Originally published: January 4, 2014 Latest Revision January 9, 2014
In 1959, known to Sears’ chief designer as “the best artist we ever had,” Ronald G. Martelet predicted what the Craftsman Lawn Tractor would like in 50 years. In reality the only part he got wrong was where we sit on the tractor. We still want great styling, great dependability, and the ability to get the job done quickly.
There is finally enough information on the new tractor to give you most of the facts. I revice this article as I find out more. Craftsman has spent the last two years seriously listening the owners of the current machines, studying what a new owner would want and developing the mechanical design and ergonomics to take lawn tractors into the future at a price we can afford.
In other words, Craftsman took the best of what you liked and what you wanted and developed the 2014 Craftsman line-up.
In 2013 there Sears sold 26 different models of Craftsman riding mowers. In 2014 Sears will offer 27 models.
In General: The 2010-2013 YT 3000 and YT 4000 series tractors were some of the best selling tractors in the $1300 to $2300. They offered you and I a great mower at a reasonable price. It looks like Craftsman kept all the features and only changed the looks.
Mow In Reverse: It looks like the lawn tractors will now mow in reverse. This was the most requested feature in the “under $1400” category. I expect the MTD made zero-turn decks to still shut off when both levers are pulled into reverse.
Color: The entire line is now red. The tractors all have a cool, new hood. (Craftsman took 2 years to find the right look.) The old red – better, black – best, black/yellow – pro was molested over the last few years by having lawn tractors and yard tractors painted black. I like the new standard color scheme.
Hood redesign: The new hood design is across the entire lawn tractor, yard tractor, and garden tractor lines.
Engine Labeling: SAE J1940 was revised and all engines manufactured after October 2013 will display the new HP labels. What that means for you is all the Briggs & Stratton Engines in the 2014 Craftsman’s will be labeled to those standards. In most cases that means the listed HP will be less EVEN THOUGH the engine itself has not changed. What does that mean to you? It simply means that the actual horsepower is now rated at the actual engine rpm you normally use the tractor at when mowing (3050 rpm) instead of the old 3600 rpm standard. The new Briggs in the garden tractors is the same size and power as last years Kohler but the labeling now conforms with the new SAE J1995 engine ratings. In other words the HP is now measured at 3050 rpm instead of 3600.
Engine Brands: The will be a Kohler or two offered like last year in the yard tractor line and half of the zero-turns have Kohlers. The lawn tractors will use the Gold series Briggs & Stratton. The yard & garden tractors will use the Platinum series Briggs & Stratton. The rider and the base unit lawn tractor will be using the Craftsman 420 cc motor.
48 Inch Deck: Another of the most asked for additions was a deck larger than 46 inch but smaller than 54. Craftsman listened and has introduced a 48 inch deck for both the yard tractor and the mid-size garden tractor sizes.
Complete Start Ignition: A new keyless ignition will be on the tractors and zero-turns that have an electric mower clutch. The new keyless ignition can be coded so others can’t start the machine. It also will show you if safeties are in the wrong position. Here is a video showing you how it works. Complete Start
Fast Tractor Yard Tractor: Craftsman had the first “Fast Tractor” (2009 Excellerator) and now they have three! In addition to the heavy duty, high speed transmission that carries over from the 2013 Model 28861 into the new Model 20403 Garden Tractor, Craftsman will also offer an 8 mph trans in the 42 inch Model 20390 and 48 inch Model 20391 “Fast Tractor.” Who needs a “Raven” when you have a true yard tractor with a 6 inch turning radius that will speed down the lane when you are done mowing.
Mid Size Garden Tractor: There were many requests for a Garden Tractor with a deck smaller than 54 inches. This new Craftsman has slightly smaller tires than it’s big brother and sports a 48 inch, 3 blade deck.
Six Speed Trans on Yard Tractor: Last year a manual transmission was noticeably absent from the yard tractors. It back in a 19 HP, 42 inch Turn-Tight.
Zero Turns: If you read Consumer Reports you know their opinion of residential zero turns. Of the 25 or so models under $3000 rated by them, Craftsman now has 5 of the best rated designs. Last years Craftsman 42 inch and 54 inch zero-turns were rated as some of the best by many review sites. They have been updated with solid front axles (to handle slopes better.) There will also be 3 new HOP built machines. Craftsman now will have the best all around residential zero-turn line.
Manufactures: No Change For Tractors: The Rider, Lawn Tractors and 3 zero turns will be made by MTD. The Yard Tractors, Garden Tractors and 3 new zero-turns will be made by HOP (Husqvarna Outdoor Products)
Here is the link to the new tractors. This page updates as the new models arrive:
I will update this page and add my reviews over the next 3 months.