Updated March 1, 2017! 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.
This list is obsolete! Please go her to see the latest 2017 list.
Seven Best Riding Mowers Under $1500 for 2017
The Best Lawn, Yard & Garden Tractor Buying Guide 2017 – How To Pick The Best For You!
Best Zero Turn Mowers Buying Guide 2017 – How To Choose The Right One!
You are welcome to browse the rest of this old list – but it is not up to date.
Parts – Attachments – Accessories Tractors With 42 inch Decks | Tractors With 48 inch Decks
Less than 42 inches
Review: 29000 Review Buy: 30 inch Craftsman Model 29000 – 6 speed – 420 cc – Normal Sale Price: $1050.99 Rider
41-48 inch Husqvarna Rider – Heavy Duty Hydrostatic – 22 HP – Normal Sale Price: $3899.99 Works Great For Hills!
Lawn Tractor – Light Duty
My Review 42 inch Craftsman T1000 Model 20370 – 7 speed – 420 cc – Normal Sale Price: $1000.99 Best $1000 tractor! But not the best tractor….
My Review 42 inch Craftsman Model 20373 – Automatic – 17.5 HP – Normal Sale Price: $1299.99 Worth the extra $200 over the 20370
My Review 42 inch John Deere Model D105 – CVT/Automatic – 17.5 HP – Normal Sale Price: $1499.99 Cheapest Deere! Now with CVT Trans
My Review 42 inch John Deere Model D110 – Hydrostatic – 19 HP – Normal Sale Price: $1699.99 Buy the D125 Instead
My Review Poulan Pro PB185A42 B & S Intek 42 inch 18.5 HP $1299 Best Cheap 42 inch Lawn Tractor
Ariens A19A42 42 in. 19 HP B&S Automatic $1199 Best Cheap Lawn Tractor at Home Depot
Yard Tractor – Medium Duty
Craftsman 42 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower – Normal Sale Price: $1499.99 Best Value 42 inch Single Cylinder Yard Tractor!
My Review 42 inch John Deere Model D125 – Hydrostatic – 20 HP – Normal Sale Price: $1799.99 Best Value John Deere!
My Review 42 inch Craftsman Model 20390 – Automatic Fast Tractor! – 22 HP – Turn Tight® – Normal Sale Price: $1699.99 Best Value 42 in V-Twin Yard Tractor!
My Review Toro SW4200 42 in 24.5 HP $2899 Combination Lawn Tractor and Zero Turn!
Yard Tractor – Heavy Duty
My Review Toro SWX4250 42 in 24.5 HP $4299 Combination Lawn Tractor and Zero Turn!
Lawn Tractor – Light Duty
My Review 46 inch Craftsman Model 20374 – Automatic – 19 HP Normal Sale Price: $1359.99 It is just a good, basic lawn tractor.
My Review Poulan Pro PB20A46 B & S Intek 42 inch 20 HP $1599 Best Cheap Light Duty 42 inch Lawn Tractor
Ariens A20KA46 46 in. 20 HP KOHLER Automatic 960460064 $1499 Best deal on a 46 inch at Home Depot
Yard Tractor – Medium Duty
My Review 48 inch John Deere Model D140 – Hydrostatic – 22 HP – Normal Sale Price: $1999.99 If you don’t want a Craftsman, this is the best choice!
Ariens A22VA4646 in 22 HP V-Twin $1599 Best Value Lawn Tractor at Home Depot!
Yard Tractor – Heavy Duty
My Review 48 inch Craftsman Model 20391 – Automatic Fast Tractor! – 22 HP – Turn Tight® – Normal Sale Price: $1999.99 Best Value Fast Tractor!
My Review 48 inch John Deere Model D160 – Hydrostatic – 25 HP – Normal Sale Price: $2599.99 Compares to the Craftsman G5100 Model 20401 and Husqvarna LGT26K54
My Review Poulan Pro PB22VA48 48 inch 22 HP B & S Pro $1799 Best Cheap 48 in inch Lawn Tractor. This Husqvarna built tractor is one of the best deals around.
My Reviews Raven MPV 7100 46 inch Hybrid Gas/Electric $3999 Lawn Tractor Mower – Generator – Multipurpose Vehicle. I can’t break this one!
My Review 48 inch Craftsman Model 20401 – G5100 Hydrostatic Garden Tractor! – 24 HP – Turn Tight® – Normal Sale Price: $2599.99 A Garden Tractor it’s not.
41-48 inch Husqvarna Articulated Rider – Hydrostatic Four Wheel Drive – 22 HP – Normal Sale Price: $5199.99 Great Lawn Tractor For Hills!
50 – 54 inch
Yard Tractor – Medium Duty
My Review 54 inch Craftsman Model 20393 – Automatic Fast Tractor! – 22 HP – Turn Tight® – Normal Sale Price: $2299.99 Fast Tractor! Still won’t mow over 3 inches or so.
My Review Toro SW5000 50 in 24.5 HP $3199 Combination Lawn Tractor and Zero Turn!
My Review Poulan Pro PB24VA54 54 inch 24 HP Kohler $1999 Basically the Craftsman 20393 above but with a Kohler and WITHOUT the Turn Tight Steering!
My Review Poulan Pro PBLGT2654 54 inch 26 HP Kohler $2399 An excellent alternative to the D170 Deere. It’s a lawn tractor that rides well!
My Review 54 inch John Deere Model D170 – 25 HP – Normal Sale Price: $2799.99 Great Price on a John Deere!
Garden Tractor – Heavy Duty
My Review 54 inch Craftsman Model 20403 – Hydrostatic Garden Tractor! – 24 HP- 8 MPH! – Turn Tight® – Normal Sale Price: $3099.99 Best Value Garden Tractor!
My Review Poulan Pro PBGT2654 54 inch 26 HP Kohler 7000 $2899 Basically a GT6000 without the Turn Tight Steering. If you are prone to breaking things – this tractor may be your cure!
whats your opinion of the Snapper RE100 RER? is the RE110 worth the $200 additional? I have 1/2 acre lot with minimum obstacles. located just a few miles from factory
Hi Gordon, The biggest difference is the engine. It is worth the extra $200 for the better engine.
First I want to say thank you for all this great information. I have been doing a lot of research and your reviews have been very helpful. I am still having some difficulty deciding on what tractor would be best for me. I have an acre of fairly flat lawn, with about a dozen trees and a few outbuildings to mow around. I’d like to stay under $1,600. What mower(s) would you suggest? Durability, reliability, and a brand that stands behind their equipment is more important to me than HP and deck width.
I live in Iowa so am also thinking about buying a snow blower attachment for my 140′ driveway and hauling some firewood in a cart. I figured buying a snow blower attachment, wheel weights and tire chains would be at least another $1,400. I’ve read other reviews that state adding a snow blower attachment to most lawn tractors is a bad idea. Many of the bad reviews said they had trouble with traction even after adding the weights and chains. They also mentioned the “abuse” the tractor receives from carrying and using the snow blower attachment will greatly reduce the mower’s lifespan. Here’s my question, is there a mower around my price range that can handle a snow blower attachment or am I better off saving my mower and spending the money on other snow removal equipment? What mower(s) would you suggest if I want to attach a snow blower?
Thanks in advance!
HI Cody, in that price range I would suggest the Craftsman 20391. It has the wider tires for traction. The basic frame has been used by thousands for over 15 years with a snow blower and it hold up well. The tranny is the strongest in that price range and will handle all the extra weight you want to put on the rear end. Even if you decide to go with a walk behind (check out movingsnow.com) it’s a good strong mower that will last years.
Here if the review: 20391 review
We are in need of a lawn tractor to mow 2.5 acres with lots of flower beds, big hills, and trees. I like the Poulan, PB18VA46, but it seems to be sold out every where I look. We were considering the Troy Bilt Super Bronco 50in but I’m concerned about it being too large of a deck. We’ve looked at the Craftsman Pro Series and like it but read several concerns about it not having enough traction for slopes. We’re feeling overwhelmed and confused as to what we should get. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Waxahachie Tx
Ps love all the details in your reviews!
@Jessica, The Craftsman Pro will have the same traction as the Super Bronco. The only owners who have issues are those who are trying to use the tractor outside the guidelines listed in the owners manual. i.e., over 15 degree slopes.
It will have about the same traction as the Poulan but with the Poulan’s more flexible frame it will go through dips a “little” better.
The PB18VA46 is available here with free shipping to your home: Poulan Pro PB18VA46 Automatic Transmission Lawn Tractor, 46-Inch
I am not sure you received this comment so I am resending it thru my other email address.
You have the absolute best site for information I have ever seen about any subject. I have been reading for 2 days 12 hours each day and haven’t covered it all. I am engulfed in info glut and need your assistance.
The land is 1 acre in the Canyon Lake Texas hill country needing cutting in a 3.7 acre lot that has some slope of 15 degree max and seems to grow rocks occasionally which I walk around and search for before cutting. It is not lawn but rather naturally growing grasses and weeds. There are many oak trees. I usually set the deck at 4″ high to miss small rocks and proceed cutting. I use a very old second hand Murray with about a 48″ deck and manual shift tranny. It has 23″ diameter rear tires. The steering is awful. It requires a lot physical effort with much back and forth and shifting gears around the trees.
My max budget is $3000. I really like the idea of a turn tight 6″ radius to cut around trees etc. I would like to be able to tow a cart like the Ox Cart you talk about and to use the Johnny Bucket or a blade in the front.
I am concerned about the transmission and am guessing the K46 is out. Because of my budget that seems to leave the K58 or a CVT.
If I use a blade or Johnny Bucket on the front I assume a strong front axle assembly is a prerequisite.
Based on the foregoing factors I am considering the Craftsman Pro 20443 with the 50″ deck.
Will that (I assume K58) tranny last for years? Is there a garden tractor within my budget that you feel would have a better transmission or be more appropriate for my needs?
Words cannot express my appreciation for your website and the effort you have put into it.
Hi Peter, Sorry, it been a very busy week. Todaysmower and Movingsnow hit a major milestone of 10,000,000 readers!
I’m sure JohnnyBucket is working on getting the brackets made for the Craftsman Pro/Cub Cadet XT2 tractors.
Yes, the Craftsman Pro 20443 sounds like a great choice for you. The tranny will hold up and you will be amazed at how well and easily this tractor steers.
Watch your rocks. All these new tractors use sealed aluminum spindles and if you hit a rock 4 inch you usually will break the spindle housing. It may be a good idea to keep a spare spindle and a set of blades around.
I have really enjoyed your website and I appreciate so much your willingness to give advice.
I have been mowing with a JD X277 48 inch 17 HP Kawasaki for the last 15 years. It hasn’t given me a minutes trouble but is finally wearing out. I have about 2 acres that includes flat and sloping lawn no more than 35 degrees with a ditch, several hardwood trees and a chain link fence here in North Alabama.
My first thought is to replace with a JD X300 because the dealer said if I went with a D series I would not be satisfied because I’ve had the X277. I’m also open to other lawn tractors of similar quality, especially if I can save some money.
I would love to know that my next mower would last as long as my current one has. Can you help me with my decision? I really appreciate the help and advice you offer on this site.
Thanks so much,
Hi Phillip, Sorry for the delay. It’s been busy this year! I feel the 100 series and even the new S240 are good for 8-10 years. All the new owners of the S240 love the tractor though. Too bad it only comes in 42 inch.
To get the longer life you need to stay with the X300 or X500 series.
Similar quality lawn tractors will be the XT3 series Cub Cadets and the Simplicity Conquest/Prestige.
Very useful site & thanks for the info. I live in Charleston, WV. I have almost 2 acres & some of it has about a 20-25% grade I need a mower that will handle hills. I want one that has a larger deck size. I don’t know which mowers have limited slip or locking rear diffs, but this is a feature I think I could use & I believe I need a hydrostatic. I also need to do this on a budget. I was looking at the Poulan Pro’s, or Husqvarna’s but not sure what I need really. Can you help me?
Hi Jon, None of the residential mowers are rated for over 15%. I can’t suggest any to you because of that.
Understood I won’t ask you to recommend any of them but can you tell me what has limited slip? Do any of the Poulan Pro’s have it?
Hi Jon, Sorry, this comment got dumped into the spam. I just found it. No the Poulan’s don’t have traction control. Cub Cadet has a 2 models, Husqvarna has a few including the GT48XLSi, Simplicity has it on the higher priced models and John Deere has a few in the X500 series. If money is no object look at the X500 series Deere’s.
Ok I will check those out, thank you so much for the info.
I’ve decided to start taking care of my lawn/landscaping again after 5 years of using a service. My Louisiana yard is a flat 2.5 acres with an open area of around 1.5 acres and the remainder is landscaped with 15- 20 trees of various sizes. I don’t need a machine to pull anything, though I might use a mulching kit. I want reasonable speed, a mower that will last at least 8-10 years, and access to someone who can repair the machine.
I have never used a ZTR mower before, so the new Toros(specifically the SWX5050)appeal to me. I’m not afraid of learning to use a lap bar, though.
I have a Gravely dealer very close to my home and they have a model for around the same price(ZT-X 52″) that I think would also suit my needs
Given the newness of the Toro engine, should I worry about any unforeseen design flaws, and could it be hard for me to find someone who could service it?
(This is my concern- not put in my head by the Gravely dealer)
@CC, I’m not worried about the Toro engine. The engine is 3 years in the development and it is being made by one of the world’s largest small engine manufactures. It will be serviced by your local Toro dealer.
The Gravely is similar in quality to the Toro. If you like the Gravely dealer, I’d go with that. The dealer will gladly help you get familiar with your new machine.
My compliments on your lawn tractor reviews… Terrific insights and thought provoking to spur more research… I like it! I am looking to get a tractor mower and I want to get a reliable product… I’ve been looking at the JD S240, JD X300, JD X304 and they all have 18.5 HP Kawasakis and K46 trannys- Tripped over your reviews of the Craftsman mowers of the 20376, 20379, 20440 and 20442… Craftsman Kohlers 20 to 22 HPs… with the CVT trannys…
Now, I’m seeing there’s some issues with the K46’s and that the CVT’s would be a better choice-
Looking at the 42″ to 46″ cuts… My yard is level with 5 trees and 7 bushes… 1/2 acre… I need to mulch… I want the tight turns… Here are my questions- 1- What engine would better? the Kawaski or the Kohler?… 2- Kohler Elite or the 7000?… 3- Better warranty, JD or Craftsman?… Talking to JD dealer reps and they have said- the JD Kawasaki is an upgrade over the Kawasaki Cub Cadets, Toros & Husqvarnas… They have basically said the JD 18.5 Kawasaki will perform better than the 20-22 HP Kohlers… That the rankings of the engines would be 1- Kawasaki, 2- Kohlers 3- Briggs/Stratton… What gives?… JD’s are using the k46’s and I’m hearing the CVT’s comparison…
Hi Rob, If you go back to that John Deere dealer please wear your MUCK boots. I guess he has to say anything he can to get you to spend $500-1500 more for a green tractor that will do the same work as the Cub Cadet or Craftsman down the street.
1 & 2. Kawasaki, Kohler 7000 and Briggs Platinum in reality will all give you 8-10 years of dependable use. The Kohler 7000 Elite has a slightly better filter system than the 7000 – though not enough of a difference to tell you it is better.
3. In the JD dealer’s mind the JD Kawasaki is better than the Cub Cadet because it has John Deere decals – it’s not a better engine inside. They are both Kawasaki FR series engines.
4. The dealer is only telling the truth about the horsepower to make his engine look good. What he told you is actually 4 year old information because it was that way a few years ago. Today though, The facts are the Kawasaki horsepower is rated differently than the Kohler. It is rated that 98% of the engines sold will produce 18.5 hp. Kohler uses a different rating. The Kohler’s are rated so that 95% of the engines will produce their labeled Horsepower. In the past (4 years ago) the Kohler used a rating that allowed 15% of the engines to not meet the labeled HP. I don’t agree with the JD dealer on a 18.5 hp Kawasaki compared to a 20-22 hp Kohler. The Kohler has a larger displacement so it will have more torque. I know, it’s complicated.
5. Briggs has more different engine qualities than Kawasaki and Kohler. So what he told you is true if you look at the lowest quality Briggs. If you look at a certain priced tractor though the the manufactures install an equal quality engine in a similarly priced mower. That’s why if the tractor with a Briggs at Lowes is $300 cheaper than the same tractor at Home Depot the difference may be the engine quality. The difference is listed right on the engine.
So a Briggs Platinum, Briggs ELS, Briggs Professional Series, Kohler 7000, Kohler 7000 Elite, Kawasaki FR are basically the same quality. They will all give you the life you are looking for mowing 1/2 acre of grass weekly.
To quickly go through the transmissions. The RS800 CVT is a heavier transmission than the K46 but it operates differently and many people have problems using the foot control that is higher. That said, the K46 will work perfectly for your yard. The reason people have problems with it is because they use their lawn tractor to do work is was never designed to do. These owners say the K46 is junk yet I have two here that are 15 years old and work perfectly. They have never been serviced. My wife uses one for her yard work everyday and I mow with the other one 3 hours every week.
For your yard and the mowing you have to do the K46 will work just fine.
I highly recommend the Craftsman 20442. According to Consumer Reports, it bags and mulches better than all the John Deere’s and side discharges just as well. It has a very strong front steering with a 5 inch turning radius. Owners really like how easy this tractor is to steer. It has the great Kohler 7000 engine with a better filtration system (Elite) Yes, it has the K46 transmission but the transmission is designed for this tractor and it will last.
You can see it on sears.com here: Craftsman Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46
Thanks for the response… I couldn’t locate where I forwarded your thought request since your website had several comment locations… Alas! I found it-… Again, thanks for the thoughtful response- Looking back on the comments the JD rep mentioned, they are very similar to what you said about the JD’s… That being said, I was kinda partial to JD’s since my Grandpa had JD’s (farmer) and my uncle ran a JD repair business in Defiance County, Ohio… You are correct that JD’s are a premium, price-wise… What about the JD S240?… They currently have a $200 rebate going until Aug 2015… Any reviews or comments here before I make up my mind?… Just like another comment that was made, “analysis paralysis” is the affliction we all endure-
Anyway, I will certainly look into the Craftsman 20442… The 20440 has the 42″ blades and the 20442 are 46″… Since I am mulching, I thought I read somewhere that you should avoid mulching anything larger than a 42″ to avoid a messy trail driven yard… I presume that speed determines the quality cut…
Hi Rob, I understand the brand allegiance. I grew up with a father and grandfather who would never buy a John Deere. They were all Farmall because most of our relation worked at the Moline Plow Works. (My uncle designed the IH 560 and was one of the engineers on the first Cub Cadet)
I like the S240 a lot. I have a few readers who have purchased them and they really, really like them. They brag about how well it steers and they really like the seat. I expect it to mow similar to the D125 and D130 because it is using a 100 series frame and deck. It has the 300 series engine and a few little tweeks that make it a better overall tractor than the D125-D130 tractors.
$200 off brings it within $100 dollars of the Craftsman 20442 so the value is there.
I don’t know where you heard that about a 46 inch deck. They may have been talking about the old 3 blade 46 inch decks. Todays 2 blade decks bag just a little better than a 42 inch and the stamped decks are designed to mulch and side discharge well. In fact Consumer Reports rated the 46 inch Craftsman 20442 the best mulching mower this year. Last year it was the 42 inch X300 Deere.
Tools IN Action took a trip to Greenville to see the new tractor. Read about their trip and watch the videos here. John Deere Trip
I’ve sold a couple of riding lawnmowers and I’d like to step up to an actual garden tractor. I live in Traverse City (northwestern lower peninsula – Michigan). My new place has a few inclines and I’d like to be able to add a snowthrower attachment in the future, maybe before this winter or the next one. I’m a big guy and also have some maneuvering around trees, landscaping, and hills to keep in mind on just short of an acre. I have a budget of around $3,500 at most and I have been getting excited about the Husqvarna GT48XLSi (not the 52, shed door reasons). I like the idea of the locking diff on this unit. Any thoughts?
@Adam, That sounds like a good choice. You can get either a 42 or 50 inch snow blower for that tractor.
Thanks for all the information. I have wanted a riding mower for quite some time. I think that time has come.
Don, Dawson Creek, B.C.
Thanks much. I did come looking for wisdom, so I thank you. The money part is always at hand as I try to be a good steward, but I do take care of my things so I will patch up my Craftsman for the mowing season and look for replacement at the end. Again, Paul, I appreciate your input and thank you for your time and advice.
I’ve had this Sears 50″ Garden Tractor for the last 21 years. I’ve been through a couple decks. The steering required lots of hands on, and early on I had significant belt issues until I changed the size on a whim. So I can’t complain, BUT, now I’m looking again and naturally drawn to the Sears Pro-Series, Tight turn. The rear tires are smaller, 20″ instead of 23″ and that has me thinking since I cant attach weights to it. My yard is predominantly level but there are hilly parts, it’s also prone to being wet because of it’s location. For the most part I stay away from the really soggy places until we get a dry spell of a week or so. Here’s my “dilemma”; the rear tire size for the price had me go out shopping, I found this Troy-Bilt Super Bronco 50″ deck with the proper tires… It’s $800 less than the Craftsman. The Troy Bilt doesnt have tight turn but I can live easily with the 18″ turning radius since it beats the snot out of my 1993 version. I don’t want to be cash blind… what can you tell me please.
Hi Carmen, You are looking at the wrong Craftsman to replace your old one.
The direct replacement for your old tractor is the Husqvarna Built Craftsman 20403: 24HP 54″ Complete Start™ Turn Tight® Garden Tractor – Non CA. This tractor has the 23 inch rear tires and the heavy duty garden tractor transmission.
If you are looking at the MTD built Craftsman Pro line the replacement tractor is the: Craftsman Pro 26HP Kohler engine; 54″ cutting deck. It has the 22 inch rear tires and the heavy-duty K58 ground engaging transmission.
