The Best Lawn Tractors and Zero-Turns For 2012-2013

Which Riding Lawn Mower, Lawn Tractor, Zero Turn Is Right For You?

There are over 250 U.S made Lawn Tractors and Zero Turn Mowers available to you and the task of figuring out which is the best one for you can be an almost impossible task.  This site is here to help.

If you have never owned a riding lawn mower before start hereI Want A Riding Mower/Zero Turn But I Don’t Know Where To Start!

This is last years review page. For 2015 I split the Tractors and zero-turns into 2 separate pages:  Go there for the latest reviews.

203932 The Best Lawn, Yard and Garden Tractors For 2015

images (6) The Best Residential and Prosumer Zero-Turns For 2015

The Complete Lawn Mower, Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Garden Tractor, Zero Turn Name Brands List  Here is the latest info I have

If you have a question or comment about a tractor please use the form at the bottom of the page the review is on. Please tell me where you live, lawn size and type of grass. If you have a general question use the form at the bottom of this page.  I am familiar with most of the tractors on the market so if you don’t see a review for the new one you are interested in…just ask.

Thinking about a new snow blower? Check out my MovingSnow Site. Get the same great information and reviews that you come to trust on this site.

Please give your city and state when you comment

  1. Hi Paul,

    I’ve been reading through your site and have managed to thoroughly confuse myself. My parents would like to get a new riding lawn mower in the next year or two. They currently have a John Deere STX (approximately 20 years old) that seems to be slowly dying.

    Their lawn is about one acre with some trees and pretty flat. They have another two acres of wild grass that Dad mows a couple times a year to keep it from getting too overgrown. They also have a 500 foot driveway to plough in winter. They have a push snowblower, but don’t like it much. They want a lawn mower that would take a snowblower attachment (a snowplow blade would be acceptable, but blower/thrower is much preferred).

    What type and level of mower should I be looking at for these needs? I think I should be looking at medium duty yard tractors, but I’m not positive. Do you know which brands have better snow blowing attachments available?

    Thank you for all of your help. My parents live near Missoula, Montana.

    • @Rae, You are not that confused. A mid-priced yard tractor will do the work. A 42 inch mower is all you need for lawn. I hear though that you can get some good winter storms that will leave you hard packed snow so we need to look at tractors that can be equipped with weights and chains.

      Their are 3 brands that do snow blower attachments well. Craftsman, John Deere and Husqvarna. Cub Cadet is also a choice but unless you have a local dealer that can help you through the buying and mounting process I suggest we stay away. I see you have a Sears store, a Home Depot and a few Husqvarna dealers.

      Craftsman: Craftsman has a 42 and a 48 inch tractor that will do the job well for you. They are usually the best value compared to the John Deere and Husqvarna. I am going to send you to my review and a page that lists all the available attachments. 42 inch Model 20390 and 48 inch Model 20391. You will need the tractor, the snow blower, weights, and chains to be ready to move snow.

      Here is my review for the John Deere D125 and D140 D125, D140. If you don’t like your local Deere Dealer, Home Depot is fairly good at getting you the tractor, snowblower, weights and chains.

      Husqvarna: MURDOCH’S RANCH AND HOME, 2801 WEST BROADWAY, MISSOULA, MT 59808 Murdoch’s has a page on the husqvarna site and it looks like they do tractors and mowers. I suggest checking them out if you are interested in a Husqvarna. (Lowes carries Husqvarna but isn’t that great for snow attachments.)

  2. hi Paul, I live in Narragansett ri will be turning the over grown woods into grass slowly the property is partly grass now bit rough,, this leads to a neighborhood beach has a pretty steep incline, plus I will probably do a couple neighbors lawns 1/4 acre or a little more each plus my roomies who’s property abuts the beach property. what is your thought on the simplicity broadmore 42 /craftsman gt6000
    is there a big difference here ?
    thank you

  3. I too am interested in the Husqvarna YT46LS, however I want a deck larger than the 48″ wheel base to have the ability to cut under low hanging trees and shrubs. Are there any known issues or drawbacks with the YT54LS vs YT46LS? I’ve found little reviews or owners this model and curious why it is unloved.

    • The YT54LS YTH24V54, YTH24K54 and the Craftsman 20393 all have too small of tires for the 54 inch deck. You can’t get them to mow any higher than about 2 3/4 inches and the decks flop around so the cut is very uneven. Unless you have a smooth, flat lawn and don’t mind scalping it stay away from any tractor with 20 inch rear tires and a 54 inch deck.

      For $300 more you can move up to a Garden Tractor like the 24HP 54″ Complete Start™ Turn Tight® Garden Tractor – Non CA or a GTH24K54 or GT54LS. You’ll like those 3 a whole lot better.

  4. I’m thinking of buying a Husqvarna YT46LS. However, my local Husq dealer says he doesn’t sell a few models because of problems. The YT46LS is one of them, he says the blades bend too easily on that model. He is very knowledgeable and seems to know what he’s talking about. He has most of the other models and can get any model I want. Have you heard of this issue on the YT46LS?

    • @David, The 46 inch 2 blade Husqvarna deck is one of the best cutting and bagging decks on the market. In fact Consumer Reports rated it and the YT46LS as the 3rd highest rating lawn tractor for 2013.

      As far as the blade bending too easily, I do see more bent blades in the spring. Up here the frost heaves rocks out of the ground and if you are not paying attention–you’ll find one that wasn’t there last year. It’s not just 46 inch blades, it’s all sizes.

      If you are bending blades raise your deck up a notch.

      One last thing. Many aftermarket blades are cheaper than the OEM blades for a reason. If the dealer wants to sell you a black, no-name blade ask for a Husqvarna blade instead. If he doesn’t want to sell you a Husqvarna blade go to Sears and buy the Premium (red) Craftsman Blades. They last twice as long as the no name ones some dealers try to sell you.


    • @Gilbert, Did you recently change the oil? Put the mower on a flat, level surface. Let it set for 30 minutes and then check the oil. Is it too full?

      If it’s not, call 1-800-4MY-HOME and have a tech check it.

  6. Hi Paul,

    I live in Stone Ridge, NY (12404) and have a 3 acre lawn. Most of the land is sloped and the terrain is a mix of flat and uneven surfaces.

    Do you have a few recommendations of riding mowers that are built well and that can handle the sloped, uneven terrain? Would love to get your thoughts as you seem like an objective and well-informed expert on the topic. This will be the first time I’m purchasing a machine and I’m looking for something that is fairly low maintenance and that is easy to operate.


  7. We have 2 plus acres to mow and are now looking for a ZTR mower. There are quite a few trees but the majority of the land is flat. We have looked at the Kubota Kommander ZG123S-48, Hustler FastTrak SD FX691 and the Bad Boy CZT Elite. Have heard good things about all three but at still confused about which one to purchase. The Bad Boy and Hustler have a Kawasaki engine and the Kubota has a Kohler. Which would you recommend?

    Holland, Tx

    • @Bernice, You are right, all three are good machines. I suggest that you buy the mower from the dealer that you like. I personally don’t get along with certain dealers. They ignore me when I first walk into the dealership. They say something that is not “customer friendly” or they don’t have a good looking repair shop. I want a dealer that has been around for a while. I also want a dealer that when I walk into the place, I am the most important person in the room.

  8. after many years of use the cutter deck of my Honda ht3813 has let go and now I am in market for new tractor with so many options out there I am getting overwhelmed with all the choices . is there something you can recommend that’s comparable to my old Honda . I tend to be very rough on my equipment . Thanks

    • @John, 1st, if your old Honda is still running it’s probably worth about as much as one of these new ones. I’ve seen these go for $300 without a deck and up to $2000 in great shape.
      Second, There are no good 38 inch deck lawn tractors on the market. The lawn tractors all start at 42 inch.
      Third, If you want rugged and a great design I would start with a Husqvarna R 220T. Here’s the link: R 220 T. If you like that, order one with the 103 Combi deck. (about 39 inches) If that is too expensive take a long hard look at the Craftsman Model 20390. It will sell for about $1699 with a 22 hp V-Twin, hydro and 42 inch deck. The problem is though this new Craftsman will not be available until Jan 30, 2014. There are no pictures either, but stay tuned. As soon as I can get them. I’ll post the picts.

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  10. Cindy Magnolia, TX

    Is there a big difference in the v twin engines now offered compared to the regular engine? Also, I have heard that Kohler engines are now made in China and that they are having more problems now. Is that true? I’m buying a tractor for 2.5 acres with some trees, but pretty flat.

    • @Cindy, The Kohler motor that are in lawn tractors are not made in China. The confusion is Kohler has a motor for push mowers that is made over there. No problems with the tractor engines. In fact Kohler has updated the residential motors for 1014 and they are bragging about them being a major improvement over the Courage model.

      V-twins run smoother than single cylinder models and The Kohler twins, Briggs Intek Plus and Craftsman/Briggs Platinum’s are all full pressure motors. What this means is the engine has an oil pump that actually pumps the oil up to the critical components just like the oil system in your car making them more reliable than engines of the past.

  11. Your website is fantastic. Thanks for all you have done.
    I have purchased a 3acre lot. Relatively flat. I need a yard tractor that can mow, move snow (Pittsburgh, pa not alaska) on a bigger driveway (i’d prefer a blower attatchment) and haul stuff around the property. I’d love to get a trailer that could attatch to my Tacoma. I would like to be able to acquire all of this, including my attatchments for under 10k. Does any particular line come to mind? Thanks.

