I work in a mower shop. The only quality ride tractors today that don't cost an arm and a leg are Husqvarna and Deere.
But to qualify that, stay away from Husqvarnas that the model ends in 'A', A stands for automatic. (not hydro, which is 'H') the automatic transmissions have a plastic transmission and it WILL be a disappointment. (Those are like a washing machine transmission in a lawn mower, with a bunch of nylon gears. A lot of exposed cams and linkage ready to plug up with grass clippings, What could they ever have been thinking?) We have had mucho trouble with several units still in the warranty period. And it usually takes 2 visits to the dealer to get good ol' Husqvarna to give the customer a new transmission. We usually are required by Husqvarna to do all the attempted repairs to the old one during the first visit.
Husqvarnas with a shure-nuff hydro are O.K., Even most of the Tuff Torq hydro transmissions they use seem to hold together pretty well.
Also, stay away from the Deeres sold through the box stores. models LA130 and LA145, and some others come to mind, they seem to need deck belts pretty frequently.