30 HP Craftsman Garden Tractor. For Real?

Yes, the rumors are true. Sears has come out with a 30 HP Garden Tractor.

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

Craftsman Professional Premium 30 hp 54” Garden Tractor  NEW Item !| | — Online only | Sears Item# 07128985000 | Model# 28985

NOTE: I have added a list of the accessories at the end of this article including the snow thrower, blade and bagger.

WHY? Manufactures want you to think sit-down zero-turns are all the rage.  All the manufactures want you to buy one.  But for the majority of homeowners they 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.

Here’s the good news: Yes, Sears has introduced the Craftsman Professional Premium 30 hp 54” Garden Tractor.  It is a real Garden Tractor (not a lawn tractor with big tires) priced at thousands less than any other one out on the market.  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 it will take about 5 days to get it from the warehouse to your store.

Click here to order your new Craftsman: Sears.com Buy it on-line, pick up at your nearest Sears or have it delivered to your home!

30 HP Craftsman Garden Tractor.  For Real? 1

30 HP 54 inch Craftsman Garden Tractor GT9500

Product Highlights:

The Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor features the very best that Craftsman has to offer.   Power steering, tilt wheel, cruise control and hydrostatic transmission to make quick work of your mowing needs. It will get up and mow at 7 MPH!  The hydraulic lift lever, 24″ rear tires and premium transmission with differential lock make this tractor perfect for all your yard and garden duties.

Product Details:

Engine: Briggs & Stratton 30 Gross HP Professional Series™ OHV engine* The 30 HP Briggs & Stratton Professional Series engine™ with Electronic Fuel Management delivers consistent automotive style starting with no choking required.

Deck: 54″ heavy duty steel deck with 3 blades and 4 anti -scalping wheels.  It has a large 54″ heavy duty steel cutting deck with electric push button height control – select from an infinite cutting height 1″ -3.75″

Frame & Chassis:

10-Gauge Steel Frame
Pivoting Cast Iron Front Axle
Rear Axle Diameter (inches) 1.0
Turning Radius (inches) 18
Front Turf Tires 16 x 6.5-8
Rear Turf Tires 24.00 x 12-12
Hydraulic Attachment Lift
18″ Adjustable Seat, Tilt Steering Wheel,
Electric dashboard display: fuel and battery levels, hour meter change oil and low oil pressure indicator and a clock.
Electric PTO engagement

Transmission and Drive Controls:

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

Other Features:

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.
Color: Black/Gold
Some Assembly Required (Seat)

Finally…a transmission with an oil filter!  This is a “serviceable” transmission.  It is designed to have regular oil and filter changes.

Tuff Torq K71 Transmission.

TRANSMISSION (from Tuff Torq)
Type Tuff Torq® K71 Hydro
Speed – Fwd (mph) 0 – 7.2
Speed – Rev (mph) 0 – 4.5

For the guys over on mytractorforum:  The filter is not a spin-on.  You can climb all over it and never “see” the filter.  If you look at the picture, look at the trans right above the deck.  See the black circle?  The filter is in there.

30 HP Craftsman Garden Tractor.  For Real? 2

Tuff Torq K71 Trans

From allbusiness.com “The model K71 narrow drive transaxle is designed for medium-duty garden tractor applications and is available with an axle torque rating of 406 lb.ft. The pump and motor each have a displacement of 18 cc and the transaxle input shaft has a maximum input speed of 3400 rpm. The input shaft is 0.58 in. in diameter, while the axle shaft is 1.0 in. in diameter. The reduction ratio is 26.673:1 with a maximum tire diameter of 23 in. The K71 has a maximum static weight capacity of 728 lb. and a dry weight of 60.5 lb.”  (Medium-duty is only a rating for this size Garden Tractor Transmission.  Light duty transmissions are what you will find in Lawn and Yard Tractors.  Heavy-Duty is what you will find in sub-compact tractors.)

30 HP Craftsman Garden Tractor.  For Real? 3

They do build them better than they used to!