Please don’t buy the Troy-Bilt. It’s not Troy-Bilt brand or the deck or the engine or the tires or the transmission. It’s the combination of large tires, a K46 lawn tractor transmission and the big deck that will give you problems.
I wrote the following comment last week on the LGT tractors. I think it applies to this conversation. These are tractors with a lightweight K46 lawn tractor transmission and a large deck or large tires or garden tractor frame. The Troy-Bilt Super Bronco falls into this classification.
The Troy-Bilt XP Super Bronco 50 or 54, Troy Bilt TB2454, Cub Cadet XT1 LT54, XT2 LX54, Husqvarna LGT2654, Poulan Pro PBLGT, and the Craftsman 20444 also have big decks but the lawn tractor sized K46 transmission. The industry has had more problems with this engine/transmission/deck/frame combination than any other setup. The Craftsman G5100, John Deere D160’s and D170’s fall into this same issue.
Basically any lawn tractor with a 54 inch deck that sells for less than $2700 is using this transmission and the transmission is not designed for it.
The K46 transmission is a good transmission for a 42 to 46 inch inch deck but it is not heavy-duty enough to last when trying to push that large deck. Many people are getting less than 200 hours of use before the transmission goes out.
The Husqvarna LGT2654 is the model that has been around the longest. If you go search Google, read the tractor forums and read the reviews of it on Lowes and other sites you will find more people complaining about the transmission going out than on any other tractor.
There are only two large deck lawn tractors that do not use that transmission. The Craftsman model 20393 and the Poulan Pro PB24VA54. They use the stronger CVT.
Amazon has free shipping on the Poulan Pro PB24VA54 Kohler 24 HP Pedal Fast Auto 54-Inch (Ignore the 1 to 3 months)
Home Depot also has them for the same price: Poulan PRO Lawn Mowers PB24VA54 54 in. 24-HP Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Lawn Tractor 960420174
Craftsman Model 20393: 22HP 54” Kohler Powered Turn Tight Riding Mower – Non CA
Yes, the Troy-Bilt is $800 less but it is less for capabilities and long life. If cost is your only criteria for a selecting a new lawn tractor – buy what you want. But you came to this website because looking for help. I won’t suggest a tractor to you where the transmission will last only 2 weeks past the end of the warranty.
I am new to the world of riding lawn mowers and have researched the various offerings on your very good site. I have a 1 acre area on the east side of Whidbey island, WA., which is pretty darn rough in places and with a 15-20 degree slope at one point. I have narrowed it down to the following (cost is always a concern though I would rather buy quality and durability if possible, rather than skimping to save some $);
Cub Cadet XT2 GX54, Craftsman Pro 20445, Husq. GT52LSi,, Husq.322T AWD, and finally the Raven MPV7100.
What do you think of the lineup and what direction might you give me?
Thanks for all your help.Larry
Hi Larry, That’s a good list. All of these are good quality mowers.
Since you have steep hills I have to rule out both the Cub Cadet and the Craftsman. They do not have traction control and won’t go up your hills well.
The Husqvarna 322T is a nice mower but at $5299 is the most expensive of the group. I also don’t think it is the best choice because it will go up and down hills ok but is fairly narrow so mowing across a hill it can get tippy.
The Raven is also a good choice and I will recommend it, but there is one feature you may not like. It does not have any engine or transmission braking going downhill. You have to use the brake pedal to keep it from running away downhill. It has drum brakes that you can feather like your car but on the rear only.
That leaves the GT52XLSi. It has the electronic traction control. It has the power. It has a heavy duty deck. It has the best heavy duty frame Husqvarna offers. It has large front and rear tires to absorb some of the bumps. It the same heavy duty transmission found on the $6500 John Deere and Simplicity tractors. This is the mower I recommend.
Farm and Fleet just dropped their price on Troy Bilt Tb2454. I did some digging and found that it has the k46 transmission. Is the 24HP Intek too big for the tranny? Do you think this tractor would fit my needs?
Hi Kyle, Please don’t buy the Troy-Bilt. It’s not Troy-Bilt brand or the deck or the engine or the tires or the transmission. It’s the combination of large tires, a K46 lawn tractor transmission and the big deck that will give you problems.
I wrote the following comment last week on the LGT tractors. I think it applies to this conversation.
The Troy-Bilt XP Super Bronco 54, Troy Bilt Tb2454, Husqvarna LGT2654 and the Craftsman 20444 both have big decks but the lawn tractor sized K46 transmission. The industry has had more problems with this engine/transmission combination than any other setup. The Craftsman G5100, John Deere D160’s and D170’s fall into this same issue.
Basically any lawn tractor with a 54 inch deck that sells for less than $2700 is using this transmission and the transmission is not designed for it.
The K46 transmission is not heavy-duty enough to last when trying to push that large deck. Many people are getting less than 200 hours of use before the transmission goes out.
The LGT2654 is the model that has been around the longest. If you go search Google, read the tractor forums and read the reviews of it on Lowes and other sites you will find more people complaining about the transmission going out than on any other tractor.
There are only two cheap 54 inch lawn tractors that does not use that transmission. The Craftsman model 20393 and the Poulan Pro PB24VA54. They use the stronger CVT.
Amazon has free shipping on the Poulan Pro PB24VA54 Kohler 24 HP Pedal Fast Auto 54-Inch (Ignore the 1 to 3 months)
Home Depot also has them for the same price: Poulan PRO Lawn Mowers PB24VA54 54 in. 24-HP Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Lawn Tractor 960420174
Craftsman Model 20393: 22HP 54” Kohler Powered Turn Tight Riding Mower – Non CA
To answer your last question. You may like a 48. It won’t scalp your lawn as much but it will take you a 1.5 hours longer to mow your lawn. Poulan PRO Lawn Mowers PB22VA48 48 in. 22-HP Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Lawn Tractor 960420171
If cost is your only criteria for a selecting a new lawn tractor – buy what you want. But you came to this website because looking for help. I won’t suggest a tractor to you where the transmission will last only 2 weeks past the end of the warranty.
Kyle in Madison
Thanks for the response. Yea i figured you’d say that about the k46. I think i would like to stay under a 50in deck. I tried going back into my wooded area and the Cub LT10150 couldnt make it back there with the larger deck.
My #1 priority is longevity and depndability. I would also like something with a little extra power (maybe larger wheels?) to make it up the hills and perhaps plow/blow my long sloped driveway in the winter. I want hyrdostatic foot pedal operation and it must mow in reverse.
Besides the Poulan is there anything else youd recommend? There aren’t any Poulan dealers around me and I’d really like to test drive or at least sit in it before I buy
Hi Kyle, To get to large tires and a strong trans you need to go to the garden tractor style. The problem though is they only come with 54 inch decks.
By the way the Poulan sits just like the Craftsman yard tractors or the YT series Husqvarna’s.
I feel the Craftsman 20391 is one of the better mowers for dependability and long life. 22 HP V-Twin 48″ Turn Tight Fast Riding Mower – Non CA. It is a good tractor. It cuts well. It’s under $2000. This one has a foot control and goes 7.5 mph so you can get done with your drive faster. You can read my review here: 20391 Review.
Have just purchased a Sears Riding Mower, 48″, 6″ turning radius, Model #917.203910
Very excited, this is our first brand new mower. Read thru the Quick Reference Guide and had my list of things to do to get this machine mowing.
I lifted the “hood” of the mower, looked thru the plastic guard that’s over the engine and saw a whole lot of rust, right in the center and every screw was also rusted. I phoned our local Sears store and was told that this was normal oxidation. What do you think?
Hi Judy, Yes this is normal. You are looking at the flywheel and it’s never painted. Over time it will get a nice brown patina. I guess I’ve never thought about why it’s not painted but I believe it’s not painted because the paint can cause an imbalance, cause vibration and take out the top bearing of the motor.
Hello Paul, Thanks for the great site! I’ve been thinking about retiring my Craftsman II (LT 4000) that I purchased new in 1992. The 42″ deck is getting mighty thin (still has the original spindles!). The old rascal runs great considering I have easily put over 1100 hours on the B & S 18hp engine. I like the specs. on the Poulan PBGT2654 but prefer the transaxle in the Husky GT48XLSi. Would you know if there are any future plans of a locking transaxle being put in the Poulan branded GT’s?
Hi Ron, I don’t expect that to happen. Poulan is Husqvarna’s economy brand. The Husqvarna name is their premium brand so the premium brand will always get the toys.
Paul, I have a 2014 Craftsman Pro Series with the 26HP engine. I mows well and we use it to drag our arena dirt. I purchased it last year and the deck did snap off at one of the welding spots. Sears replaced it for free which included, shipping, new deck, blades, wheels , and belt. They came to my house and put it on. Great warranty and a good machine. My wife really puts it through a work out.
Dave from Ridgeland, South Carolina
Dear Paul, I have 2.5 acres of somewhat bumpy country lawn to mow, with a number of trees to go around. Based on your wonderful reviews, I’ve narrowed my search to John Deere’s x300 with a 48 ” deck, or the Craftsman 20403 with a 54 inch deck. Do you have a recommendation. Mecklenburg, NY Thank you.
Hi Susan, There is no comparison for strength between the X300 and the 20403. The 300 series Deere that compares to the 20403 is the X320. Why?
The Craftsman 20403 uses a heavy duty garden tractor transmission rated for ground engaging tasks. The X300 uses a lawn tractor transmission. That said, if you just mowing lawn the X300 will work just fine.
The Craftsman 20403 turns tighter but the X300 turns easier. If you want a Craftsman that is comparable for ease of steering look at the Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor. The Craftsman Pro turns tighter and just as easy as the X300 Deere.
The fit and finish is better on the X300 than the 20403. Again if you want a comparable Craftsman look at the Pro model.
The X300 uses 20 inch rear tires. The ride will not be as good as the 20403.
Going back to the steering. With a rough bumpy farm lawn I can’t recommend the 20403. The whole front steering is not heavy duty enough to handle that type of lawn. If you move up to the Pro model then the steering issues go away.
So to summarize. The 20403 is not the best tractor for your bumpy yard. The front steering is not strong enough. The better Craftsman for you is the Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor.
In the 300 series John Deere’s the X300 48 will do the job but I am worried about the transmission lasting you 8-10 years. I would suggest you look at the X320 instead.
The X320 and the Craftsman Pro 20445 have the same easy steering. The Craftsman Pro turns tighter. Both tractors use the same larger 22 inch tires so they will give you a better ride but some owners state the springs on the seat of the Craftsman Pro are too stiff and it bounces you. If you weigh less than 150 lbs this may be a problem. The Craftsman Pro’s deck is rated to give the best cut on a smooth lawn but you may find it will gouge your bumpy lawn unless you mow at 3 inches or higher. The X320 deck will mow your bumpy lawn without gouging.
The bottom line: If you want the best tractor for your lawn go with the X320. If you want the best value for your bumpy lawn and can live with raising the mowing height to 3 inches and possibly a bouncing ride go with the Craftsman Pro.
My Father in law has about 2-3 acres to mow close to South Bend IN and his old mower has now tanked. He oftentimes can’t get to mowing till it’s wait to late, so he can be rough on it. He’d prefer a 54″ cut, but also has a limited budget 1800-2500 at most likely so I guess the larger the better. The yard is generally flat with some bumps along the way. long term Reliability is probably the most important feature after factoring in the budget. What would you recommend to fit his budget and needs? No mowers are off limits.
Thanks for your help.
Hi Jeff, The only 54 inch I would recommend in that price range is the Craftsman 22HP 54” Kohler Powered Turn Tight Riding Mower – Non CA.
It has the Kohler 7000 engine, 54 inch deck and the good CVT transmission. The only thing you should know is the deck will mow no higher than 3.25 inches. If you need a mower that mows higher you need to spend around $2800.
Thanks Paul. I forgot to mention that he plows the long driveway with it in the winter… With heavier than average snowfall here. I don’t know if that affects anything or not.
Reliability/longevity being way up on the priority list, is there a smaller (like 48-50″)and more robust tractor in his price range that you would steer him to? Or does he really need to open up the pocketbooks a bit more to get something to Hampshire the loads. It’s less of a lawn and more of a field by the way. Sorry for all the questions. I levitate your help.
Hi Jeff, Keep asking, I’ll keep answering.
I would rather see him buy the Craftsman 24HP 54″ Complete Start™ Turn Tight® Garden Tractor – Non CA.
It’s a heavy duty garden tractor that will handle his field and move the snow well (with weights and chains) Besides the larger tires and heavy duty transmission the nice feature for him is the tractor will go 8 mph! That will make a big difference plowing snow. It is really worth the extra $300 to get this tractor.
Hi, I am considering the Columbia LT4218. It has a CVT. My lot is less than 1/2 acre and has some slope to it. Do you think this CVT will hold up? I am assuming it is an MTD and am wondering if I should opt for one with a General Transmission brand? I am in Johnstown, PA.
Hi Tim, No one ever talks about the CVT in the MTD built lawn tractors because they never give us any problems. You may have to replace the CVT belt every 5 years or so but otherwise they just work. It appears you are loking at the right sized mower for your yard so it should work well.
What motor is in the LT4218? I couldn’t find any listing of that model anywhere.
If they want more than $1400 for that tractor look at the Craftsman Lawn Tractors. here before you buy. I’ll bet they are the same, basic machine.
The LT4218 is a 2014 model that I couldn’t find online either. It was $1599 delivered with tax. I did some looking at Sears and found one with a black, GT transaxle, It is the model 20381X and by the time I used all my Sears discounts I got it for $1388 delivered with tax. I think this is a good deal. Let’s hope. I have been driving my wife crazy with my constant looking for a deal.
Hi Tim, You can read my review of the Craftsman here: 25081/20381x Review
I just moved to Kingsland, Georgia and now have almost 2 acres to mow. I have Lowes and Sears available here in town and have seen some of the Poulan mowers sold in local stores as well. I’m leaning toward a Craftsman Turn-Tight like the T1800. The lawn is somewhat sandy with shallow drainage ditches, and about twenty trees of various size to work around. Would the T1800 do the job or should I just spend the extra and get the 20390?
Hi Russ, The T1800, Model 20376 does not have the turn-tight steering. Yes, it is too small for two acres. It is an inexpensive lawn tractor that will work well for an acre but on 2 acres you will wear it out in a few years.
I suggest the Model 25081. It has the Turn-Tight steering and is heavier duty all around. The single cylinder Briggs engine will last. The only feature the 20390 has over it is the V-Twin engine.
25081: 19HP 42 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower
20390: 22HP 42” Turn Tight® Fast Riding Mower – Non-CA
Thanks for your advice. I hadn’t considered how the added acreage would take its toll on the mower. I know folks who have used riders for years are more familiar with fender throttles but the pedal control appeals to me because this will be my first rider, so I’ve never used a fender throttle. Do you think it would take much time to grow accustomed to the fender throttle on the 25081?
Hi Russ, it will take all of 5 minutes. If you get in trouble just step on the left pedal and the tractor stops.
I have 5 acres of very rough lawn in Northern MS. There is a very steep hill in the back yard, (right at 20 degrees) and some of the natural ruts are over a foot deep and about 7 inches wide. Filling in the washed out areas is pointless because they will just washout the next rainy season. I mow every week. In your opinion, what is the best mower, cost not an issue, for that type of lawn? Secondly, what is the best mower under $3000 that will last?
Hi Jacob, the best mower for any type of lawn is the Walker. You can set these mowers up to handle your lawn. Check out why they are the best here: The Walker Advantage.
The best mower that will last is the Craftsman 20442. I can’t recommend it for your lawn, in fact there are only one or two mowers on the market that can mow your hill and they are well over $12,000.
The closest mower that may work is the Toro SWX5050. Heavy, fabricated deck. Strong transmissions, both rear wheels drive and an engine that will last on slopes. Home Depot sells it here: Toro Lawn Mowers TimeCutter SWX5050 50 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Park 74797C
I have a little over 3/4 acres of uneven terrain with a bunch of trees scattered around the yard. I was trying to decide between the Husqvarna YTH22V46 V-Twin Hydrostatic 46-in Riding Lawn Mower with Briggs & Stratton Engine and Mulching Capable or the Club Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT 46 in. 22 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower. Is one better than the other in your opinion or do you have another suggestion of a comparable mower that is better? I appreciate your input.
@Kevin, According to the Husqvarna website the YTH22V46 has the Briggs Intek engine. Although it is a “standard” engine in many mowers some owners have had issues with it when mowing slopes.
The Kohler in the Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series LT 46 in. 22 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower – California Compliant LT46 CARB is a better engine. I expect it to give you up to 25% more life than the Intek in the YTH22V46.
I like the XT1 26 inch. If you want a comparable tractor with a tighter turning radius and a little bigger engine look at the Craftsman Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower
I really need help. I am an older handicapped female. I am now widowed. My husband always mowed our 1 acre yard. I have a John Deere lawn tractor with a 42″ deck, but I am not able to get on it. My legs are weak and I cannot step over the deck to get to the seat. I cannot afford to pay someone to mow the yard. Average bid is around $100.00 a week.It would be cheaper for me to buy a new mower. My yard is flat but bumpy with lots of trees; 3 of which are walnut, which is another issue by itself. My biggest concern is getting on the mower. I have tried to look at mowers in stores but they are always lined up close together. I cannot even get to them to see if I can get on them and sales people seem unwilling to help. Is there something where the deck doesn’t stick out so far? Any help you can give would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Lynette, About the only tractor where the deck doesn’t stick out any farther than your 42 inch John Deere would be a 38 inch John Deere X300. The issue I have is the mower is $3100 at your local John Deere dealer.
I have another idea though. Take a look at the picture below. A step like this may be all you need. Now, the step in the picture is too small, I suggest you have someone make you one with a 10 X 10 inch top step and the upright handle make that at least 40 inches. This step is 6 inches high.
If that step is too high have someone make you a 2-step stool. Make each step about 4 inches high and the top step 10X10.
Make it out of pine and paint it and you can leave it out in the yard or in the garage right by the mower.
Feel free to ask any other questions.
Female homeowner/lawn care person here. First time I have had to purchase a riding mower. I have read, researched, talked to, and reviewed till I am dizzy…..and still don’t know more than I did when I started. So, ask the expert. I have 1.5-2 acres to mow; most is flat, but there is a small incline, approx. 10-15 degrees. I have lots of trees, lots of limbs that fall, and some occasional rocks that wash up after a heavy rain. My son keeps touting the zero turn but I dont think that is what I need, based on reading some of your other reviews. With that said, I am looking at products from Walmart, HomeDepot and Lowes. Probably 46-48 inch cut. I would like something that can mulch, and something that I could attach a cart to for carrying light items around the yard. Price would need to be under 2,000. Can you recommend anything for me?? Just too overwhelmed with all the products out there.
Hi Julie, I’ll be glad to point you in one direction.
First, stay far, far away from WalMart. I shop there all the time for food and electronics but all the riding mowers they have are built for the cheapest cost. They usually give you more problems than they are worth after 2-3 years.
Lowes is fine, but I do like the overall service from Home Depot better. If you have a problem they just about always get you to a local dealer for the repair.
I am going to suggest two tractors: First, the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT 46 in with 22 HP V-Twin Kohler. What you get is a great, smooth running engine, an easy to use foot control for the speed. You also get a really good cutting deck and the best of all the ladies who have purchased this tractor say it has the best steering they have used on a lawn tractor. They state it’s almost like power steering.
With this tractor you can get it and a yard cart for your $2000 budget.
I want to warn you, the tractor is shipped to you and there is some assembly before you can mow with it. When you use the link below look at the “Instructions / Assembly” down by the Product Overview section. It’s not a big project to assemble it but you do need a few tools.
You can use this link to see it and order it online to pick up at your local store or they will ship it to your home. Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series LT 46 in. 22 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower – California Compliant LT46 CARB
You can attach a mulch kit: Cub Cadet Landscaping Supplies 46 in. Mulch Kit for Cub Cadet LTX 1045 Riding Mower 19A30005100
I suggest spending at least $200 on a cart. Anything less won’t last. The poly carts hold up the best. If you want the best on the market this year for the price: Craftsman 12 cu. ft. Swivel Dump Cart with Hydraulic-Assisted Lift & Run-Flat Tires
If you absolutely don’t want to assemble your new tractor to save a few dollars the second choice is delivered for you by a local dealer and is ready to mow with. It’s a little more money ($1999)
The 48 inch John Deere D140 is also a good mower. Yes, I bragged up the Cub Cadet because everyone so far loves it, but this Deere is no piece of junk either. Again, a great smooth running engine, a good cutting deck and it pretty much drives like your car. This tractor has been around for quite some time and it continues to be a good machine.
You can read about it and order it here. John Deere Lawn Mowers D140 48 in. 22 HP V-Twin Hydrostatic Front-Engine Riding Mower BG20730
Feel free to ask any other questions. When you buy come back and let us know what you got. And anytime feel free to ask any questions about how it use it or maintain it.
Jason – Chillicothe OH.
I currently have a John Deere LA150, 54″ with chains on the tires for better traction. The transmission is going out so I have started searching for a new mower. I’m open to any Make and Model 46″-54″ deck and could use your recommendation. Some I have looked at our the Craftsman Pro, Husqvarna, John Deere and Cub Cadet. But again, I’m not limiting myself to these and open to make or model that you suggest.
My yard is about 1.5 acre. The entire yard is pretty much on a small degree slope (guessing <15), but there is a few small areas that are fairly steep (hence my use of the chains for traction), and a run-off ditch that is often wet. The grass can grow really thick in some of the areas. The ground is rough in a lot of places and makes for a very bumpy ride. There is a fair amount of obstacles I have to mow around (trees, utility boxes ect..). On rare occasions I use the mower to haul dirt, wood, rocks ect.. towing a small dump cart, and sometimes I even use the snow blade to clear our small driveway in the winter months.
Quick thank you to Paul and everyone on this site providing a wealth of great information on this topic.