    • @Matt, How did you find 3 acres of “relatively flat” around Pittsburgh? :)

      You can get a 5X9 trailer with a landscape tailgate for less than $2000. A 42 inch snow blower, weights and chains about $1500 or a 50 inch snow blower, weights and chains about $2300.

      That leaves up to $5700 for a good tractor. I highly recommend a “garden tractor.” In other words a lawn tractor with large tires and a heavy duty transmission for use with a snow blower. At this time there are a few that I suggest.

      Take a look at these and see which one(s) interest you. If the green or orange ones interest you then find a local dealer for the Deere, Husqvarna and Simplicity. See if you can get along with the dealer.

      X500 John Deere – 48 inch deck – hydro with differential lock. $5899
      Simplicity Broadmoor 27HP 50 inch deck – hydro with diff lock – $4899
      GT48XLS, GT54XLS or GT54LS Husqvarna Tractor $3100-3400
      R 322 T AWD Husqvarna Articulated Rider $5100

      And Last But Not Least

      2014 Craftsman 48 – 54 inch Garden Tractor. $2600 – $3000. You and I will not be able to see any details about these new Craftsman’s until Jan-Feb of 2014. If you need a tractor this winter look closely at the Husqvarna and Deere (I don’t recommend the 2013 Craftsman GT6000 Model 28861 at this time. The front steering gives too many owners problems.)

  12. Hi Paul, great site!
    I have an approximately 1 acre yard with a fairly steep grade and some rough surface areas to deal with. I have been here 9 years, and currently on my 3rd mower.
    Simplicity 48″ zero turn. (Horrible idea for a new, un established yard).
    Cub Cadet LT1050. (With the grade of my yard, and pulling an aerator, just needed more).
    Cub Cadet GT2550. (For a $4000+ mower, seems to be not all that durable. Currently in the shop for an oil leak, a bogging/throttle issue, and a few other small issues. Mower currently has 239 hrs. on it, has been well maintained, and does what I need it to do when it’s not in the shop.
    O.K. , so now my question. What mower would you recommend for my usage? I don’t mind spending the money for a quality machine, but I don’t want it to be “used up” with less than 250 hrs. on it. Do you like the zero turns with the steering wheel?
    Thanks for any advice you can provide.

    • @Tim, right now there is nothing other than a X534/X540 Deere or a Simplicity Prestige that will be more durable than your Cub Cadet and also mow hills. Deere usually has the best offers in May and Simplicity in the fall.

      At this time the only steering wheel models of the Cub Cadet zero turns that I like are the commercial series. The other models are simply residential models and are not as durable as your current tractor.

      If you want heavy duty you will have to go to $7-9000 zero-turns like the ExMark or Scag. These are heavy enough to handle hills and give you a thousand or more hours without problems.

  13. HI, shopping for replacement tractor, something in the Sears line so I can continue to use the 2 stage snow thrower.

    I narrowed it down to the GT6000 or 28858. I prefer kohler over B&S, are there other differences between these units? Also they keep referencing heavy duty hydrostatic transmission. I have some hills to climb pulling a leaf vac in the fall. One neighbor keeps telling me to get a oil pressured hydrostatic with oil lines and filter compared to a belt driven hydro?

    Looking for any recommendations, guidance on this purchase please.

    Thank You

    • @Gary, The 28858 has the same K47 transmission in it as most lawn tractors. It is a good transmission and will handle the snowblower but I have a feeling you want a heavy duty tractor.

      The GT 6000 has larger tires, the Kohler Courage engine and a heavy-duty transmission designed for not only mowing lawns but also for pulling ground engaging equipment. The Transmission is the strongest you can get in a tractor under $6000.

      Since you are pulling over a thousand pounds (a leaf vac full of leaves and grass) up hills the GT6000 is the obvious choice for me. Here is a link to to buy it: Craftsman 54" 26 hp Turn Tight Garden Tractor CA Only 16 x 6.5 in.

      The transmission in the GT6000 actually does have a filter. It is hidden behind a dust cover. I strongly recommend that you only worry about this filter and changing the oil when you get over 500 hours on the tractor. Why, hydrostatic transmissions are very precise hydraulic systems and it is easy to introduce dirt and contaminants into it by just changing the oil and filter. Just changing the oil like all the forums recommend can ruin these transmission long before they would normally fail because you got dirt into the system when you changed the oil.

      I agree with your neighbor. The hydrostatic transmission with oil lines that was so popular in the 80’s and early 90’s Ingersoll Rand and Case tractors were very tough. It outlasted the rest of the tractor. Unfortunately, no one has used this type of transmission for over 20 years.

  14. Hi, my husband and I just bought a house and have about 15 acres of land. Only 1 acre is cleared and the rest is wooded, but we plan on clearing further back to open up our space. We live in an area that gets a lot of snow in the winter. Can you recommend a riding mower that we can also use as a plow (with the right attachments)? Many thanks!

    • @Toni, Unless you go with a sub-compact tractor (about $10-14 thousand) the best choice is the Craftsman GT 6000 Model 28061 Click here to see it at Craftsman 54 In. 26hp Kohler Turn Tight Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Non CA 16 x 6.5 x 6 in.

      The 54 inch deck is over kill right now but Sears has a heavy duty dozer blade for it. It will also go 8 mph so the dozer blade will actually work well. The heavy duty garden tractor transmission is heavy enough to take all the abuse of moving snow and clearing land. The bigger tires will work well for the rough ground you will be clearing. The larger tires will also allow the deck to go higher for rough cutting.

      This tractor can also pull 1000 to 1500 lbs so you can move dirt, firewood and rocks without destroying the tractor.

  15. Paul, looking for advice on a mower. I have about 6 acres I need to mow with a rider. The remainder I get with my tractor and Bush Hog (mostly along a road). We removed a number of trees so the ground is both in places and rather bumpy. We also have a blueberry/blackberry patch with 8′ rows where I need either mulching or bagging to prevent the clippings from being flung onto the rows. I would like one mower to do as much as I can and the current rider is giving out. The speed of a ZTR is attractive with the tress and rows but I am not sure about the stability and longevity on the rough terrain. Any advice for a rough duty rider to get all this done.

    • Consider a GT6000 Craftsman Model 28861 for a tractor. If you look at a zero-turn I would look at a higher cost unit like a Grasshopper 329B, Dixie Chopper Magnum 2250, Exmark Lazer Z S749EKC724, or a Hustler FasTrak Super Duty. They are much stronger than the residential zero-turns I review here.

      Here is a link to a review of the better zero-turns. Mother Earth News

  16. I currently have the Weedeater One — but as my slopes are >15% and this mower is not designed to handle such slopes (my fault for purchasing) — has actually been a great mower for the price I paid and for the 2 years I’ve had it. I now want to upgrade and have the following considerations: 3/4-acre, mainly flat but some slopes @20%, bag capability, 42″ deck (as storage of the mower is an issue), auto transmission, and tight turning is appealling as I have a some tight spaces to mow (0-turn not a necessity). Willing to spend $1.5k – $3k — whatever it takes to get the “right” mower.

    I do see the Craftsman #28856 (YT4000) on sale for $1710 w/ free home delivery (pricing after taking your advice for Sears club sign-ups — thx) — at 23+% off, your article would classify this as a great price. It’s noted in your review of this model as ok for “moderate slopes” — does this include 20% grade? Is this a good unit for above needs?

    Separate question that I didnt’ see on the site to date — but is outdoor storage with a fabric cover acceptable (live in Atlanta)? Clearly garage storage preferred, but is outdoor storage acceptable? I ask as storage for the mower is an issue for me.

    • @jim, Sorry I’m just getting to your question. I was at the 50th Anniversay Celebration of the John Deere 110 lawn tractor this weekend. Your Weedeater was rated for no more than 10 degree slopes. The 28856 is rated for 15 degree slopes. (You should always mow up and down…not across a slope) There is nothing on the market under 10 grand that is rated for 20 degree slopes.

      But that said, I know a lot of owners that run the 28856 on slopes that steep. Turf tires don’t have great traction so a lot of the use tire chains. Myself, I would have no issues using the 28856 on your lawn. The hydro is stronger than an automatic (variable speed belt) and will last longer.

      When you leave you tractor outside any place where the paint gets worn away will start to rust. When you put it under a canvas tarp (not plastic) or other covering that protects it you will extend the life of the tractor. I have an 14 year old Craftsman that has never been stored inside and other than spraying lube on the shifter linkages it runs just fine. I suggest every fall going over the machine and hitting those spots with Rustoleum.

  17. I have a 12 acre Christmas Tree farm and have been cutting the isles for years with a Simplicity Broadmore. I have gone through 2 over the past 20 years as the terrain and hours are pretty rough on lawn tractors. I need to stay away from anything larger as I then can’t get between my trees. I want to start shopping for a new tractor and need to find which brands are tough enough to handle this kind of work. then off to shipping I go.

    • @Mike, I really would like you to look at a John Deere 700 series or Kubota BX series. These tractors are not much bigger than a Simplicity but are rugged enough to last you for years.

      And the Mahindra MAX series is also a tractor to seriously look at. Use the “Need a Bigger Tractor? Get Free Quotes on Compact, Utility and Row Crop Models!” link on the right to get an honest quote.