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.

This garden tractor is strong enough to pull my 450 lb Acrease Wing mower or till your garden for years without worrying about tearing out the transmission or breaking the frame.

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 deck.  (sorry John Deere fans) The frame 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 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!

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.

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.

Click here to orderSears.com Buy it on-line, pick up at your nearest Sears or have it delivered to your home!


Leave a Reply

11 Comment threads
28 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
mike caranoVictorPaul SikkemaDr David Karns2011 Craftsman Professional Garden Tractor 54 inch 30 hp Model 28985 Review - TodaysMower.com Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
mike carano
mike carano

hi paul, i have the craftsman pgt 9500 with the k71 trans this is made by tuff torx and they recommend 5 w 50 full synthetic oil when changing.i changed mine and both filters at 50 hours,there is an internal filter that tuff torx sells and a spin on filter that is easily crossed,i had no problem draining out nearly 5 qts of oil and refilling.also i ran the tractor on jack stands to lessen the stress on trans and pre filled the spin on filter to lessen the air in the system.


The manual I found online showed two drain plugs under the K71 trans, and two fill areas, one under the seat and one behind the rear left wheel. It said to put 2 quarts in each location (total 4), but when I drained both plugs only 1.5 quarts total came out. When I filled the gear case behind the rear wheel, it overspilled after 0.5 quarts. Have you changed one of these before, am I missing something? Thanks.

Dr David Karns
Dr David Karns

Hi , I recently moved to North Carolina and bought a house with a little over 2 acres, mostly grass, but hopefully lots of trees and a big garden come this spring. I found 2 Craftsman Professionals models on sale at the Sears outlet store. The PGT 9000 and the 9500. Both sound like good choices, but I prefer longevity to cost. On the other hand things are a little tight and the extra money needs to make sense if I am going to convince my wife to allow me to spend more. It is off season, so time to… Read more »


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


I don’t see why they keep boosting the horsepower and think it’s desirable.

The features wanted in a true Garden tractor still aren’t available as they were in many of the old vintage models.

Front and rear pto’s, hydraulic ports and cat 0 3-pt hitch. These are the traits of a true garden tractor. Anything less is still a lawnmower (on steroids).


This tractor is the same design and specs as the Simplicity Prestige except for the Kohler 27hp was replaced with a 30hp Briggs, and the Simplicity might have full-length rollers on the deck, otherwise the deck looks the same as well. That makes me wonder if the future 2011 Prestige will have to 30hp option or if it’s reserved for Sears. Also, I wonder if I can get the Simpicity Snow Thrower to attach to it…


Thanks for the review! Glad to see Sears putting some real thought into a mower these days! Two comments: 1) i wish they used the "bumblebee" looking nose that the PGT9000 has on it (however I hear they don't stay closed that well)- they look cool. 2) The picture you have of the Sears Custom with a broken axle, dual wheels, and a million pounds of weight on it is misleading. That tractor was harshly abused as i can see in the picture. I have several classic Sears garden tractors that I would still pit up against the new one.… Read more »


Does Sears have a snow blade for it???


Just went to the order page for this beauty, now I know why I settled for the PGT Pro 9500 tractor. But this 'estate' tractor sure does sound nice. I gave you a good review on my new sears a couple of months ago and I stand by it as the best for the money ~$3k. I do have a couple of gripes about it now and I've seen this echo'ed in other places, the fuel cap leaks onto my left foot (maybe a safety issue although Sears as of this morning is just sending out a new gas cap)… Read more »


What is the difference between the GT 5000 Excellerator Hydro-Gear G-730 trans. and this trans. What makes it so much better and how much would one of these k-71 transmissions cost. Where do the hydraulics run out of. How is the power steering set up and could it be run in an Excellerator GT easily. Who makes this tractor? Why is it you can cut with this mowing deck at 7 mph. but with the Excellerator you can't cut at 7 mph? If this is a true Garden tractor then why is a Briggs engine in it, why not a… Read more »

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: