2012 Craftsman 54 in 26 hp GT 6000 Model 28861 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Review

Executive Summary: This Garden Tractor was a great tractor way back in 2008 and Craftsman has continued to improve it year after year. What makes it better than the competition? 7.5 mph, brush guard, arm rests, 6 inch turning radius, 5 anti-scalp wheels, and it looks good!  This is the best deal in the “under $3000” class.  I like this tractor and would buy one if it fit my lawn.

This tractor has not changed for 2013.

Brand/Manufacture: Craftsman / Husqvarna
Model/Series: Garden Tractor / GT6000 | GT 6000
Item Number: Model 28861 (49 State) Model 28867 (CA Version)
Buy Here: Craftsman 54 In. 26hp Kohler Turn Tight Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Non CA 23 x 10.5 x 8 in.2012 Craftsman 54 in 26 hp GT 6000 Model 28861 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Review 1
Store Pickup: Delivery: Craftsman 54 In. 26hp Kohler Turn Tight Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Non CA 23 x 10.5 x 8 in.2012 Craftsman 54 in 26 hp GT 6000 Model 28861 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Review 1 
Street Price: $2999.99

Basic Quality: (Cheap, Good, Best, Don’t Buy)  This is Craftsman’s Best Quality. The 28881 is less quality. 

Type: (Riding Mower, Lawn Tractor, Yard Tractor, Garden Tractor, Estate Tractor, Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Garden Tractor. 
Compare it to: Cub Cadet Cub Cadet GT1054, John Deere John Deere D170

2012 Craftsman 54 in 26 hp GT 6000 Model 28861 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Review 3

Craftsman 54 in 26 hp GT 6000

Large Tires
7.5 MPH!
Heavy Duty Hydro Trans
6 inch Turning Radius!

Does Not Have Diff Lock

Retail Price: $2999.99 Check The Best Sale Price Here:  Craftsman 54 In. 26hp Kohler Turn Tight Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Non CA 23 x 10.5 x 8 in.2012 Craftsman 54 in 26 hp GT 6000 Model 28861 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor Review 1 

My Review:

If you are looking for more than just a lawn mower. If you want to till your garden. If you want pull fire wood out of the timber quickly. If you want the best ride, this is the mower for you.  This is Craftsman’s workhorse. It will mow your lawn quickly, do most of the trimming as you mow and get you there faster than all the other tractors under $3000.  The deck side-discharges well and like all 54 inch decks that don’t use an auxillary blower bags adequatley.  I don’t really have any bad things to say about this tractor. It is a great tractor, with a good deck. Do the regular maintenance and it will last you longer than any other mower in it’s price range.  For anyone who has a few acres to mow, a large garden to tend and a few other chores that will quickly kill a lawn tractor this is the best choice.  This tractor is heavy enough to pull an Acrease wing mower or food plot chisel plow.

This garden tractor will mow in reverse.

This article was first published at TodaysMower.com 

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.

Comfort – Ease of Use:  Deluxe seat with armrests, easy to use operator controls, good field of view.  Very comfortable ride. Oh, It is shipped with the tires over inflated. Read the manual and adjust the tire pressure and you will have a great ride.

Power For Mowing:  This tractor has plenty of power for side discharge mowing every week.  It has plenty of power for every other task.  Don’t over fill the crankcase. If you don’t know how to fill it properly read the manual and ask someone you know.

Reliability – New to 3 yrs: This tractor is serviced by Sears.  There have been a few issues with the build quality. There have been very few issues with the build quality but learn to take the deck off and put it back on by yourself. The store personnel don’t always get the deck on correctly. Read the manual and do this a couple of times until you are comfortable doing it.  This way you can easily clean the deck and sharpen the blades.   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 good traction and handling and with the large tires is better than most of the other lawn tractors from the other retailers.   You can use this mower on slopes and medium hills, but I recommend you never use a mower like this on wet or drought-dry slopes. The 6 inch turn-tight is a great feature. Be aware that it is designed to almost zero turn around obstacles, don’t try and crank it all the way at 5 to 7 mph – you will bend the front steering. Remember, you don’t use your economy car for off-roading in the mountains, don’t use this tractor for a race car through the roughest part of your lawn.

Mow – Mulch- Bag:  This tractor get high marks by owners for mowing but not for mulching and bagging.  When you install a mulch plug the deck tends to throw debris out the right front.  If the wind is just right you will be covered in grass by the time you are done mowing. Be aware this is not a “high-speed” deck like you will find on a commercial lawn mower.  It mows perfectly at 4-5 MPH but don’t expect it to mow as fast as the tractor will go (7.5MPH) and give you the same results.  With this tractor/deck you set the height of cut using a lever on the tractor.

