2012 Craftsman 48 in 24 hp Model 25003 Zero-Turn Review – They Almost Got This One Right!

Executive Summary: Because of lack of sales this model has been discontinued. This Craftsman Zero-turn mower is so much better than the Model 25001 42 inch that there is no way to compare the two.  This is a heavy-duty mower that will give you years of service.  This is basically is MTD’s Cub Cadet Z Force mower tweeked for Craftsman.  While it is not a commercial unit, it is heavy enough to handle all the rigors of mowing your lawn for many years.  It is the only Craftsman for 2012 with a fabricated deck.  The deck is strong enough to handle all the banging, etc a zero-turn normally takes. It uses the heavy-duty Hydro-Gear’s ZT-2800 transmissions. This mower even has a  lever to release the tension on the deck belt to help you make removing the deck much easier.  The only real issue I have with this mower is it will not mow in REVERSE!

Brand/Manufacture: Craftsman / MTD
Model/Series: Residential Zero-Turn Mower
Item Number:  25003 (49 State) NA  (CA Version)
Street Price: $4399.99

Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Premium, Don’t Buy)  This is Craftsman’s Best Quality.

Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Zero-Turn.  Handles a few attachments.
Compare it to: Home Depot does not carry this higher quality zero-turn in the Cub Cadet brand.  You can only get this one at your authorized Cub Cadet dealer. Please take a look at this Husqvarna Zero-Turn before you buy the Craftsman: Husqvarna 54 in 25 hp MZ5424S 

Fabricated Deck
3-Way Adjustable Lap Bars
Easy-Lift Deck
Nice Motor!

Will Not Mow In Reverse!
Will Not Mow and Zero-turn!

Retail Price: $4399.99 My Review:

First, my list of issues with this mower:

Will Not Mow In Reverse! There is no over-ride so that you can mow in reverse. The whole purpose of a zero-turn mower is to be able to mow around obstacles, jump into corners, and spin around quickly while you mow.  Without the ability to mow in reverse this mower is no faster than the Craftsman Turn-Tight tractors. At least you will be able to pull attachments with the tractor.

You can’t actually zero-turn with this mower! Because you can’t mow in reverse, when you go to actually zero-turn with this mower the deck shuts off. My understanding is all the MTD made zero-turns are like this.  I watched a neighbor mow with his and every time he went to turn, every time he backed up, every time he tried to trim, the deck shut off.  It took him forever to mow the lawn because he constantly had to reposition the mower so he could mow in the forward direction. I really wanted to make a video and post it on Youtube.

A true zero-turn will mow in reverse, and mow when it zero-turns.  Mowing this way will easily cut your mowing time in half over using a conventional lawn tractor. 

No access Panels. Cleaning the top of the deck including the spindles and pulleys will be a real chore.  Most of today’s zero-turns have access panels so you can easily work on the deck or clean the transmissions.  Removing the deck is going to be hard.

Now For The Good Stuff!

Fabricated 48 inch Deck! The floating, fabricated deck is built tough to withstand a lot of beating.  It has greaseable, replaceable spindles and will give you a commercial grade cut.

Pivoting Front Axle!  Combined with the floating deck the front axle follows the ground contours.  This gives a better cut than just a free-floating deck. This gives a smoother, more manicured look.

Foot Pedal Deck Height Adjustment. You can easily set the deck height without leaving the seat.  The foot pedal makes it easy to raise the deck.

Creep Adjustment:  Creep and high speed tracking are easily adjusted.

Premium Motor. the 27 hp Kohler Courage Pro will give you years of service.  I always like the extra torque this engine produces.

Heavy Duty, Welded Box Frame.  The fully welded steel frame is a lot more rugged than the pan chassis on the less expensive MTD built zero-turns

Hydro-Gear ZT2800 Trannys.  These transmissions are capable of working hills and slopes.  This unit has an oil reservoir for easy servicing. These transmissions won’t overheat in this size mower.

Large Front and Rear Wheels.  The large wheels and deluxe seat give you a much better ride than with the residential zero-turns.

Lap Bars: Three-way adjustable lap bars can accommodate large and small users. This unit has dampeners so the unit is not jumpy and hard to steer.

Balance?  This zero-turn is balanced well.  I would have no problems using it on slopes, hills, and road ditches.

