2011 Craftsman GT6000 54 inch 26 hp Garden Tractor Model 28861 Review

The Craftsman GT6000 54 inch 26 hp Garden Tractor Model 28861 with Turn Tight Technology get’s my “Best Value Garden Tractor” this year.

This easy-to-use riding mower is great for your 1 to 5 acre lawn. It feature’s a large 26 hp Kohler motor!  For less that $3000 you get a great cutting 54 inch deck, 26 hp Kohler motor and heavy duty garden tractor transmission. The new Turn Tight front steering let’s you spend a lot less time trimming your yard.  For most of us this lawn tractor will mow and trim as fast as a residential zero-turn and will still be able to handle the ditches and hills that a zero-turn is unable to mow.  This riding mower will get done faster without the problems of a zero-turn mower.

It’s Not The Best Lawn Tractor….It’s The Best Lawn Tractor For You!

Craftsman GT6000 Garden Tractor

My Rating of this Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower:

My Value/Cost Rating: Garden Tractor,  Mows Lawn Well.  Great for 1 to 5 Acre Lawns, Heavy Hauling, Medium to Heavy Snow Removal. Accepts all Attachments & Bagger.

Type: Garden Tractor.
Engine Type: Better. Full Pressure Lube.
Transmission Type: Heavy Duty Hydrostatic.
Speed Control: Pedal Infinite with cruise.
Accepts All Garden Tractor Attachments:

What I Like!

If you want to take your lawn mowing from “That’s a lot of work” to “That’s a lot of fun.” this is the best under $3000 large area mower around.

This is the best Craftsman for value, cut, durability and overall satisfaction for your larger suburban yard, farm lawn and heavy duty snow removal for your driveway.  This Garden Tractor specifically has a 54 inch deck and 26 hp twin cylinder Kohler engine.  Please read my reviews of all the 54 inch deck models so you can find the best tractor for you.  Over the last 2 years I have mowed with this 54 inch deck and it will cut as well or better than any other comparable deck from all the other brands.  You will not be disappointed with the cut.  With correct blades for your lawn the fully vented deck has good lift for poor lawns and gets rid of the grass evenly and quickly for well kept lawns.  These decks are designed to side-discharge best, bag ok and have some blow-by with a mulch plug attached.

Watch the New Turn Tight Technology In Action!


Craftsman GT6000 54 inch 26 hp Garden Tractor Model 28861

Read More Here:
Craftsman 54 In. 26hp Kohler Turn Tight Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Non CA 23 x 10.5 x 8 in.

Buy Here from Sears:
Craftsman 54 In. 26hp Kohler Turn Tight Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Non CA 23 x 10.5 x 8 in.

My Review:

I am very excited about the Craftsman Turn Tight Technology on this tractor.  Combine the 8 inch turning radius with the 7.5 mph ground speed and this tractor is comparable to all the residential and pro-sumer zero-turn mowers currently on the market.  It specifically addresses the safety issues Consumer Reports raised last year with residential zero-turn mowers.

Do you know that Lowes and Home Depot do not have a comparable Garden Tractor?  Lowes does carry one Husqvarna that they classify as a garden tractor but it is not comparable to this Craftsman.  This model features the new Craftsman Turn Tight Technology,  step through operator’s platform, Kohler oil pump lube engine with oil filter, and a 54 inch deck.

The 28861 has a pedal control hydrostatic transmission with cruise control.  This transmission is easy to use and will perform well for mowing and heavy duty yard tasks.  (it drives more like your car)  The larger tires and comfortable seat are one of the keys to why this is such a great garden tractor.

If you want a mower that will mow 1 to 5 acres well, handle a snow thrower, and use all ground engaging attachments this is a great choice for you.  This tractor is heavy enough to handle moderately hilly and rough lawns.  This is the fastest Garden Tractor on the market! This is a great all around mowing machine.  This lawn tractor is one riding mower that will work well for your large suburban lawn.

I like the GT6000 series.  I think it represents a good value and a machine that if taken care of properly will last you a long time. If I had more than 1 acre I would own one of these myself.

This yard tractor is capable of using all the attachments Sears offers including a snow thrower.


This yard tractor has a high capacity deck that has a lot of airflow.  Because of that when you install a mulch plug you will get some “blow by” when mowing dry grass.  What that means is the deck will blow cut grass out the right front corner of the deck.  When conditions are dry, you will get dirty mowing your lawn.  If you use it for side discharge though it cuts very well and evenly.

