2012 Craftsman 42 in 17.5 hp LT 1500 Lawn Tractor Model 28881 Review

Executive Summary:  This tractor has been replaced with the 28882. The new Craftsman has a better engine. Craftsman makes a tractor for everyone and this is the least expensive 42 in Craftsman you can buy.  42 inch side discharge deck, 17.5 hp B&S engine, manual 7 speed shift-on-the-go trans.  On sale at $1049 it is one of the cheapest mowers on the market.  For a basic, no frills mower, it has an excellent reputation.  It cuts your small, flat lawn. Owners love their “Craftsman”.

But read this entire review before you buy this tractor.  This mower will not handle any attachments except a bagger, mulch cover and small yard cart!

Is this the right mower for you?: If you just want an inexpensive mower and you have a flat lawn about 1/2 to 1 acre, this tractor will do the job. Nothing special, it just mows well.  I don’t recommend doing anything except mowing a flat lawn and pulling a small yard cart. If you try to pull heavy loads or use this mower on hills you will not be happy with it.   This tractor will mow up to 1 acres an hour.

This rider has been around for a few years now.  It uses the proven MTD shift-on-the-go transmission. You can use a 2 bin bagger on this mower but the bagger off your old Craftsman will not fit. (This tractor is made by MTD)  I repeat: This is a great yard mower and is designed to primarily mow lawns.  If you need a rider that will pull a heavy yard cart, sweeper or other normal pull-behind attachment look at a different tractor. Oh, One last thing, this mower will not mow in reverse.

Brand/Manufacture: Craftsman / MTD

Model/Series: Lawn Tractor LT1500 / Lawn Tractor
Item Number: 28881
Street Price: $1049.99

Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Premium, Don’t Buy)  This is Craftsman’s Cheap quality. All other Craftsman Mowers are better Quality.

Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Lawn Tractor Does not handle snow thrower. See Optional Attachments at the end of this article
Compare it to: Poulan XT 42 in,

Craftsman 42 in 17.5 hp Shift-On-The-Go

Good Cutting Deck
Step-through Platform
It’s a Craftsman!

Single Cylinder Engine
18 inch Turning Radius!
Manual Transmission

Does Not Mow In Reverse
No Anti-scalp Wheels

Retail Price: $1049.99 

My Review:

If you are looking for a lawn tractor to just mow your lawn and don’t have a lot of money this is the one! I don’t have a lot of good things to say about this mower, but I don’t have any bad things to say either.  It has a basic B&S motor, splash lube, no oil filter.  It has no anti-scalp wheels and if your lawn is smooth it will mow just fine. You can’t put a snow blade on it, but a walk-behind snow blower it probably what you need anyway. It has cheap tires, but pick up the sticks and other debris from your lawn BEFORE you mow and the tires will last.  It has a large turning radius for a Craftsman, but is about normal for the other brands.  If your lawn is flat and open the turning radius is just fine. It doesn’t mow fast, but it mows well.  Sit back and enjoy the ride 🙂

People who buy this lawn tractor know what they are buying and that is just what they want. That is why you will find so many good reviews on Sears.com.  No frills, they just want to mow their small surburban lawn and they don’t want to walk. 

This article was first published at TodaysMower.com 

Comfort – Ease of Use:  Standard seat, easy to use operator controls, good field of view.  While not as comfortable as the Yard Tractors or the New Premium Craftsman Tractors your butt won’t go numb. 

Power For Mowing:  This tractor has plenty of power for side discharge mowing every week.  I feel it is under powered for mulching and bagging. 

Reliability – New to 3 yrs: This tractor is serviced by Sears.  There have been no issues with the build quality.  One thing to know – Sears takes the tractor out of the shipping crate but they do not “setup” the tractor. (John Deere dealers are the only retailer who does) You have to put gas in it, and run it for the first time. You may have to hook up the battery and charge it. If there is an assembly problem you call 1-800-4MY-HOME and a service tech comes out and fixes the issue. The store where you picked it up from or the delivery team does not repair the tractor. 

Handling – Traction/Steering:  This tractor has average traction and handling and is similar to all the other lawn tractors from the other retailers.   I recommend you never use a mower like this on wet or drought-dry slopes. 

Mow – Mulch- Bag:  This tractor get high marks by owners but not for mulching and bagging.  But, be aware this is not a “high-speed” deck like you will find on a commercial lawn mower.  It mows perfectly at 2-3 MPH but don’t expect it to mow as fast as the tractor will go (5.5MPH) and give you the same results.  With this tractor/deck you set the height of cut using a lever on the tractor.  

I’m not going to go into a lot of detail on this review.  If you have specific questions leave a comment below and myself or the readers will be glad to answer them.  This is a great tractor and if you want one to last this should be at the top of your list.

Specifications, Features, Benefits

The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website.

Type:  Lawn Tractor
Maximum mowing area per hour (acres): .75 to 1 acres at 3 MPH
Recommended for moderate slopes? No
Excels in mowing around obstacles? NO!

Will Mow In Reverse? No

Manufacturer: MTD
Brand: Craftsman
Engine Power: 17.5 hp* 
Displacement: 500 cc. 
Manufacturer: Briggs & Stratton
Cylinders: Single, Cast Iron Liner
Type: Silver, OHV, splash Lubrication
Charging System: ? amp regulated
Battery: DieHard
Choke/Speed Control: Integrated Throttle/Choke
Fuel Tank Capacity: 1.5 U.S. gal. 
Transmission: Shift-On-The-Go 7 speed manual
Transmission Control:  Clutch, Dash Mounted Shift
Cruise Control: NA
Forward Speed: 0-5.0 mph ?
Reverse Speed: 0-2.5 mph ?
Chassis: 13 ga. channel frame
Front Tires: 15×6
Rear Tires: 20×8
Front Axle: Cast iron
Hood Material: Steel
Hourmeter: No
Tool Tray: NA

Cupholder: Yes
Headlights: Yes
Translucent fuel tank or Fuel gauge: Yes
Deck washout port: No
12-volt outlet: No
Steering: 2-wheel steer
Turning Radius: 18 in.
Uncut Circle Radius: ? in. 
Spindle Bushings: Metal, replaceable
Seat Back Height: Low back
Fore-aft Adjustment: Yes, Manual

Seat Suspension: Two coil springs
Deck Lift System: Fender
Mower Cut Height: 1.5 in. to 4 in., 5 position
Cut Height Increments: 0.5 in.
Preset Cut Height: No
PTO clutch: Manual Lever

Mower Deck

Type: Side discharge
Mower Cutting Width: 42 in.
Blades: 42 in.
Mower Deck Material: 13 ga.
Mower Wheel Adjustment: NO anti-scalp wheels, none available to install
Mower Level Adjustment: Exact
Mower Drive System: In-line belt, manual PTO
Mower Attachment: 4 point Not EZ-Off
Mower Drive: Belt Tension Spring
Mower Wheels Rotate For Deck Removal: No


Wheelbase: 49.4-in. 
Overall Length: 73-in. 
Width without mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: (deflector raised for storage) 44-in. 
Height: 44-in. 
Weight: ? lb with mower, no fuel

U.S. Warranty: 2 year limited, 5 year frame and axle, 3 and 5 year complete

Optional Attachments

Mower Model Number: 28881, 28883, 28884

Mulch Kit: 33748
Baggers: 24019


  1. Glen
    • Paul
  2. ashley
    • Paul Sikkema
  3. Brenda
    • Paul Sikkema

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