This document provides some information and recommendations on buying a new tractor-mowing system.
Regardless of where you purchase your tractor, if the model number is exactly the same, it's the exact same machine. The benefit of buying from a small power equipment store is the service availability; they should be pretty nice to you as a customer and help you with tips and treat you honestly for repairs. So, if it's a lot cheaper at Lowes or Sears (try to manage a 10% off deal during a sale, for vets, new credit card, or whatever), get it at Lowes.
I checked out the Husqvarna line at their homeowner tractor site
( http://www.husqvarna.com/us/homeowner/products/garden-tractors/husqvarna-garden-tractors-for-homeowners/ ). You can compare Husqvarna tractor models and find dealers on this site. Apparently they use Briggs and Stratton (B&S) pretty much exclusively on their tractors. They use Kawasaki on four units with MSRPs ranging from $2,400 to $3100, but no longer offer Kohler. That's fine with me. The B&S V-Twin is terrific and will outlast the life of the tractor if you take care of it! I have one in my current Craftsman. It starts every time and runs very smoothly and quietly compared to a single cylinder motor. I think B&S makes great V-Twins.
The YTH23V48 (aka YTH2348) has an MSRP of $1,799.95.
(You can find it at: http://www.husqvarna.com/us/homeowner/products/garden-tractors/yth23v48/ .)
It has a whopping 724cc, full-pressure lubrication (with spin-on oil filter), B&S INTEK V-Twin (claimed 23 HP) that's a fabulous motor. It also has pretty-much every good feature I'd want to have if I were doing a large area including: hydrostatic automatic with variable speed forward and reverse, well-laid-out foot pedal controls, cruise control, spring-loaded fender-mounted height adjustment, 20-inch rear and 15-inch front tires, cruise control, 3 gallon rear gas tank with fuel level window, hour meter, 48-inch deck (4 anti-scalp wheels and a nose roller (sort of like 5 anti-scalp wheels) with grease zerks on the mandrels (for increased durability), powder-coated deck, deck washout port (very convenient and it works), electric PTO (blade engagement), high-back seat, and cast-iron front axle. I've attached a product sheet for this machine, which I really like. It's a good combination of strength and size without being over-the-top and unmanageable.
I'd be interested in the deck weight. If it's 12 gauge or less (thicker), which it likely is, that's more than adequate. You should try driving one of these machines to see how you like it, especially compared to some other brands if you want to go that route. Frankly, they're all a lot more alike than different in this price range. The good news is that on the Lowes site, it got about a 4.3 star rating (out of 5) based on 198 reviews! There are the occasional buyers who get lemons and that's true with any tractor that has a lot of reviews. The 'lemon problem' can be attributable to poor manufacturing on a particular unit or sometimes to improper assembly at the local store (refer to my article) or even because a buyer isn't sufficiently knowledgeable or prepared to own such a tractor. Basically, the reviews are very favorable. The fact that there are 198 of them tells you what people are buying. I think most consumers recognize quality. The Husqvarna has a 2-year warranty. I haven't been able to find out what the warranty covers and for how long. Check out the reviews on Lowe's site to get more insight into this machine.
Overall, I'd say you can't go wrong with this tractor, which by the way is priced at $1699 at Sears right now. If you want to compare to some closely matched tractors from other brands, here's a list of tractors you should consider (from the big box stores). I'd say that the Husqvarna at $1,699 is a definite 'Best Buy' and its closest competitors are the Cub Cadet (with Kawasaki V-Twin, a solid, premium mower) and the John Deere D140 (very similar), both excellent mowers.
- Ariens #960460026 (Home Depot, 4-stars on 10 reviews) 22 hp B&S 656cc V-Twin, Hydro by hand lever, 46-inch deck at $1,499
Good Buy, but the Husqvarna is worth the extra $200.
- Sears Craftsman YT4000 (4 stars on 29 reviews) 24 hp (claimed) 724cc B&S V-Twin, Hydro, 46-inch deck at $1,639
Good Buy, pretty close to the Husqvarna. It looks like many brands are moving to the twin-blade, 46-inch deck for lower cost and pricing competition.
- Cub Cadet #13WG91AT056 (Home Depot, 4.7 stars on only 3 reviews) 20 hp Kawasaki 603cc Single, Hydro, 46-inch deck, at $1,899
Only if you insist on a Kawasaki engine. Otherwise, you're better off with a V-Twin.
- Cub Cadet #13WF91AP056 or #13RF91AP056 (Home Depot, 3.4 and 3.6 stars on 5 reviews) 22 hp Kawasaki 726cc V-Twin, Hydro, 50-inch deck at $1,999
Has the right ingredients, very nice unit, well-equipped with some extra features. This one is made by MTD.
- John Deere #D140 (Home Depot, 4.4-stars on 8 reviews) 22 hp 656cc V-Twin (not sure of brand, but probably B&S under JD name), Hydro, 48-inch deck, at $1,999
Very nice mower with the John Deere name. Similar in features to the Husqvarna and Craftsman but more substantial with heavier construction, at a $300 premium.
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