Why this Garden Tractor over a Lawn Tractor?

Garden tractors have heavier transmissions and larger tires than lawn tractors like the YT4500.  The larger tires make the ride a lot more enjoyable.  Ride on one of these for an hour and then a lawn tractor and you will quickly see the difference.  The larger tires handle rough lawns better, give you more traction and won’t feel as “sloppy” when mowing ditches and hills.  The transmission is just about bulletproof and can handle anything you decide to pull.  If you regularly use a snow thrower this transmission will give you years of great service.

Final Thoughts:

I personally feel the new Turn Tight Technology this yard tractor changes the game for just about all residential yard owners.  For most of you this will mow as quickly as a residential zero-turn.  It is easier to drive, is easier on your lawn and less expensive than the comparable zero-turn models.  There is no “learning curve” like there is with a zero-turn. It will handle slopes that the residential zero-turns won’t.  And………it will pull stuff!

If you feel you need a zero-turn but your spouse won’t even look at one, show them this tractor!

Don’t get me wrong! This is not the best garden tractor.  There are other tractors like the Craftsman Premium and the John Deere X340 that are heavier but they are thousands of dollars more.  In the under $4000 class ($2850 on sale) this is by far the best value for the money.

There are very few negatives with this mower as long as you understand that it is a good quality mower with a large deck.  Take care of it (do the normal maintenance all lawn mowers need) and it will last you a long time.  I like this lawn mower for what it is designed for.  With the Turn Tight Technology and at around $2850 on sale it is a great value.

Product Description From Sears

This Craftsman Garden Tractor has a powerful 26 hp Kohler Courage V-Twin engine and its heavy duty design enables it to perform with various ground engaging attachments. This Craftsman Garden Tractor also touts the tightest turning radius in the industry at 8 because it has Craftsman’s exclusive Turn Tight™ technology.  A tighter turning radius lets you cut more efficiently around landscape obstacles and prevents you from the need to repeatedly reposition your tractor. When you add in the heavy-duty premium hydrostatic automatic transmission that allows you to cut grass at a top speed of 7.5MPH, a 54″ 12 gauge fabricated steel cutting deck to mow larger areas; this tractor gets the biggest jobs done in less time.

  • Exclusive Craftsman Turn Tight™ technology delivers an 8″ turning radius
  • 26 hp Kohler Courage V-Twin Engine with pressure full lube
  • Heavy-duty 54″ deck
  • 4 adjustable gauge wheels and nose roller with large, 23″ rear tires
  • Cut grass up to 7.5 MPH
  • Heavy-duty premium hydrostatic automatic transmission
  • Foot pedal drive for added convenience
  • Spring loaded deck lift system
  • Handy cup holder
  • High back seat with arm rests
  • Automotive type slide seat system

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163 Comments on "2011 Craftsman GT6000 54 inch 26 hp Garden Tractor Model 28861 Review"

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Paul, I wanted to ask you a question, but couldn’t find a link with direct access to you, such as PM from this site or email. Soooo. I’m posting it here as a comment… My neighbor and I are having a debate. She has a Cub Cadet that is about a dozen years old, and as you know, I have a 2011 GT6000. The the key point of the debate has to do with throttle speed and engaging the mowing deck. Both mowers use a PTO clutch to run the blades. She contends that it isn’t necessary to run the… Read more »
Arnold Goodman

Steering wheel is easy to remove on the Craftsman. There is ac over plate remove that then just unscrew the bold on top. No real problem removing it

Ed L.

I know about the access plate and the bolt. My problem is that I cannot use the wheel to provide counter-pressure to the bolt as I try to unscrew it. Unfortunately, every video or procedure I’ve found doesn’t consider the possibility that the steering wheel is broken. I was thinking that an impact wrench in reverse might work. I also have a large-mouthed vise-grip that I might be able to use.