      If you can’t spend that much the John Deere 500 series and the Simplicity Prestige or Legacy XL

  18. Paul,
    I’ve really been looking hard at the new John Deere x534 with the all wheel steering. Anyway, I’m reading reviews out there that talk about some pretty severe scalping in turns. Any truth to this? I can’t seem to find a review of this tractor on your website. I really trust your judgement, thanks for all you do!

    • @Justin, 54 inch floating decks are all accused of scalping in turns. They are hanging off the same supports as a 42, 46 or 48 inch deck under the tractor and being wider they will flop around when you mow or take sharp turns. The X534 may make matters worse by the way it turns.

      I would follow the deck leveling procedure for the X534. I would pay attention to the air pressure in the tires and even put 2-4 lbs more than recommended so the tractor itself doesn’t lean on the turns. I would also adjust the anti-scalp wheels so they were just off the ground like it states in the leveling procedure. With the anti-scalph wheels in the correct position the deck should never drop more than 1/2 inch in the turns. 1/2 inch difference is barely noticeable on a cut lawn.

      The reviewer who wrote the bad review may have not leveled the deck, had the tires too soft or did not have the anti-scalp wheels low enough.

      Neal R Matchett, pointed out: I have a Simplicity which is great for not scalping with it’s mounting and anti-scalping roller mounts. It has a 54 inch deck but of course, significantly higher price. (The Simplicity does not have a floating deck. The deck rides on gauge wheels and a rear roller to give you a very even cut)

      Myself, I would look at the 48 inch deck because that will not be as susceptable to gouging as the 54. The smaller the deck, the better the cut.

  19. Hi Paul – excellent site!
    I have a yard similar to “Steve” which you replied on April 28th. Mine in 1.5 ac. with slopes bigger than 15 degrees. I’m interested in the Husq YT46LS due the locking differental, deck size and engine. I read where you thought the YT42XLS is a great mower and thinking between the YT42XLS and YT46LS. Which would you suggest? Also, have you written any reviews for either of these?

    • @Steve L, I have had a few projects that rose to the top of the pile and I have not had time to get all the reviews done. I also want to compare how well the YT42XLS fabricated deck mows compared to the Husqvarna stamped deck.

      I do like the cut of the YT46LS deck. It mows, bags and mulches very well. It does have reinforcements along the left side and front so it is stronger than the YTH series decks. It also does not need a separate blower to bag well.

      Engine: The FR Kawasaki in the YT42XLS is a good motor and compares to the Craftsman Premium, Briggs Intek Plus and Kohler Courage motors. In other words it is a high end residential motor. The FS in the YT46LS is better. You will find these engines in many of the medium priced commercial zero-turns.

      The price difference is the different decks. The 42XLS deck cost more to make so that warrants the extra cost.

      So your choice is: better motor or better deck. I absolutely would recommend both Lawn Tractors.

  20. Hi Paul,

    Thanks for your excellence. Very interested in the 2013 Husqvarna YT42XLS for around $2,500. Have you had a chance to review yet? I have 1 acre (usually wet) with lots of big Douglas firs (and cones) and two steep slopes. Locking rear differential combined with a hydrostatic tranny and a mulch kit seem to be a good fit. Big box hardware stores don’t offer this model and Craftsman doesn’t seem to have it with their label either. Likely purchase it from a local Husqvarna dealer (Tacoma, WA or Portland, OR) or someplace online like Mowers at J*cks (free shipping no tax). Looking for your expert feedback. Thanks!

    • @Steve, I really like the YT42XLS. It is a heavy-duty tractor with Husqvarna’s heavy, welded deck. It may just be my next tractor. The price is very reasonable for what you get. It sounds like the locking diff is what you need for your slopes and wet areas. The tranny is heavy enough to handle steep slopes for years.

      The only downfall of this unit is a bagger. Because of the fabricated deck you have to use a deck-mounted blower to suck the grass out of the deck and blow it into the bagger. The tractor mounted bagger is $850. A pull behind is $1000.

      If you purchase this tractor online MAKE SURE you register it with Husqvarna because you will not be able to get warranty work from a local dealer without pre-registering. I strongly suggest you purchase it from a local dealer though. The dealer will be able to get you any parts you may need later including the blades for the welded deck. And besides if you ever need warranty work, you will have to take it there anyway.


    • @Pat, I would like to suggest the Craftsman 28856
      Craftsman 42" 24hp Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA 15 x 6 x 6 in.

      It’s a little more money than the 28851 but it will do a great job on your lawn and have plenty of power to horse pasture.

      A comparable Deere is the D140, but it has a 3 blade deck. 3 blade decks do not cut the longer grass in your pasture as well as 2 blade decks. Consumer Reports does not rate the Troy-bilt well and the Toro is basically the same tractor as the Troy-Bilt.

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  23. Paul,
    Do to Price I have narrowed down my selection to the below. If you have the time could you give some comments on each and a reccomendation on which one would be the best for what I need at the best price.
    – 3/4 Acre of Flat Land.
    – Lots of Trees and the main challange will be mulching and bagging leaves.
    – Good Service record and good support service.
    Craftsman 42″ Model 28884 ($1199.99) (Sears)
    Craftsman 42″ Model 25022 ($1329.99) (Sears)
    Craftsman 42″ Model 28851 ($1377.49) (Sears)
    Craftsman 42″ Model 28856 ($1690.99) (Sears
    Husqvarna 42″ Model 960430121 ($1499) (Lowes)
    John Deere 42″ Model BG20645 ($1499) (Lowes)
    Cub Cadet 42″ Model LTX1040 ($1399) (Home Depot)
    Ariens 42″ Model 960460054 ($1199) (Home Depot)

    Thanks again for all the help. It has been a huge help since I have no experience with Riding Lawn mowers.

    • @Barclay, The 28884, John Deere, Cub Cadet and Ariens are all automatics. They use a variable speed belt drive that is easy to use but I ONLY recommend them for mowing on flat land and pulling very light loads. They all have a 14-16 inch turning radius. The 28884 will not mow in reverse. The Ariens has the poorest service record. The Cub Cadet has the best motor. Consumer Reports states the Cub Cadet has the most repairs. You are paying $300 for green paint…….The Deere and Cub Cadet both bag and mulch well but I believe the D105 requires a $120 dedicated mulch kit.(I couldn’t find it on

      The 25022 is a gear drive. If you have a lot of trees to go around you have to stop and shift each time you back up. It does have the 6 inch turn-tight steering and the better Briggs Platinum Motor

      The Husqvarna 960430121 and the Craftsman 28851 are identical except the 28851 has the 6 inch turn-tight steering and a better B&S Platinum motor. (the motor has an full pressure oil system like your car). The Husqvarana’s turning radius is 14 inches. Both of these mulch and bag well. Both of these tractors have good fender controlled hydrostatic transmissions and will last you a long time.

      The 28856 has a v-twin engine. It has less engine vibration than the single cylinder engines on all the other tractors on your list. If you are going to add a snow blower later on it is the best choice.

      The Husqvarna 960430121 and the Craftsman 28851 are my choice for you. If you don’t want to purchase an extended service plan the Craftsman is the best choice.

      If you don’t purchase an extended warranty from Lowes or HD you are on your own for repairs. You must register a Husqvarna to get it serviced without Lowes plan. You have to take your tractor to an authorized repair center.

      If you don’t purchase a Protection Plan from Sears they will still service the “factory defects warranty” for your tractor at your home, but they require a “trip charge” up front (why? because 80% of issues with all new tractors are not defects. It is something the operator did or didn’t do to the tractor)

      If you purchase the protection plan from Sears they come to you without any additional cost. Lowes brings your tractor to a repair center and I am unsure what Home Depot does at this time (they just switched service providers) With the John Deere plan the tractor goes to a John Deere Dealer. The Sears plan is the most expensive but covers the most including many wear-and-tear items like belts and tires. The Lowes plan covers some wear and tear and like Sears gives you a discount on non-covered parts. The Deere plan is an extended defects warranty only and does not cover many of the items the Sears and Lowes plans cover.

      Please read this article on warranties: Warranties and how to deal with them.

  24. Paul,
    I do not know what the difference between a manual (gear) or automatic (variable belt) transmission – First time riding mower buyer. I have no slopes to mow it is all flat but I do have a lot of trees which is why the main need of the mower is to mulch and bag during the fall.

    Do you have any suggestions outside of the Craftsman just for me to compare?

    • @Barclay, with a manual trans you put the shift lever in a gear (number) let out on the left pedal (clutch) and go. To change speeds you have to step on the clutch select a different gear and release the clutch.

      With an automatic the left pedal is a parking brake only. To go forward put the F-N-R lever in F for forward and then press on the right hand pedal. The more you press on the pedal the faster you go. Reverse works the same way.

      The automatic is easier to use. Here is a longer article on the different types. Lawn Tractor Transmission Types

      Now, I don’t know enough to tell you what mower to buy. The Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Yard-Man, and Craftsman Lawn Tractors all use the same automatic trans. The Husqvarna, Poulan Pro and Ariens use a similar automatic.

      Pick a couple of dealers in your area to find the Brands they carry and I’ll be glad to tell you the differences

  25. I am looking for the best riding lawmower with the main focus being on the mulching and bagging capabilities for fall leave clean up under $1,500 and also under $1,200. I have a flat .75 acre lot.

