2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review

This is the largest Craftsman ever!  But is the PGT9500, Model 28985 the best for you?

This tractor is being reintroduced as the 2012 CTX 9500 54 in 30 hp.  Feel free to read this review and then go to my 2012 review to see the latest rendition of this great tractor! 2012 Craftsman CTX9500 54 in 30 hp Premium Tractor Review

This Craftsman Garden Tractor was introduced late last summer and many of you may not be aware of it.  It is Craftsman’s largest and most rugged tractor ever, but I didn’t give you much of a review because it was brand new.  Well, we have a winter of use so I can now give you a factual review.

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

Manufactures want you to think zero-turns are all the rage.  All the manufactures want you to buy one.  They tell you that you can “save time” and “trim faster.”  But for the majority of homeowners zero-turns under $6000 are not the correct mower.  They don’t work well on hills.  You lose traction easily and get stuck a lot.  You can’t pull much with them.  (let alone back a trailer up with one)  They are hard to drive and take a lot of practice before you can mow your yard without leaving a hundred divots.  Striping kits cost more than most lawn tractors………..I could go on and on.  People want a good mower that will mow as quickly as a zero-turn but work under all conditions.  They want safe, strong, dependable. This Craftsman Garden Tractor addresses these issues and gives you a nibble and versatile alternative.

This is more “Craftsman” tractor than you are used to.  Many Craftsman lovers have been asking for a heavy-duty machine that will compare to the Simplicity PresitgeX700 John Deere or a Massey Ferguson 2800 Series.  A machine that is built “better” than the Craftsman Garden Tractor their father owned.

The PTG 9500 Garden Tractor has power steering, hydraulic lift, electric cutting height adjustment, traction control and differential lock.  These features have not been available to Craftsman owners before.  This mower is designed to give you these high-end features but at a cost that is thousands less (yes thousands) than the comparable machines from other brands.

2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 1

My Rating of this Craftsman Riding Lawn Mower:

My Value/Cost Rating: Estate/Garden Tractor,  Mows Lawn Well, Mulches, Great for larger lawns.  Very comfortable to use and drive.  Heavy hauling, Heavy snow removal.  Accepts all Tractor Attachments Sears sells. Heavy enough for a JohnnyProducts.com/ Johnny Bucket.

Type: Estate Tractor. See Tractor Rider Mower Types for a complete explanation.
Engine Type: Best. Commercial Grade Engine. See Engine Types for a complete explanation.
Transmission Type: Hydrostatic with traction control, differential lock, and oil filter. See Transmission Types for a complete explanation.
Speed Control: Pedal Infinite
Accepts All Garden Tractor Attachments: Don’t Forget Your Trailer, Dethatcher, Aerator, Broadcast Spreader. See Attachments for more info.

My Review:

This Garden Tractor is the top of line Craftsman for 2011.  It is the most rugged and heaviest Craftsman ever built and is one of the best for service, initial quality and overall satisfaction.  For the price this is one of the best values in the garden tractor class.

The Craftsman Professional Premium 30 hp 54” is a “real” Garden Tractor, not a lawn tractor with big tires.  Not only is this garden tractor reasonably priced, it will mow on hills!  The automatic traction control and power steering will be a time-saver for all of you who had problems mowing your hilly yard in the past!

The bad news: You probably won’t get to see one before you buy it. (Only 50 stores nationwide will have it on display)  When you order it on-line through the links below, it will take up to 10 days to get it from the warehouse to your store.


I am going to spend a little time going over each area of this mower.  The extra features this mower has over the other lawn tractors, and garden tractors on the market deserve specific mention.

Transmission: Tuff Torq® K71
Speed – Fwd (mph) 0 – 7.2
Speed – Rev (mph) 0 – 4.1

2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 2This transmission is designed to pull.  This transmission is tough enough to pull a couple of Acrease wing mowers, a chisel plow for your food plot, and haul 1000 lb loads of firewood out of the grove.

What I like: This transmission has an oil filter and is serviceable.  It has traction control and differential lock.  Traction control automaticaly moves power to a wheel when it starts to slip.  This enables you to mow on hills and not have the up-hill wheel try to spin on you all the time.  It allows you to go up and down inclines that you would not be able to with a conventional garden tractor.   The differential lock lets you push a button and “lock” both rear wheels so you can pull or push a very heavy load.  The differential lock is very handy when using a front mounted blade or snow blower.

