The Poulan has gone so far as to use the red color instead of it’s own black/yellow paint scheme!

Proof? I happen to have a copies of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 spec books that a Sears Sales Associates carried around in their pocket to help you find the right mower. This is the handbook that goes along with the hours of training every Sears Lawn & Garden Associate gets before they are allowed to help you. Anyway, I spent a few hours comparing the specs of the “new” Ariens and Poulan XT mowers at Home Depot and I have come to the conclusion that these Ariens and Poulan tractors have the same, exact specs that the Craftsman models had in 2008!

Ariens, Poulan and Home Depot are welcome to contact me and show me the difference!  I’m sure the engines in these mowers have the required EPA changes for 2011 otherwise I can’t tell the difference between these “new” mowers and the 2008 Craftsman lineup.

The Poulan and Ariens do not have the Craftsman Turn Tight Technology.  In fact the Ariens has a large 16 inch turning radius.  The older 2008 Craftsman had a 14 inch.

My Review:

My Value/Cost Rating: Rider: Mows Lawn Well, Mulches, Gets Through Tight Spaces Well.  Great for 1/2 to 1  Acre Lawns, Light Hauling, Light Snow Removal. Accepts Light Attachments & Bagger.

Type: Lawn Tractor. See Tractor Rider Mower Types for a complete explanation.
Engine Type: Good. See Engine Types for a complete explanation.
Transmission Type: 6 speed manual. See Transmission Types for a complete explanation.
Speed Control: Fender Gear.
Accepts Light Duty Attachments

Direct Comparison of this tractor with the Craftsman it is competing against.

Product Data is taken directly from Home Depot .com and Sears.com at the time of this review. Please check the sites for current info.

  • Brand: Polan XT Model 960460022 Craftsman Model 28884
  • Engine Size: Polan XT 19.5 HP B&S Craftsman 19.5 HP B&S
  • Cylinders: Polan XT 1 Craftsman 1
  • Transmission: Polan XT 6-speed gear-drive Craftsman Automatic
  • Cut Width: Polan XT 42 in. Craftsman 46 in.
  • Blades: Polan XT 2 Craftsman 2
  • Turning Radius: Polan XT 16 in. Craftsman 18 in.
  • Frame: Polan XT Steel Craftsman Steel
  • Cutting Positions: Polan XT 6 Craftsman 6
  • Forward Speed:  Polan XT 5-1/2 MPH Craftsman 5-1/2 MPH
  • Gas Tank: Polan XT 1.5 Craftsman 1.5 gallon
  • Average Price: Polan XT $1099 Craftsman $1199

What I Like!

This mower is great for those of you who want a cheaper mower and don’t have a lot of obstacles to mow around.  The manual transmission means you will have to stop and shift the tractor every time you want to back up or change the forward speed.  The 16 inch turning radius makes it more cumbersome than the newer Turn Tight Craftsman mowers.  It will mow well and the 19.5 hp motor should have enough power to do your weekly lawn chores.  Don’t expect to mow very fast if you have dense, heavy grass or you don’t get around to mowing as often as you should.

Home Depot’s website is not clear if this mower has a splash-lube engine or a pressurized with filter. It most definitely does not have the best Brigg’s engine with an oil pump. (How to tell. If the motor has no oil filter it is a “good” splash-lube, a black filter with a yellow label it is a “better” pressurized motor and if it has a solid yellow oil filter it is the “best” oil pump Briggs)

Product Description From Home Depot .com

The Husqvarna Poulan XT 42 in. 19.5 HP Briggs & Stratton 6-Speed Front-Engine Riding Mower features a double-blade mowing deck ideal for cutting average-size lawns. It has a turning radius of 16 in., so you can easily maneuver around obstacles when mowing the lawn. This riding mower features 6 cutting positions, allowing you to choose a cutting height ranging from 1-1/2 – 4-1/2 in., depending on the job.

  • 19.5 HP Briggs & Stratton single-cylinder engine offers a powerful performance
  • 6-speed gear-drive transmission allows you to set the appropriate mowing pace for the job
  • 42 in. cutting width for a manicured cut
  • Double-blade mowing deck is ideal for average-size lawns
  • 16 in. turning radius permits easy maneuvering around obstacles
  • Steel frame for strength and durability
  • 6 cutting positions allow you to select cutting heights ranging from 1-1/2 – 4-1/2 in.
  • Travels up to 5-1/2 MPH forward and 1-1/2 MPH in reverse for efficient mowing
  • Handy beverage holder for user convenience
  • 1-1/2-gallon gasoline tank helps reduce the need for refueling
  • MFG Brand Name : Poulan XT
  • MFG Model # : 960460022
  • MFG Part # : 96046022
  • Number of Cylinders : Single Cylinder

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  1. I agree that these are basically Craftsman knock-offs with last year’s technology. I’ve had two old Craftsman mowers and my “new” Poulan was basically the same technology painted red. Two months are I purchased it, the valve springs needed adjusting. I called Home Depot, they told me to call Poulan. Called Poulan, they told me to call Briggs. Called Briggs, they told me to shove it. Finally fixed it on my own and vowed never to buy Home Depot or Poulan. Take my advise, spend the extra money on a real mower (Craftsman) and let Home Depot keep their French junk.