Specifications, Features, Benefits

The rest of this article is taken from the retailers website. Specs subject to change.

Type:  Garden Tractor
Maximum mowing area per hour (acres): 2.5 acres at 5 MPH
Recommended for moderate slopes? Yes
Excels in mowing around obstacles? Yes

Will Mow In Reverse? Yes

Manufacturer: Husqvarana
Brand: Craftsman
Engine Power: 26 hp* 
Displacement: 725 cc. 
Manufacturer: Kohler Courage
Cylinders: Twin, cast-iron liners
Type: OHV, oil filter, Pressurized
Charging System: 15 amp regulated
Battery: DieHard
Choke/Speed Control: Separate Choke/Throttle Lever
Fuel Tank Capacity: 4 U.S. gal. with Reserve
Transmission: Heavy Duty Premium Hydro 
Transmission Control:  Direction – pedal; speed – pedal
Cruise Control: Standard
Forward Speed: 0-7.5 mph
Reverse Speed: 0-2.5 mph
Chassis: 12 ga.
Front Tires: 16×6.5×6
Rear Tires: 23×10.5×8
Front Axle: Cast Iron
Hood Material: Steel
Hourmeter: Yes
Tool Tray: NA

Cupholder: Yes
Headlights: Yes
Translucent fuel tank or Fuel gauge: Yes
Deck washout port: Yes
12-volt outlet: No
Steering: Type 2-wheel steer
Turning Radius: 6 in.
Uncut Circle Radius: ? in. 
Spindle Bushings: Ball Bearing Grease
Seat Back Height: Deluxe with armrests
Fore-aft Adjustment: 5 in. while seated
Seat Suspension: Two coil springs
Deck Lift System: Fender 
Mower Cut Height: 1.5 in. to 5 in., 12 position
Cut Height Increments: .25 in.
Preset Cut Height: No
PTO clutch: Electric

Mower Deck

Type: Side discharge
Mower Cutting Width: 54 in.
Blades: 3
Mower Deck Material: 12 ga
Mower Wheel Adjustment: Yes
Mower Level Adjustment: Exact
Mower Drive System: In-line belt, Electric PTO
Mower Attachment: 4 point Not EZ-Off
Mower Drive: Belt Tension Spring
Mower Wheels Rotate For Deck Removal: No


Wheelbase: ?-in. 
Overall Length: ?-in. 
Width without mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: ?-in. 
Width with mower: (deflector raised for storage) 57 -in. 
Height: ?-in. 
Weight: 596 lb with mower, no fuel

U.S. Warranty: 2 year limited, 3 and 5 year optional protection plan

Leave a Reply

23 Comment threads
24 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
20 Comment authors
Jutz PatootzJohn HayPaulBrandiJohn Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Jutz Patootz
Jutz Patootz

Hoping for advice from the “oracle” : ) Looking to but a gt 6000 Craftsman lawn tractor, 54 inch deck, USED> it has 200 hours on it. Don’t know the year , but estimates of 4-5 yrs old. (2013- 2014)? Asking price $700.00. Seems to be in ok shape. Backed by the lawn shop that is selling if for 30 days. Do you think it is a reasonable price? Thanks.


This might sound crazy but I have a craftsman gt6000 and I think it’s a 2011 or 12 but I need to know how to turn the blades on. I am use to the older lawn mower with a handle for the blades

Les Thieme
Les Thieme

I own a 2011 gt 6000 been happy overall! once I to replace the steering rods on the tight turn.because I hit a couple of hole in my yard and bent them. but now after 3 years for some reason it don’t want to backup on any grade! it will backup on level ground! goes foward fine and climbs steep hills with no problem. I have replaced the drive belt. but it didn’t help.

Ed L.
Ed L.

I had an interesting issue with my GT6000… I check the oil in my tractor religiously – at least every other cutting. Yesterday, when I had the hood up to check the oil, I noticed that the lower right side of the engine was coated in an oily, gritty, sticky mess. To make a long story short, the oil drain port had loosened just enough to allow a small amount of oil to leak out, vaporize and coat that side of the engine. Fortunately, the engine never ran low enough on oil to be dangerous – but ONLY because I… Read more »


I have a craftsman gt6000 28861 tractor mower. what do you have to by-pass to mow in reverse. right now it will shut down the whole machine. I am from Lincoln,ilinois


U recomend model # 28861 over 28881. Y ? Chuck aurora ohio

David Hahn
David Hahn

Question: You bring an interesting question to mind as I consider my nest garden tractor. My current 2009 Craftsman 5500 loses power, likely from the transmision when hot under heavy load. No question I have abused this machine towing, plowing, cutting and and now my son starting to mow. How do I identify these heavy duty transmisions(hydrostatic). Tuff Torq has a nice web site but when I look at the GT6000 or similar Husky’s I can’t tell whats in them. What is the trans in my 5500, GT6000 and the Husky GT48XLS.
David Hahn
Upstate NY


