Toro Power Clear 221QR Review
[Movie of me clearing about 6" of snow. Note the Quick Shoot handle and how easy it is to direct the snow]
We live in Ann Arbor, MI. Snow is no stranger to our part of the world. As you can see I had a smaller Toro Powerlite snow thrower. We recently widened our driveway. The new width has turned a 1 hour job into a 2+ hour job during heavy snows. 4" of snow or greater is significant work for the Powerlite to throw. It has a 3hp motor. The constant bending to redirect the exit shoot is a hassle too. On our narrow ribbon of land I have to precisely place the thrown snow. I'd had enough of the Powerlite.
I bought a Toro Power Clear 221QR in Jan of 2008 at Weingartz in Farmington Hills. The 'Q' stands for Quick Shoot. The 'R' stands for recoil start. There is an 'E' model with electric start for $100 more. The motor is much more powerful than the Powerlite. It's a 141cc 2-cycle engine. Yes, you do have to mix oil into the gasoline. It's very easy to mix and eliminates the yearly oil change. They don't call out a specific horsepower. It's in the 5hp range according to the salesman. It's smoother running too. I don't think it's much quieter, but it has a better muffler note which is easier on the ears. The older I get the more I worry about my hearing. I wear foam earplugs whenever I use loud power equipment. I have a recoil start. It usually starts in a couple of pulls. I did have a problem early on with it not starting. It happened when I switched to a cheaper brand 2-cycle oil mixed into the gasoline. I never was sure if it was the gas or the oil, but when I replaced both the thrower returned to normal starting.
I just started my 221QR up this week for the first time this winter. I filled the tank with fresh gas and oil mix. There was still gas in it from last season which I left in. I primed twice and it fired up in 2 pulls but then stalled. 2 more primes and it started first pull. It's run fine and started easily since then.
This is a significantly heavier machine than the Powerlite. In this case it's a good thing. The 221QR doesn't slip and slide around like the little one did. It also throws snow significantly further. I'd say I can fling dry powder snow almost 20ft. The motor almost never bogs down. I could easily stall the Powerlite by pushing it too fast into deep snow. No warning it was about to stall until too late. The 221QR in contrast gives you a little warning you're pushing it to hard. You can hear the motor slow in time to let up and regain speed.
The best part of the 221QR is the Quick Shoot. You just squeeze the blue knob and slide it up and down to redirect the exit chute. It's very precise. Redirecting while you're walking is easy. I think this is much better than the old crank method. The chute will pivot 180° with one quick push or pull. This feature is worth every penny. IMHO this is the feature which beats every other thrower out there. I use it constantly. It saves significant time. The Quick Shoot has been very reliable and durable. The Quick Shoot hasn't stuck in any temperature. It works smoothly with minimal effort. If something breaks it's all exposed and should be reasonable to fix. If you're wondering if it's worth the extra money over the 221 or 210, it is. Absolutely worth the $50 or $100 depending on what you're looking at. More important than electric start to me. The Zip Deflector on top of the Quick Shoot controls how high up and down the snow will fly. It has quite a few settings so you have good control over the placement of the snow.
With the bigger motor I expected I would be buying more gasoline and oil. This was not the case. I can clear my driveway and sidewalks in about 40 minutes. I was spending 1-1/2 hours + with my Powerlite. With so much power I can go quicker and move far more snow in less than half the time. I use less gas with the 221QR than I did with the Powerlite. As for mixing oil with gas, I really prefer it now. I don't have to check a dipstick on the engine. I don't have to do oil changes like I do with my mower. It's more convenient. How much gas do I use? 2 - 4 gallons in a season. Less than $20 including oil.
Any negatives? Not really. The only thing which wasn't great was the expense of the new rubber impellers. The rubber blades wear away as they scrape concrete. To their credit I've never damaged my driveway using Toro snow throwers. The rubber blade clears snow right to surface of the concrete. There is also a plastic scraper bar under the thrower which has to be replaced once a season usually. Depends how much you use it, of course. The 2 impellers and scraper set me back about $74 at the Toro dealer. I might be able to find it cheaper online.
It's a big machine. I could put the Powerlite in the trunk of my car. This one needs my van to move it. This isn't the kind of machine you want to pick up often. The Powerlite is much more portable. There are benefits to the size of the 221QR. The wider mouth means fewer passes. The weight of the machine makes it easier to control.
Overall, this is a great snow thrower. The Quick Shoot is the best feature I've seen on any thrower. Spend the money, buy the Q!