Hi Jason, The Craftsman Pro 54 inch Garden Tractor uses the same rear tire size as your LA150 so you can save $100 by using your old chains. The Cub Cadet XT2 GX54″ with Fabricated Deck is a dealer model and also uses the same tires and also has traction control. With the traction control you may find you don’t need chains anymore.
Either way I would stick with the garden tractors. They have a heavier transmission (K58) for your hills.
Thanks Paul! I checked out the Cub Cadet and really liked what I saw. I really like the looks of the Craftsman Pro – the tight steering seems like it would be very beneficial as well, but I’m not sure since I’ve never tried it, however I was unable to get information on the type of transmission in these different pro models, can you help me identify please?
Hi Jason, here is the latest comment from a new Craftsman Pro owner, “Hi Paul, I just wanted to give a quick report on the Craftsman Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor that you recommended for us. We took your recommendation and bought this mower. I LOVE THIS MOWER! It has a pretty comfortable ride and the steering is incredible. I am used to a very hard handling steering but this is almost a power steering! It is wonderful! Thank you very much for all your advice.”
The Craftsman Pro 20445 Garden tractor uses a K58 which is rated for ground engaging work. The rest use the K46. I recommend the 42 inch 20440 and the 46 inch 20442. I don’t recommend the 20443 54 inch lawn tractor because I feel the transmission is too light and will give you issues later on.
Paul, thank you! I have one final question (I promise). I have narrowed down my search to 2 mowers, the Cub Cadet XT2 GX54 which you recommended (sadly this mower is currently backed ordered until late June) and the Husqvarna XLSi which is available now. I like the idea of the CC having auto traction control where as the Husqvarna has a manual. The sales people could not tell me what would happen if I turned on the manual traction control and forgot to turn it off – could this damage the mower? Just trying to determine if their is enough of a difference between these 2 mowers that would prompt me to wait for the CC to become available. Your advice is very much appreciated Thanks again!
Hi Jason, with both machines when you stop the tractor the trans lock disengages. Personally I would go with the GT52LSi because it has the heavier K66 trans.
The automatic traction control can be a pain. Why? because it automatically engages and you may not realize it. So when you go to turn the tractor wants to plow straight ahead. With the manual you know when it is engaged.
Thank you for all your valuable insight and recommendations! I bought a John Deere D140 yesterday at Lowes. Original price $1999, I used my Lowes card and saved $100. Then they also had a $250 rebate for a Lowes gift card that I will get, bringing the bottom line down to $1650. I think I got a great deal! Thanks so much!
Tulsa, OK, Here is another question for you. What do you think about the Cub Cadets at Home Depot, the LT 50 and the GT 50. They are made by MTD, right? Is that a bad thing? I always thought MTD made mowers were cheap lower quality.
Hi Kaleb, MTD makes riding mowers costing $899 all the way up to $13,000! Their quality is based on the market they are selling in. So yes, MTD does have a line that is made for WalMart, another for Lowes, etc. The Cub Cadet brand is their premium U.S. line and it does have comparable quality to the other brands that you have heard are better.
MTD has rebuilt the Cub Cadet tractor line for 2015. I wrote a summary article here: 2015 Cub Cadet XT1 – XT2 Lawn & Garden Tractor Review
Now to answer your question. I don’t like the LT50 if you have hills. It uses the k-46 transmission and it’s a little light for heavy duty work. For flat and gently sloped land it will be a good mower.
The GT%) is a good mower. It has a heavy-duty transmission and larger tires. It cuts well and rides well. If you want a garden tractor and can’t use the 54 inch deck this is a good alternative.
You can read more and order it here. Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series GT 50 in. 25 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Garden Tractor with Cub Connect Bluetooth GT50.
I have about .5 acres with some hills. The largest hill is the majority of the backyard and it approx 10 degrees.
Also, the yard is brand new last year so the sod is a bit rough yet. Will need to roll it at some point. I’m dealing with red clay, so it is very hard.
Biggest question, will the standard k46 trans hold up ok with these hills on a 42-46″ tractor?
Also, is having 4 anti skid wheels over 2 a huge improvement?
@Chris, Anti-scalp wheels are a selling point (like a deck wash) more than they are useful. They are supposed to protect your deck from denting on the corner of a sidewalk, cement curb, tree root, etc. Two if placed in the right corners will work just as well as four.
Yes, a K-46 on a 42-46 inch tractor will hold up.
I moved to a rural property in Lake Stevens, Washington about 4 years ago. The mowed area is just over an acre, and although it’s flat it is very uneven. I had a Husqvarna YTH20K46 but after a year of mowing this rough ground, the drive belts wouldn’t stay on (no tensioner on that model). I then purchased a new Toro Timemaster 30 with a 190cc B&S and I’ve had terrible luck with the engine; it floods more often than it starts. (The dealer replaced the carb, at my cost, but it hasn’t helped.) I don’t know if this property is jinxed but I’ve never had this much trouble with mowers. Can you please recommend a rider that will stand up to the rough ground, and start reliably? Thank you very much for your help, Beth.
Hi Beth, I think a good model for you is the 20390 Craftsman lawn tractor. This mower works well on rougher ground and is very reliable.
You are a very good candidate for the optional Sears Protection Plan. The Protection plan not only covers warranty stuff for 5 years but also includes most wear and tear items like belts, batteries, tires, etc. It even includes fuel related issues. All you have to do is change the oil, filters and blades. If you have any problem with the tractor like a belt slipping off or it not starting just call 1-800-4MY-HOME and a Sears tech comes out and works on it.
So just to be clear, the issue you were talking about with the Club Cadet XT1 where you said that it is rigid and not the best for a yard that has any type of swales or ridges, that is NOT the same as the John Deere floating deck on the D140. Sorry, just trying to understand. I’m seeing sales of all kinds this weekend, so I want to buy. John Deere has a $250 rebate gift card at Lowes, plus they will give 5% (almost $100) off the purchase price. So that makes the D140 bottom line $1649. Club Cadet is priced at $1699 at a few places, and someone said that Home Depot will price match that and then also give the 5% Lowes discount, which, if true, would bring it down to $1614. However, I have been told that, even though it is the same model as at a dealer, they make them differently (and cheaper) for the big box stores. Would I be better served to go straight to a John Deere dealer and lose out on the rebate rather than a big box store? Or a Club Cadet dealer rather than a big box store?
@Lou, You must have been talking to a shady dealer. I would not go back to there – EVER! The same model is the same model – period. It doesn’t matter if it is sitting at Lowes, Home Depot, your John Deere dealer or the Cub Cadet dealer.
It looks like you have done your homework. Both the D140 and the Cub Cadet are good prices and you will be happy with either mower.
Just to be clear on the discounts. Most retailers will price match or give you the discounts but they won’t do both. That’s called “stacking.” Now most retailers will work the deal both ways and give you the best price but very seldom can you stack one deal on top of the other. Their profit margin is too tight to give the tractor away.
Rich – Greenville, NC.
I have been struggling with what type of mower to replace my now dead Craftsman GT5000. Suffered catastrophic engine failure. I really like the garden tractor class machines, as I am a bigger person and like the heavier duty transmission and components, including the larger tires that spread my weight over a greater area.. I am just concerned that carrying me that the load will be a bit much on the standard k46 on most of the mowers. I have looked at a couple of used X500 JD, The XT3 CC and Gt2100 series. The local JD dealer has even recommended a used LX289 with 300 hours on it, for around 1800 dollars. I have also had recommendations to got the ZT mower route with Hustler Raptor SD as one of the leading contenders.
I have about 1/2 an acre to mow with a few trees, being in eastern NC, we are flat. I have a really shallow drainage area in the front of the lawn that has never been a problem to mow along. I also will haul an occasional cart with a few hundred pounds on it, or a broadcast spreader.
Am I worrying too much in my situation? Should I look at something like the XT2 series CC, I am iffy on craftsman after my last sales experience while researching. I also know they did not stand behind the warranty on my last tractor, it kept throwing the belt, until I discovered the belt was defective, not a big expense but came from the factory that way.
Thank you for all the information you provide.
Hi Richard, no one covers belts for any reason – except Sears. And they only cover them under the optional Protection Plan. That said,
The LX289 was a very good mower. It’s one of those that the guys say, “I wish today’s mowers were made like the old ones.” $1800 is a good price for a 2004 -2005.
If you are looking at Cub Cadet you do not need the XT2 series. The biggest selling point on the XT2 is the transmission has a locking diff and you may have more problems with that on the light soil of eastern plains that it’s worth. (It wants to push the mower in a straight line when it’s engaged and to release it you have to stop the tractor)
The XT1 GT50 is a good choice.
If you have a Husqvarna dealer around also look at the GTH24K54.
Thank you. I will try to see if the local Husqvarna dealer has one.
I was also wondering if I am just being overly paranoid about the k46 and should give them greater consideration.
Hi Richard, If you keep your deck size under 48 inches and the rear tires to 20 inches the K46 does well. When you install the K46 in a tractor with 22 or 23 inch rear tires and a 54 inch deck – you are asking for problems.
Hi Paul, I’m just getting started looking for my first yard tractor and would be interested in your recommendation for my situation. I live in Canada, have 1.5 acres to cut, sloped terrain, with one section that is marshy/wet until mid May to June. I would like to pull a cart for moving around mulch, soil, & firewood. Maybe the occasional stone(s) for landscaping. Not sure if I should go 42″ or 48″. Not sure what HP I should be looking at, would be nice to get something with decent speed.
I have started reading about the John Deere D130 and D140, but am open to all suggestions. Only reason I’ve been looking at the Deere’s is because I want something reliable that will last, and they seem to have a great reputation.
Hi Wendel, I don’t keep track of the tractors in Canada but also look at the 2015 Columbia 46 inch (the same as the 2015 Cub Cadet here) and the CRAFTSMAN®/MD 46 inch for comparison. The Deere’s, Columbia and Craftsman have good reviews.
Does the D170 have the same k46 trans as in the Husqvarna lowes 54″ mower that should be avoided because the trans is too small for the deck and larger wheels?
Hi Kaleb, Yes. I only recommend the D170 for flat lawns. You can pull a yard cart for leaves, mulch and sticks otherwise the transmission may not last. Don’t buy it if you mow slopes greater than 5 degrees.
Hi Paul, Yes I have about 2-3 acres of flat land to mow. I was originally looking at the LGT2654 or whatever it is at Lowes and you said avoid it due to the large deck and wheels and the trans was too small for it. Since the D170 also has a 54″ deck and large wheels and the same tranny, would it also suffer the same issues and should be avoided as well?
Hi Kaleb, Yes. I only recommend the D170 for flat lawns. You can pull a yard cart for leaves, mulch and sticks otherwise the transmission may not last. Don’t buy it if you mow slopes greater than 5 degrees.
What would you recommend for a sloped yard? Joel wheeling, wv
Hi Joe. How much slope? How big of a yard? Where do you live so I can get an idea of what type of grass you are mowing?
Here is a slope chart.
I have read many of your articles and am uncertain where to go. I have a large, bumpy, gopher holed yard, about an acre, in Winter park, Co, 9000′ elevation. It is not a lawn but rather cut grass yard. I haul things in my garden trailer from time to time….rocks, tools, etc.
I want something durable, DEPENDABLE EASY STARTING, not too rough of a ride. I don’t plow snow, grade, etc…I cut grass and haul. The grass is course, native grass….not bluegrass, and when it gets long frequently it doesn’t cut cleanly.
Simply put, I want the overall best Price to value…but well built to last. I am confused by deck size, transmission types, engine manufactures, etc. You have so many good things to say about so many tractors. I was set to buy the Craftsman Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor but then I read your Poulon reviews which seem to point me in that direction.
I have never been a Briggs fan in that starting was sometimes an issue. Do I really need a 54″ deck and will it scalp with the bumps in the yard? It doesn’t seem that I want a zero turn but the Craftsman 6″ turn sounds helpful. Lastly, what questions should I have asked you that I didn’t. Please advise and thanks in advance.
The model # on the Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor is 98645. I see so many different model #s that is a bit confusing as well.
One further consideration. Even though I live at altitude in the Colorado mountains, my property is pretty flat. I do have some hundreds of yards to cover from place to place so having some speed capability is helpful. Lastly, my yard is not rectangular, so some handling is helpful.
Hi Ron, Sorry my response took so long. I had to research running these engine at high altitude. Too bad we don’t have electronic fuel injection on the residential models yet.
Yes, sorting out the best tractor for you can be a real chore. And, unlike the other sites that like to pick the “best” I know that the best in my mind may not be the best for you. Every tractor is made for a certain type of owner and I hope I can help you find the right mower for you.
Have you looked at the Raven MPV-7100? It sounds like the perfect mower for you? Go Here: Raven MPV-7100.
The Pro series you mention is Model number 20445. Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor. The 98645 was a 2014 model that has been discontinued.
The Poulan Pro Garden Tractor is getting very hard to find. A least it is back on Amazon with free shipping. You need to put it in the cart to see the delivery date. Poulan Pro PBGT2654 Kohler 26 HP 54-Inch
Both the Craftsman Pro and the Poulan Pro have nice, large tires, and heavy-duty front axles. The Poulan has the 8 mph transmission and it really does make a difference running around.
I can buy the Craftsman Pro 98645 (reconditioned) from Sears Outlet with a full three year warranty for $2300. You have praised Craftsman in general. Do you like this particular model. My grass is native, not .bluegrass, and can be tough to mow. I don’t like mowing in gear 3…would prefer a speed mower….simply am too impatient. The 42″ deck also takes too long. I need a mower that will make a clean cut at a slightly higher speed. Also, lots of tight turns in my serpentine yard but no hills. Hauling a lawn trailer full of rocks may happen. My budget is in the mid $2000’s down. I don’t mow enough yard or often enough for a $4000 tractor.
And the gophers insist this is their yard so things get a bit bumpy
Thank you for your help.
Ron, The 98645 is basically the Craftsman 20403 with a few additional features. You can read my review of the 20403 here to get a feel for the tractor: 20403 review.
The 98645 was only sold in 2014 and is a Husqvarna made tractor (the 2015 Craftsman Pro’s are made by MTD)
The differences between it and the 20403 are:
Kohler 7000 series engine
Quick-tach blades (you can get the blades through Sears Hometown stores and searspartdirect)
A strip of metal around the bottom of the deck (reinforced deck)
It’s a good, heavy duty garden tractor. It will work well on your mole infested yard. By the way, a couple of years using ORTHO® Bug B Gon® MAX will get rid of the grubs and the moles will leave.
Centralia WA–which for me means very hilly and very rough 2.5 acres and lots of damp tall grasses as well as a small orchard and large tree roots (that I keep finding with my now-ex Cub Cadet lawn tractor).
I’ve put in a lot of money into the Cub Cadet that I got with this property over a year ago. I’ve had the CC maintained, and also had to put it in for repeated repairs, a lot of belts, and a couple broken “things.” Even the repair guy says it may be time for a new one.
I’ve read hundreds of your postings and reader comments/questions, but I haven’t seen you reference the Columbia brand. I’m looking at a YT4622 SE for around $2,100 with a Kohler 7000 series engine, 22 hp, 46″ deck, hydrostatic transmission. Or the CSLT 5424 for around $2,300 with same engine at 24 hp, same trans, 54″ deck, and bigger wheels (23X9.5″ and 16X6.5″).
What is your evaluation of this brand? If not good, what would you recommend for my former blackberry farm property? Am I right that larger wheels might be better on my rough land?
Your reviews are incredibly detailed, and you show great patience with us ignoramuses. 🙂
Any help would be deeply appreciated. I’ve only been using a riding mower for about a year, so I’m deeply ignorant.
Hi PJ, The more I write – the more you know and one-day you can take over this website 🙂
Columbia has been MTD’s Canadian brand since the 1970’s but they have been introducing the brand on the east coast of the United States now for about 3 years. It appears to be a replacement name for Troy-Bilt, YardMan and MTD Gold. If you buy a 2015 model it uses the same basic components as the Cub Cadet XT1 line. (I like the 2015 Cub Cadet line and it is a major improvement over your older Cub Cadet)
DO NOT buy the CSLT5424. The K46 transmission is not strong enough for the large tires, big deck and your hills. The transmission will not last the 8-10 years you expect. (This is like putting a car transmission in a full-sized work truck and expecting it to last 100,000 miles pulling 10,000 lbs.)
I can recommend the TY4622SE. The 46 inch decks cuts well and the 22HP Kohler 7000 is a great engine. Yes, this tractor also uses the K46 transmission but this is what the K46 was designed for. Even though it won’t last in the CSLT5424 it will give you long life in this tractor.
If you want the larger tires move up to the CGT5426. It’s more money but worth it if you want the better ride and larger deck.
I have less than a half acre that I moved to 3 years ago. My 22″ push mower has been going strong for 16 years but is about ready to bite the dust. It takes me about 2+ hours to mow so even though I don’t have money in the budget, I’d rather put the money toward a riding mower rather than another push. I’ve been researching hard for 3 weeks.I have a 10% off at Lowe’s and also rebates for another 7% off (tax free basically). My finalists are the Husqvarna YTH22V46 and John Deere D110. The Husq is also $100 this week and the JD have a $250 Lowes gift card rebate. I have read that you should jump up to the 130 over the 110 but how high do I need to go? I take very good care of my things and most of my things last a very long time. But I can’t afford to be wrong on this purchase. Comparing the two, I like the Husq better. More bells and whistles, bigger and more powerful. The JD is ranked at the top of most sites, but it really concerns me about the cheap seat, hood, paint and spindles.On the other hand, the biggest problem I keep reading about the Husqvarna is the horrible customer service. Counting all discounts and rebates, the JD will cost about 1270 and the Husq about 1440 new. I have also been looking at people selling used mowers and there are a few Husq for sale. One is the big 54″ with 55 hrs on it that he has come down to $1300 and still no buyers. I was thinking of getting it if he’d take $1K. There is a 46 with 23 hrs for 900, but he hasn’t gotten back to me. What are your thoughts on these two mowers and buying used and the prices of used. I am definitely open to suggestions. Thanks!
I just read your cub cadet review and the 46″ XT1 looks good. It’s on sale at TSC this week and Home depot will beat that by 10% and honor my Lowes 10%. I wouldn’t get the online rebates but that could be the way to go.
@Dan, sounds like a plan!
I have still been looking for a good mower since I was able to limp mine along, and was looking at the Club Cadet XT1 or XT2. I saw your review and my yard does have some water drainage swales, as well as an area the old owners of the property planted rows of corn so they built up maybe 5 rows. My current John Deere 100 series is comparable in that it is considered a stiff framed tractor, isn’t it? Not really sure what a floating deck design is. If the Club Cadet is comparable to that design, I should be fine with it. I mow 3 acres, lots of dandelions in there, and only one area that has a small hill. I had been looking at the Craftsman model 20391, but the ratings on that indicate a problem with grinding and transmission housing is known to be defective. Others state problems with the transmission. I had also been looking at the John Deere D140. I remember reading you were impressed with 3 types of engines – one was the Kawasaki, another was the Briggs and Stratton Platinum, and I forget the last one. I don’t want to spend more than $2000, but want one that cuts well, is dependable and won’t break on me easily, and one I won’t easily damage by say going over something I didn’t see. Looking at ratings, I see the Club Cadet has a 94% recommend with 4.7 of 5 stars (47 reviews), Craftsman has a 70% recommend with 3.5 of 5 stars (51 reviews), and John Deere has a 86% recommend with 4.3 of 5 stars (200 reviews). Of course, one can never tell if the majority of these ratings are after only 1 mowing session, a month, a year, or 5 yrs. What is your take on these 3 mowers?
Hi Lou, The Cub Cadet reviews are only one month old. When you are looking at reviews always look when they were written. Any review (especially bad reviews) over 1 year old should be taken with a large dose of salt.
A floating deck is a design where guide wheels do not ride on the turf and those wheels do not control the height of the cut. A ground-hugging deck uses those guide wheels to control the height of the cut. Only the larger Simplicity tractors, Walker zero-turns and the Husqvarna riders use the ground hugging deck.
Your old Deere is considered a floating deck because the gauge wheels do not control the height. Todays Deere deck wheels do not ride on the turf to control the cutting height. They are floating decks.
If you are replacing a 100 series a move up will be the 42 inch D125 or D130. The D140 gives you the larger 48 inch deck and a stronger transmission. The 46 inch XT1 and XT2 use the same transmission as the D140.
Even though the transmission problem with the 20391 is a perception problem more than an actual problem I’m not going to recommend it to you.
So far the Cub Cadet has been getting great reviews. People like the steering and how flat it cuts. If you have a good, local dealer it is a good choice.
The D140 has been around for quite a while now. That’s why it has such a diverse range of reviews. (there is always someone who doesn’t read the manual or uses 5 year old gas and then blames the tractor) If you have had good luck with your old Deere and you like the dealer you purchased it from don’t be afraid to go back and buy the D140.
Hi Dan, If you want a Deere equivalent to the YTH22V46 you should move up to the D130 (D125 at Home Depot) You will enjoy the V-Twin engine.
Unless you do all your own maintenance and repair I always suggest buying new. The prices of lawn tractor is very cheap compared to most everything else you buy so $200-400 dollars more to buy new one is well worth it. Plus you get a defects warranty for 2 years. (a new transmission is $800 – a new engine is $100 a horse) You can easily get get $400 wrapped up in new belts, blades, air filter, oil filter, fixing/replacing a leaking tire and fixing the other reasons the owner is selling it.
By the way, if the 54 inch Husqvarna is a LGT2654 (anything with LGT on the hood) DON’T BUY IT! It has a transmission that is too small for the tractor.
Hi Paul, I’m trying to surprise my husband for Father’s Day by replacing his 2003, Murray 425600x8A lawn tractor with a new one. We have 1-2 acres of land on a mountain, we have many rock shelves either above the surface, or soon to be discovered, and we have some hills, but mainly flat a little uneven, and “field-like”. We also use the lawn mower to pull a cart with either wood, brush, or stone pieces. I was looking at the John Deer D140 V-Twin 48 in, or the Ariens A22vA46 in, or the Husqvarna YTH24V48 V-Twin Hydrostatic riding tractors, and I’m trying to catch Memorial Day sales. Any suggestions- Thanks
Hi Anna, All 3 of those tractors are very even in reliability and performance. Any one will be a good choice.
Are you buying from THEHomeDepot or Lowes? If you are I would make sure you understand what you have to do if there is anything wrong with the tractor or you have a warranty issue later on.
If the process you have to go through for repair of the Husqvarna or Ariens seems a little convoluted then I would suggest the Deere. Your local Deere dealer can and will deal with any warranty problems it may have.
Wow! Thanks for such a quick response- it’s a big venture to buy your husband’s lawnmower without his input (:/) I was looking at Home Depot and Lowes, so repair will be my next question! By the way, we live on Signal Mtn in TN! Optimistic!
One last question- if it comes down to the presence or absence of an electric blade, is an electric blade a perk or a liability for a lawn mower?
Hi Anna, The electric clutch is an upgrade. Over a 10 year life-span you will replace fewer engine to deck belts than you would with the mechanical blade lever. But if it does go bad it’s a $250-$300 repair. If I had to guess I would say 20 to 30% of them go bad over the life of a mower.
Very helpful. I told them about you at Lowes! Thank you for this great service you provide!
@Anna, You are very welcome. Feel free to stop back if you have any questions or just to tell us about your new tractor and Lowes!
Checked out the S240 and you were right, I love it! Dealer is stearing me to the Husqvarna YT46LS, says it’s more tractor for the money with a better trans and stronger cutting deck. Saginaw MO Thoughts?
Hi Renee, According to the parts list the two transmissions are exactly the same.
The Husqvarna uses a TUFFTORQ K46CR and the John Deere X240 uses a K46DP. The CR means Husqvarna and the DP means John Deere when getting parts from TuffTorq.
Now, the dealer may be confused because Husqvarna.com shows the YT46LS as having a locking differential but the parts lists state otherwise. (I have a question into Husqvarna to verify who is correct)
In any case, you would only need the locking diff if you had problems in the past with traction on hills in your lawn. Otherwise the locking diff can be a pain to use.
The tractors themselves are about equal. One downside to the Husqvarna is it uses the quick-change blade system and there are a limited types of blades available for it. You will have to buy your mower blades from the Husqvarna dealer.
From a Consumer Reports point of view the cut quality of the two mowers was too close to call.
Thank you for your guidance, this thread was very helpful. I went with the Deere S240. Coming off of a 14 year old Sabre, this is going to feel like a Cadillac. Looking forward to using it this weekend. I just hope the K46 doesn’t let me down, I hear more negative than positive about them.
Hi Renee, the reason you hear more negative is the other 90% of the people who own them don’t write in when they work. Remember there are over 1,000,000 million of these transmissions installed in tractors EVERY year and you only read a couple of dozen or so posts where people complain. And some of those posts are 10 years old.
Please come back and let us know how you like the X240! How it cuts, how it drives, how it steers.
Maiden voyage of the S240 today. Initial thoughts are quiet, powerful and comfy. Cut is even and clean, stearing is so easy you can do it with one pinky. It felt as if I was floating around the yard. I can’t say enough about this tractor, so glad I went with John Deere. I trust the brand, the dealers were knowledgeable and helpful and the 18.5 Kawasaki is just right. It is perfect for my acre lawn. Would recommend ☆☆☆☆☆
Hi Renee, Thank you for letting us know about the John Deere S240. I’m really glad you found the best lawn tractor for you!
I went to take pictures of one today and my local dealer doesn’t even have one to look at.
Chris. Indianapolis,Indiana I mow about 8 residential yards a week all less than 1 acre each. What would be a dependable mower that will hold up to mowing this many yards. All are flat with few obstacles, and i am willing to use a ztr or tractor style just need a well built 46 inch mower without going into commercial grade unless you think i should. Don’t plan on using attachments other than bagger.
Hi Chris, So you are mowing about 5-7 acres a week or about 3-5 hours of actual tractor time a week. A good quality lawn tractor like the Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower is designed to mow about 2 hours a week and last about 8-10 years with proper maintenance.
So, You will need to price your lawns so that you are getting all your expenses paid and so that you can replace the tractor every 2 to 3 years. With a residential grade tractor or zero-turn you will have to sharpen the blades every other time you mow and buy new ones every month (about $45 every 4-5 mowings)
If you buy a $1500 lawn tractor you will have to replace it every year or so.
A commercial grade zero-turn mower in the 48 inch range will run about $5000 to $6000. You will have to sharpen blades every month and replace them twice a year. The commercial grade mower will last up to 5 times longer than the residential grade.
This is a fantastic site, so much so that I feel inadequate that I still need your assistance. We just bought a small farm, on which we have horse pastureland, ~2 acres of lawn and small gardens. We just installed a 22m x 40m sand horse riding area that has to be groomed. We need to have equipment that can mow up to 10degree slope (and collect the clippings) as well as drag groom the ring and tow bales of hay and manure. Our friend loaned us a 17hp Kubota which failed miserably. What model and attachments do you recommend?
Hi Alex, The first question I have is are you just dragging it or are you using a groomer? Drag Arena Rake
If you are just using a drag a garden tractor like the 24HP 54″ Complete Start™ Turn Tight® Garden Tractor – Non CA will work just fine.
But if you using a groomer a lawn/garden tractor will not have enough weight and traction to pull it. I actually recommend a UTV or ATV for the grooming the arena, Hauling hay and manure.
Then get a smaller lawn tractor like the Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower to mow the lawn.
Hi Paul! Great site with lots of info. I read your info and many of the scenarios others have written you about trying to find one applicable to me. Currently have a ford LT11 that came with our house. Mostly, though, we borrow my brother’s aging craftsman when he’s not using it. If it’s in use, then it’s a push mower for me. We have an acre with lots of trees around the perimeter, steep drainage ditches, native grass (read, it’s slightly bumpy). Was thinking of getting a new riding mower from the big box stores but don’t know where to begin and worry mowers might not be good. Durability is important, simplicity too (I have twin 8-year old boys) who should be taking over thus duty soon. Was hoping to stay around $1500, but a quick glance the other day led me to believe I’d be closer to $2000. I’m not sold on a big box (plus Sears), so I’m open and would like to hear what you suggest. Thank you for your time.
Hi Natalie, The Craftsman 25081 ($1499) is the a great choice for your property but it sounds to me like you will be better off going to a local dealer to get a Husqvarna, John Deere of Cub Cadet model that will do about the same.
So let’s use the 25081 as a comparison model for you. Please go here and read the entire review. This will give you a little more terminology and features information so when you go to a dealer you can make an informed choice: 25081 review. If you want more information also read this article: I Want A Riding Mower/Zero Turn But I Don’t Know Where To Start!
You will end up paying a few hundred more for the dealer support but since this is your first mower it will be worth it. You can look in the yellow pages or go to deere.com, cubcadet.com and Husqvarna.com and use the dealer locator to find a good local dealer. Visit a couple of dealers and get a feel for the “trust” level. It’s really more important about how you feel about the dealer than the mower itself.
Some comparable models:
John Deere D125, D130
Cub Cadet XT1 LT42, XT1 LT46, XT2 LX42, XT2 LX46
Husqvarna YTH22V42, TYH22V46 (all YTH models)
Feel free to ask any other questions.
By the way, I am very safety oriented and I really suggest you don’t let the boys mow until they are 12-14 years old.
Paul, as with everyone else, thank you for your time and dedication to this informative Website. I currently have a John Deere LA150 54″ that my Dad gave me a few years back. Its always done a good job cutting our grass, and sometimes my wife like to snow plow our short drive way in the winter, and sometime we will haul dirt and wood in a pull behind cart. But now the transmission appears to be going out and the actual cutting is not looking so good despite having new blades – so I’m in the market for a new mower and could use your advice. My yard is about 1 to1.5 acre, primarily all on a gradual slope with some areas having a little steeper slopes, lots of obstacles (and my wife keeps adding more for some reason), and very bumpy and rough for the most part. The obstacles tend to be a challenge as I have to make some tight turns on some of the sloped areas which I spin out on at times (got chains on the rear tires that helps). I have included some pics of the yard here even though it may be hard to tell the actual slope degree from the pics:
I’m thinking of a craftsman pro (like the idea of tight turning, at least in theory), or a Husqvarna. What would you recommend, and do I need something with differential lock to help on the slopes, or possibly some rubber chains? Not sure I fully understand how beneficial this feature would be.
Just a few more pics in case they might help:
Hi Jason, Sorry this took so long. I am finally getting caught up on answering questions.
What you have now is basically todays John Deere D170. It’s a good flat land mower.
The Craftsman Pro 54 inch will have a stronger transmission and tighter turning so you will be able to get done is the same amount of time or less.
Chains tear up your yard and the Terragrips are better. Many guys will first add fluid in the rear tires. If you fill the rear tire 3/4 full with windshield washer fluid (it’s cheap and won’t freeze) you can add about 27 lbs per tire. This will help a lot. Then if that’s not enough add a rear weight. Rear Weight Kit.
Only then add chains or Terragrips.
Here’s is the mower I talking about: Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor
There will be a snow blade available for it later this year.
Hey Paul, great site. It’s been a lot of help already. One question, if you have the time: We have about an acre to mow, and about halfway back there’s a hill that definitely exceeds the recommended 15% grade for the mowers at home depot. It’s not steep for long (maybe 15 feet or so), most of the back is just a gentle slope but there are some trees and planters to maneuver around back there. Got a good recommendation for our lot? I saw you recommened a Husqvarna articulated mower for hills, but I don’t see the model number there. By the way, I’m in Snohomish, WA. Thanks!
Hi Jonathan, can you get around the hill so you can mow down it? In other words – circle around to the top, mow down and then circle back to the top – repeat. If you can’t you may just have to mow that section with a rear-wheel drive walk-behind mower.
The rest of the lawn can be mowed with a good 42 or 46 inch lawn tractor. In the top right hand corner of this page there is a search box. Search 20390 or 20442 to get started.
One side of the hill is about half as steep, I could probably go up that side and come down the other. I’ve seen the Husqvarna R 322T AWD recommended for mowing (reasonable) hills, do you have any thoughts on that mower? Those Craftsman mowers you recommended look nice, I’ll check them out next time I’m at Sears. Thanks again!
Hi Jonathan, Yes, I ignored your question before about the R 322T. Yes, it does great on hills. I want one myself. I’ve had one on an 18 degree hills and it was as nibble as a mountain goat.
But most Husqvarna dealers have never heard of them. They only carry the tractors and zero-turns. They are expensive ($5299)
Thanks, I’ll see if I can find one nearby to look at. If I end up getting it, I’ll let you know how it does.
John, Downingtown, PA.
Jonathan… I too have a large chunk of my backyard with a slope well in excess of 15%. I purchased the 322AWD late last year at Paul’s recommendation. It is a pricey machine and I did have trouble finding one since none of the local dealers carry it. I am a little apprehensive of what I will find when I need repairs of the drive train but the engine and deck are standard Husqy.. It is a mountain goat on the hill, going UP and DOWN. I doubt there is a tractor made that is truly safe going across the grade and this machine is no different. Still, it cut mowing time by 1/3 because I no longer have to circle around to the top and slide (yes I said slide) back down again. My own detailed observations are here on Paul’s site somewhere. I have not regretted this purchase. Even my wife endorses it on safety grounds. .
John, thanks for the info. Glad to hear it works well for you, it sounds like it will work well for me too. I guess the next task is to find one nearby to look at. Did you buy yours online somewhere or did you get a local dealer to order you one?
@Johnathon, The R 322T is available through Mower Direct. Let them know I sent you when you talk to them. For you I think the 48 inch side discharge deck will be the best choice.
Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out. What are the tradeoffs between the side discharge and the combi deck that make you recommend the side discharge, just the bigger size? Do you know how well it works for mulching? Thanks for all the answers, they’ve been really helpful.
Hi Jonathon, I don’t recommend the combi deck for most people. It is a European deck. It mulches really well but the cut height is limited to about 2.5 inches and that is too low for Bluegrass/fescue lawns.
The 48 inch deck will go to 4 inches. You can get a mulch kit for it also.
Great site with a lot of useful information. I wish I had found it sooner to save myself the time of trying to compare mowers on my own. I live in Grayslake IL and have an acre that’s mostly flat with some small hills and a few obstacles. Before finding this site yesterday I was deciding between the CC XT2 46 either with Kohler or Kawasaki engine. I was leaning towards the Kawasaki as they are the same price right now at my dealer. Any thoughts on the difference between them? However, your positive review on the Craftstman Pro 46″ now has me in a dilemma. I hadn’t considered Craftsman because of the reliability issues I’ve always heard about but I do like the small turning radius it has. The Craftsman is about $300 more can you tell me if the turning radius would be worth the extra cash or are there other reasons I should go for it?? Thanks for any help you can give me.
Hi Bran, I’m sorry for taking so long. I’m finally getting caught up.
Besides the 5 inch Turn-Tight Extreme a big advantage of Sears is the repair tech always comes to you home to work on your tractor. You never have to take it anywhere.
The engine on the Craftsman Pro is has a better filtration system than the standard Kohler 7000 on the XT2 Kohler. The dealers will try to tell you the Kawasaki is better, but this new Kohler is quickly becoming the engine of choice.
After reading through all the comments for hours I am still a little confused as to which mower I should get. I am in Greeneville, TN and have about 3.5-7 acres to mow. By that I mean I am only mowing 3.5 at the moment but will probably eventually be mowing the remaining. Time isn’t an issue as my dad also lives on the property so we would probably rotate mowing. The property goes on a slight hill and is somewhat bumpy. I am looking to stay away from craftsman being that I just had a tractor fire with a yts3500 and their customer service has been nothing more then terrible. I may use a pull behind cart in the future but I wont be doing any tilling or snow blowing. I am looking to spend around $2300 give or take. What do you recommend? Thanks
Hi Brain, $2300 will get you a lawn tractor like the
John Deere Lawn Mowers D155 48 in. 24 HP ELS Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower BG20842
Poulan PRO Lawn Mowers PB22VA48 48 in. 22-HP Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Lawn Tractor 960420171
Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series LT 50 in. 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower – California Compliant LT50 CARB
With tractors this size it will take you about 3 hours to mow the 3.5 acres.
I listed these three mowers because they are good machines for the price and will do the job. There are a few lawn tractors with a larger 54 inch deck in this price range but I want to caution you that the larger deck models may not mow the bumpy areas very well. If you wanted to go to a larger deck you would have to move up to a $2800-3000 Garden Tractor to get the larger wheels and stronger transmissions that would handle the bumpy lawn without scalping the heck out of it.
Hello Paul. Thank you for the work that you put into this site. I live in Tulsa OK. I have approx. 3/4 acre flat, slightly bumpy and often wet-from-rain mowing area. I have been looking for about a month now and have settled on either a Craftsman Pro Series 46″ 24hp or a JD D140 or 160. . I’m leaning toward the craftsman. Is there any reason I should go with John Deere instead.
Hi Jeff, Unless you have to have green paint the answer is no. The Craftsman Pro and the JD 160 have the same transmission. The Craftsman’s engine is one of the best (Kohler 7000 Elite) The JD 140 has a weaker transmission.
Consumer Reports really likes the cut of the Craftsman Pro 46.
You have an amazing website here. I was having a very hard time picking a mower until i came here. You deserve a lot of credit for your reviews and research.
I am down to 2 options. The craftsman 20442 or 20444.
I like the idea of saving time with the extra hp and larger cut on the 20444.
Do you think the build quality and reliability is the same on both? Are there any other differences between the 2 models?
Hi marc, The build quality is the same BUT I want to qualify you for the 20444. Reliability I’ll discuss.
The 20444 is good for smooth lawns. Because it uses the 20 inch lawn tractor tires it may not have good traction on rough lawns. Because it has the 20 inch tires it may not mow as high as the 46 or the 54 inch garden tractor.
Reliability, The 20444 has a lawn tractor transmission. This transmission has a great reputation in a 42 or 46 inch lawn tractor. But, when you push it too hard – for example put it in a tractor with a 48-54 inch deck or use it on hills, or put 22 inch rear tires on the tractor it does not hold up as well. The LGT2654, D160 and D170 lawn tractor use this transmission and many people complain it doesn’t last.
By the way a 54 inch lawn tractor will save you about 7 minutes per acre. So if you have a 2 acre lawn a 54 inch will only save you about 15 minutes over a 46.
Exactly the response I needed. Thank you very much for your expertise.
I see you are BIG Craftsman guy. I was looking at a Husqvarna garden tractor and was wondering which one you would recommend…Or if you would still recommend the Craftsman. We have about 2-3 Acres to mow. Most is decently flat. A little bumpy but nothing bad. We currently mow with a John Deere D110 I think. Its a 42″ cut. 17Hp hydrostatic trans from Lowes. It does fine now, but when we bought it, we only had 1/2 acre to mow. We need something bigger. Apart from our actual yard, we have about 2 acres of hillside that I currently mow with a Swisher pull behind mower. I would like this mower to be able to mow some of that as well if possible. For that, I know I want at least 22-24hp and a 54″ deck. Recommendations? Craftsman 5500? 6000? What Husky would you recommend? Flex frame? Thanks!
Hi Kris, Trust me, I’m big – but not a big Craftsman guy. It’s just that I am trying to help people to find the best lawn tractor or zero-turn for them. And that includes not just the item but the parts, service and being able to fit the lifestyle of your family. In today’s market we expect to be able to pick up the phone or go to a website and get service, parts or answers 24/7. We don’t want to wait until Monday-Friday 9-5 and Saturdays 9-noon. Sears is still one of the few companies that get’s that. That said,
Have you considered a Toro Steering wheel zero-turn? The Toro Lawn Mowers TimeCutter SWX5050 50 in. Fab 24.5 HP V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower with Smart Park 74797C has a wider stance than the garden tractors so it will hang on a hill better. It has a heavy duty fabricated deck that cuts your lawn well, but can also handle the rougher areas you now mow with the Swisher. If you go to a local dealer they may also have the ExMark QSS708GEM50200. It’s the same mower.
Because you want to mow the hill and rougher ground I’m very limited in suggesting Garden Tractors. Both of the models I am going to show you have fabricated decks and electronic traction control.
Both of these are dealer only models.
XT2 GX54″ with Fabricated Deck Garden Tractor
54″ heavy-duty fabricated, triple-blade cutting deck
K58 Tuff Torq hydrostatic transmission with enhanced automatic traction control for smooth operation
Ground-engaging attachment capabilities
54″ heavy-duty fabricated, triple-blade cutting deck
K66 Tuff Torq hydrostatic transmission with enhanced automatic traction control for smooth operation
Ground-engaging attachment capabilities
I have nothing against the Craftsman line. I was just under the impression that I would probably need a dealer only model Husky or John Deere or similar. I had actually been looking at the GT52XLSi recently. I want the tractor mostly for mowing my regular yard. If it could handle the hillside, that would be a huge plus. What is the difference in the XLS model and the XLSi? They also have a 54″ LS model I was looking at as well.
You say Garden Tractor might not be the best bet for me? You thinking something more along the lines of a Kubota or something similar?
Hi Kris, When you go to husqvarna.com and use the comparison tool to look at the 3 tractors it’s really not clear why I picked that model but I mainly picked the XLSi because the heavy-duty transmission has traction control. (You have to go to the parts lists to figure it out) Since you eventually want to mow the hill, traction control is a great feature to have. The XLS does not have traction control.
I didn’t pick the GT54LS because I don’t know how well the 54 inch fabricated deck cuts. The owners of the 52 inch fabricated deck that is on the XLSi really like the way that deck cuts and mulches.
All the other Garden Tractors do not have traction control – that’s why I did not suggest them. The Toro Steering wheel ZTR uses both rear wheels so it also really does well on hills. That and the other two I mentioned are about the only ones that will mow your lawn and go out and mow the hill. For the extra $300 or so you will spend on the Cub Cadet or Husqvarna’s you might as well get what you need now.
My wife really likes the new faster mowers. The ones that go 7-8mph. I see the 52XLS does that. What do you think of that one for me instead of the XLSi.
Hi Kris, The new fast mowers just buzz around the yard, over to the neighbors and down to the local bar faster. They DO NOT cut any faster. They still only cut around 4 mph well.
You can always make her one of these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnZK5nSyOS4
Worlds fastest John Deere
Hello Paul –
What an incredible site! It’s actually useful and certainly has helped this first time buyer to start asking the right questions. I have about 2 acres of hilly (some quite steep) and uneven turf to mow. There are also lots of large trees and bushes. I want to use side discharge/mulching — not interested in bagging — too much lugging for a 79 year old professor. I’ve been considering the Cub Cadet LX46″ XT2 with fabricated deck and auto rear differential from the local dealer (well-recommended), but after reading your comments I’m concerned its rigid frame may not be able to handle my much-less-than-smooth up and down terrain. Must I go instead with a flexible frame model? Whose?
With thanks in advance for your help (and your time – with which you’re certainly).
LaPorte, Indiana 46350
Hi Phil, Hmm, I don’t ever remember seeing a hill in LaPorte and I’ve been through there hundreds of times over the years.
Husqvarna has three dealer models with traction control. The best one is the GT48XLSi. It has a trans much heavier than the Cub Cadet (K66 verses the K46 in the Cub) the flex frame and a heavy fabricated deck.
If you don’t need quite that much tractor the Husqvarna YT48XLS and YT46LS both have good transmissions comparable engines and the flex frame.
Keep asking, I’ll keep answering.
Thanks for your quick and useful answer.
My area of Laporte is located just where the last glacier stopped. It’s actually at the high point of Indiana — all of ~950 feet above sea level.
I wish I could afford the AWD GT48XLSi, but can’t. I sort of wonder about “flex-frame” – the site gives little detail. Does this just mean the whole deck tips up and down to try to stay level – If so, I would think this could work wonders on certain uneven terrain, but would suffer the same problems as the fixed frame models on other bumpy terrain — just depends of the size and position of the bumps. I can’t believe the blades tip relative to one another.
How would you compare the Cub Cadet LX46″ with differential trans. or the LX 46″ without to the Craftsmen 20401 on dealing with 40° slopes. I like dealing with Sears and feel good about this Craftsmen, but the slope business troubles me. However, I should comment that this slope has been mowed for years by local “professionals” using fairly old & ordinary machines apparently without problem.
Where does the Husqvarna YT46LX fit with in comparison to the above?
Hi Phil, It really doesn’t mean the deck tips, it’s more the frame of the tractor will flex more giving you a little more traction on rough ground.
In reality, none of these tractors will handle a 40 degree slope. In fact, all of the manufactures only rate the tractors for 15 degree slopes.
Are you sure you have a 40 degree slope. Most people can’t even walk up something that steep even with spiked shoes. Here is a slope indicator.
Hi Paul –
Thanks. You’re probably right that I have over- estimated the slope, but nonetheless it is fairly steep. After much reading of your replies to others and much thought, now is the time to make a decision. I’m down to the these choices:
1. Craftsmen 48″ 20401 $2600
2. Craftsmen new Pro 46″ 20442 $2200
3. Craftsmen 48″ 20391 ~ $2200 (reverse bad?)
4. Cub Cadet XT2 LX 46″ with traction ~ $2500
I like & trust the Sears protection plans, but the Cub Cadet dealer is nearby and makes nice promises.
Your opinion? It’s really up to you. I trust your judgement. If at all possible, I would appreciate a quick response. I want to get this done with hopefully this weekend so I can get on with life.
Hi Phil, You do get an extra year of a defects warranty with the Cub Cadet. Of it doesn’t cover the wear and tear the Sears Protection Plan covers. That said, the traction control may be your best option. It will go up the hill better than the other 3. If you decide to go with the a Craftsman I am going to suggest the Pro 46. It doesn’t have the traction control but it does have the new Kohler 7000 with the high capacity filter and the 5 inch Extreme Turn-Tight Steering.
Thanks Paul for taking the time to answer my request — very generous of you particularly on a Saturday evening. I promise not to bother you on Sunday, but I do wish I understood why traction control helps going up a hill — I understand it for alleviating skids as in my car, but if one mower wheel is spinning on the hill and gouging it, then I would think the best thing to do is back off and go home for a drink.
Have a great weekend.
Hi Phil, Trust me, I take time off when I want to. So asking a question on Sunday is fine.
With traction control you basically get twice the traction of the other tractor that just have differential. If the rear wheels start to slip it automatically puts more power to the wheel that is not slipping. What that means is it won’t tear up your hill nearly as quick as a tractor with a standard transmission.
Traction control a new to this price point of tractors so in the past we have used chains or Terra Grips to give us the best traction.
Hi Paul –
I’ll pick the Craftsmen Pro 20442 as you recommended, but with some trepidation given its newness on the market. I dropped the Cub Cadet as I now have some doubts about the local dealer’s straightforwardness. I had a very hard time dropping the Craftsmen 20401 – the big tires seem to me a great advantage & it is a well-proven model that everyone (you too?) appears to really like.
Any last minutes on your part?
Thanks and best regards,
Hi Phil, I am not concerned with the “newness” of the Pro. Craftsman and the manufacture have been working on this for over 3 years. In reality this is a standardized chassis that is being used in over 20 different models of tractors and I have been watching the reviews for all of them to see if there are any “problems”
There are none! In fact the only negative reviews I have seen have been for the wrong product review getting posted to these models. They really like the steering and the way it mows.
Hi, my mom cuts about 2 acres, a lot of going around tree and things. It takes a day to cut the grass. About 3 hours with a John Deer STX 38 black deck (still mint condition paid $2700 Cnd in 97′) another 3 hours with a John Deer 14 SB walk behind mower (paid $1200 in 91′, the 4.5 hp Kawi can still cut the hay field – 4′ tall grass with ease is 1st gear, very good on fuel) which I use, my mom uses the John Deere 14 PZ (paid $450 in 97′, the handle is shit, burns more gas than my 454 and it has no power, replaced the engine three times with a new one – $180 a pop).
The 14 SB is very heavy and is hard to pull backwards especially up hill, it’s ok when the bag is empty, but when full it is difficult, The 14 PZ is much easier to pull backwards, but it is a piece of crap, not just the engine the entire machine – it has a wonderful lighter, black flexible handle. The 14 SB has a solid heavy chrome handle – no flexing or twisting.
My uncle has a few Craftsman’s walk behind – junk, 8 hp with 0 torque and burn a gallon of gas in 20 min.. My neighbors all bought Sears Craftsman lawn tractors – had to buy new ones after 2 years – all of them. We had Lawn boy earlier but they never worked (around $400 back in the early/late 70’s). Did try Canadiana (about $150), lasted about a month before the deck failed. My sister uses Toro walk behind, their ok,lighter than the 14 SB but no comparison.
That’s just my own experience with the stuff.
My mom is tired of spending an entire day cutting her lawn. What could we buy to reduce that time to like 2 hours. Going around trees and gardens (about 2 acres) some steep hills along the ditch (3′). I was thinking about a zero turn or maybe one of those 60″ – 72″ lawn mowers that you walk behind – the STX 38 can only cut good up to 3 mph so I don’t know, it is a 38″ cut but the actual cut is less than the width of the tires. You have to over lap on one side – basically the width of a front tire so the cut is no where near 38″….your thoughts?
@James, 2 acres is an awful lot for a 38 inch mower. If you want a zero-turn that will last homedepot.ca has the Zoom XL 48 Inch 23 HP Kohler Courage V-Twin Zero-Turn Riding Mower otherwise I suggest going to your local John Deere dealer and looking at the 400 series zero-turns.
Hi Paul, sorry one more question just to clarify: would you recommend the 25081 over the 25083 due to the engine/deck issue? The reason I ask is because the 25083 is only $50 more right now ($1549). Thanks again!
Hi Kenny, the only difference between the 25081 and 25083 is the deck. I haven’t had anyone state that the new 25083 has the old deck/engine vibration issue so I’m hoping it’s fixed. I’d say try it. You have 30 days to change your mind and replace it with the 25081 if it is not the right one for you.
By the way if you do buy one read this pdf before they deliver it. The delivery guys don’t always know how to get it to freewheel. Craftsman Bypass
Here is a link to the mower: 19HP 46 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower
Hi, I was wondering if you could help me make a decision. I have a half acre lot, about a third of it is flat, the rest is moderately-steeply sloped. Takes well over 2 hours to cut with a push mower, so looking for a riding mower that will last a long time and isn’t too expensive (hopefully $1000-1500). I’ve been looking at a lot of your reviews and you seem to say good things about Craftsman and Poulan, but can’t decide on a model. I also found a Craftsman 20383 on clearance locally for $1329, but your review of that model wasn’t very positive. I’m not worried about fancy features, just want something that will last many years on my steep yard. I’m capable of doing my own routine maintenance, so that’s not an issue. Thanks so much for your input! Kenny, Cincinnati OH
Hi Kenny, The 20383 has been replaced by the 25083. It fixed the transmission but I have not heard that the engine/deck harmonics has been fixed.
So, instead I would like to recommend the 25081. It has all the features, good engine, good transmission, Turn-Tight steering but a slightly smaller 42 inch deck.
The current/typical price is $1499. But if you buy it through the link below you can get an additional 5% off ($75) and free delivery ($79). That gets you a great dependable lawn tractor below you $1500 limit.
19HP 42 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower
Great, thanks so much for the quick reply!
My other question, would you rule out a zero turn given our property description? People keep telling us to lean that way, but I feel a zero turn wouldn’t be capable of pulling roller/cart and would get stuck in the mud more so then the tractor.
Hi Cathy, People like Zero-turns. They are fun and the commercial models will cut grass up to 11 mph. You are correct, ZTR’s in “our” price range are not strong enough to pull a roller. And you are right, they get stuck on a tablespoon of mud.
I need your help! We bought a Cub Cadet LTX1050 KW 2-3 years ago to mow 2.5 acres. Loved the mower till it started eating deck belts. We bought it at a local dealer (Indiana) so we could get it serviced. I have had it with this mower and after realizing this is a constant problem with this line I’m looking to upgrade.
We now have 3.5 acres which includes lake front and a ditch. I have pulled the CC out of the ditch and lake bank too many times to count with it getting stuck in the mud. We also have numerous trees. The ground is fairly level. Rough in areas. We use the mower around the property pulling a cart, roller, etc.
I’m looking for something reliable, dealer support, and hopefully long lasting with no trouble. Do you have any recommendations? I am currently looking at the JD X500 with the 54in deck. I’m hoping it would help cut down on mowing time, be reliable and mow well. We are also looking at using it for snow removal.
Is this a good option or is there anything else cheaper that is available meeting our needs? $6000 for a mower is a bit much but I don’t see anything else that is comparable. At this point I feel as though getting rid of the CC is our best option if we are going to continue to see the belts break. At $50 a pop and several times a season will add up quickly.
Hi Cathy, Cub Cadet has rebuilt their entire line of tractors for 2015. I don’t expect the new mowers to have the problems of the LTX models. Take a look at the larger XT2 GX54″ with Fabricated Deck Garden Tractor at your dealer. It has larger tires, a heavy duty deck and the best feature for you, traction control.
With traction control when one rear tire begins to slip power is transferred over to the other wheel. You will get stuck a lot less.
It’s half the price of the X500.
You seem to be “the” guy for those of us seeking info on the vast field of mowing/working tractors available in today’s market. Thanks for your time sharing all your knowledge.
I’m looking at either the Craftsman G5500 or the Pro Elite 26 54 tractor.
From what I gather the G5500 is a real workhorse with the heavy duty K57
transmission. The new Pro 26 HP 54″ cut has the newer G58 transmission,
how do the two compare? Supposedly, the Pro Elite now has a ground attachment rating, can I count on it to do what the G5500 can do?
I could really use your help. Thanks.
Hi Mike, Sorry, I’m getting a little behind in answering comments. Did I get your questions answered in the other comment?
Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. I know you must be pretty swamped with so many of us needing your expertise. Much thanks. I did not see your previous reply, sorry. Based on information that I was able to find
from your postings it sounds like the 20445 will do what I need from a
garden tractor. Thanks. Keep up the great work.
Hi Mike, Yes, it got really busy over the weekend. On top of that we have had new flooring ordered for the office for four months and this week they finally want to install it! It wouldn’t have been a problem in Feb.
I’m not whining…
Just wondering if you have had a chance to review the Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT 42 in. yet?
I really like the looks of this mower and have read many good things so far. Would you mind giving me your thoughts on this mower.
Danny, I did go through the XT1 line here: Cub Cadet Lawn Tractors – 14 Tractors – One Chassis To Rule Them All! but I did not got through the 42 inch specifically.
The XT1 LT42 is the base mower for the new Cub Cadet line. It uses a really good cutting deck. The frame/tranny etc is the same as the rest of the line. The single cylinder Kohler Courage has a long history of being a dependable engine and has less vibration than other single cylinder engines.
It you are mowing about an acre or less I feel this one of the better deals for a 42 inch mower. Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series LT 42 in. 18 HP Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower LT42
I’m going to try this again, because my question seems to be stuck in moderation land for the last few days… so if you get two of these messages, my apologies.
I want to first thank you for your professional expertise on this wonderful website. Selecting the right riding mower can be a daunting task with how many manufacturers and models there are. I have been looking at various reviews on a number of sites for different riding mowers. I currently have a hilly lawn in a new development. It only is about an acre of land, but there are some bumps, hills and valleys because there is a lot of ledge under the lawn. I am also looking to move in a year or two to a 2-6 acre lot, so I am trying to be as forward-thinking as possible. I am 5′ 10″, and I’m looking for a versatile riding mower that is durable, powerful, comfortable, and most importantly; reliable. Because I don’t want to have buyer’s remorse for lack of capability, I was thinking a true garden tractor may be the right move for me. I’ve looked at primarily the John Deere X300 (not a garden tractor, correct?) and X500 series, Kubota, the Simplicities, the Husqvarna “Garden Tractors”, and the Cub Cadet XT2 and XT3. I’ve read about the various engines and transmissions, and how many prefer the kawasaki engines over the B&S and Kohler. But I have also heard good things about B&S Pro and Elites, as well as the Kohler Command Pro. I’ve also read that if it has a K46 or less transmission that it’s not a true “garden tractor.”
I have a decent size budget around $5K, and was wondering what is the best riding mower for my current and future situation?
Would it be better to buy an Deere X500 series with low miles than some of these other options? I am somewhat hesitant to look at Craftsman due to the uncertainty of Sears’ future.
I guess my question is really, If you were me, what would you buy for:
1. $5,000+ Budget (i.e. money was no object)?
2. Under $5,000 Budget?
3. Under $3,000 Budget?
I currently do not have many trees, but do have some professional landscaping.
Thank you in advance for your input and your dedication to this website.
Hi Brian, Yes, it is getting to the point that I can’t keep up. I’m sorry you had to wait so long. I applaud you for reading and digesting so much of what I’ve written.
I’m actually not worried about Craftsman at all. Even if they close the full-line stores there are 1200 independently owned Hometown stores. Craftsman itself, Sears Parts and Sears repair services are all separate companies (making money)
Under 3K. Craftsman G5500, Poulan Pro garden tractors.
Under 5K. Craftsman Pro, Cub Cadet XT2. I haven’t seen a XT3 but I hear it will give the X500 a run for the money.
Kawasaki FR is no better than the Kohler 7000 or Briggs Intek Plus/ELS. The Kaw FS is a good commercial engine in addition to the others you mentioned.
Over 5K. One brand you missed is the Simplicity. The Conquest and Prestige are very competitive with the X500 Deere. They are a strong, dependable tractor. If you want the best possible cut the ground hugging decks on these will mow right over your humps and bumps without scalping. You can sometimes find these used at a lot better price than the Deere. Don’t get me wrong, I’d take a X500 in a heartbeat but I’d have to think twice if I could get a Prestige in the same condition for 2000 less.
Thank you for the information and professional opinion. I did look at Simplicity. In my area of the states, used simplicities are hard the find and I don’t see the savings in comparison to the X500 around here (they’re actually more expensive.) I love the idea of the floating deck and striping, but the brand’s reliability seems suspect at best. Simplicity is rated one of the worst for reliability in Consumer Reports. While the Deere X500 would be my first choice, I just can’t justify the coin in my head. As a result, the Craftsman Pro 20445 (craftsman’s brand reliability is average per CR), the Cub Cadet XT2 GX54 (cub cadet’s brand reliability is below average per CR), and the Deere X320 (above average brand reliability per CR) are on my short list. My concern is the K58 transmissions. Is a K58 transmission really capable of garden tractor work? I’m also concern about the limited amount of reviews for the 20445 being either 5 stars or 1 star, and not much in between. What is your opinion of the Husqvarna GT52XLS with the kawasaki engine for $3299? This tractor seems to be well reviewed, comparable to the other models, and maybe a little more heavy duty. Thoughts? How would you rank these 4 options on reliability and capability:
Craftsman Pro 20445:
Cub Cadet XT2 GX54:
John Deere X320:
Thanks again for you input and advice!
Hi Brian, The 20445 doesn’t have many reviews because the mower is just now getting on the lawns. (The first ones were delivered the 3rd week in April) The XT2 is in the same boat.
The Craftsman, Cub Cadet and X320 all use the K58 Trans. The Husqvarna uses the G730 that is also found in the red Craftsman 20403 garden tractor.
The Craftsman gets the best rating from Consumer Reports for side discharge, mulching and bagging of all the 48 and 54 inch decks they have rated. They have never rated the 54 inch cub cadet fabricated, the X320 54 inch or the Husqvarna 52 inch fab decks. I have had a few people complain about the cut quality of the Husqvarna 52 inch. If you are looking for a great looking lawn this is not the deck for you.
I still haven’t figured out why Deere wants to charge $1200-$1400 more for this tractor than the others with the same quality engine, transmission and deck…..Maybe that’s why they are coming out with a more realistic priced “dealer only” tractor this year – the X240
The Husqvarna uses a flex frame where the other three use a stiff frame. That’s why people state the hood twists and sometimes pops up. The stiff framed tractors mow more evenly and scalp/gouge less but they don’t have quite as good of traction on rough lawns.
Since you read Consumer Reports you know which one they liked the best. Personally I don’t take a lot of stock in reliability ratings for two reasons. First, these ratings are only from people who filled out the CR survey and it does not differentiate the model/year of when people had issues with a brand. In other words it’s an opinion based on a multiple choice form not hard data on repairs/defects. Second, both the Craftsman and Cub Cadet are completely new designs for 2015.
The following statement comes from my Cub Cadet review and it also goes for the new Craftsman Pro Series “Cub Cadet has gotten a tarnished reputation in the last 10 years for building lawn tractors that have problems right from the start. Because of that opinion one review organization has decided that Cub Cadet as a brand is one of the most repair prone. The XT Enduro Series is completely redesigned and will not suffer the “sins” of the past engineers. If you now have a negative opinion of Cub Cadet – GET OVER IT!”
Thanks for the prompt and thoughtful response. To confirm for those who do not have CR subscriptions, the Craftsman Pro 20445 was the winner in the wide deck category and the 20442 tied for first with the Deere X300 in the standard deck size. Both Craftsman are recommended by the editors and the 20442 was awarded “Best Buy”. This only further substantiates Paul’s “lawn cred” and why so many of us come to this great site to get his advice.
So it’s between the 20445 and the XT2 GX54 for me. And I’m leaning towards the Craftsman. Both are pretty much the same price and almost identical specs. Am I correct in I’m pretty much deciding here between craftsman’s tight turning and front axle vs the cadet’s traction control? Stamped vs fabricated – which I believe I read fab caves in easier on collision because there is no rolled edge?
Or is the decision really more about choosing between black&yellow vs yellow&black? Lol!
Thanks for everything!
Hi Brian, You are on the right track. Typically, a stamped deck cuts better than a fabricated deck. This is especially true with Husqvarna decks but we don’t know for sure with the MTD decks yet.
The XT2 is a dealer only mower and if you have a good local dealer that can be a real advantage, especially if you are new to lawn tractors and the dealer is willing to really teach you all about it. (Operation, quirks and doing the maintenance yourself)
The Craftsman has the big advantage of in-home service. You never take your tractor anywhere. The tech always comes to your home to fix or maintain your tractor. This save from hauling it yourself or paying someone to get it to the dealer if it needs repair or maintenance. If you don’t know how to work on your mower or don’t want to Sears offers the Protection Plan. On the 20445, for about $14 dollars a month just about everything is covered for 5 years. The only things you are responsible for are mower blades, oil and filters. (of course it doesn’t cover garage fires and hurricanes) So wear and tear items like belts, tires, battery, cracked seat, bearings, etc. that is not covered under a defects warranty are all included. All trip charges to your home are covered.
Paul, I live in upstate NY, my older simplicity zero turn just died, I am looking at options, as I am on a very tight budget. My yard is huge, probably at least 3 acres. Minimal grade, but far from being flat. I have a lot of dips and dives in the yard, as it is very rural and agricultural. The zero turn I had was an older one with a 46″ deck, and was not all that speedy, or that good of a cut. I am looking to purchase a conventional lawn tractor, with at least a 48″ deck. I have never been a big fan of Briggs & Stratton, but I understand from your posts some of their higher end motors are pretty good. I have had good luck with Kohler in the past, but willing to listen to suggestions. Based on what I have read here, I am hesitant to get something with the lighter transmissions, if the deck is larger. I do not want to buy the cheapest thing I can find and have it worn out in 2 years, but I am also limited to about $2000. Based on what I was reading, I am wondering your thoughts about the John Deere D140, or something from Craftsman? I had looked at a Husquvarna 26hp 54″ the other day, but coming in at $2500, I just can not swing it, and now I am concerned about the transmission in it as well. Any advice is appreciated.
Hi Cliff, Start with the Craftsman 20393. $2199. Great engine (it’s a Kohler!) strong transmission (stronger than the trans in the D140 and the new Cub Cadets) 54 inch deck (it cuts well, but some owners complain the deck will only go up to 3 1/2 inches) You can see it here: 22HP 54” Kohler Powered Turn Tight Riding Mower – Non CA
Same tractor with free shipping to your home. This one is Black and Yellow and has the older Craftsman hood. Poulan Pro PB24VA54: $1999. Poulan Pro 960420174 PB24VA54 Kohler V-Twin 24 HP Pedal Control Fast Auto Drive Cutting Deck Riding Mower, 54-Inch (We have had really good luck with mowers from Amazon this year!)
Cub Cadet XT1 50 inch: Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series LT 50 in. 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower – California Compliant LT50 CARB. I’m just a little nervous about this transmission just like the D140 Deere – but the Cub Cadet does have a 3 year warranty.
If you have absolutely no wiggle room on the $2000 there is the Craftsman 20391. 22HP Briggs Platinum, strong CVT trans, 48 inch deck. $1754 plus an additional 10% off if you buy by 5/5. (Family and Friends Sale) Use this link and sign up for the Shop Your Way Rewards during checkout. 22 HP V-Twin 48″ Turn Tight Fast Riding Mower – Non CA
Paul, Thank you for your prompt response. We decided to go with the Craftsman 20391. Cost was a huge factor, things are way too tight right now to spend any more. I am very excited to pick it up tomorrow and give it a try. The grass is getting greener and growing like a weed.
@Cliff, You are welcome. If you ever have any questions feel free to stop by and ask.
Just so you know, there may be a quick set-up sheet with the mower that talks about purging the trans. You trans does not need that procedure. Also when you first move it around the garage the transmission may be noisy. That noise will go away in the first 5 hours of operation.
The manual talks about leveling the deck. Go out and mow with it first. If the cut is off then level the deck. Only about 1 in 25 decks need adjusting.
There is a oil in the engine – just read the manual, put gas in it and go.
Interesting Site! You seem to like Craftsmen and I would like to know your thoughts on the Craftsmen or Craftsmen Pro series for my yard which I will mention below. I saw a review on Sears’ website for the Craftsmen Pro 24 HP V-Twin Kohler with 46″ tight turn and the reviewer mentioned it not being good for wet areas and slopes. Something about the tires spinning out and the same unit with bigger tires would be a perfect mowing machine. Well, nearly my whole front yard is a slope or hill, and there is some grading such as hump if you will because of the way the front yard was graded to direct water I think… this presents some “humps” as well as a decent slope or hill to deal with which makes me think I need a smaller deck, yet enough power to handle the slope/hill. Can you recommend a Craftsmen for this, or any other riding mower for that matter?
Hi Michael, A lawn tractors use the same size wheels 20X8 or 20X10. You have to go the 54 inch decks to get larger tires. Plus all lawn tractors use transmissions that only weigh about 25-30 lbs so they are a lot lighter in the rear than they were 20 years ago.
I don’t know what the exact circumstances were with those two reviewers. Were they coming from an old tractor with a heavy rear end?. Did they have problems with traction on their old tractor? Were the hills too steep? (Over 15 degrees) For safety reasons you should never mow around a pond – you should stay at least two mower widths away from the shoreline. Critters burrow under the edge, ruts develop after a rain and the shoreline can get water logged all causing situations where you will tip the mower over. We have people killed all over the country every year because they mow on too steep of slopes or fall into the pond with their lawn tractor or zero-turn.
You should never mow slopes when the grass is wet, That said,
One of the reasons the 2015 Craftsman Pro got such high ratings for mowing this year is because the chassis is stiff. It gives a great cut on a good lawn but doesn’t quite have the traction of the Husqvarna built mowers with the more flexible frame. Here is a write up I wrote last week:
If you live in a sub-division. The kind where your yard was leveled and smoothed with construction equipment the 2015 Craftsman Pro is going to give you a perfect cut. If you have had commercial landscape companies mow your lawn before and your lawn really looked good when they were done, the 2015 Craftsman Pro will give you a similar cut.
If your lawn is highly contoured this may not be the best choice. If your old mower is a Simplicity with the ground hugging deck and the roller all the way across the back this new 2015 Craftsman Pro is different. It uses the floating deck design everyone else uses. (except Simplicity and Husqvarna Rider)
My back yard is fairly smooth. The 2015 Craftsman Pro will give it a great cut. My front yard on the other hand is contoured, meaning it has a lot of small dips and mounds. It has a small ditch along the road and a swale along one side for water drainage to the backyard. A stiff framed tractor like the 2015 Craftsman Pro digs and gouges the turf. It looks the best when mowed with a ground-hugging deck but the cut is acceptable when using a tractor with a more flexible frame like the Craftsman Yard Tractor models 20390, 20391 and the G5500 garden tractor model 20403.
So, if you are concerned about your humps I suggest that you go with the Craftsman 20391 instead of the Pro. The frame is not as stiff and you get better traction for the dips and berms. It also has the wider 20X8 tires. It will still give you a great cut and the engine is the same quality as the Kohler 7000 Elite.
Here is my review of the: Craftsman 20391
Looking at the LGT26K54 or the YTH24V48 at Lowes. I have about 3 acres I mow and like the idea of the larger 54″ deck and larger HP engine, but it has the K46 trans from what I understand and the 48″ one has the upgraded K57. Also the 54 has fender mounted control and the 48 has foot pedals, not sure which is best. Any thoughts on these 2?
Hi Kaleb, Yes, the YTH has the stronger K57 transmission. It needs the stronger trans because they overspeed it so you can go 8 mph! It’s a better tractor/engine/deck combination than the LGT.
DO NOT BUY the LGT26K54. Too many people are only getting 3-4 years out of that tractor. It’s really a shame that Lowes does not carry a heavy-duty lawn/garden tractor. If you really want a 54 inch deck, a heavy duty tractor and you want the $100 Husqvarna rebate go to a dealer and get the GTH24K54. It’s only $300 more than the LGT and you get a bulletProof transmission, larger tires, a Kawasaki FR engine and arm rest.
Other good heavy lawn/garden tractors are:
The Craftsman G5500 (basically a GTH with the 6 inch turn-tight steering)
Poulan Pro PBGT2654 (again basically the same tractor as the GTH24K54)
There are a few lawn tractors with the 2o inch wheels like the YTH but with the heavy-duty CVT transmission.
Foot control drives like you car. Push the big pedal on the right to go forward and press the small pedal to back up. Most tractors drive this way.
The fender control is what Craftsman used exclusively up to about 2005 so a lot of Craftsman owners are used to that. Somewhere along the line Husqvarna also picked it up because people asked for it. For us old people it’s nice because we many of us have limited mobility in our legs and ankles. That makes the fender control is easier to use.
What seems to be the problem with the LGT26K54 that is wearing out in 3-4 years? Transmission? Deck issues? I was on the fence because I thought maybe the Kohler 7000 was better than the Briggs in the 48″ one, but the trans in the YTH seemed better, so that was my issue. The extra 6″ would be nice but I am just mowing flat land with a few trees, cars, etc to mow around and did like the tighter turning radius of the YTH. I will probably end up going that route, its cheaper anyway.
Hi Kaleb, I wrote the following comment last week on the LGT. I think it applies to this conversation. Here is my review of the LGT: 2013 Husqvarna LGT2654 Review | Beware! This Is Not A Garden Tractor!.
The LGT2654 and the Craftsman 20444 both have big decks but the small K46 transmission. The industry has had more problems with this engine/transmission combination than any other setup. The Craftsman G5100, John Deere D160’s and D170’s fall into this same issue.
Basically any lawn tractor with a 54 inch deck that sells for less than $2700 is using this transmission and the transmission is not designed for it.
The K46 transmission is not heavy-duty enough to last when trying to push that large deck. Many people are getting less than 200 hours of use before the transmission goes out.
The LGT2654 is the model that has been around the longest. If you go search Google, read the tractor forums and read the reviews of it on Lowes and other sites you will find more people complaining about the transmission going out than on any other tractor.
There is only one cheap 54 inch lawn tractor that does not use that transmission. It’s the Craftsman model 20393. It uses the stronger CVT. 22HP 54” Kohler Powered Turn Tight Riding Mower – Non CA.
If cost is your only criteria for a selecting a new lawn tractor – buy what you want. But you came to this website because looking for help. I won’t suggest a tractor to you where the transmission will last only 2 weeks past the end of the warranty.
Here is another related question for you. My current mower is a 10 year old White Outdoor/MTD 46″ with a Courage engine that has the varidrive setup in that it has a FNR lever and the pedal on the floor to control speed. I end up having to replace PTO and deck belts about 1-2 times a year and I really do not like the cut of it much. It make the yard look like a hay field after it has been cut, it just leaves the clippings in a big line piled up ready to bail hay! Anyway I had just been getting tired of messing with the mower even though it only has about 55 hours on it so I started looking at those 2 previous mentioned Husqvarna mowers. Yesterday after the 1st pass around the yard the darn top transmission belt broke, the small one. That made me fed up with it again so I went to Lowes about to pull the trigger on the 48 and decided to maybe keep using my current mower and just replace the belts rather than spending the money on a new one, although I would love to have a new one. Anyway I guess my question is, how solid and reliable is this variable drive system in the MTD as compared to a hydrostatic trans such as the K46 or K57 etc? Is it worth fixing my current mower?
Hi Kaleb, Your White is one of the frame styles of MTD that has always had belt issues. The Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilts, etc using that frame also eat belts. The new Cub Cadets/Craftsman Pro use a completely new frame design and won’t have the belt issues the old ones had.
The CVT in your old White just does not give anyone problems. It’s still being used today in a lot of the lower priced MTD tractors and I never hear of one going bad. The tractor/deck shakes apart long before the trans goes bad.
Stay away from the LGT at Lowes. I don’t have a good feel for the K57 in the Fast Tractor Lowes sells. The trans is heavier than the K46 but Husqvarna “overspeeds” the trans to get the added speed. So I don’t know how it will hold up. Husqvarna reset their reviews on their website and it’s hard to see a trend on the Lowes site because of the way reviews are sorted. There are over 365 reviews and yes there are a few bad tranny reviews but it’s not out of proportion.
If you buy a K46 with 20 inch rear tires and a 48 inch or less deck it will last.
Excellent advice and wonderfully informative website – Currently own an Husq LGT2654 (Briggs&Stratton).Made the mistake of believing Lowe’s BS about it being rated for ground engaging equipment. Even new, the POS would barely climb a 20 percent grade. After warranty period expired, I bought an plug aerator and loaded it up with 140lbs of cinder blocks (per the manual), only to discover that the K46 Tuff Torq tranny would never be the same. It began to whine all the time, and gradually got slower and slower until it barely creeps up even a 2 percent grade. Have removed and changed the oil twice (now that was an experience in designed obsolescence) to stretch out its life (still upset that Husq refused to us the K46 with a drain plug). Love the B&S engine (I’m not a Kohler fan) – but hate the K46 Tuff Torq and wouldn’t trust the “upgraded” K57 that Husq is putting in their fast 48 inch mower. It is basically just a K46 with a small pump. Was about to rebuild the K46 for $350ish in parts and lots of labor when I stumbled on the Craftsman G5500 while at a local mall. My old bagger fits it, it looked like it had a replaceable oil filter. Asked the Sears sales staff to tell me the make and model of the tranny. They couldn’t figure it out. Apparently, Sears/Craftsman doesn’t want to reference the names of part providers in their literature. After about an hour of waiting while multiple salesmen tried looking up parts at sears websites and other parts sites, I gave up, went home, searched on the web and found your site that confirmed what I had hoped to be true (was the most thorough and informative treatment of the G5500 that I could find). When I realized that I could get a G730 tranny for $2800, I abandoned my plans to refurb my much-hated LGT2654. Went back the same day – Sears is delivering this week.
I wish I had seen your website BEFORE I made the expensive mistake of buying Husqvarna’s so called “ground engaging” LGT2654.
Thanks for your quick reply. I was seriously looking at the Craftsman Pro series GT and it seems like the best choice. I went to the closest Sears store yesterday and they didn’t have one for me to see. One issue I forgot to mention was the overall deck width. Have lots of trees and some gates that are small. Specs on sears.com say 61″ wide (assuming that includes exit chute shroud), so maybe 52″-55″ overall width (w/o shroud)?
Do you lose the “heavy-duty” options when you downsize the deck in all makes/models? It seems from looking the toughest tractors are ones w/54″ decks.
Only exception I saw was maybe the JD X500?
Thanks for all your expert help!
Hi Brent, Yes, Not all the Sears full-line stores get the GT and the Hometown stores order their own.
A 54 inch stamped deck will need 57 inches with the discharge cover up.
Yes, someone needs to build a Garden Tractor again with a 46-48 inch deck. All the models on the market right now (except the X500) lose the heavy-duty transmissions when you drop go to the smaller decks. Even some of the large deck tractors have small trannys. Stay over $2800 and you will be safe.
Awesome site! I’m interested in your opinion on a heavy duty lawn/garden tractor. I have about 2 acres with only mild grade in some places. It is rough with lots of trees, holes, etc. I am very hard on decks, and really need the largest wheels. I do not plan to use ground engaging equipment but don’t have problem spending extra for a Garden Tractor if thought best for my situation. I currently have an old 2000 model Murry 42″ 14.5 BS LT with a manual tranny. Rock solid engine, rest is falling apart, including a cracked frame-rail. Continues to run, so I keep repairing it but I think it’s about done. I also have a Craftsman (gray) LT 917-275400 I picked up very cheap as a close-out at a local store several years ago.($650 due to stained seat and hood) So I couldn’t pass it up. But I don’t think it is quite as tough as I need and may not last as long as the old Murry.
So looking for: rock-solid transmission, extra heavy deck w/guide wheels, large wheels, heavy-duty frame. Nice to have tight turn capability, but not required. I will sometimes pull a small trailer with limbs or dirt, but do not plan to use any ground-engaging equip.
I will never bag and really don’t care if it mows beautifully, as I am out in the country and not concerned with the “manicured” look.
Love the x500 Deere but really didn’t want to pay $6k+. The new Pro-Series Craftsman sound good, but maybe I just need a lesser model or even the Poulan-Pro PBLGT2654 or PBGT2654.
Thanks for all your work and research!
(Located in Texas)
Hi Brent, You can’t make a bad choice with the Craftsman
Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor fir a few reasons.
1. It’s only about $300 more than the PBGT2654 and for that extra you get a really tough front axle and steering. It’s warrantied for as long as you own it. The Craftsman has 22 inch rears compared to the 23’s on the Poulan but you won’t notice the difference. The front wheels are the same. The Turn-Tight steering is great but you will really like how easy it steers even more. It’s a completely different steering system than the Poulan Pro and it’s very easy and has no slop.
2. It’s a better choice for you than the Craftsman 20403, G5500 garden tractor. The front end on the G5500 works well on large lawns but is not the best choice for rough lawns. The front end on the Pro is the strongest.
3. I also have an issue with the PBLGT2654, the Craftsman 20401, and the Husqvarna LGT2654 in your situation. These tractors use a lightweight lawn tractor transmission and the trans is not strong enough to last on your rough lawn.
4. The Craftsman Pro deck is strong. It has a rolled edge around the bottom of the deck and it is reinforced underneath so the sides won’t collapse when you bump into your trees for the 200th time. It has 4 antiscalp wheels around the edges and a center nose roller to ride over tree roots.
5. I agree the X500 is a great mower but I have a feeling you won’t get any more life out of the deck than you will with the Craftsman Pro. This deck is the strongest I’ve seen on a Craftsman.
Plymouth Meeting, PA
I’m a first time homeowner with a little more than a half an acre. The previous owner loved his gardening so as of now there are a lot of flower beds and some trees that I have to navigate around in the backyard. It is a pretty flat piece of land with only a very slight hill in the front. With all these choices on the market, I’m getting a little overwhelmed with information. I love your website so I figured I’d ask for your input as to what mower you would recommend. Also take into account that I’m 6′ 07″ and need something that I fit comfortably. Thanks for your help!
Hi Alex, Thanks for telling me how tall you are. That makes my suggestion very easy.
The Craftsman 25081 (42 inch) and Craftsman 25083 (46 inch) have lots of operator room and they have a fender mounted speed control. With the fender mounted speed control you don’t have to try and bend your leg underneath you to push a foot pedal.
The CVT transmission in these tractors also has an internal, automatic parking brake. So even though there is a pedal on the left floorboard you never have to use it. (it makes a great footrest)
Please read my review of the 25081 here: 25081 Review. The only difference between the 42 inch 25081 and the 46 inch 25083 is the size of the deck.
Since you have a lot of stuff to mow around I am going to suggest the 46 inch. The deck sticks out the side of the tractor more which makes it easier to trim around obstacles with. Go out and measure between the bed and see if the deck with the discharge down will pass between them. (54 inches)
If you think theses tractors are the best for you the link to buy the 25083 is at the end of the 25081 review.
Thanks for the great information! I went and sat on the 25083 today and really liked it. You were right about the fender direction location. It gives me more leg room. I also sat on a Husqvrana 22V46 (22 HP 46″ deck) and really liked that one also. Even with the gas pedal by the foot, it seemed to have more room. It definitely had a better/higher seat and the steering wheel was thicker, making it more comfortable for me to handle. They are the same price right now. I don’t know much about Husqvarna so I wanted to know what your input is. Are they are reliable tractor? Better quality or less than the Craftsman? Thanks again!
@Alex, The big difference is the Husqvarna has a Intek engine, the Craftsman has the Platinum (Intek Plus.) Craftsman advertises 25% more life out of the Platinum. For your flat lawn that doesn’t make a big difference. It’s curious it has more room. It is exactly the same frame, fenders and seat brackets. The seat is taller on the Husqvarna – Maybe that’s the difference.
The Husqvarna has a better seat. The Craftsman has a better engine and steering.
Glenda George Gonser
Laverne, OK please tell me, we want a good lawn /garden tractor witih tough long lasting motor, as well as tires that are tough. is there any tires that have the soft foam tubes that come in them? we have 17 acres we have to take care of, limbs fall, etc. and yes would also be nice to put on a snow blower in winter but not really necessary as the ability to make this mower last for at least 7 years with out a lot of maintenance costs.
any suggestions, we can get 3 – 6k if need be. tell me options that we have. i don’t understand hydrostat is that one that ‘stays’ on ground better on inclines? that is what it seems from comments here. thanks for any help
Hi Glenda, Foam filling lawn tractor tires is expensive. Around $250 for a set. Many of us use Slime Tubeless Sealant. It will close punctures up to about 3/16 of an inch.
How much of that property are you going to mow? The mower I am going to suggest is the Raven MPV-7100. You can read my review here: Raven MPV. It a very heavy duty lawn mower, generator and all-purpose vehicle. With the deck off it will go 17 MPH. It has a very heavy duty cast iron transmission and will pull a large cart for picking up your limbs, etc. Best – it is a hybrid. Most of the time running around your property you can use the electric mode and wisk around quietly and not use any fuel. It’s $3999 to $4500 at Lowes.
If that is not something you would like I suggest talking to the local farm dealerships at a good used compact tractor with ag or construction tires.
Here is a Kubota as an example.
Dave in Mequon
Hi Paul. Thank you for the great information!
My 30 year old MTD rider finally gave up the ghost last night and I guess I need to pull the trigger on a new lawn tractor.
I have a little over 1 acre (SE WI) to mow. There are a few mature trees to go around but not a lot of obstacles. The back yard has a slight slope and is a bit bumpy, but nothing too drastic. In addition, we have a pretty steep, short blacktop driveway that I need to get the mower up and down to cut a flat patch down by the road.
Other uses would be to pull a light duty garden cart occasionally for brush, mulch, maybe some planting dirt. We have a number of very large, old maple trees that drop a LOT of leaves in the fall. Typically I just ran them over with the old tractor a number of times in the fall to grind them up. With the new mower, having more effective mulching capabilities would be nice, but not mandatory.
I guess what I am looking for is a good cutting, dependable, long-lasting piece of equipment. I realize I probably won’t get 30 years out of it, but would like to get at 10-15 years.
You seem pretty sold on Craftsman products.
Do you feel they would be the best option for me or are there others you would recommend? I am looking to stay in the #1200-$1600 range.
Hi Dave, Because of all the trees I am going to suggest the 46 inch Craftsman Pro Model 20442. It has the highest rating by the leading consumer reporting company for side-discharge, mulching and bagging. It also has the best turning radius so you can get around your trees in one pass.
Yes, I have no problems finding the right Craftsman for you. Their tractors and zero-turns all are a great value for the price and Sears Repair always comes to you for repairs. If you have another brand you are partial to I will be glad to help you with that or compare it to the Craftsman so you can make an informed decision.
Here is my review of the Pro Series: Craftsman Pro
You can purchase the tractor here with free delivery: Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower
By the way. There are a few mistakes on the sears page. it does have cruise control and it will handle you steep driveway.
If you have to stay in the $1500 range look at the 46 inch 25083: It is included in the 25081 review here: 25081-25083 Review
I have two acres with a few rough patches and hills. Considering a Husqvarna YTH22V46 V-Twin Hydrostatic 46-in. Lowes has them for $100 off and I can get 10 veterans discount ($1440 total)…good choice? Something better?
Hi Scott, 1. That’s not a bad price. Home Depot also offers the 10% veterans discount. Home Depot also has two mowers that are very comparable but have a stronger CVT transmission. The
Ariens Lawn Mowers A20KA46 46 in. 20 HP KOHLER Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460064 is a 5.5 mph tractor with the CVT. This model is only $1449 so with your vet discount…..
The second is the Ariens Lawn Mowers A22VA46 46 in. 22 HP B&S Fast Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower. This one will run around the yard at 7.5 MPH!
Both of these riding mowers use the same deck as the Husqvarna. The 22 hp Briggs is also the same. The rest of the tractor (except the hood is also the same)
2. I do not recommend the Briggs & Stratton Intek engine that is in these mowers for hills. I have had too many owners state they don’t get the expected life out of these engines on hills. The Kohler in the Ariens A20KA46 holds up well. (You won’t notice the power difference) I also don’t recommend the K46 transmission that’s in the Husqvarna for hills. If you are just going to mow it’s fine but if you want to add a bagger or pull stuff (more weight to move around) then I suggest going to the Ariens with the CVT trans.
I am looking to get my first riding mower. I have about 1 acre of flat land and not much landscaping. I want a mower that will last a long time and be able to handle towing mulch, small bushes and such. I would like to stay under $2,200 or so. What do you recommend?
Hi Randy, The Craftsman 25081, 25083 and 20390 are good choices. These mowers are some of the best for long life and just all around good yard tractors. Just type those numbers into the search box in the top right corner of this page and my reviews will come up.
I’ve got my options narrowed down to two garden tractors for my 7.5 acre property here in Maine. The John Deere X300 with 48″ deck or the Craftsman Pro Series with 54″ deck (or the red 24 hp version).
I have about 2 acres to mow and may, in the future, add on a snowblower for cleaning up around the house. I get my 800-ft driveway plowed and have no intention of ever clearing that myself with a snowblower.
Aside for the roughly $300 cost savings with the Craftsman, are there any other reasons I should be looking at the Craftsman instead of the Deere? My John Deere dealer is 10 mins away if that would sway you one way or another…
Thanks in advance
Hi Sebastien, The X300 does not have the same quality transmission as the Craftsman. The X300 and X304 have the K46 transmission so it is only rated as a lawn tractor. You have to go to the X310, X320 or X360 to get the same K58 ground engaging transmission as the Craftsman Pro.
The X320 with a 48 inch deck is $4299. When you compare apples to apples then the cost difference is about $1000. The X320 is a nice mower made here in Wisconsin.
Does the 24 hp B&S powered red Craftsman with complete start have the same K58 transmission? Just saw that this tractor is now on sale at $2,899, versus the new MTD built Pro Series for $3,299.
If it does have the same transmission, is there any reason to spend the extra money on the newer model?
@Sebastian, The 20403
24HP 54″ Complete Start™ Turn Tight® Garden Tractor – Non CA is at a great price right now.
That garden tractor actually has a stronger G730 transmission. It’s one of the strongest on the market, especially in the $2800-4000 price range. No, I don’t feel in your case that it’s worth spending the extra.
By the way if you are thinking about mowing your yard – I’m Jealous!
This is what I’m getting right now!
Anderson, SC . First Riding lawn mower and have gotten lots of info from your site. Have a flat grass front lawn, 1/6 acre, and a rear lawn 1/5 acre mostly of uneven rough grass, sand,ant hills, pine cones and sticks from dozen or more pine trees, slope of 5% and a bit more in places.. (unable to improve rear lawn per corps of engineers rules but can mow it). I’d like to stay in the 42-46 inch size. Should I be looking for a reinforced deck and 4 deck wheels? What would you recommend? So many choices; so little time to fish…
@A. I Understand! I live next to one of the best walleye lakes in Wisconsin and here I sit answering questions about lawn mowers! Decks with 4 anti-scalp wheels decks like the 42 inch and 46 inch Craftsman are strong enough to take a beating. They are balanced so they ride up over obstructions instead of plowing into them. In addition, there are really no good reinforced decks in the 42-46 inch size. Husqvarna’s 42 in fabricated deck mows horribly and the 46 inch fabricated deck on the Cub Cadet XT1 is very expensive for what you get ($2199)
I am going to give you a few ideas. I’ll start with the least expensive ($1500) and work up to the one’s with the most features.
Craftsman 25081. 42 inch, 6 inch Turn-Tight steering, 19 HP Briggs & Stratton Platinum Single (about $1499) BUY HERE: 19HP 42 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower
Cub Cadet XT1 Enduro Series LT 46 in. 16 inch Steering, 22 HP V-Twin Kohler 7000 (about $1699) BUY HERE: Cub Cadet Lawn Mowers XT1 Enduro Series LT 46 in. 22 HP V-Twin Kohler Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower LT46
John Deere D125 42 in. 18 inch turning radius, 20 HP Deere V-Twin (about $1499) BUY HERE: John Deere Lawn Mowers D125 42 in. 20 HP V-Twin Hydrostatic Front-Engine Riding Mower BG20709
Craftsman 20390. 42 inch, 6 inch Turn-Tight steering, 22 HP Briggs & Stratton Platinum V-Twin (about $1700) BUY HERE:22HP 42” Turn Tight® Fast Riding Mower – Non-CA
Craftsman 20442. 46 inch, 5 inch Turn-Tight Extreme, 24 HP Kohler Elite V-Twin (about $2199) BUY HERE:
Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower
Mark (Flemington, NJ)
Thanks for all the great info Paul. I have about half an acre, that is mostly flat – so I’m looking for something under $1500. Here is the problem — I am very tall — 6’8″. Before I go from store to store to try to sit on a bunch of different tractors, are all riding tractors pretty much the same fit, or do you recommend one over another that might have more leg room for someone my size?
Hi Mark, Most of the under $1500 tractors are too short for you and most of the ones over $1500 have the foot control too close to be comfortable for your size.
I would try the Craftsman Model 25081 first.
19HP 42 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower. It uses a fender speed control and has the most room for you. When you sit on it make sure the seat is adjusted all the way back.
Hello Paul I own about 1 acre of land it’s a old farm house and most of the property is pretty ruff and bumpy I was wanting to get a mower I can mow fast with and be able to handle the ruff terrain the yard is all flare so I woukdent have to consider riding on any sort of an incline what would the best mower be with out breaking the piggy bank .. Worthington PA
Hi Andrew, Actually a good 48 inch lawn tractor would do the job well. You won’t be able to mow very fast because of the rough ground but you want something tough enough to take a beating from the rough lawn. A 48 inch deck will get the job done is about 45 minutes. A Craftsman 22 HP V-Twin 48″ Turn Tight Fast Riding Mower – Non CA is a good choice.
I seen that you had good reviews on the poulan pro pb22va48 I was courious if you thought I could be a good choice also or is the craftsman model you recommend a better choice overall
Hi Andrew, The Poulan Pro is a great choice if you do not want to deal with Sears (I know it’s shocking but there are a few people who don’t like Sears 🙂
In reality the PB22VA48 and the Craftsman 20391 are very similar. The Craftsman has a better engine, the 6 inch Turn-Tight Steering, a different hood and a better nationwide service network. The rest of the machine is the same.
Please read the review from Mr. Benedict below. He did a great job of talking about the Craftsman model 20391 (22 hp 48 inch deck)
I hear good things on Cub Cadet XT2. What are your thoughts.
Hi Chris, Yes, I have to get that review done…. The Cub Cadet XT1 and XT2 are the same machine.
In reality there is very little difference. Engines are different. They use the same frames. XT1 uses flanged front wheel bearings – the XT2 use ball bearings. They use the same transmissions except the XT2 series uses electronic locking differential on some models. They all use the same decks with the XT2 having more fabricated decks available. Remember stamped decks cut better, fabricated decks take more of a beating.
I’m going to also include the Craftsman Pro Series. It shares about 90% of the same parts. (Different color of course)
So. The XT1 is for most people. It mows well and has the features you want at a decent price. It’s available at Home Centers and Cub Cadet Dealers
The Craftsman Pro is the best for people who want a tractor but have a lot of trees and other landscaping features to mow around. It’s discerning feature is the 5 inch Extreme Turn-Tight Steering. The engines are a step up from the XT1. Consumer Reports gave the Craftsman Pro Series 46 and 54 inch deck tractors their best ratings. It’s available through sears.com and Sears Stores
The XT2 is a Cub Cadet dealer only tractor and uses mainly Kawasaki engines. They also have more options for the transmissions and decks. If you have hills to mow that you had difficulty mowing with other tractors this one has better traction.
I like this new Series and many people who want a great mowing tractor will buy them. Cub Cadet really did their homework and I feel it won’t have any of the problems the 2014 and old Cub Cadets had.
Thanks for the quick reply. I’ll give it a try.
Harleysville, PA: Paul, I have a Craftsman 42 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower that I purchased last year. I see you like it alot, but I find that it can’t handle mulching at all. I raise the deck and it still chokes on the grass and leaves clumps all over the place. In addition, I can fill a giant trash bag with all the grass that builds up on the tractor deck while mowing. Is it possible it’s not set up properly? The Sears technician installed the mulching blades. Perhaps I shouldn’t mulch at all?
Hi David, This time of the year when the grass is growing fast and it has a lot of moisture in the leaves mulching doesn’t work well. Most of the time it just leaves a mess. To mulch properly you should be mowing at least 3 1/2 inches (top or second notch down) and you should only mow off about 1/3 the stalk. That means this time of year to mulch well you need to be mowing 2-3 times a week.
Take the mulching cover off. You can continue to use the mulching blades but to get the best cut, put on the original hi-lift blades.
Later on, Mid June-Sept you may be able to go back to mulching if you want.
The best mulching mowers and the only ones that really work well are commercial mowers with 5 to 6 inch deep decks. Even those have adjustable internal baffles so when the grass has a lot of moisture you can throw some of the grass clippings out the discharge.
I live in Coquille, Oregon, where the grass grows like weeds. (As do the moles!!)
I’m getting to old to use a push mower, and have a little over an acre, so I’m buying my first riding mower. I’ll be mowing mostly flat lawn, but do have a hill that’s 15-20 degrees, and about 100ft wide, but it only elevates for about 10 ft before leveling off again.
I wish I could afford a top of the line tractor, but I’m limited to about $1800.
I was cautioned by a mower mechanic about the hydrostatic transmissions because of their overheating, resulting failure, and complicated & expensive servicing issues, so I was looking for a good CVT type. However, it seems that almost all of the lawn/yard tractors use a Hydrostatic trans. I read somewhere that many of the heavy earth moving machines are also using hydro’s now. Have the Hydro’s used in lawn equipment improved dramatically in the past few years?
What are your thoughts about CVT vs Hydrostatic lawn equipment?
I saw that the Poulan Pro was about the only one using a heavy duty CVT trans these days.
Home depot’s website lists several as on-line only, but they also all say out of stock!!
I’d like to buy from Lowes or Home Depot, as they both offer a 10 percent VA discount, but again, almost everything they sell is hydrostatic, including all of the John Deere’s except their cheapest model.
I did see that a couple of the Ariens utilized a CVT, and realize that they’re built by Husqvarna, but are they as well built and reliable as the Husqvarna brand?
The Home Depot guy was really pushing the Cub Cadet, saying that the newer Hydro’s were actually MORE reliable!?? I liked a couple of their features, but had my reservations about the plastic hood & other parts. Your thoughts about them for my situation?
Originally I wanted a 20-24 HP 46-48″ with a reliable V-twin, but now I’m not sure about the V-twin either. ??
Sorry about all the questions, but there’s so much conflicting information out there, and I feel that you’re more well informed and likely to tell it like it is, without monetary or brand bias. I applaud your very informative website.
Thanks for your help.
@D. Bishop, no the hydros have not improved. In fact CVT’s are quickly taking over the L&G market because of that. There are good hydro’s out there but the manufactures continue to race to the bottom on price and consequentially they put smaller and smaller hydro’s trans in the mid-priced mowers.
One of the biggest problems is most people won’t spend more than $1800 on a lawn tractor but at the same time have no problems spending $10,000 on an ATV. What most people don’t realize is 30 years ago a car was $5000 and a lawn tractor was $2500. Today a car is $25,000 and a Lawn tractor is $1800. Does that even make sense? No wonder the parts are not as strong.
The Home Depot guy is only stating what he read in the advertising flier about the Cub Cadet. “nuff said….”
Let’s first talk about which tractor and then I’ll show you how to get the best deal. (and maybe a VA discount)
Yes, the Ariens has the CVT, but the other side of the equation is the engine. The engine in the Ariens is great for flat yards but when you use the Briggs Intek on hills you dramatically shorten it’s life.
I like Craftsman in your price range because you get the good CVT, a good engine that will last on hills and great service right at your home. So, let’s start with my first choice for you.
The Craftsman 25083 has a Craftsman Platinum (Briggs Intek Plus) that will handle the hills well. It has the Element V CVT that is better than the K46 in the Cub Cadets for hills. It also has the 6 inch Turn-Tight Steering, Great seat and easy access to repair parts and service.
Here is the link to buy it online. 19HP 46 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower
Now let’s talk about price.
Right now if you use the link above you get free delivery and an additional 5% off the regular price (on top of the sale price). That equals the 10% VA discount you can get at THD. Plus if you use a Sears card you can either take another 5% off or get 12 months no interest. You can apply for the card during the checkout. In addition sign up for the Shop Your Way Rewards during the checkout process and you will get an additional 2% back in points you can spend on anything at Sears.
Sears also has a Veterans Discount. It is 5%. To get it you have to go into a Full-Line Store (a mall anchor store not a Hometown store) The issue is Sears has an either or philosophy. You can two of the three deals. Free Delivery, extra 5% off or the 5% VA discount. Take your pick (Lowes and THD have similar rules on “stacking offers”)
Thank you for your service. Feel free to ask any other questions until you are comfortable you are making the right purchase.
Hi again Paul, Thank you so much for the info about Sears discounts, and especially for confirming & expounding on what the mechanic said about the hydrostatics. I liked the features of the Craftsman 25083, but I was kinda concerned about the reviewers comments about the freewheeling function, as this would be very important in my storage situation. I noticed that Sears also had a model 20376 that had a Kohler 7000 V-Twin for the same price as the 25083. (although it doesn’t have the “tight turn”) How do you feel about the Kohler 7000 series V-twin for short hills?
Or should I just completely forget the idea of a V-twin?
Do the one lungers have more torque for hills? I guess my only real reason for originally wanting a twin was the vibration factor.
I liked the write up about how well built the Poulan Pro’s were, and that shipping was free. I would have to give up on the idea of a VA discount, but after all is said & done, overall reliability is my main concern. Which model would you suggest for my short but wide hill situation.
I really appreciate your expertise, as you’ve already helped me to narrow things down by at least 90 percent.
Hi Dana, Unfortunately Craftsman did not make up a quick setup sheet that explained the freewheel. It works similar to a hydro but not exactly the same so once you do the 2 step procedure you are good to go for years. (You have to make sure the transmission is in neutral to release the internal parking brake before it will move.) Read this pdf on how to use the freewheel. Craftsman Bypass
I should explain a little more. The CVT transmission has an internal parking brake that automatically sets when you put the tractor in neutral. The rod in the back of the tractor release that rod. You just have to make sure the trans is in neutral for the brake to release.
The 20376 is over priced. It’s a $1200 tractor that with a $300 premium to get it with a Kohler engine.
I still feel the 25083 is still the best mower. The single has a little more torque and internally they are balanced to there is no more vibration than most twins.
Hi Paul, Happy news! My budget for a lawn tractor just went from $1800 to $2200. Question about the Craftsman Pro series…. Why did they go from a GT RS800 transmission to a K46?? Isn’t the RS800 more heavy duty?
What would the order of strength & reliability be for the Element V vs. RS400 vs. RS800 vs. K46 CVT tansmissions?
Any other brand or model suggestions considering the $400 increase in my mower budget?
Thanks again for all your help Paul.
Hi Dana, In order of strength lowest RS400 then K46 then RS800.
They went with the K46 because the Pro series is made by MTD and they have not started using General Transmissions. I doubt that they will because they make their own CVT’s in the small tractors and walk-behind mowers.
Now, I went back and re-read all of our discussions.
– You would like a CVT – that’s fine.
– You only have about an acre to mow so that does change our discussion a little. We should be talking about a tractor with a 42 or 46 inch deck. Preferably a 46 inch deck because it easier to trim with.
– You have a short but fairly steep hill to go up and down.
– I have a problem with using the K46 in a lawn tractor with a 54 inch deck or a garden tractor with large rear wheels and a 48-54 inch deck. When used in the application it was designed for it is a great transmission.
– The application it was designed for is the 42-46 inch lawn tractor. For example in the 46 inch Craftsman Pro it will handle your hill well and last a long time. I know it’s confusing but I have done a lot of research on this including talking to the engineers at Hydro-Gear. When I asked about the problems they stated, “We give the manufactures the transmission’s specs. We make suggestions. But we can’t MAKE the manufactures install them in the right tractors.” To take this a little farther Hydro-Gear sells over 1 million of the K46 a year. When you look at where those transmissions are installed – only the ones in the larger tractors have issues.
– I have thought about other brands. I thought about the John Deere D125 but that has a small hydro. You originally asked about the Cub Cadet. Well, the Craftsman Pro has a lot of the same parts as the Cub Cadet. The Craftsman Pro has more metal in the hood, a little better engine than the Home Depot Cub Cadet model, the 5 inch Turn-Tight Extreme steering and I like the seat better. You will like the steering. It is very easy to steer.
I still thing the Craftsman 25083 is a good choice but I’ll be happy to tell you that the new Pro Series is also a good choice. The 46 inch model has the highest ratings for mowing, mulching and bagging. It turns really nice and I fell it will be a very dependable tractor.
Here is a link to buy it online and have it delivered to your home for free.:Pro Series 24 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 46″ Turn Tight Extreme Riding Mower
Hi Paul, I had finally decided on the 46″ Pro Series & was about to place an order, but I decided to check the specs one last time before committing. I was surprised when I saw that under “accessory or attachment / hauling” it said NO, but under “recommended for this product” it listed a dump cart & sweeper. I can’t imagine that it wouldn’t have a tow hitch on their pro series, but it is built by MTD rather than Husqvarna. Does the model 20442 have a tow hitch? If it does, is it rated for light, or heavy hauling?
Thanks again for all your help,
Hi D. Bishop, Ignore the specs on sears.com. The person who transcribed those onto the sales page messed them up. There is a change to the website coming with the corrections but the way sears.com is set up with multiple redundant servers it will take more than a month for us to see the changes.
Yes, It has a hitch and yes you can haul your cart, firewood, etc. And yes – it does have cruise control. 🙂
Hi again, Thank you for the quick reply. I was very relieved to find that it does have a tow hitch, but when I went back to place my order, the price had changed from $1979.99 to $2199.99, which now goes over my budget. I tried the clickable link you gave me again, but it still comes up $2199.99. ARGHHhh!! Please help!
@D. Bishop, Sears is one of those retailers that changes prices just about every week and they don’t let us know what the prices will be until Sunday morning for the week. In addition, the Pro is the hot ticket this year so it is not getting the “extra 5%” off some of the other tractors are getting. It is very frustrating if you wait.
Hi Paul, so many choices! What would you recommend best for my needs? I will need to mow about 2 acres of yard, not too rough, but having quite a few obstacles to mow around…septic, garden, a dozen trees or so, clothesline poles, and will need to get up close to mow along fencing, etc. Also, two long ditches and a few slopes to mow. I will also need to mow higher and thicker pasture grass from time to time. Not as often as a weekly yard mow, maybe twice a month. This area is about 2 acres and rough from horses. Would also like to use the same machine for hauling firewood, dirt, etc, as well as potentially for snow removal for my lane which is a gentle slope, about 500 ft. Your help and expertise is greatly appreciated!
Hi Andy, I suggest something with larger rear wheels and a good, solid front end. I would suggest a zero-turn but they don’t do snow removal.
My last choice is the John Deere Lawn Mowers D170 54 in. 25-HP V-Twin Hydrostatic Front-Engine Riding Mower BG20732. It’s a good tractor but the transmission is a little light for the work you want to do. It also has an 18 inch Turning radius which isn’t the best for mowing around obstacles.
Stay away from the Husqvarna LGT26K54 at Lowes and Craftsman G5100 Model 20401 at Sears. The transmissions are not strong enough for what you want to do.
My First Choice is the Craftsman Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor.
There are a couple of other dealer only tractors if you don’t want Home Depot of Sears. The Husqvarna GT54LS and the Cub Cadet XT2 GX54″ with Fabricated Deck
Hi Paul, Thanks so much for your input. I currently have a ZTR and think that either me or my yard is too rough for it. I would like to have something more durable and sure footed on slopes and ditches too. I think I’ll take a look into the Craftsman Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor if that is your top choice. Thanks again!
@Andy, Yes, ZTR’s are not for everyone and every yard that’s for sure. Many women have to wear a sport bra just to stay in the seat.
Yes, the Craftsman Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor is my first choice for you.
Hi Paul, Thanks again for your input. I do have a follow up question…the Craftsman Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor on the Sears website indicates that this is best for a flat terrain, and does not support plowing or hauling. I was hoping to do both and my yard is more rough and hilly than flat. Do you think there is a better alternative, or maybe Sears has incorrect specs listed for this model? I appreciate your help!
Hi Andy, The website is all messed up. I have a feeling the people that wrote that description did not have it approved by a subject matter expert before they hit “send.” The problem with the Sears site is they know the mistakes but the way the website is constructed (mirrors and redundant cloud servers) it takes months before the changes propagate throughout the whole system.
“Trust Me” on this one.
The Tractor has a K58 ground engaging transmission so it will handle snow plowing and hauling. It has the large front and rear tires so it will handle rough ground well (and a good seat)
Have you seen the new heavy-duty Craftsman Cart?
12 cu. ft. Swivel Dump Cart with Hydraulic-Assisted Lift & Run-Flat Tires. It just the right size for your new Craftsman Pro!
Hi Paul- thanks for clarifying, and thanks in general for your help. Im going to check out the Craftsman. Much appreciated!
Paul, thanks for all the great info. Which would you recommend between the Ariens a20KA46 or the A20VA46. The VA is in stock at Home Depot, the KA Has to be ordered. I guess the only difference is one has the v twin Briigs and the other has the single cylinder Koehler??
Hi Doig, If you have hills I would buy the Ariens with the Kohler: Ariens Lawn Mowers A20KA46 46 in. 20 HP KOHLER Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460064
The Ariens with the Briggs is $100 less because of the Intek engine. Ariens Lawn Mowers A20VA46 46 in. 20 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460063. It’s will last for most people but if you are constantly mowing slopes greater than 10 degrees the Kohler is a better choice.
Brian - Pottstown,PA
Paul, love your site, it’s awesome. I have a question about engines — (besides the obvious HP difference, and the fact that 1 is a twin and the other is a single) what is the difference between the B&S Intek found in the Ariens you just recommended to Jeff – Ariens Lawn Mowers A20VA46 46 in. 20 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460063 and the B&S Gold Plus found in the Craftsman 46 inch 19 HP – Item # 07120374000PModel # 13AL78XT099. Do you recommend one over the other? Thanks!
Hi Brian, The Briggs Intek and the Craftsman/Briggs Gold are the same basic engine. The Intek is an “off the shelf” engine and the Gold is spec’d by Craftsman. That said, the only real difference is the Craftsman may have a better air filter. I don’t have a preference for either engine.
Now I only recommend either engine for flat lawns. If you have hills and slopes greater than 10 degrees please spend the extra money and buy a tractor with the Craftsman Platinum or Briggs Intek Plus. These engines have a better oil delivery system and they won’t run out of oil on hills. (Other engines for hills are Koher 7000 and Kawasaki FR)
Thanks Paul. My lawn is mostly flat with some slight slopes, but I’m fairly certain they don’t approach 10 degrees. I’ll have to measure to make sure.
Chelmsford Ma- Hello Paul, I have a fully flat 1/2 acre lot with all of the trees in mulch beds so turning radius isnt an issue. I want to stay around the 1200-1500 range at the highest point and need to buy from home Depot because of gift cards I have. I was wondering on recommendations between the ariens, cub, or john deere for my price point. I was leaning towards the ariens as its 1199 but wanted your opinion. I also will be doing light work towing a trailer for mulch etc. and then mulching /bagging leaves for the fall. I know john deere has the $200 carts on rebate but even so withe the ariens that would still be 100 cheaper.
Hi Jeff, The Ariens is a great value riding mower and for your flat lawn it will do a fine job. The Ariens Lawn Mowers A19A42 42 in. 19 HP Briggs & Stratton Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460061 you selected has plenty of power to mow your lawn.
You may want to consider the Ariens Lawn Mowers A20VA46 46 in. 20 HP V-Twin Briggs & Stratton Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460063. The V-Twin is a little smoother running and the 46 inch deck sticks out from the tractor just a little more so trimming is easier with it. Everyone like the cut of the 46 though the 42 cuts well also.
Is there any big difference between the va or ka 46″ besides then $50. Also do both of these do a good job with mulching as I get a good amount every year.
@Jeff, There are a couple of differences. the Ariens Lawn Mowers A22VA46 Briggs & Stratton 46 in. 22 HP V-Twin with Ready Start Fast-Auto Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460069 has a Briggs & Stratton engine with an automatic choke.
It adjust the air and fuel automatically for starting.
The VA also has the 7.5 mph transmission. You mow about 4 mph but when you are just running around the yard with the yard cart the tractor will go 7.5 mph!
This deck mulches and bags very well. The Ariens uses the same deck as the 25083 Craftsman so if you have problems getting the mulch kit let me know and I’ll give you the Craftsman part number
Thank you a ton for your feedback. I think I am going to lean towards the 46″ va as its only 200 more then the 42″. I won’t need the bagger until the fall but do you know of any incentives ariens does (or if they do them at all) like John deere with the free cart?
Hi Jeff, Ariens has those tractors priced so well that there is not a lot of room for any incentives. Home Depot does offer financing and I think they give the 10% veterans discount on those tractors.
I live in Ozark, MO and will soon be moving to a home with about 2.5 acres to mow, with rolling hills for half of the yard. I have been reading your reviews and am leaning towards the Craftsman Pro series, either the pro 24 46″ cut or the pro 26 54″ cut. Please help me decide which would work best for my situation (especially transmission wise as I want/need this tractor to last a long while). I may haul yard waste or dirt with it in the future. Thanks for your input.
Hi Steve, The 46 will take you a little over 2 hours to mow and the 54 a little less than two hours. The 54 has larger tires and a stronger transmission. If you want to pull stuff like loads of dirt go with the 54.
Here is the link for the 54: Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor
First I want to say thanks. 30 min on your site and I feel like I’ve finally made sense of the last months worth of research and data i’ve been collecting. I’m just shy of an acre with two pretty steep slopes (25 – 30 degrees on one end and 40 degrees on the other end) in the yard. I also have a small (8) number of trees between 8″ and 24″ inch trunk diameter that I would need to get around.
This is my first rider, and I’m looking for something that’s maneuverable but can also handle the slopes without issue. I do plan on some hauling, mulching and clearing snow and was looking at the JD D155 I’m trying to stay in that $2500 and below price range and have no loyalty to any particular badge.
Hi Nico, Please use this calculator to figure out your slopes and then respond back. Why, because 25 to 30 degrees is too steep for most people to walk up – let alone mow safely with a four wheel drive walk-behind mower.
So… there wan’t a link to the calculator but i did find the article on Mowing Slopes Safely – Let’s Get Real About Hills.
A few concerning things jumped out at me. 1st, I need to go and measure these slopes to see what i’m really up against. 2nd, the west side of my yard gets flooded between two large willow trees and any sort of heavy rain fall puts the whole yard into a waterlogged mess.
Should I just abandon the search for a decent rider and hire a crew?
Hi Nico, No, a mowing crew would just go into that area and tear it up and then want to charge you to fix it later on.
You may have to let that wet area dry out before you mow it. There are many areas I used to mow in Illinois that stayed too wet to mow until June.
Some areas you may have to mow with a walk-behind or many people are now putting steep or boggy areas into native grasses and wildflowers. It really depends on the type of look you like on your property.
After measuring a few times it seems that I’m only dealing with a 7-8° slope at the worst. Steepest incline is about a 3.5 ft rise over 27 ft length.
So back to my original question on the comparisons between the jd140 and jd155, or another option?
Hi Nico, great! Either mower will do fine. The D155 does have a better motor.
Use this link to check Home Depot. They have a free Deere cart with the purchase of a Deere tractor until April 22. John Deere Lawn Mowers D155 48 in. 24 HP ELS Hydrostatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower BG20842
Issaquah, Wa Looks like solid rubber (liquid pour, then cured) –tires weigh around 75lbs each. My old green machine, which had larger tires, weighed about 110lbs a piece. Probably why it cost so much. Bought through Les Schwab store (which sent them out).
Issaquah, Wa Already spent a fortune in getting my rear tires filled (cost twice as much as it did 17 years ago, and for smaller tires)about$400. Just ordered the TerraGrips. Looks like they will do the job.
@Rick, Did you go with the foam?
You may not want to hear this but for the rest of the readers… Many guys are filling their rears 3/4 full of windshield washer fluid. That adds about 25 lbs a tire. That gives you about the same weight as the old cast iron transmissions and gets the weight low so you don’t have center of gravity issues.
Bryan jeffersonville, Indiana
Hi Paul. Have 1/3 acre that is all flat. Need less than 48″ deck due to gate and shed door size. Grass is thick and have 4 huge trees in my backyard that drop tons of thick leaves in the fall….so looking for something relatively inexpensive that can mulch and bag well. Would also be interested in using a snow blade for my driveway. Have grown up a John Deere man (used my dad’s) but have recently taken an interest to the new Cub Cadet XT1’s. Would like to stay in 1500-1800 dollar range if possible. Very interested in your suggestions for the meat bang for my buck (even if it means another brand)! Thanks in advance for your help!!
Hi Bryan, Jeffersonville! The town of perpetual road construction! I’ve been going through there since 1993 and I can’t remember a year without the last 10 miles of I65 tore up…at least that new bridge will be nice.
The Cub Cadets and the Craftsman Pro’s are getting all the buzz this year and Cub Cadet is the absolute master of the advertising world but there are a few Deere’s that are just as good and are recent additions to the Deere line.
You don’t need more than a 42 inch for 1/3 acre. Of course you are stuck with a 2 bin bagger. But, You can use these blades with leaves and get twice as many in the bagger per dump.
Set of 2 Gator 3-in-1 Mulching Blades to Replace John Deere Blades GY20567
I want to compare the D125 to the Cub Cadet XT1 42 inch.
The Cub has an 18 HP single Kohler. It’s a good engine. The Deere has a 20 HP V-Twin. The Deere is a good and very smooth running engine.
The Cub Rated a 76 from CR for bagging, mulching and side discharge. The Deere D125 rated a 75 (high score was 78) In my opinion that is too close to call.
The Cub and the Deere will both take a snow blade.
The Cub is $300 less but $100 of that is the single cylinder engine and the D125 has a free cart rebate online. (Until April 22) That’s $200. So the price is the same.
Here is the rebate details for the cart: free cart
Buy the Deere or the Cub Here from Home Depot: John Deere Lawn Mowers D125 42 in. 20 HP V-Twin Hydrostatic Front-Engine Riding Mower BG20709
Here is the bagger: John Deere Lawn Equipment Parts 42 in. Twin Bagger for 100 Series Tractors BG20776
Snow Blade: John Deere Lawn Equipment Parts 46 in. Front Blade Attachment for Tractors BG20020
Chains: John Deere 20 in. Rear Tire Chains BG10264
Weights: John Deere Lawn Equipment Parts Weight Bracket for 100 Series Tractors BG20627
Need two of these: John Deere Lawn Equipment Parts Rear Weight BG20029
Sorry for my slow response….thanks for all of the great information in response to my question. I just purchased the John Deere D125 today and will get that shipped in the coming weeks from Home Depot.
Just a heads up for you and maybe some of the readers, that I got them to match a 10% discount/online promo code I had with Lowe’s. Here is a link to the code I used: https://www.dealsplus.com/lowes-coupons?code=2397395
The one weird thing is since this is online based, they made me get the machine shipped and I couldn’t opt to pick up from the store the same day (since store pick-up’s go through the store system, the online rep could not apply the 10% off).
Again thanks for your help….I look forward to the new Deere!
Hi Byran, Thanks, Yes, many of the reatilers have specific ways for you to get the best price or match another company. Many of the retailers also will not “stack” coupons. What that means is you may be able to get the 10% matching coupon but you then won’t be able to get the military discount. You are very welcome – come back and tell us how you like it!
Even with my rear tires filled, I slip on hills when the grass is a bit wet with my Craftsman 20390.
I also find that I need to stay at about 2/3 power, or I spin out.
Would chains help?
Will they damage grass?
Do they wear out if occasionally driven across driveways?
Which model and where to get them if recommended?
@Rick, Chains will damage your grass and in my opinion they are the last resort. They do wear out but you would have to drive across your driveway for 10 years or more.
I suggest weights first. The page below will show you wheel weights or a back weight.
Before you go look at the accessories page there is another “tire Chain” that a lot of people like because it doesn’t tear up your turf and quickly as the steel chains.
These will also last years: TerraGrips Tire Chains 20×8-8
Here is a page with all the 42 inch accessories. The right chains and weights are listed there: 42 inch accessories
First off thanks for all the great info on the site!! But like so many others I have a “buying a new mower question” .
I have a 1 acre lawn with some slopes and trees (about 10) and have been looking to replace my 15 year old craftsman 42″ with either a Husky yt46ls or a husky yt42dxls. Can you tell me what the bid differences are in these mowers as I cant really find much online. Also i see you giving much kudos to the craftsman pro series should i look at these also?
Great site and thanks for all you do
Hi Sean, Stay away from the YT42DXLS. I hear too many owners complaining about the cut of that 42 inch – 3 blade deck. They all complain about a horrible cut, not discharging well and the grass building up underneath.
The YT46LS has the automatic traction control and a Kawasaki engine. It also has the reinforced deck. The nice thing about the YT46LS is all of the standard 46 inch baggers, blades and mulch kits fit. If better traction is primarily what you want than this is a better choice than the Craftsman Pro. The YT46LS is a dealer only mower.
If you don’t need the locking diff respond back and I’ll go through the Pro compared to the Yard Series. Do you want a V-Twin or is a single cylinder engine ok?
Good question V-twin probably they run smoother and with less noise if i am correct but fuel economy suffers is that right?
Hi Sean, The V-twin do run smoother but the singles are plenty powerful for most people. Typically a singe uses about 3/4 gallon an hour mowing and a twin uses a gallon.
If you just want a good mower with a good engine that bags, mulches and side discharges well the Craftsman 25081 is a good choice. It use the same blades and bagger as your old Craftsman so if you have any of that it can save you money upfront. The seed is controlled by a fender lever probably just like you old Craftsman.
Read my review here: 25081 Review
If you want a V-Twin the 20390 is a good choice. Again a 42 inch deck and a great engine. This one has a foot control and it will buzz around the yard at 7.5 mph. (It only mows about 4 mph)
Read my review here: 20390 Review
Both of these mowers have been around for at least a year and they are the most popular Craftsmans.
The Craftsman Pro is new this year and made by a different company than the two above. So nothing you have for the old one will fit. Yes, there is a lot of buzz about it and Consumer Reports gave it a very good rating for cut. It’s the most expensive of the three.
You can read my review here: Craftsman Pro Series Review.
Unfortunately or thankfully I have no accessories for the old mower. Thanks for all the help.
Hi Paul. Thanks for all this info. I am in the market for a riding lawn mower. My yard is on the small side (1/4 acre) however we have lots of trees. I am looking for a machine that is good at bagging however not overkill for my size yard. I never had a riding lawnmower before. I am use to pushing my mower. My biggest things I am looking for are excellent bagging, reliability, and a cup holder for my Margarita. Any info would be helpful!
Hi Rebecca, I have two suggestions. The Craftsman 30 inch rider and the Craftsman 420 cc Automatic rider. The 30 inch is the right size but you may feel more comfortable on the Automatic (it drives like you car)
Here is the tractor: 420cc Automatic 42” Riding Mower
Here is the bagger for it: 42–46 In. Cut 2-Bin Bagger. If you order them together online you get free delivery, an extra 10% off the bagger and they should put the bagger on the mower for you (depends on the delivery teams) You can get an additional 5% off or no interest for 12 months with a Sears card. You can apply for the card during the checkout process.
Here is the 30 inch mower if you want to look at it: 420cc 30” 6-Speed Rear Engine Riding Mower – Non CA and the bagger: 30″ Deck Bagger Neighborhood Rider. Most of the time you may not want to bag. Craftsman has a mulch cover for this mower that works well. RER 30″ Mulch Plug
Hi Paul. Thank you so much for the info. I was researching online and a lot of the reviews are not happy with the rear motor lawn mowers although that would be perfect for my size yard. Is there a reason why? Also if I was to look at 42″ how do you feel about the Husqvarna YTH22V46. I do know Craftsman is rating extremely high as well. Bagging is a key feature. I do use my baggers a lot. Right now I am running a 21″ Troy built push mower.
Sorry I forgot I am located in South Bend IN
Hi Rebecca, There is one rear engine rider that you should look at. It’s the Snapper RER. You can’t get it online – you have to go to a dealer. Snapper.com.
The YTH22V46 is a good motor with an average motor. The same mower (painted red) with longer lasting motor is the Craftsman 46 in. Turn Tight® Automatic Riding Mower.
You can also get the YTH22V46’s first cousin at Home Depot. Ariens Lawn Mowers A20KA46 46 in. 20 HP KOHLER Automatic Gas Front-Engine Riding Mower 960460064. This little Ariens has a great engine and a great price.
Hi Paul, I love your site. Looking to replace my old Yardman with a 38″ rider. I don’t see many options out there but came across this mower. What do you think? Thanks, Tom from St. Paul, MN. Poulan Pro Pb145g38 Lawn Tractor with 38″ Deck, 14.5HP
Hi Tom, No, 38 inch decks are a thing of the past. The replacements are all 42 inch. Plus they are getting a premium for the ones left. It’s either go to 42 inch or drop down to a 30 inch deck.
The best price I could find was 1309. Poulan Pro PB145G38 6-Speed Lawn Tractor, 38-Inch
You can buy the 2015 – 42 inch model for 1099. Poulan Pro PB145G38 6-Speed Lawn Tractor, 38-Inch
Poulan Pro 960420164 PB145G42 Briggs 14.5 HP 6-Speed Transmission Lever Cutting Deck Riding Mower, 42-Inch
Thanks Paul but what do think of the Poulan as a mower. Are the components, i.e enging, transmission good on this mower? Thanks so much….
Hi Tom, I would buy a Poulan Pro myself. Here is my run-down of the line for 2015. Poulan Pro Review.
All tractors today are made by only 4 companies. Husqvarna makes the Poulan Pro, Ariens, Craftsman Yard Tractor and Husqvarna tractors and zero-turns. So 90% of the parts are the same. The big difference is the service and the engines. They are good, solid, mid-priced lawn tractors. Poulan Pro is now selling them through Amazon with free shipping and the Amazon guarantee. You would be surprised at how many they are selling.
Please go read the article and then I’ll be glad to answer any other questions you have.
I just wanted to let you know that today I purchased the Cub Cadet XT1 46″ mower.
I got it from Tractor Supply with 18 months 0% financing and they threw in the dump cart! At the end I had it narrowed down to this one and the JD 125. I just really liked this CC better. I can’t wait to use it. I am also getting the additional mulch kit.
I want to thank you SO MUCH for all of your help and the valuable information that you freely give to everyone.
I couldn’t have made this decision without you.
Thank you again. You rock!!!!!!!
Hi Karen, You are very welcome. You will really like how well your new mower cuts. Please remember to read the manual, check the tire pressure and reduce them to 14 psi. Also grease the front wheels and spindles (4 grease jerks)
Feel free to stop back later and tell us how you like it!
Hi Paul and thanks for this great site !
I just purchased a home in Wisconsin with about 3 to 4 acres to tend to and there is a slight slope to most of the property. Do you still think that your comments about the Cub Cadet XT1 and the Craftsman Pro Series (46″) still apply today and for an acreage of this size ?..
And additionally, it is a bonus to have Sears come on site for repairs, How is the warranty repair experience for the Cub Cadet ?
(ie you had mentioned: “That leaves the Cub Cadet XT1 and it’s first cousin the Craftsman Pro Series. Consumer Reports just gave the 46 inch 24 HP Craftsman 20442 and the 46 inch 22 HP Cub Cadet 13APA1CT056 a 78 and 77 score. (highest score 78) The Craftsman has all the features of the XT1 plus it has a slightly better Kohler 7000 “Elite” motor and the 5 inch “Extreme” front steering. The XT1 has the Kohler 7000 and the 16 inch turning radius.”)
Thanks so much for your valuable comments !
@Matt, The warranty service on a Cub Cadet is very dependent on the dealer. Since you are somewhere in Wisconsin you either are buying from Farm & Fleet or FleetFarm or a dealer. Farm & Fleet and Fleet Farm is OK for warranty work but you will have to go meet your local dealer and see if you like them for any other buying options.
46 is a little small for 3-4 acres, you may want to consider a 50 or 54 inch deck.
Thanks much for your reply!
I”m leaning hard towards the Craftsman Pro series then, and perhaps the 50″. But either of these models would suffice for a property with some sloping as far as durability, transmission etc ? Sorry for the multiple questions, , I’ve never bought a lawn tractor before and I wanted to be sure! If you think something in a heavier line would be better, what would you recommend ?
Hi Matt, Keep asking – I’ll keep answering. I want you to be comfortable with your purchase.
Craftsman has three tractors with heavy duty Trans. The strongest is: Here is the 20403: 24HP 54″ Complete Start™ Turn Tight® Garden Tractor – Non CA. If you buy online please use this link. I get a small commission from the sale.
The 2014 Pro Series. This is the same Husqvarna built tractor as the red one but has a Kohler engine and quik-change blades: Pro Series GT 54″ 26hp Hydrostatic Kohler Elite Garden Tractor – Non CA
Finally there is the 2015 Pro Series. This is made by MTD and uses the same heavy, stiff frame as the new Cub Cadet Enduro Series Tractors. The transmission is rated for ground engaging tasks but it is not quite as heavy as the other two. I’m sure it will work well and last for you though. The trans is a lot stronger than any of the lawn and yard tractor transmissions. The biggest thing I like about this mower for you is it is rated as the best cutting 54 inch deck. If you want a mower that mows the best and has a strong trans this is the best choice. Here’s the link to Sears: Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor
Casey in Tomah WI
Great site I can believe how fast you are at answering questions. I am tore right now on what directions to go. I have Like 3 acres off HWY 16. There is a lot of mowing near the HWY and there is a high slope of about 3 feet that is steep in a few places. I would like to get a 54″ to really cut down the time of mowing. I do a lot of sweeping during the fall because I have a lot of very large Pine trees. I also pull a trailer with branches a few times a year. Should I go with a zero turn (I realize the hills could be a problem) or a regular tractor. With my old John Deere 46″ it takes me around 2 1/2 hours. I really don’t want to go back to a Deere because it is so expensive to replace anything on it and you have to special order. I kind of like cub cadet or the Husqvarna. I noticed on the Husqvarna you can attach a hitch. Can you do that with a cub, I didn’t see any holes in the bumper? I guess what I really need to know is which zero turn is better and which normal tractor is the best for my situation in the 54″ deck size.
Hi Casey, The new 2015 Craftsman Pro is almost as agile as a zero-turn. (5 inch turning radius) It uses the same deck as the Cub Cadet ZTR. The trans is strong enough for your hills and will work better than a ZTR on hills.
Pro Series 26 HP V-Twin Kohler Elite 54″ Turn Tight Extreme Garden Tractor. It’s about the same price as the residential ZTRs but has the better Kohler 7000 Elite engine and a good, strong transmission.
There are a lot of aftermarket hitches. You just need to drill 3-8 or 1/2 inch holes. Universal Lawn Mower Hitch for Your ZTR (Zero Turn Mower)
Great advice, thanks. Question, I’m getting ready to replace my 14 year old John Deere Sabre 1542. Has briggs and Stratton OHV engine that still runs great. I have been really happy with that mower and if it wasn’t for the fact that I have had to spend the last 2 years replacing the spindle on top of the transmission (no easy task)I wouldn’t even be looking to replace it. I love my John Deere but I’m leary of getting another one because of the transmission problem. Have the transmissions gotten better or do I need to leave my “brand loyalty” at the door and look elsewhere for a transmission with staying power? Thank you for your time.
Hi Renee, The average life of a lawn tractor is 8 years so I feel your transmission did just fine. I don’t know what transmission was in the Sabre but the Sabre was never recognized as a high quality lawn tractor so 14 years out of one is way better than average.
I will suggest if you want the best transmission from John Deere please go to your local Deere dealer and look at the new X240 Sport Series. It is very similar in size to your 1542. You will be amazed at how much better it drives and mows. It also uses the most popular transmission put in lawn tractors. If you got 14 years out of a Sabre you can easily get that out of the X240.
The dealer may also show you the X300 models. Again they are designed to last much longer than the Sabre.
Renee, Saginaw MI
thank you. It’s been a great lawnmower, tackled 3 acres for 14 years with just a few replacement parts. From reading your reviews ANYTHING I buy will be a step up. Lol
I really love a John Deere and would like another, glad to hear that 14 years was exceptional vs a let down. I guess I’m used to old school quality that lasts a long time, that’s why I chose a Deere to begin with.
@Renee, Check out the X240. I have a feeling you will like it a lot.
Checked out the S240 and yes, I really do like it. Problem is, the dealer is stearing me to the Husqvarna YT46LS and I really like that one too. Says it’s more tractor for the money. Thoughts?