Engine: This is Briggs best engine.  30 hp OHV. 810 cc V-Twin.  XRD Automotive type oil system with Spin-On Oil Filter. High Flow Oil Pump for cooler operation and longer life.  High Capacity Panel Air Cleaner Element, High Volume Cooling Fan, Runs cooler and cleaner delivering more power, longer engine life and improved fuel economy

2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 3 Dura-Bore™ Cast Iron Cylinder Sleeve, Heavy-Duty Teflon-coated Bronze Sleeve Bearing, Chrome Plated Exhaust Valves, Super Polished Crank Pin Bearing, Dynamically Balanced Crankshaft

Magnetron® Electronic Ignition with automatic choke.


2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 42011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 52011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 654 inch, Heavy gauge steel with welded edge guards.  4 antiscalp wheels, electric height adjustment. (hydraulic deck lift) This deck has a very good reputation of mowing well and evenly. Serviceable, greased spindles.  I know this deck mows well because it has actually been around for a few years.  Briggs has used this deck on the Simplicity, AGCO and Massey Ferguson mowers and it has gotten great reviews.

Frame: 2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 710 ga (9/64 inch) welded steel channel design.

Weight: 916 lbs.  Almost twice as heavy as your typical Garden Tractor.

Creature Features: Tilt Wheel, Power Steering (TRUE HYDROSTATIC) Deluxe seat, Electric deck engage, hydraulic attachment lift, cruise, large tires, dual speed controls (fender and foot)

Last but not least: This tractor is not made by MTD or AYP.  It is from a well known and dependable manufacture that has been making medium and heavy-duty garden tractors for years. It is not a recycled Cub Cadet or Poulan Pro.


There is maintenance required with this unit!  It is designed for long life and heavy-duty use.  Being built much heavier and stronger than your usual Craftsman’s you will have to learn how to service this unit at regular intervals.  (Or have Sears service it for you)  This is a much higher quality tractor than you are used to.  It will last a long, long, time but to get this long life there is service required.  Besides changing the engine oil, you will have to grease the deck and  front axle, change the oil and filter in the transmission and a few other tasks that the cheaper models don’t require.

When you have a deck larger than 46 inches on a residential mower the free floating design of the deck suspension causes the deck to not mow as evenly as the smaller decks.  Consumer Reports never rates a 54 inch deck above “good” This deck cuts very well, it’s just the overlap from one pass to the other that gets the average rating from Consumer Reports.  This size of deck is suited for someone who wants to mow larger areas. You will be happy with the cut and look of your 5 acre lawn.

My Recommendation: Is this Craftsman Garden Tractor for you?

I have driven this chassis (with a Kohler motor) and mowed with this deck.  You will not find a better mowing 54 inch deck.  (sorry John Deere fans) The deck is strong and rigid. The deck is easily serviceable and comes off and goes on the mower in a flash.  It cuts evenly and distributes the clippings really well. The tractor’s frame is strong and rigid. The power steering with tilt makes it a dream to drive.  With it’s combination foot/fender controls you can have your cake and eat it too!   It is a lot easier and comfortable to drive than a zero-turn.  There is NO learning curve with this mower.

You will make every neighbor with a consumer grade zero-turn, lawn tractor, or yard tractor in your sub-division jealous!

Even with the optional 5 year Protection Plan (defects, wear & tear, nationwide service at your home)  this mower is much less than any of the comparable tractors from other brands.

I personally would have no problem buying this Craftsman Garden Tractor sight-unseen. If you want one, but are unsure….Sears has a 30 day return policy on gas powered equipment.  Buy it, use it, if you don’t like it return it within 30 days for a full refund.


Video: “Blizzard 2011, Beloit, WI, USA, Craftsman PGT 9500 (Simplicity Prestige), 42″ 2-stage Snow Thrower attachment, 200 lbs rear carrier weights, 100 lbs rear wheel weights, rear wheel chains; no problems going uphill into deep snow over ice. After making this video, I noticed that I didn’t have the throttle turned all the way up. I set it up to operating speed and the next driveway went even faster. I cleared 7 driveways and made a path down 2 blocks of road to free 3 stuck cars in 6 hours on 1 tank of gas.”

Final Thoughts:

A lot of you are wondering what the new Craftsman 28985 actually looks like.  One of Todaysmower’s customers, Victor has been kind enough to log the whole process of gettting his tractor and snow blower delivered and ready for winter.

Step One: The Tractor Finally arrives:


Click on the picture for a larger view.

2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 82011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 9
Where Do You Want Your New Tractor?
2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review 10
Craftsman on Steroids!

You can read my original post here:Craftsman Model 28985 Garden Tractor

Victor purchased a Craftsman Model 28985 Garden Tractor with the snow thrower on October 5, 2010 through todaysmower.  As you already know this is Sears finest tractor to date.  It’s a lot more expensive (and heavier) than the LT,  YT  and GT series tractors and is not on display at most of the stores.

That being said, it is a special order tractor for our area of the country and it took Sears a couple of weeks to get the snow thrower, mulch kit, tire chains, wheel weights and the estate tractor itself to him.  I showed you some pictures he took of the snow thrower two weeks ago and when the tractor arrived last week.  (See Below)

Victor made a really great video of the tractor.  He went over every detail of the unit from the controls, to the deck and engine.  Thanks Victor for taking the time to do this and sharing it with us!


A couple of things as you watch the video.  The tractor came with a hole in one front tire and the steering wheel cap was missing.  When you order a tractor from Sears online it comes to the nearest Sears store in your area.  When it arrives it is in a crate and needs to be taken out of the crate and assembled.  The local store warehouse crew or delivery team does this. The assembly is usually just putting on the steering wheel, hooking up the battery, and on some units,  installing the seat or deck.     In this case the cap for the steering wheel was either missing or they didn’t snap it on tightly.  The hole in the tire is also not common and they may have rolled the tractor over a nail when they removed it from the crate.

If you have this happen to you just call the delivering store and tell them.  They will either offer to get you the part and you can install it yourself or they will ask you to call 1-800-4MY-HOME and schedule a service tech to come out and fix the unit.  The service techs are better equipped to get you the parts or to make the repairs than the store so don’t feel like you are getting the runaround.  The service tech route is the best way and the easiest for you and Sears.

Delivery of the Snow Blower.

Here is the article on the delivery of his snow blower: Snow Blower for 28985 Garden Tractor

Pictures of the snow thrower, snowblower mount, tire chains and weights: 30 hp Craftsman Snow Thrower-First Picts

If you would like to read my complete review of the Craftsman Model 28985 Estate Tractor here is the link: 30 HP Craftsman Garden Tractor. For Real?

Product Description From Sears

The Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor features the very best that Craftsman has to offer. The 30 HP Briggs & Stratton Professional Series engine™ with Electronic Fuel Management delivers consistent automotive style starting with no choking required. It has a large 54″ heavy duty steel cutting deck with electric height of cut adjustment, power steering with 18″ steering radius, cruise control and hydrostatic transmission to make quick work of your mowing needs. The hydraulic lift lever, 24″ rear tires and premium transmission with differential lock make this tractor perfect for all your yard and garden duties.

  • Briggs & Stratton 30 Gross HP Professional Series™ OHV engine*
  • 54″ heavy duty steel deck with 3 blades and 4 anti -scalping wheels
  • Foot controlled hydrostatic transmission with rear wheel differential lock
  • Dual speed control – use either the foot or fender mounted controls to select your forward speed.
  • Advanced traction control – power is continuously supplied to both wheels
  • Power steering and cruise control
  • Electric push button height of cut adjustment – select from an infinite cutting height 1″ -3.75″
  • Electric dashboard display: fuel and battery levels, hour meter change oil and low oil pressure indicator and a clock.
  • Electric PTO engagement
  • Pivoting cast iron front axle
  • 18″ turning radius
  • Padded adjustable steering wheel and adjustable seat.
  • DC outlet and cup holder
  • *all power levels stated gross HP per SAE J1940 by Briggs & Stratton
  • Weight: 916 lbs.

Ask a question, leave a comment, tell us about your mower below:


  1. Bob Sauter
    • Paul Sikkema
    • Franz Gruber
      • Paul Sikkema
    • Paul Sikkema
    • Paul Sikkema
  2. Darryl
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