  26. I just ordered the new Simplicity rear-engine riding mower that competes with the Snapper rider (Forrest Gump) and replaces the discontinued Coronet. I owned a Simplicity Conquest tractor with blade and bagging attachments for 6 years with nary a problem. New house, smaller lawn so I don’t need the hauling capability or 48″ cut of the tractor anymore. Nobody has any reviews on this new mow-only unit. I would have purchased the Snapper, but it may not ship until May, and our grass in Western PA will start growing well before that. Once the snow melts, that is.\.

    • @Scott, My local dealer won’t get the new mower until May either so I haven’t had a chance to review it. This new Snapper/Simplicity is part of Briggs & Stratton’s complete new line-up for 2013. My understanding the Simplicity and Snapper riders will be the same except for the paint. I expect it to be as good as the RER was for the last 40 years.

      I know. Last year my apple trees were flowering t this time. I actually made a video today blowing snow with a Husqvrna 1830EXLT snow thrower in my backyard!

  27. I need front suitcase weights and carrier for my ctx 95007 30hp. Can’t find anyone who can help with part numbers. Thanks.

  28. i have just over and acre in tennessee with some pretty steep slopes…what is the best mower for safley mowing slopes

    • @ Arthur, A Kut-Kwik Superslope Master is the best mower to safely mow slopes. Unfortunately, it costs around $40,000.

      That said, A 42 inch Craftsman YT4000 model 28856 with weight and chains may work. DO NOT buy the 46 inch version because there is not enough clearance between the deck and rear tire for chains.

      Your best bet is a tractor with traction control and/or differential lock. Husqvarna YT42XLS, John Deere 300 series, Cub Cadet 2000 series and Simplicity all have them available on the higher priced units.

  29. Paul, I definitely look forward to seeing your review on the YT46LS. It looks like it could be built better to handle my sloped yard. I am conflicted then I wonder if it is better to pay about $120 more than the YT46LS to get the YT4000 with 5 years of protection. Thank you again for all of the information.

    • @Ryan, That’s a tough call. The YT4000 is a great tractor but I would go with the TY46LS for a sloped yard. The locking differential will allow you to mow the slopes when the grass is wet and really dry. The YT46LS does come with a 3 year defects warranty and since you will be buying it from a dealer, service will be easy and prompt.

  30. Thanks for the response Paul… what would you recommend other than the Craftsman GT6000 for lawn mulching? The mower will get used in the pasture maybe once or twice a year so it will mainly get used for lawn mulching 1.5 acres. Thanks again!

  31. Hi Paul, I probably have about 1 acre of land around my house. One the one side it is a slanted down. I feel like it is a very gradual slope, but I don’t know how sensitive these riding lawn mowers are. If there is a better way to assess how significant the slope is, please let me know. I chose the Fast Tractor as an option over the YTH22V46 because it only has two of the anti-scalping wheels for my slope. It also seemed to have good reviews.

    I was originally very interested in the YT4000, and it is clear that you are a big fan. I just looked at all the Sears reviews compared to the Fast Tractor on Lowes and Husqvarna site, and they didn’t look as promising. I do appreciate that you can get the 5 year protection plan from Sears, but it is almost $600. Does the YT4000 handle slopes ok?

    I see the YT46LS is a little higher priced and rules out Lowes, but I would consider it. Obviously that would also mean a protection plan is not available. Do you plan to review this model soon? Is it a brand new model this year?

    Thank you again for your help.

    • @Ryan, If you feel it is a gradual slope then I wouldn’t worry about the tractors you are looking at.

      Go to this link Manual and print page 30 (slope sheet) You can use this a judge to see how steep you slope is.

      Read the reviews with a grain of salt. The YT4000 has been around a lot longer than the Fast Tractor so it has a wider range of reviews. Many reviews are written by owners who don’t understand how their mower operates and don’t understand that they actually have to go over the machine every once in a while and service it. (Look for loose bolts, bent brackets, change oil, etc)

      I’m a fan of the YT4000 because it represents a great value for your 1-2 acre yard. It has everything the YTH22V46 has plus a better motor, bigger motor and 6 inch turning radius. Read the reviews sorted by newest first. Craftsman has had this mower for a few years now and there were assembly problems in 2011. Someone at the factory put the wrong idler pulley on a few hundred decks and they would smoke the belts right away. A few were assembled without tightening the right front axle and a few were assembled with the wrong torque setting on the transmission bolts (transmission slips belts and makes noise). Some of those tractors did not get sold until early 2012 so the problems carried through until then.

      Craftsman is not the only one with assembly problems. A few hundred Husqvarna’s most popular zero-turn were assembled last year with the wiring harness routed wrong and when you raised the deck you cut the wiring in two. They did not find the problem until the mowers were out on the customers lawns. The front weld on the 46 inch decks was a problem for both the Craftsman and Husqvarna. Craftsman just sells so many more tractors that the problem showed up more there. There have been so many issues with transmission mounting bolts that I am about ready to recommend that everyone who gets a new Husqvarna built Craftsman or YTH model Husqvarna with a K46 Transmission should check the trans mounting bolts before they use their tractor for the first time. (That includes the Fast Tractor)

      The YT46LS is higher priced because it has a more expensive Kawasaki motor, heavy duty frame, traction control (worth the extra $200 right there) reinforced deck, and battery indicator. I personally would buy a Husqvarna from a dealer before I would buy from a retailer (Lowes and are retailers.) The dealer will give you better support and service for the life of the mower.

      I don’t like the 48 inch Husqvarna deck. It is very hard to level and cuts like a 54 in deck. When you use it for mulching it blows grass clippings all over like the 54 in deck. The 46 inch decks bag better because the two blades have more throwing ability than the 3 blades on the 48 inch deck. If you are only going to side discharge and you are not that particular on how your lawn looks (you just want it cut) then the 48 in is fine. My neighbor has a 48 in for two acres of sand, sand burrs, weeds and a little grass and loves his 48 in deck.

      A Protection Plan is your choice. I know the Sears plan is more expensive because it covers more. For example, I personally know a customer who just got and brand new tractor because Sears could not find a replacement seat for his old one. (He had a 4 year old Craftsman Pro with a yellow seat. His seat cover cracked. Sears could not get another yellow seat so they gave him a new 2013 model the same size and quality as the one he had.)

  32. Paul,

    Your website is a great resource!

    I just purchased a home on 4.5 acres after living in a condo so this is all new to me. Approximately 1.5 acres is yard and 3 acres is horse pasture. The property is about 40 miles southeast of Seattle, WA mostly flat with some hills. I’m looking for a mower that will mainly be used for mowing/mulching the 1.5 acre lawn but we would also like to occasionally use it to fertilize the pasture and haul items from the pasture.

    What mower would you recommend?


  33. Thank you for the helpful website. I have never had a riding lawn mower, so it is all new to me. I was considering the 46″ Craftsman YT4000, but I think I am now more interested in the Husqvarna YTH24K48 Fast Tractor. First, do you agree that it is worth the small price difference for the Fast Tractor? Second, do you recommend buying from a dealer so you can possibly get better service, or buying from Lowes were you can get a 4 year protection plan? Thank you for your time.

    • @Ryan, Hi, I’m glad to meet you! I don’t know the size of your yard or type of grass so I will guess you want a great lawn and have about 1-2 acres. You want to spend around $2000.

      Unless your lawn tractor is your only form of transportation to the local bar there is not a real need to buy the Fast Tractor. The 48 in deck only mows at about 3-4 mph.

      The 46 in deck on the YT4000 cuts more evenly, mulches better and bags better than the 48 in deck on the Fast Tractor. It will also cost you less to maintain. The 48 in deck requires 3 blades (extra $25) and the extra belt is another $40.

      Today the Briggs & Stratton Premium in the YT4000 and the Kohler Courage in the Fast Tractor are about the same for long life and trouble free use.

      If you have hills the YT46LS is a better choice than the Fast Tractor. It has locking differential for great traction. The Kawasaki in the YT46LS is developing a great reputation.

      The YTH22V46 has the same deck as the Craftsman if you want a Husqvarna.

      If you have lots of obstacles the YT4000 has a 6 inch turning radius. I feel Sears also offers a better parts network than Lowes. (I just bought parts for a 30 year old Craftsman snowblower from searpartsdirect) Sears offers a 3 or 5 year protection plan that covers more than the Lowes plan.

      Walk into Lowe’s and ask them, if I buy a tractor from you how do I get it serviced? (with and without the plan) Walk into your local Husqvarna dealer and ask the same question. Buy from the place that gave you the answer you can understand. There is probably more than one dealer in your area so look at more than one. For example I have 5 dears in my area. One is a hardware store, 3 are farm stores (no service) and one is a full service commercial dealership. The commercial dealer sends his mechanics to school and can gets any part within a day or two.

      If you buy from Lowes you will most likely be taking your tractor to the local dealer anyway to get it serviced.

  34. Options for close cutting mower w/ bagger?

    Central Alabama, Approx 2 acres, one in Empire Zoysia which is my focus here. Fairly level ground few obstacles but wavy curvature perimeter. Looking for good quality lawn tractor or ZTM that will provide a nice cut @ 1″-1.5″ w/ good bagging capabilities. Have 48″ Scag Tiger Cub (Love it) but bagger not available. Tried aftermarket grass catcher. Terrible. Demo’d Husky MZ5424 last weekend. Liked mower but would not cut lower then about 1 7/8″ dragging deck on turf.