    • @George, This is such and issue with some engine manufactures that one zero-turn manufacture will be using their own engines next year. The tractor manufactures are tired of the warranty hassle. That’s one of the reasons I suggest Craftsman to many people. Engine, transmission and all other problems Sears Repair Services takes care of. There is no hassle having to contact different manufactures yourself. Ariens and Cub Cadet also take care of the complete warranty through their dealers.

  2. Greetings,
    I like the craftsman brand too, mainly the GT like the gt6000.
    But you seem to be misinformed. The craftsman tractor isnt a form of flattery, is is the cloning known as mass manufacturing.
    AYP which is Husqvarna makes some of the craftman brands as well as husqvarna, poulan, poulan pro, ariens(except the zero turn mowers) etc.
    This mower in the craftsman brand was still available from my sears store, but was more expensive than you quoted in your article, and I got the last one of this model from home depot this year as the one remaining brand new but last years model. I bought it as my dad’s la115 with the infamous t40 transaxle added to the count of broken transaxles. If JD had put the regular k46, you could easily change the trans fluid and most likely have gotten it to last longer.Anyway, I bought my first poulan xt in 2008, and this one in 2011, and they work great. Mine cost 750 and this one cost 640. Added together they are less thn the same craftsman cost at sears. 2 for the price of 1, and I knew more about the tractors manufacturers than the sears staff did! I would buy a gt6000 if they were $1000 cheaper, as the last time I paid sears that much, I got a 1994 gt5000 that stripped the stator wire after 1/2 a year for 3500.
    I am going to rebuild it or maybe just place a new engine on it this year and rewire it as the harness melted when the stator went. That gt is an AYP as well! But the gt5000 of 94 compares favorably to the current gt6000.
    I am coming to the belief that if you want a good tractor, you need to get a gt, and a downsized 42″ deck as they seem to mow well(not too big)! Plus you can plow a little garden or other work rather easy. So my point is if sears wants to reach back to their roots, and sell in volume for profits, good for them. They wiring and engine have improved from the 90’s, but the transaxle is where the bread n butter is. I wouldnt want a hydrostat less than a tuff torq k66 or a hydrogear 730, I bought the geared poulans to avoid the t40/k46 junk with no way of changing the trans oil! If you want to really talk tractors, then tell your readers who manufactures the thing, what engine it has, and the transaxle the tractors have in them!

    • @dave s, You can read this article http://todaysmower.com/2011/riding-mower-brands/ to see who makes what for all the tractors under $3000.

      You are correct. There are basically four manufactures of tractors here in the US. Briggs & Stratton, Husqvarna, MTD and John Deere. Craftsman at the moment uses Husqvarana, MTD and B&S. One item though. With the Husqvarna built tractors Sears tends to get the newest technology first. In your example, the hood on your Poulan was first used on the Craftsman. This year Craftsman has the Turn Tight.

      I did not specify the exact model that the Poulan is copied from. From my 2008 material it is a Model 28811. The 28811 had a 20 hp Briggs Intek, 42 inch deck and 6 speed manual trans. If I remember correctly it was colored Mauve.

      For 2011 Sears is not selling a single cylinder Husqvarna built 6 speed and that is why I had to compare it to the 28851. The 28851 is priced more because it has a hydro.

      The only two Husqvarana built manual trans tractors for 2011 are the 24 hp 28945 and the 28947.

      The 42 inch and the 46 inch decks both mow well. The 54 inch deck also mows well but it won’t give you the “golf course” look the smaller decks will because of the uneveness of your lawn.

      By the way the Hydrogear 730 is in the 28861. The k46 is in the YT4500’s and I have not heard of a transmission failure in the last 4 years. It does a very good job for what it is designed for.

      Dave, the biggest factor though is you need to get a mower that will do what you need it to. Most suburban homeowners don’t need the extra cost of a Hydro Gear 730. The Tuff-Torq’s will last them. Up here anyone with a larger yard also owns an ATV so they also don’t need the heavy trans. The YT4500 works very well.

      Myself, I like the 28861 and I feel the price is reasonable for what it is designed for. You get a lot of tractor for the price. But if I had 1/2 acre or larger garden I would look at the Craftsman PGT 9500, X340 Deere, Simplicity Prestige or even a B2250 Kubota.