Pros: value, easy start, good tires, Tecumseh Snow King engine
Cons: auger lever tiring to hold for long periods
I ordered this as a replacement for the 12 year old Craftsman snow thrower I had gotten used years ago. Sears stores only had the display model for show, and could only order the snow thrower after a three week wait. I ordered this unit from Amazon.com tools and it was delivered in just over a week.
It arrived on a wooden pallet and over-wrapped in cardboard. If you can operate the snow thrower, you can put it together out of the shipping crate. After flipping up and latching the handle, just 3 levers had to be attached with clips and only one 3/8-16 nut had to be installed and tightened. It arrived with the correct amount of tire inflation and oil already in the engine.
After adding gas and following the instructions it has started on the first or second pull each time. It has 6 forward speeds and 2 reverse, although the control graphic is just a sliding scale. The chute direction is controlled by a lever rather than a crank as on the older models. This particular model does not have the remote chute angle controller although that is not clear in the manual.
The tires on this model are larger with a very aggressive tread that make the old tire chains unnecessary. The augers are also more aggressive on the new model which when combined with a larger entry chute, tips the weight slightly forward of the axles making it a little harder to turn around by hand.
Although the hand controls look nicer on the new model, in use they are not as ergonomic for a shorter driver as the older model. You can change speeds and chute direction faster, but the spring pressure is tiring. Particularly the auger lever is tiring to hold for long periods, to the point of temping one to put a velcro stap over the lever. (which of course effectively defeats the point of the safety lever)
For a taller driver, the control placement may actually be preferable to the older design.
On the good side the paint finish is much better than prior models and some key parts are plastic which together seems to keep even wet chunky snow from sticking and clogging.
Careful reading of the manual does refer the user to Sears for parts and repair service although you can also get some minor parts like air filters and replacement pull start ropes direct from PoulanPro.com