    • @Richard, have you looked at a PECO vac? Peco Lawn Vacs

      The answer is simple though. A Walker mower is the best mowing, best bagging mower on the market. If a new one is too much money, a used one is the way to go. Here is a link to their site. Walker Mowers. An MT with a 48 inch deck will give you years of service and a perfect cut and bag.

      When I mowed 400 lawns down in Chicago every time I needed to impress a client, we used the Walker’s and won on quality every time!

  35. I’m LOOKING FOR RIDING MOWER 42-46 INCH DECK ( about acre of grass, & some fairly level field in Oregon) WITH EASY STEERING #1 ( not sure if need power steering ..are there others that are easy ?) and decent turning radius… 12 inches or should work…HAVE BAD MID BACK issue AND MY riding standard steering TROYBILT aggravates it…some low back stuff too, so smooth ride appreciated all around !! Something under $3000 if possible. What do you think of Cub Cadet LGTX1054 54 in. 27 HP Twin Kohler Courage Hydrostatic Riding Mower at HD ?? others to check ? Thanks

    • @Larry, There are not many lawn and garden tractors on the market right now with power steering. The LGTX1054 is a lawn tractor. Meaning the 2000 series Cub Cadets can pull anything, the 1000 series is designed primarily to mow your lawn. The transmission is a heavy-duty hydro but it is not designed for ground engaging equipment.

      I like the LGTX1054 because you sit up straight on the tractor and it has a lot of room in the operators area. The seat sits really well and has good back support.

      It mows like all the other 54 in machines. With 54 inch decks they tend to scalp if your lawn is really rough, but they do cut lot of grass quickly. If you are just going to side discharge you be happy with this deck. The Cub has 12 deck height settings so if you are scalping just raise it up a notch.

      The tractor itself uses a great mid-level Kohler Pro (Courage is less, Command series is better) and the motor will outlast the tractor on your one acre.

      The electronic steering is nice but be aware that the camber on this Cub Cadet causes the front wheels to dig in on poor lawns if you try to turn to fast. If you have poor lawn you won’t be able to turn really sharp without digging into the turf. Slow down or make wider turns and with a little practice you will be happy with it. It has a foot controlled hydro so just let off on the foot pedal when making the turn.

      Lastly, the mower will come with too much air in the tires and it will ride rough. Reduce the tire pressure to about 12 lbs and it will ride a lot better.

  36. Paul, I have just started viewing your site and it seems like a great place to start for someone like myself.

    We just moved into a new home and went from less than 1/8ac to just under 2ac, needless to say our 19″ push mower will not be cutting it here.

    In your opinion what is the best choice for 2013 lawn tractors? We have just under 2ac or grass, very few obstacles ( only a light post to mow around) we have a 10-20 degree grade on about a 1/3 of property, but is in great shape, no rocks or uneven terrain the rest is pancake flat. The other issues, not overly mechanically inclined (me! See I do admit it) only dealers in the area are a club cadet…they have a horrible local rep and a Husky dealer seem to have an ok rep, but very very expensive…not much wiggle room.

    My ideal tractor, >$2000, ability to add a snow blade in future (live in New England) and a bagger in future. This would be my 1st riding mower and easy maintenance and reliability are also very important.

    Thanks for your assistance in this.

    • @Doug, At around 2 acres of grass to mow, just about any of the lawn tractors, yard tractors and garden tractors under $3000 will work. All three of the tractors I suggest have not changed for 2013.

      YTH24K48 ($1899) also called the Jimmie Johnson Fast Tractor has a fast 7 mph transmission so using a snow blade is a lot faster than a regular lawn tractor.

      YTH22V42LS ($2199.99) has a locking differential so both wheel have traction when pushing the snow blade or going up your hill. All the manufactures recommend no more than 15 degree slopes but this tractor will have a lot better traction for your hill. Always go up and down it, don’t mow it sideways.

      The other tractor I suggest is the Craftsman YT4000 Model 28857 (@1899) It has an excellent reputation and will do everything you want it to. Sears has techs that come to you for all repairs and maintenance.

      I recommend you watch a few youtube videos and learn how to change your own oil, filters, spark plugs, belts and blades. This will save you a lot of expense over the years.

      • Paul, Thank you for all this info. It really is appreciated. I want to clarify my 1st submission…I meant to say around $2000, not greater. We are looking in the 18-2200 range. I was wondering about a couple of others that I saw walking around and was looking for your input.
        Is electric PTO the way to go for longevity? A few “sales people” have mentioned it. Not sure if it is a marketing ploy.
        Also as my wife and I are “larger” size, does the horsepower really come into play? neither of us are huge, but pushing 300 am I going to be better off with the largest engine I can get?
        Also I noticed some Husqy’s with Kawasaki engines, are they better, I E longer lasting than the B&S and Kohler engines?
        Also the trans all say Tuf Torq Hydrostatic, no model numbers anywhere…How can you tell if it is a good one, and not problem prone?

        Here are the ones we are looking at:

        Husqvarna, LGT2654 …I see a lot about a K46 tran failure issue??? Also, is the LGT a better, more rugged, stronger tractor that the YTH models? Is the YTH26V54 a compareable model?

        We are also looking at the Craftsman YT4500 (wanted the elec PTO) with the Briggs and Stratton Platinum engine. I can not find if it has the locking differential or not. Also is the engine lube system fully pressured like the YTH22V42LS.?

        Now here is the money question for you, Since these are roughly equivalent tractors ( in my amatuer opinion) Which one do you think would be better? we are looking to purchase with in the next few days ( I hope)

        thanks again for a great site and all the info.


        • @Doug,

          Electric clutches are nice, (easy to use) but they are over $300 to replace when they go bad. Over the life of the mower you may have to replace the deck belt on a manual engage model a couple more times.

          Your weight is not a factor on engine size.

          This Briggs, Kohler, and Kawasaki motors all are pressurized for long life. The are all rated “residential” and have the same life expectancy. Only when you into the commercial motors series do the three different Brands differ.

          The three tractors are basically the same. They all have the K46 transmission. It has a history of being a strong lawn tractor transmission. Even the guys on the tractor forums like this trans.

          All have the same frame and deck. All three have electric PTO. The LGT2654 may have a reinforcement around the bottom of the left deck.

          The LGT2654 has larger tires. Because it has larger tires it has one more height notch for the deck (1-7) instead of 1-6. It will ride better if your yard is rough. Husqvarna’s YTH mowers all have 20 in tires and the GTH has 22 inch tires. That does not make the GTH a better tractor.

          The LGT2654 has 18 inch turning radius

          The YTH26V54 has 14 in turning radius

          The YT4500 has 6 inch turning radius. You won’t need a trimming mower with this tractor. The YT4500 has a new bundle available. Buy the 24917 Bagger, 24154 Mulch Kit, and 24612 Bumper with the tractor and Sears will give you 20% back in Shop YOUR Way Rewards Points. Be sure to log in at when you make your purchase.

          Here is the link for the YT4500 Kohler:
          Craftsman 54" 26hp V-Twin Kohler Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA Up to 2 acres

          Here is the Link for the YT4500 Briggs:
          Craftsman 54 In. 26hp Turn Tight Hydrostatic Yard Tractor Non CA Up to 2 acres

  37. We just bought our home and have a little over half an acre of flat lawn with a few large tree. I want a mower that I can feel comfortable doing my other landscaping chores with. I have reviewed about every unit available over the last 2 months. I had put a Craftsman #28851 on layaway. Mower, soft 2 bin bagger, mulch kit, and brush guard for $1723. The absolutely pathetic customer service I received, and some additional reviews that I read about Sears and their products,led me to go today and cancel that purchase. I have looked several times at the Cub Cadet LTX 1040, and it “fits” me much better. I would like the best unit for $1400-1900. Your thoughts?? Thanks

    • @Ron, I have to ask. Would you tell us the details of the poor customer service? What store did you shop at to get such bad service? Sears and the other brands are on a mission to fix service issues this year and I want to let them know where the holes in their sales and service are.

      With the 28851 you get a good B&S engine, fender controlled hydrostatic transmission and 6 inch turning radius. With the Cub you get a good Kohler engine, a foot controlled belt drive transmission (with shuttle) and a 12 inch turning radius. (The LTX 1045 has a hydro)

      If you are only going to mow and pull a cart or bagger around the LTX 1040 will work just fine. If you plan on moving your boat, hauling dirt or other loads over 300 lbs or so plan on replacing the variable drive belt every few years.

      The Troy-Bilt 42-in 19 Kohler Bronco at Lowes is a comparable choice to the LTX1040.

      BE SURE you look at the service for the Cub Cadet before you make your decision. If you are buying from a servicing dealer you will be fine, but if you are buying from a retail store like HD or Tractor Supply, find out where their service center is and go visit it. Find out if you have to bring the unit to them, and find out where you get placed in the que. In other words if don’t buy from the servicing dealer a lot of them will take care of their commercial customers first, their own customers second and those that bought from the big box store down the street DEAD last.

      Just remember, for every one negative Craftsman, Deere, Cub Cadet or Ariens review, there are at least 5000 other owners who are satisfied enough with their purchase not to write a review.

