Product Reviews

Welcome to Consumer Reports.

We’re so glad to have you as a member. You now have access to benefits that can help you choose right, be safe and stay informed.

Buy a snow blower now before they sell out

Demand is high after last winter's many snow storms

Published: October 10, 2014 06:30 PM
Cub Cadet 31AH57S

Find Ratings

It’s not too early to start shopping for a snow blower. The stores are stocked with a fresh supply after last year’s rough winter when many retailers sold out. And it wasn’t too long ago, 2011 in fact, that a Nor’easter plowed through the Northeast at the end of October. So if you’re cruising the home improvement stores searching for bargains on mowers and grills this weekend, wander down the snow blower aisle and look for some of Consumer Reports’ top snow blower picks. We have a new batch.

Our top-rated two-stage snow blower is the canary yellow Cub Cadet 31AH57S, $1,500. At 30-inches wide, it’s the perfect pick for large driveways and consistently heavy snows of up to 24 inches. Tied at the top for this type is the Troy-Bilt Vortex 2890 31AH55Q, $1,300, which we named a CR Best Buy. It matched the Cub Cadet task for task although it left a tad more snow on the surface.

A more compact pick, at 24-inches wide, is the Troy-Bilt Vortex 2490 31AH54Q, $1,100. It scored very well for removal speed and was excellent at tackling the plow pile at the end of the driveway. Smaller still is the single-stage Toro Power Clear 721E, $570, another CR Best Buy. We also tested electric snow blowers but none of them rose to the level of a top pick.

Fight dangerous icy build-ups. Read our Best rock salts & ice melts reviews to find the top products for your driveway, walkway and steps.

Power Smart DB7659-22

There were also some clunkers in the batch of gas-powered snow blowers. We tested the Power Smart line now being sold at Home Depot, K-Mart, Lowe’s, and Sears—and online at and the manufacturer’s website. The models range in size from the 22-inch Power Smart DB7659-22, $500, to the 28-inch Power Smart DB7651A-28, $745, both of which we tested, along with the 26-inch Power Smart DB7651-26, $699. The prices might seem attractive, but there’s a catch.

Snow blowers are designed to have enough muscle to handle the amount of snow its clearing width—that of the auger—can gobble up. Problem is, the five models in the Power Smart line all come with the same 208-cubic-centimeter engine. So while the 22-inch Power Smart DB7659-22 delivered great throwing distance and did pretty well removing the plow piles at the end of your driveway, the same engine in the larger models proved to be a regrettable choice.

The larger Power Smart DB7651-26 and Power Smart DB7651A-28 both improved on the Power Smart DB7659-22 for removal speed because ot their wider clearing widths. And they fared well against the plow pile. But the engine showed its inadequacy with a mere throwing distance of 10 feet, ranking behind many single-stage models that don't even have an impeller for hurling the snow out of the machine. All in all, there are better choices.

For a bigger selection see our full snow blower Ratings and recommendations, which include 46 top picks. Our snow blower buying guide will help you decide which model is best for the size of the area you have to clear.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on Twitter)

Find Ratings

Snow Blowers Ratings

View and compare all Snow Blowers ratings.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters! Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

Home & Garden News


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more