This article was first published at TodaysMower.com 

Comfort – Ease of Use:  Deluxe seat, arm rests, easy to use operator controls, good field of view.  While not as comfortable as the New Premium Craftsman Tractors it is one of the better riding mid-priced zero-turns. (Some commercial zero-turns has suspension seats)

Power For Mowing:  This tractor has plenty of power for side discharge mowing every week.  There will be a mulch kit, but I’m not sure if there will be a bagger. Why?  Fabricated decks do not have the high-lift airflow stamped decks have. Because of this fact, it will need an side blower. (read expensive)

Reliability – New to 3 yrs: This tractor is serviced by Sears.  One thing to know – Sears takes the tractor out of the shipping crate but they do not “setup” the tractor. You have to put gas in it, and run it for the first time. You may have to hook up the battery and charge it. If there is an assembly problem you call 1-800-4MY-HOME and a service tech comes out and fixes the issue. The store where you picked it up from or the delivery team does not repair the tractor.

Handling – Traction/Steering:  This tractor has higher than average traction and handling for a residential zero-turn. This will give you handling similar to a lawn or garden tractor.  The Craftsman Premium will out perform it though on slopes and hills.   I recommend you never use a mower like this on wet or drought-dry slopes.

Mow – Mulch- Bag:  This deck gets high marks for mowing and mulching..  Be aware this is not a “high-speed” deck like you will find on a commercial lawn mower, but I expect it to mow well at 5 to 6 mph.  It will mow much faster than the cheaper Craftsman zero-turns.  With this tractor/deck you set the height of cut using a foot lever on the mower.

Specifications, Features, Benefits

The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website. Specs subject to change.

Type:  Residential Zero-Turn Mower
Maximum mowing area per hour (acres): 2.5 acres at 6 MPH
Recommended for moderate slopes? Yes
Excels in mowing around obstacles? No, Because it will not mow in reverse.

Will Mow In Reverse? No

Manufacturer: MTD
Brand: Craftsman
Engine Power: 27 hp* 
Displacement: ? cc. 
Manufacturer: Kohler
Cylinders: Twin, cast-iron liners
Type: OHV, oil filter, Pressurized
Charging System: 15 amp regulated
Battery: DieHard
Choke/Speed Control: Integrated One Lever
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4 U.S. gal. 
Transmission: Twin Hydro-Gear ZT2800 with external reservoir
Transmission Control:  Direction- speed: 3 way adjustable lap bars
Cruise Control: NA, has hydro dampeners for easy use. 
Forward Speed: 0-8 mph
Reverse Speed: 0-3.5 mph
Chassis: Welded Tube
Front Tires: 15x5x6
Rear Tires: 20x8x10
Front Axle: Steel Tube
Hood Material: NA
Hourmeter: Yes
Tool Tray: NA

Cupholder: Yes
Headlights: No
Translucent fuel tank or Fuel gauge: ?
Deck washout port: Yes
12-volt outlet: ?
Steering: Dual Lap Bars
Turning Radius: 0 in.
Uncut Circle Radius: ? in. 
Spindle Bushings: Metal, replaceable, greaseable
Seat Back Height: Deluxe hi back
Fore-aft Adjustment: 5 in. while seated
Seat Suspension: Two coil springs
Deck Lift System: Foot Control
Mower Cut Height: 1 in. to 4 in., 12 position
Cut Height Increments: .25 in.
Preset Cut Height: Yes
PTO clutch: Electric

Mower Deck

Type: Side discharge
Mower Cutting Width: 48 in.
Blades: 3
Mower Deck Material: 11 ga with 7 ga reinforcements
Mower Wheel Adjustment: NA
Mower Level Adjustment: Exact
Mower Drive System: In-line belt, Electric PTO
Mower Attachment: 4 point Not EZ-Off
Mower Drive: Belt Tension Spring
Mower Wheels Rotate For Deck Removal: No


Wheelbase: 43-in. 
Overall Length: 70-in. 
Width without mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: 56-in. 
Width with mower: (deflector raised for storage) 51-in. 
Height: ?-in. 
Weight: 722 lb with mower, no fuel

U.S. Warranty: 2 year limited, 3 and 5 year optional protection plan

Optional Attachments

Mowers: 48X (standard)
Material Collection System: ?
Mulching System:  ?
Front Thatcher:  ?
Front Blade:  ?
Tractor Shovel: No
Snow Blower: No
Front Bumper:  ?
Brush Guard: No
Bucket Holder: No
Tow-Behind Tools:  ?

One Response

  1. Kyle C June 22, 2012

Leave a Reply

Get more stuff like this from

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.