No luck with Sears on this. In order to even consider a warranty replacement part, I need to have a tech come out with a minimum $100 fee. And, even if the part itself is covered, the fee won’t be waived. Sears Parts Direct sells the steering wheel for around $60, leaving me $40 in the hole. 🙁 Now I need to figure out how to get the old wheel off without damaging the steering. Any ideas? Perhaps a YouTube video?

arnold Goodman Bellaire MI

I reread your 8 bolt article, yes it was good advice. When I went to check bolts and change transmission oil I saw that both Brackets holding transmission were cracked. I could not image the transmission held on by Bracket so I checked further. There is a center brace also. These bolts really a tap hold the transmissin also. Both bolts were missing THIS IS ANOTHER PART TO REALLY CHECK


On June 2, 2015, arnold Goodman said: “When I went to check bolts and change transmission oil…”

I thought that the transmission on the 2011 GT6000 has a sealed transmission which doesn’t require that the oil be changed.

arnold Goodman Bellaire MI
Hello again. As unhappy owner of the Gt6000 2011 I now see a real issue with the transmission connect to the frame. I had taken off the wheel to look at Tyranny and see what my issues are. I then noticed when I pressed the Forward pedal the whole transmission and connector seem to move. I then noticed a crack about 1/3 though on connector ( Bracket welded to Frame) I now felt the other side Frame Bracket and I seem also to feel a crack in it. From my looking I see Bracket is a welded member of the… Read more »
Ed L.
On Jan 27, 2015 Paul Sikkema said: “ For those of you reading this – this is a Kohler Courage engine, not the new 7000 series. The V-Twin Courage engines were notorious for leaky right head gaskets, and valve covers. It’s a simple fix. A new head gasket and/or gasket sealant and you never have a problem again.” Yeah, that’s pretty much what the tech said. The problem is that while removing the valve cover is a relatively easy – albeit messy – task, replacing the head gasket is a whole order of magnitude greater. It’s really not something the… Read more »
Ed L.
Just a quick update… The Sears tech was out a couple of weeks ago, and made quick work of installing replacing the factory static drag links with adjustable ones. This seems to have corrected the problem, however I have two concerns. First, there appears to be a typo in the installation guide. On page 6, step 21 reads: 21. TO ADJUST THE DRAG LINKS (See Figure 27): o Use a 9/16″ wrench to loosen the adjustment jam nut on both drag links. o Remove the nuts and lock washers holding the drag links to the TTR pivot brackets. o To… Read more »

HI Paul,

Those are actually the blades I had on when I conducted my little “speed” experiment. I do like the way they mulch, but I think its causing me to mow slower, so…… I’ve ordered a set of high lift blades. I’m hoping it will help speed things up a little bit. I know it wont make a huge speed difference, but even .5 – 1 mph over 4-5 acres will really make a difference. Thanks again!


Thank you! Excellent detailed answer!!!

Paul, I recently saw you mention (on another thread somewhere on this site) a “high speed” deck. I can’t recall now, but I believe it was something about how fast the mower could actually mow grass. I have an old gt3000 from 2001 with 25 horse Kohler and 48 inch deck. The manual says it goes 5.8 mph (i understand this is not while mowing). However, when I borrowed my friends 2012 JD D140 with 48 inch deck, his mower seemed to be able to handle the same grass at a much quicker speed than mine (his tractor speed is… Read more »
Ed L.
Oh, one other thing… After putting the GT6000 away for the winter, I noticed a spreading oil slick under the left side, directly underneath the valve cover. Since I had a Sears tech out for my steering issue, I had him look at that problem, as well. He quickly sized up the problem as a leaky right valve cover. Apparently, the Kohler engines installed on the 2011 GT6000 do not use a gasket, but merely a “shmear” of sealant during assembly. According to the tech, over time – usually within 3-4 years of normal use – the sealant fails and… Read more »
Ed L.
[QUOTE]It is simply replacing the tie-rods. Go to searspartsdirect.com and put in your model number (from under the seat) Order the parts and replace them. If you feel uncomfortable doing this call 1-800-4MY-HOME and a tech will come to your house to do it.[/QUOTE] Quick update on my steering/front end issue: To make a long story short, a tech came out to our house yesterday. After tightening the front axle pivot bolt nut, he decided that the appropriate repair is to replace the left and right draglinks with adjustable ones. The part (587284101) arrived today. The following is the first… Read more »
Thanks so much Paul. Two final questions: 1. which of these three trannies is the most reliable in your opinion? Tuff Torq K66, Turf Torq K46, or the Hydro Gear? I have a Craftsman GT3000 from around 2004 or so and I believe that has the Hydro gear. 2. I live in California so the tractors sometimes have the “smaller HP” motors. Does going from a 48inch deck to a 54 inch deck sap quite a bit more power from the motor? I’d love the 54 inch but want to make sure these 24-25 HP motors in Cali are strong… Read more »

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