    • The X500 is a good machine. I would not have a problem buying one at a discounted price. You can buy a comparable Craftsman 25005 or Simplicity for about $2000 less.

      • Thanks Paul,
        I think I would rather spend more on a Deere then $2000 less on a craftsman or simplicity, I have owned craftsmans in the past and would not go that route again.

        • @Dan, My favorite tractor is the X748 Deere. But I don’t need that much. You remind me that I have to create a form to help you decide which tractor is best for you.

  38. Hi Paul
    i came across your column and reviews researching a tractor for my yard ,3/4 acre with a 10-15 degree slope. previously used self propelled mower but I am looking at the Husky 38′ hydro you recommended in best buys. Given that mowers are at least double the price here in Australia( that husky retails over $3000) options with traction control are just too expensive. Just wondering if you think the husky is up too it
    regards Dave (Victoria Australia)

    • @Dave, Well……… before the government here in the U.S. made everyone use seat safety switches that keep us firmly planted in the seat we all used to hang over or even sit on the up-hill fender if the sidehill was too steep.

      The Australian version uses a Briggs Endurance Engine. This engine is a full pressure lube (it has an oil pump that pumps the oil to the bearings) so it will handle slopes well. 15 degree slopes will not be a problem. (The U.S. version uses a Briggs splash lube Powerbuilt engine that I don’t recommend for slopes)

      Here is the product page from Husqvarna

  39. Husqvarna 48″ Briggs & Stratton Intek V-Twin 23 hp Gas Powered Riding Yard Tractor – 49 state
    Sold by Sears
    Item #07124044000 Mfr. Model #24044
    What are your thoughts on this model mower? They have it on sale right now at Sears and it seems like a good deal but I wanted your take before I made the purchase. The sale price is $1758.

    • @Glenn,

      That is the best price I’ve seen on the the 24044 this year. It is a great mower and one of Husqvarna’s most popular models. It mows lawn well, but consumer reports never gives it a good overall rating because it doesn’t bag as well as the 46 in 2 bladed decks.

      Compared to the Craftsman YT4000: 1. It does not have the Turn-tight steering that the Craftsman’s have. It has the standard 16 inch turning radius.

      2. It is a great side-discharge mower. It is ok as a mulcher. The 46 inch Craftsman deck does bag better.

      3. It has an electric PTO. The Craftsman has the mechanical lever.

      I think the 2013 model will have traction control (for more money of course) and that is why they are discounting this model. The traction control will be great if you have steep to go up and down.

  40. Paul,
    I have read several of your reviews and I am looking for information on bagging leaves. I have been looking at 48-54 inch tractors this year to mow just over 1 acre of flat grass. The landscape beds are wide and rounded so turning radius is not a concern. I do have a slight distance to the compost heap so the YTH24K48FR is intriguing. Will any of these mowers have the capability to suck up leaves on a very wooded lot? The kid mowing my lawn now had an LA145 and struggles with wet grass and leaves clogging his bagger all of the time. The bagger on the D170 had a belt drive vac system but that is more than I would prefer to spend and I am not even sure if that will work on thick leaves. Thanks for your thoughts and great website.

    • @Chris, If you are not going to get a welded deck that has to use an aux blower then the longer the blade on the deck, the better it will throw the leaves into the bagger.

      In other words of all the residential decks currently on the market…. the best throwing blade is

      1. a 46 inch, 2 blade deck. The next
      2. a 42, 2 blade deck. Then the
      3. 54 inch, 3 blade, then the
      4. 48 inch, 3 blade and last and very least
      5. a 46 in 3 blade.

      Now, there are other factors like a side discharge blade will throw better than a mulching blade. If you want the best blade for leaves use a gator blade (Craftsman calls them Premium mulching blades) (search on Google “gator blades” to find the right size for your tractor)

      Unless you are pulling a leaf collection system like a lawn vac, wet grass is always a problem with baggers. If I have to bag wet grass I wait until the dew is burned off before I mow.

      • Paul I looked at your advice for the blade length and narrowed my search a little.I thought I was set on the Craftsman Model 28857 that is on sale now for 1611$.

        However I went to Lowes today to see what they had and there is a JD D110 with bagger that has been returned (its obvious there’s grass all over it). The sales man says it was returned because it would not mow the purchasers hilly lot and it has been sent back to Deere to get checked out. I don’t know how many hours on it since the keys weren’t available to fire it up but he said they would let it go for 1000$. This seems like a great deal and half of the price of the 28857 with the bagger.

        Is this a good deal? I didnt see a D110 review on your site but I am assuming its very similar to a D100? What would an estimate in time be for cut time on an acre of grass with the 42″ vs. the 46″ deck.

        • @Chris, It really depends on what you want for a rider. If you are just going to mow or bag the D110 is a good tractor.

          Here is a quick rundown of the specs.

          Deere D110 Retail $1699 plus 350 for the bagger. Craftsman 28857 Retail $2150 plus 330 for the bagger.
          D110 42 inch deck, 28857 46 inch deck. Both decks get good reviews.
          D110 19.5 hp 500 cc (I think it is a Briggs Intek labeled as a Deere) 28857 24 hp 724 cc (It is an Intek Plus labeled as a Craftsman Platinum)
          D110 hydro, 28857, Hydro.
          D110 Truning radius 14 inches. 28857 turning radius 6 inches.

          A Craftsman Tractor that compares directly to the D110 is the 28884. The 28884 is usually on sale for around $1199

          The difference in mowing 1 acre between a 42 and 46 inch deck is about 10 minutes.

          In summary, the Deere at $1000 is a really good price. (It’s that time of the year that Lowes doesn’t want it sitting around all winter) but it is quite a bit less of a tractor than the 28857. The D110 is one of Deere’s least expensive riding mowers. The 28857 is one of Craftsman’s best Yard Tractors.

  41. Paul,
    I am looking at the Husqvarna GTH 24V52LS – $3200, YTH 24V42LS-$2500 and Deere x300 48″-$3400, all with fabricated decks, and all from a dealer. Your thoughts regarding quality and reliability. I am replacing a 19 year old Cub Cadet 1430 with 875 hours on it. Thanks.

    • @Bill, sorry for not getting back to you right away. I am working on a snow blower article for a major magazine and the editor needed my undivided attention for the last 24 hours.

      I know the bunch that likes “green” will argue with me a lot but I prefer the GTH 24V52LS out of the group if cost is not a factor. It has the 8 mph garden tractor transmission and can pull ground engaging attachments. In other words it has the strongest trans of the 3 tractors.

      The Deere uses a K46 trans that is a proven LAWN tractor trans. It is heavier than the trans in the $1500 to $2000 lawn tractors. Does the Deere actually have a fabricated deck? Just about all the Deere decks are stamped (but heavy) steel.

      The YTH has locking rear differential that really comes in handy for slopes.

      Remember, fabricated decks take a more expensive bagger. ($800 to $1400 instead of $400 to $600) Because the airflow is different than with a stamped deck they all need a blower to push the grass into the bagger. The fabricated decks do mulch better though when the optional baffles are installed.

      Both the Deere YTH and the GTH use a Kawasaki motor. The Deere is only 18 hp but that is adequate for most mowing.

      Another question. You have three different size decks 42, 48, 52. Is 42 inches too small or 52 inches to large for your yard. A 42 inch takes longer to mow with, and the 52 may be too big to easily trim around all your landscaping.

      So your choice in my mind boils down to: Do you have slopes and just want to mow your lawn? Buy the YTH.

      If you want to do more than mow like pull a firewood trailer out of the woods or drive down to the local bar get the GTH for the speed and heavy duty trans.

      If the Deere dealer has a better reputation than the Husqvarna dealer, buy the deere.

      • Thanks for the response Paul. I did make the purchase before I received your response, and I bought a tractor that I wasn’t planning on. I bought a JD x320, mainly because of the K58 trans vs. the K46, and for the larger tires over the x300. I do have slopes. I did feel comfortable with the JD dealer. I just could not pull the trigger on the Husqvarna. I thought maybe I was falling for a marketing gimmick when I found myself lusting over the GTH’s large tires and HP. I learned a great deal from your website, and I appreciate your advice. I spent a bit more than I wanted, so I will have to limit my time at the local watering hole. Thanks.

        • @Bill, Great! I’m glad to help. You really can’t go wrong with a 300 or 500 series Deere………but look out for Husqvarna. They have not become the largest L&G Manufacture by building junk or going for the lowest possible price.

  42. Hey Paul I have almost an acre with a few trees and slopes what do u suggest for a lawn tractor I have looked at home depot and lowes but others have Said don’t buy from box stores lesser quality. I also looked at John Deere 300 series way to expense with bagger 5000 grand. I looked at simplicity regent ex 38 inch 21 hp 2700 grand with bagger. I also see good things about husky’s your thoughts. I want something thats quality and going to be durable.

    • @Mike, Of the tractors you have looked at the John Deere 300 is the best quality, it is comparable with the Simplicity Broadmore 46 in and the Craftsman Premium Model 25005 46 in.

      If you want a high quality Husqvarna look at the YTH22V42LS and YTH24V42LS. For about the same money as the Simplicity Regent you get a fabricated deck. But a fabricated deck requires an $850 bagger. These Husqvarna’s are only available at dealer stores.

