Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO Test with Video Jan 2016

My goal is not to tell you which snow blower is best. My goal is to tell you which snow blower is best for you!

I had a chance to clear a little snow and make a video using the Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO.

Watch the video and then read my conclusions below. Click on the bottom right corner of the video to watch it full screen.

What I like about the Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO.

  1. Handle height: The handle height is a little high for people less than 5″ 7″ but after using it for a while the extra height gives you better leverage to push down and lift the front of the snow blower.
  2. The 306 cc engine has plenty of power for the size. I don’t know if it is the combination of the SHO impeller and the added cc’s but this snow blower feels like it has a lot more power than the Ariens Deluxe 28 with the 254 cc.
  3. It likes snow – and throws it very far. Ariens Deluxe/Platinum snow blowers throw well but the SHO models arguably throw farther than just about any other walk-behind snow blower.
  4. It throws 2-3 inches or 15-20 inches of heavy wet snow well. In fact it really doesn’t matter what the snow is like. It just throws well.
  5. The Auto-Turn (automatic) steering is very easy to use but it does take you a while to really get used to it. Automatic steering is different from trigger steering. With trigger steering the snow blower goes in a straight line until you pull a trigger under the handle to turn, or you hit something. With Auto-Turn the snow blower goes exactly where you point it. What that means is the Auto-Turn makes the snow blower really easy to turn. You don’t have to remember to pull a trigger to make the turn. But if you are going in a straight line you have to hang onto the handles and drive the snow blower. If you let it go where it wants – it will go where it wants. It’s very similar to using a walk-behind push mower with front caster wheels. That style mower is very easy to trim with but takes a little experience to mow all the way across a lawn in a straight line.  I now have about 15 hours experience using the Auto-Turn and I like it a lot.
  6. The snow blower is a little nose heavy. Snow blowers that are too light in the front tend to ride up in deep snow. The front of this Ariens always stays on the ground. If you are small try one in a store to make sure it’s not too heavy for you.
  7. If the snow is deep it does not push the snow in front of the machine like the older 2-stages did. If has plenty of capacity to keep the snow flowing through the snow blower.
  8. The chute rotation control is very simple and robust. It will last as long as the rest of the machine.
  9. Good traction. Even clearing a snow plow drift on the lawn it had plenty of traction.
  10. Overall this is a good high-capacity snow blower built to last.

What I don’t like about the Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO

  1. First gear is faster than what I am used to. I will guess that 1st gear is twice as fast as 1st in the Troy-Bilt Vortex I have here to test. If you have a lot of close areas to clear it will take you a while to feel confident using it.
  2. To rotate the chute you have to reach over the dash and turn the crank. If you are short this may be uncomfortable. The control is very easy to turn though and stays in place.
  3. I originally thought the handles were too high but after using other brands I realize that the higher handles give you more leverage to push down and turn the snow blower. If you are over 5’7″ or so you will have no problem using this machine.
  4. If you have a very rough cement driveway with a lot of cracks sticking up or a gravel driveway with large ruts the snow blower may catch on those obstructions and try to turn. You may have to adjust the skid shoes so there is more of a gap under the shear bar than on your old machine. This will leave an additional 1/8 to 1/4 inch of snow on the driveway. If your driveway is brushed or you have an old asphalt drive that needs sealing the automatic steering may also appear erratic. In that case you should install the optional poly skid shoes.  Either way, I’ve found that a few hours of experience using the snow blower helps a lot. Clearing turf does not affect the steering.

The Best Feature of the Ariens Deluxe 28 SHO?

The Price! This snow blower is one of the best values on the market. For about $1200 you get a heavy-duty, high-capacity snow blower.  It doesn’t have premium features or gimicks that will wear out in a few years. No electric chute motors and joysticks to wear out, no heated handgrips. Just a simple, long-lasting, high-capacity snow blower.

How I test these snow blowers: 

When it snows I go out and clear my paved driveway, my neighbors gravel driveway, my brick patio and a large spot on the lawn for my dogs. When I get 15-20 inches of snow built up in the back yard I will also go out and compare throwing distance, clearing speed and traction. Each time the snow is different so over the winter I get a chance to try these snow blowers in all types of snow. I look at not only how it clears snow, but how well it cleans the different surfaces, how easy the snow blower is to use and the little idiosyncrasies each snow blower has. My goal is not to find the best snowblower made. Instead my goal is to find the best snow blower for you. I know that each of you has a different budget and certain features are more important to you than someone else.

I buy some, borrow some and some of the brands just drop one or two off to test. For example, this year I bought a Husqvarna ST327P and Toro SnowMaster. Troy-Bilt dropped off a Vortex 2490 and a Storm 3090 XP. Ariens loaned me this Deluxe 28 SHO. I’ve been doing this long enough that the manufactures know I’m impartial and dropping one off for review does not influence my opinions of it.

My methods are not “scientific,” meaning I don’t use damp wood chips or horse bedding to consistently test each snow blower. I don’t have a checklist to make sure I look at the same features exactly the same way every time. Because of that my opinions are different from Consumer Reports.

My goal is not to tell you which snow blower is best. My goal is to tell you which snow blower is best for you!

Feel free to ask questions about this snow blower in the comments below.

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23 Comments

  1. Justin May 17, 2016
    • Paul May 17, 2016
      • Justin May 18, 2016
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          • Justin May 18, 2016
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  2. Doc Godshall January 28, 2016
    • Paul January 29, 2016
  3. Lee Hickok January 27, 2016
    • Paul January 28, 2016
  4. Joe January 25, 2016
    • Paul January 25, 2016
  5. Bryan January 25, 2016
  6. Dave LaC January 23, 2016
  7. Jim January 20, 2016
    • Paul January 20, 2016
  8. Dave Lacomb January 17, 2016
    • Paul January 18, 2016
      • Dave L. March 26, 2016
        • Paul March 27, 2016
  9. Sal January 17, 2016
    • Paul January 17, 2016

I'll be glad you help you find the best snow blower. Please tell me the city, state and how large an area you want to clear.

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