As a matter of course, we review cars, trucks, SUVs and other things powered by engines. When the folks at Honda Power Equipment asked us to review the HSS1332ATD snowblower, we jumped at the chance.
What is it?
The Honda HSS1332ATD is about the biggest residential snowblower you can get your hands on. Honda does make an HS1336iAS, which offers about four more inches of clearing space, but it’s $8,000 and not something most homeowners are going to want to purchase. The HSS1332ATD features electric start, a 389cc Honda GX390 single cylinder engine, tracks for exceptional traction in the snow, and a 32-inch clearing width.
Pricing and trims
There are two versions of the HSS1332 line. The HSS1332AT has a recoil start — a hand operated pull start. The HSS1332ATD has a key-operated electric start. The HSS1332AT has an MSRP of $3,189. The electric start bumps the price to $3,399.
Depending on how you buy a Honda HSS1332ATD, it will either be prepped by a local dealer or shipped to your location. We had it shipped directly from Honda, and it comes strapped to a pallet, with a cardboard box covering it. Be aware that if your snowblower is shipped this way, you need to add engine oil (which is supplied along with a bag of tools.)
We tried starting the HSS1332ATD with both the electric start and the backup recoil starter. The starting procedure is simple: Make sure the fuel is on by sliding the lever under the fuel tank to the right. Pull the choke fully out. Turn the key. When the engine roars to life, slide the choke back in. The pull start works effectively, but the key-operated electric start is going to be a godsend when there’s two feet of snow in the driveway and temperatures are hovering around zero.
Our first opportunity to use the HSS1332ATD came when southern New England got its first blast of snow on January 7 and 8, 2017. The Cape and Islands got the worst of it, while in the Boston suburbs, we got six to eight inches. The bulk of the driveway had approximately six inches of light, fluffy snow. Where the plows pushed snow up against the end of the driveway, there was a strip of about 16 inches of heavy, packed snow about two feet wide.
The HSS1332 cut through the light stuff easily. The tracks cruise right through the snow without slipping. To turn the snowblower, fingertip controls brake the left or right tracks while the opposite track remains powered. The snowblower does a 180 in a surprisingly compact circle.
When I bought this house, the driveway was the most daunting feature. It’s huge. Not only is it long, but there’s a parking area to the side of the two car garage that’s a car deep and three cars wide. To clear it would require the biggest snowblower made, and frankly, I didn’t think that a snowblower would be practical.
This one does the job, though. The 32-inch auger opening means that I can clear the main part of the driveway in three passes. What’s also beneficial is the 21-inch auger opening height. Most snowblowers have one feature or the other: A wide or a tall auger opening. Having both means you can not only clear a wide path, but chew through deep drifts and piles, too.
The HSS1332 is a two-stage snowblower. The auger turns to grind snow into the chute, and then there’s an impeller in the chute that throws the snow. In the powder we were removing, the snow shot out in an impressive arc. The specs suggest that the HSS1332 can throw snow up to 56 feet, at a volume of an astounding 2,750 pounds of snow per minute. Suffice it to say it’s a lot more than you can throw with a shovel. I had to be careful not to throw it all the way into my neighbor’s side windows on one side of the driveway. I could easily arc snow right onto the roof of my garage if I wanted to.
The chute — made of powder coated steel, rather than the plastic you’ll find in lesser snowblowers — rotates and tilts by means of a joystick mounted to the instrument panel. Left and right rotates the chute, up and down raises and lowers the arc.
It’s a bit of a dance to manage all the controls at once. There’s an engine speed control, a snowblower speed control (forward, neutral and reverse), and the chute joystick on the panel. To engage the tracks, you squeeze the left handgrip lever. To engage the auger, you squeeze the right. Then, the fingertip controls for turning are under the handgrips. What’s helpful is that as long as the drive wheels are engaged, the auger will remain engaged without having to squeeze the lever. That gives you one free hand to manipulate the joystick and change the speed.
Since moving to this house, I’ve always felt at the mercy of the plow guy. He’s great and pretty inexpensive considering the size of the driveway, but in a winter like 2015, I was paying him $40 every time he showed up. Some of the bigger storms, I paid $120 to keep the driveway clean, and I was doing it once a week until April.
The options were to either: get an ATV with a plow, buy a cheap plow truck or invest in a snowblower like this one. Considering how quickly I was able to clear the driveway this weekend, the Honda HSS1332ATD makes a strong argument for itself. It is a “unitasker” as TV cooking show host Alton Brown says, a one-job tool. The only unitasker Brown has in his kitchen is a fire extinguisher, and we’re sort of on the same page with garage equipment.
An ATV would be a lot more fun, and useful throughout the year. But the Honda Rincon — a rear-drive ATV that would require tire chains, a plow and a 1,500 pound winch as accessories — starts at $9,399. The HSS1332ATD might do only one job, but it’s priced that way, too.