      If you maintain your equipment and are able to replace belts, blades, bearings etc yourself a “box store” Husqvarna YTH series (YTH22V42) or a Craftsman YT3000 or YT4000 can be a good value. Homeowners who clean their equipment, do regular maintenance, and are willing to replace worn parts get 10, 12, 15 years and longer out of these machines.

      75% of the 10-15 year old Craftsmans that homeowners say are “junk” will run like new with less than $50 in parts. I have a feeling that most of the time these people are just looking for an excuse to get a new tractor or they don’t realize that like their car….mechanical things eventually wear out.

  43. I have a LGT2654 from Lowes, and this is the beginning of the 4th season, and I would NOT recommend it. Last season the front wheel fell off (clip broke), and the front is now toed out. I replaced both front drag/steering links and it made very little difference on the toe out. I also had one spindle on the deck going out, and while the deck was off, I found one spindle bent, one that did not turn well, and the one going out. So I replaced all spindles and new blades, and belts. I figured later I would replace the front wheel hubs/spindles to hopefully fix the toe out. But low and behold, all of the sudden the transmission snapped inside (never an issue, noise, warning etc), and it’s useless now. I was in the middle of a long run, and it all of the sudden snapped and quit going forward. I have 3 Acres to tend to, and I now have exactly 150 hours on this machine, and have had all of these issues. I can say my last craftsman mower was a better deal, even if it died after 9 years of use (but NO major repairs), this one pretty much died after 3 years. Price vs Value, I will more than likely purchase a Craftsman 28861. Thanks for your reviews, but I just wanted to let you know about my experience with Husqvarna. I used it for mowing only, since the ball mount is to low for my low boy trailer I like to haul around my yard.

  44. Just discovered your website and it’s a great resource – thank you. I’m in the market for a lawn tractor for my level 2/3 acre lawn, and the 2 most important features I’m looking for are (1) a machine that switches easily between bagging and mulching and (2) one that offers a real convenient twin bagger makes getting 2 filled lawn and leaf bags to the curb a breeze. It looks like the new Kubota with its Infinity Deck might be what I’m looking for. I’d appreciate your opinion on it as well as your directing me to any other products that meet those criteria.

    • @Paul, Your one criteria “getting 2 filled lawn & leaf bags to the curb” makes it tough for me to help you decide because all the current baggers use a soft-sided bag. These bags make it hard to transfer grass directly from them to a lawn/leaf bag.

      Does anyone know if there is a leaf bag holder where you can dump your mower bags easily into the paper bags?

      The Kubota deck is unique for lawn tractors here in the U.S. I don’t have any reviews of it, but it looks like it may be a great mulcher. It appears very easy to switch from side discharge to mulch to bagging.

  45. Paul im looking at 3 tractors for my parents the jdx320 simplicity broadmoor and the kubota t2380 do you know the gauge of the frame and the trans type of the kubota and is it worth the extra money?

    • @nick, I really don’t know enough about the Kubota’s to help you. They are very stingy with the details of these tractors. I don’t know if they are made by Kubota or made for them by someone else. I guess, I’ll have to go to a dealer sometime and check them out.

  46. Paul’ the husq yth24v42ls has a locking diff is this an auto traction control or a seperate pedal? second question does the husq gth27v48ls hav a diff lock thanks nick

    • @nick, The TUFFTORQ K46CR in the YTH24V42LS is an automatic. There is no separate pedal.

      The info on for GTH27V48LS does not state it has a locking or limited slip diff.

      • Paul thanks for the quick reply.I bought a yt4000 24hp 46″ at sears through your link in late mar its fine for my yard but my parents have some hills @ traction is an issue.which one do you think would work out better for me thanks nick

        • @nick, I don’t know how much lawn they are mowing but for traction issues I would go with the YTH24V42LS. It has plenty of power, auto traction control and a heavy, fabricated deck.

          You can only buy this one through a dealer. Sears, Lowes and Northern Tool don’t carry it.

          • Paul’ husq also makes another with a diff lock yth22v46xls would this have the same deck as my yt4000 46″ so blades mulch plug and belts be the same ? if so i will go with this one.Any thoughts on this tractor? thanks nick

            • @nick, the yth22v46xls is brand new. The deck design looks to be the same as the YT4000 46 inch deck. Though this tractor has greasable spindles and the deck is reinforced on the left side. Husqvarna is stating it has a heavy duty chassis.

              Myself, I like this mower and would seriously consider it for my 1 acre lawn.

  47. I want a garden tractor that’s really a tractor (that is, to which I can attach a box blade or dump cart or spreader, sprayer, etc.) without paying the ridiculous Deere prices. I was looking at the new Husqvarna 54 inch with the 26HP Kawasaki engine, but I can’t find any dealer in my area that’s worth a damn to order it from. Do you have a recommendation on a good substitute?

    • @Gene, From what I know the LGT Husqvarna tractors at Lowes are light-duty garden tractors. I haven’t had a chance to look at one yet so I don’t know if you can hook up a sleeve hitch. Go to a store and look at the rear end. If the rear panel slopes you can attach a sleeve hitch, if it is straight up and down it’s not designed for a hitch.

      The GTH models are Husqvaran’s Garden Tractors. Lowes does not carry them and they are quite a bit heavier than the LGT’s Lowes carries.

      Ok moving on. If you want to use a sleeve hitch look at the Craftsman 28861. This tractor has the most features in the under $3000 range. (see the right hand column for my review) Also the Ariens 960460028 at Home Depot and the GTX 1054 (not the LGTX)

      If you want a sleeve hitch, automatic traction control and differential lock look at the Craftsman CTX9500 Model 25006. It is a lot more money than the others listed here, but it does compare directly to the John Deere X500 series and costs quite a bit less.

      • Thanks, Paul. Went to Sears this a.m. and compared the 25006 and the 28861. I went with the 28861 as the better value (I think the CTX would be overkill, but it’s sure nice). The 28861 does have great features, including the tight turning radius and the 26HP engine, which should do exactly what I need it to do. Thanks for the advice!

  48. I am looking at the Ariens 54 inch tractor at Home Depot versus the Cub Cadet LTX50 for my son’s home ( about 1 acre with some slope to his yard. The Ariens looks very good (big back tires, big engine and the price is the same. Can you comment?

    • @Neal, Do you realize you can get the Craftsman Model 28861 Garden Tractor with Turn Tight today for the same price? The Craftsman has the 6 inch turn tight steering, 8 mph top speed, a 26 hp Kohler, armrests and the heavy duty front bumper included. With the Family & Friends sale going on today the Craftsman is the best deal by far.

      If the Craftsman is not the best choice for you here is my opinion of the Ariens and the Cub Cadet.

      Ariens: This tractor is essentially a 2008 Craftsman GT 5000. These tractors have proven to be very dependable. The decks cut well and parts are easy to get through any Husqvarna dealer. It uses the same parts (even the same hood) as the old Craftsman so you will be able to repair it for a long time. Like the 28861 Craftsman it has the larger tires which ride better over rough lawns.

      Cub Cadet: The 50 inch Cub Cadet is well liked by the owners but it does have a history of eating deck belts. Some owners are going through 2 or 3 a season. Consumer Reports likes the tractor but does not give it high marks for it’s repair record. It cuts well and has more height adjustments than the Ariens. I personally don’t like the big gas tank under the hood. I have had some owners complain about gas spilling out of the cap on slopes. It appears Cub Cadet is focusing it’s efforts on the new steering wheel zero-turn and the 2000 series tractors wit “electronic” power steering.

      If you are going to buy today, buy the Craftsman. If you are going to buy tomorrow I suggest the Ariens because the Craftsman will be $300 higher.

      • The Ariens is actually priced at about $1,900 at Home Depot along with the Cub Cadet. The Craftsman is $2,600 on sale today if I am looking at the correct model. Sounds like the Ariens is by far the best deal?

        • Could you comment on my last message about the price of the Ariens 54 Hydro being under $1,900 at HD. It seems at this price it would be a good buy as compared to the JD or Cub?

          • @Neal, Sorry, I missed the question mark. I can’t find the $1900 54 in Ariens on my Home Depot Page. I have the Ariens Model 960460027 Gear Drive at $2349, The Ariens Model 960460028 at $2699 and the LTX 1050 at $1999.

            You may have an Ariens Lawn Tractor available in your area. The $1999 price tells me you may. That would be directly comparable to the Craftsman 28858 and the LTX 1050. I’m at a loss otherwise.

            So, If it is the 969460028 for $1999 that would be a great buy and is a steal compared to the Cub or Deere. That Husqvarna has larger wheels and a good motor.

            The LTX 1050 is a great mowing tractor. It is designed to mow lawns and pull at cart. Consumer Reports does state that it has a higher repair record compared to the Craftsman or Deere. The Ariens is basically a rebadged 2009 Craftsman so it will have a good repair record over time.

            • The Ariens 54 inch 25 HP tractor was originally priced at $2,699 and is marked down to $1,899. I can’t see a model number but the SKU is the same as the one listed at $2,699 on their website.

              • @Neal, It sounds like they are dumping them or is there just that one? If it is just one it may be a return. Make sure you get the FULL warranty with it. Returns can be for any reason so don’t expect it to be a bad unit.

                Either way, it sounds like a great deal!

  49. Hi Paul,
    Have a 4 acre property. The lawn with grass is not big but the rest has slopes 50 degrees with tall trees around with no grass but fallen leaves. Lots of weeds to deal with and the lowest portion is the lake. Live in Birmingham, al. What is the ideal riding lawn mower or tractor? I know zero knowledge about mowers or tractors. Thanks in advance.