[…] This tractor has been replaced with the Model 28861 with Turn-Tight! […]

David Harrison
David Harrison

Hi Paul, I just purchased the GT6000 w/ Kohler motor. Even though I only have a half acre in grass I want to use it as a “hobby farm” tool.
Among other implements I want to add a Kwik-Way loader to haul dirt, sand, gravel, hay, etc. http://www.kwmanufacturing.com/prod_load.htm It’s rated for 350 pounds.
Looking at the front steering I’m concerned that it may not be able to hold much of a payload in the bucket without bending.
Do you know the max capacity that the front suspension can handle?

Clair Hardesty
Clair Hardesty

I just received my GT6000 today so I can’t really review it yet but I can say that I like what I see so far. I got a great deal on the tractor and bagger, less than $3200 for both after 8.25% sales tax. It is a 2012 model, with an engine build date of 31mar2012 (less than five weeks ago). All I had to do after delivery was fill the tank and purge the transmission. Just to address a few comments that I have seen here and on other sites, Mine has the metal hood and came with the… Read more »

Dave Bremer
Dave Bremer

Hi Paul,
With the sale price on the 8861 right now I am really tempted. What is your feeling on Sears service? Quite a variety of comments pro and con. Are they dependable?

Ed L.
Ed L.

One thing that I hope will be addressed in any upgrade: I have lost two of the rubber “hub axle cap” that protect the grease fitting on the wheels. I now make it part of my regular put-away routine to check top make sure they are seated properly. At least once out of every 3-4 cuts, I find one (or more) working its way loose. At five bucks (plus shipping) a pop, this is could become an expensive problem.

Ed L.
Ed L.

Paul…I happened to be in the local Hometown Sears store last weekend. They had the “New for 2012” GT6000 out on display. I have to say that other than a metal hood and a what seemed to my mind’s eye to be darker-colored rims, there doesn’t appear to be any difference between the 2011 and the 2012 GT6000. All of the things we had noted as deficiencies in the NEW 2011 machine do not appear to have been rectified in the “New for 2012” model. I guess the folks at Sears really do listen to the customer base, huh? On… Read more »

Arnold Goodman

I have read your articles and made comments, I see now that the front wheels are not going in the same direction toe in or out. I lifted the tractor and found the Left side looking from front to have a shaky wheel. I looked up a diagram and saw 2 washers #121749X and a outside one 188967 were all that the wheel contained, no bearings just a steel rod and 3 Washers I guess for bearings. I will replace them except on outside both188967 not one 121749X. It might be helpful to other to mention Grease those wheels as… Read more »


The ZERO TURN feature on the GT6000 is nice IF you are mowing a golf course type lawn (very smooth). I could not recommend this mower based on that aspect. Other than the steering this is a real nice machine.


Paul’i am about resdy to buy my tractor online at sears through your link but before i do i want to make sure sears is selling 2012 models with the metal hoods not the 11 with plastic.Do you know if they are 11 or 12 they are selling ? thanks nick


Your reviews are more thorough than any others I’ve seen. I have a tough yard – 1.5 acres, slopes, obstacles, and – this is the biggie – holes from where the dogs have been after the tunneling rodents. I would like to be able to use a pull-behind fertilzer speader &/or thatching attachment. I thought thie Craftsman GT6000 reviewed here would be great until I saw the about the steering & hitting holes. What is your suggestion for this kind of yard?


[…] Sub-Compact, Zero Turn, Stand-On) Yard Tractor Handles most attachments. Compare it to:  Craftsman Model 28861  (The Craftsman is the only other tractor that will go this […]


Paul’Can you get gator blades for the 54″ deck ? and also i have not seen this tractor in person is the hood plastic or metal? was going to buy the yt 4000 with 42″ but might get this for the just because reason!! DONT NEED IT JUST WANT IT and after reading your reply i have no concerns over steering or frame. thanks nick


[…] Lawn Tractor Handles a few attachments. Compare it to: Cub Cadet GTX1054, John Deere D170, Craftsman GT6000 with Turn-Tight   Husqvarna […]


The 28861 model real tire sizes are :

Rear tire size..23h x 10.50w x 12″ rim five lug wheel.

Front tire size 16h x 6.5w x 8″ rim.


Thanks for th review. Just one question. Are you sure the front and rear tire sizes are correct. I’m thinking the rears are on 12″ rims and the fronts are on 8″ rims.

nick noel

Paul’ There have been some reviews on sears about the steering not being strong enough and some people having problems with the frame ? whats your take on these issues ? thanks nick noel

Get more stuff like this from

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

%d bloggers like this: