Pros: Rugged and Feature Packed
Cons: Price, but you get what you pay for...
I spent years dealing with other tractors. I recently purchased a Cub Cadet 3235 after a lot of investigation.
The first thing I noticed about this tractor is that it is MUCH more rugged than other mowers that I have owned. I used to own a Craftsman tractor, but NEVER again. I know that Cubs are more expensive, but I will never settle for the lack of quality in lesser tractors.
The base warranty is two years covering everthing except wear items and five years on the frame. The tractor has fully greaseable zerk fittings on the steering and mower deck - quite helpful for long life IMHO.
One small thing that I especially love is the oil drain. To change the oil, you have a valve that you attach a drain hose. This allows mess free oil changes with little effort. Other mowers have oil dripping all over the place causing a real mess.
A nice feature, that at first I thought was not needed, are the tail and backup lights. In addition to lighting the way backing up after dusk, they are a real safety feature while mowing near the road. I sometimes finish mowing in low light and it gives that added safety measure while near passing traffic.
The 3235 models now come with 25HP Kohler engines. I purchased a '02 with 23HP. You choice of decks are either the 44, 48, 54 or 60 inch units. I personally have the 54" deck. The 60" deck is a little too wide where I park the tractor.
Features of the 3235 include power steering, tilt and cruise control. Also you have a shaft driven deck with direct shaft drive to the transaxle. The transaxle also includes a screw on filter. Yes, this is actually a serviceable unit unlike most other makers.
You get a good cut with the hydraulic deck. I have a 3 point hitch on my machine for attachments.
I also recommend the Cub Cadet tow behind leaf/grass trailer for anyone that has many leaves to deal with in the Fall. The 5HP add on unit adds mulching the material and also forces it along into the 32 cubic foot trailer. It easily tilts for dumping into a compost pile.
Oh, and you cannot forget the cup holder on those hot days. :)
IMHO, a Craftsman is good enough to get you through the warranty period, but will literally self destruct a short time later.
Other Cub models are less expensive and only a few hundred more than the POS models sold by most retailers.
The only other brand that I considered was John Deere, but found that it did not offer the same features.
I know the 3235 is expensive, but it is a real joy to tackle my yard now. Never before have I had so much fun in doing what used to be a weekly task.
I only wish I had purchased a Cub years ago....