  50. I have a yard that is rough and hilly. I was looking for the ctx9500 because of the locking rear end. However it is very expensive. Will the GT6000 handle rough hilly yard with lots of trees and potholes (not big). My current rider (10 years old) gets stuck everytime i try to use it ( 17hp scott) – one wheel spins, i have to get off, the mower turns off and i have to get something to pull me out. I think the large tires will help alot, i was hoping the GT6000 had positraction rear end rather then limited slip like my current mower.

    • @Mike, the GT6000 does not have posi but with the large tires you may be just fine. Remember the GT6000 was the best garden tractor Craftsman had before this new bunch of Premium mowers. It has a lot of clearance so if your holes are deep enough to stick your Scotts, you may be able to raise the deck on the GT6000 and get out of the hole.

      Sears does have a 30 day return policy so if you make the wrong choice you can return it.

    • @Don, I don’t know where the radius is measured. But if I had to guess I would say it is measured on the inside rear wheel track.

      It is not measured from the inside edge of the deck. That is called the “uncut circle” by Deere.

  51. Deciding between the Cfraftsman 28861 and the craftsman professional 28984. The 28861 has the Kohler engine and the 28984 has the briggs and stratton engine. They are within $50.00 dollars of one another, and I am not sure which to go with. Any input or suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • @mike, I didn’t know there were any 28984’s left. The 28984 was discontinued and you can’t find any bolt on attachments for it like a snow blower or blade. If you have found one, it’s at the outlet store or at a dealer store. The 28984 should be clearanced down to around $2400.

      The 28861 is better because: The steering has a 6 inch turning radius. The 28984 is 14 inches. The transmission in the 28861 is heavier and faster (8mph verses 5.5) For the same price I will take the Kohler, but the Professional series in the 28984 is the best Briggs in 2010. The 28861 is made by Husqvarana, the 28984 is made by MTD.

      • Thanks for the info. Much appreciated. It’s funny you mention Husqvarana, because I was looking and compairing the YTH24V54xls, and the LGT 24K54 models and compairing them to the Craftsman models I mentioned in my previous post.

        I was leaning toward the Craftsman 28861 because of the mark downs for clearence, but Husquvarana does have my interest.

        The YTH24VXLS is prices at $2500.00 and the LGT24K54 is at $2400.00

        The Craftsman 28861 is down from $3660.00 to $2797.00


        • @Mike, the Husqvarna’s do not have the heavy transmission the 28861 has and they have smaller tires, but for mowing that’s not a problem. They are between the Craftsman 28858 at $2050 and the Craftsman 28861 at $2900. The YTH very close to the 28858.

        • Thank you for all the information. I plan on going with the Craftsman 28861. I have 3/4 of an acre which is mostly flat and open.

          One final question: Is this mower overkill, an if so, what would you reccomend in it’s place?

          I don’t mind spending a little more if I am getting a solid and heavy duty mower. I have already gone the cheap route and paid over what this mower costs in repairs and frustration.

          I do plan on using the mower to plow the driveway also.

          • @Mike, the deck is overkill. The 54 inch deck will take you less than 30 minutes to mow.

            The 28857 is less of a tractor but the deck is more your size, BUT

            If you want quality and a size that matches your yard seriously look at the Craftsman Model 25005. This is the best you can get of anything on the market right now. It compares to the X500 series Deere.

            Click on the link above to read my review.

            • Final question: I was recently looking at the 28008 Craftsman tractor. Between the 28861 and the 28008 there is approximately an $800 difference.

              You gave the 28008 a pretty good review provided that the owner did not use ground engaging attachments.

              With that in mind can I save myself some money with the 28008 and still get similar quality of the 28861.

              I did a side by side and they appear to be similar in build.

              Provided I do not use ground engaging devices will the 2008 suit my needs.

              • @mike, The 28008 has the same engine and deck as the 28861. It has smaller tires and a lighter transmission than the 28861. The trans is heavier than the YT 3000 and YT 4000 series.

                With the larger tires the 28861 will mow up to 4 3/4 inches. The 28008 has a hard time mowing at 4 inches.

                If you are going to use it for mowing and dragging a yard cart around it will serve you well.

                My neighbor has 4 acres, pulls a sweeper, and has around 150 trees. He has an ATV for doing everything else. I would recommend the 28008 to him.

  52. got a 2/3rds acre yard, two trees with mulch in the front, and a pool. corner lot, side yard has a small slope. currently use a sears self propelled.

    so, without a lot of obstacles, which mower would you say works best? i see a Troy Bilt Pony at Lowes for $1000, 42 inch cut with gears shift. And at the other end, the Sears with hydrostatic, 46 inch cut, tighter turns and Cast iron front and not single arm steering, but it is $1649.00.

    is the hydrostatic worth the extra cost?
    do I need to worry about cast iron front end vs. steel?
    what about single arm steering over the dual?

    I do see that the Pony has no leveling wheels, so I need those

    does 42 inch cut on the Sears mean that I cant cut close to the fence and 46 inch would be better

    I tend to measure three times, cut once.


    and found you on consumer search

    • @Sam, I tend to favor the 46 inch with the Craftsman YT Turn tight series but a lot of my customers are very happy with the 42 inch. You may not need the $1649 model. Look at the and the These are single cylinder hydro transmission models and cheaper than the one you are looking at.

      If you want a Craftsman that compares to the Troy-Bilt look at this model Neither this model or the Troy-Bilt will mow in reverse.

      I like the hydro trans. It doesn’t jerk when you shift and anyone can drive it.

  53. Paul’ im plan on buying the husqvarna yth21k46 at lowes. I have 2 questions 1 is the deck the same as the yt 46″ craftsman decks. blades belts etc ? 2 you dont have a link on your site for this tractor so could i just use the link from a jd 100 series and just purchase the husq. This is a GREAT web site want to make sure you get your commision every little bit helps. thanks again nick

    • @nick, yes you can use the Deere link. The 46 inch decks and blades are the same. They both have a manual blade engage so the belts should be the same.

      Lowes has finally finished their selection of 2012 mowers so it’s time for me to finish the reviews.

  54. Paul’ what do you think of the new simplicity regent for 2012? still did not purchase a tractor yet @ was looking at this online it has a single cyl 21hp briggs pro series 42″cut with a hydro gear T2HP trans. retail is 1999.99 it says an hour meter is not available could you get an after market hour meter and use that? thanks for your advice nick

    • @nick, The regent is Simplicity’s least expensive mower. Is is any good? I think it is on par with the $1899 D130 Deere and the $1399 YT3000 Craftsman. The Deere and Craftsman have great cutting decks. The Regent’s deck has not been rated in a long time. The regent does have a full length roller along the back of the deck, so if you don’t like a striped lawn (and rollers that wear out) you won’t like this mower. They don’t tell me the frame thickness or if it is a fully welded frame so I can’t say more than that.

  55. Paul, I have a Husqvarna YTH2348 that has the K46 Tuff Torq and it quit driving last fall, thinking of replacing it instead of putting $1000 into it, used it four seasons. Loved everything about it until then. What would you recommend for 2-3 acres for grass and clean woods mowing, totally flat but lots of trees and beds. Also tends to be wet ground. I’m looking at Home Depot and Lowes mostly (financing) and so John Deere at HD and Husqvarna at Lowes. Do you think the Husqvarna LGT26K54 or the JD D160? I have a JD dealer fairly close and an Ariens\Gravely really close. The Gravely ZT50 looks like you really like and would be sturdy for my rough (bumpy) terrain. Please advise. I was really considering zero turn but my wet ground and them having 2 transaxles (price and maintenance) has me re-thinking that to maybe just going with a 48″ tractor, lower price and hope it lasts at least 5 years. Thanks

    • @Terry, Zero-turns tend to have as many problems with wet, soggy lawns as they do with slopes. The front wheels will sink in and the rear wheels don’t have enough traction to turn the mower without damaging the turf. If you have really wet ground they can dig thru the turf, and then drop into the mud below.

      A lot of owners like their D160 and a lot like their LGT26K54. I believe the LGT26K54 has a heavier transmission than the D160 Deere. Myself I would buy the Husqvarna ONLY because I get along with my local dealer a lot better than my local John Deere dealer. I can get parts from multiple sources for the Husqvarna but I’m pretty limited on the Deere.

      If you pick the D160 stop and check out your JD dealer. He may have as good of deal as HD and will give you the best service because you bought your JD from him. (Don’t let him talk you into a X300 with 4 wheel steer :)

  56. I have 30+ degree slopes on my 1.5 acre w/holes and obstacles complicated but soft, sandy-loam, drought plagued Texas soil. Is the Craftsman CTX9000 still the best option?

    • @Susan, The 46 inch CTX9000 or the 50 inch CTX9500 is the best value. They both have traction control and will go up your hill and through the holes.

      You can also look a a John Deere X500 series if the Craftsman is not the right color.

      • Ok, now you’re just being snarky – ‘if the Craftsman is not the right color’ – LOL. I was clarifying that my hills are steeper than what you specify. At any rate, I really do appreciate your input on both the machinery and the grubs.

        • @Susan, Yes! If I can’t have a little fun, than this is no longer fun……..and if it is no longer fun, than there’s no reason to do it.

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