The SnowMaster series from Toro was billed as the company’s high end single-stage snow blower line. They featured powerful engines, a durable build, and most importantly, a litany of features not typically found on single-stage units. It seemed like a perfect compromise for those stuck between deciding on a single-stage or two-stage blower.
Despite universal praise, both the SnowMaster 724 QXE and 824 QXE have gone MIA. While I considered them some of the best single-stage snow blowers available, their price scared off potential buyers. At around $800-$900, it made more sense to buy a two-stage snow blower with more power while foregoing the bells and whistles.
Fortunately the line was not completely abandoned. The Toro SnowMasters 724 ZXR (36001) remains and is a solid machine. It doesn’t have some of the features found on the QXE models, but it does come with a more affordable price tag.
It is worth mentioning that there is some fancy wordplay from Toro in describing this model. They state it has “In-line Two-Stage Auger Technology“. Note though, it is not a two-stage snow blower. This is a single-stage snow blower with a unique auger design that they are trying to pass off as a hybrid. While this works better than most single-stage units I’ve seen, it should not be confused for what a two-stage is as it does not have an impeller.
212cc OHV 4-Cycle Engine
Inside the SnowMaster 724 ZXR is a 212cc OHV 4-cycle engine. Identical to the one found in the 724 QXE. It is a durable engine that I have rarely seen issues with (assuming proper care is taken). No need to mix oil and gas.
The engine is manufactured by Loncin which is based in China. It is a powerful little unit (around 6.5 to 7.5HP) that I find quiet and efficient compared to its counterparts. There is no throttle control. They always seem to start up on the first pull for me.
10-inch Steel Auger with Helical Design
A 10-inch steel auger inside utilizes a unique helical design. This means that it drags snow from the edges and brings it inward in one motion. If you get a chance to stand in front of one (from a safe distance) and see it in action, you’ll be impressed.
The steel on the auger is a bit on the thin side, but should hold up. Rubber tips cover the edges so that you can get right down to the pavement. It works great at breaking up heavier snow and slush. Just make sure to keep an eye on the auger cable and adjust accordingly. This unit cannot be used on gravel surfaces.
2500 Pounds of Snow Per Minute
I’m usually skeptical of plowing capacity claims by companies, but the 2500 pounds per minute listed seems legit. The auger has a lightning fast spin rate that sucks up lighter snow at a ridiculous pace. To put it in perspective, this machine will remove snow faster than the two-stage Toro Power Max 824 OE that features a much more powerful engine.
The SnowMasters 724 ZXR has a 24-inch clearance width alongside a intake height of 18 inches. It will handle up to a foot of lighter snow in one pass-through. There is some sputtering when you get to heavier, compacted snow that accumulates at the end of the driveway. For those in heavy snow areas like the snow belt, you’d probably be better off investing in a 2-stage.
Throwing Distance of Over 30 Feet
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this snow blower is how far it can toss snow. On my first time using it, I had to immediately adjust the chute angle so the snow wouldn’t land on my neighbors driveway. That was a good 35 feet away.
Heavier snow will limit that distance some. But I don’t see it becoming an issue on any two-car driveway. The key is to make sure the auger cable is adjusted properly. When I see people complaining about throwing distance, it is almost always related to that.
Personal Pace System
Toro’s “Personal Pace System” works a bit like an automatic transmission. Instead of having to shift gears to speed up and slow down, it uses your force to determine how fast to go (up to 3.5 MPH). As someone who finds themselves speeding up and slowing down on a regular basis, I love the system. But it does take some time to get used to. You’ll notice some jumpiness your first few runs as you get used to how it handles. If you have a Toro lawn mower with “Personal Pace”, this is the same exact feature.
The main drawback from this self-propelled system is with steep driveways. Going up a driveway requires more force to compensate. While going down a driveway can feel like you’re moving too quickly. Note that I’m referring to especially steep inclines, not a minor slope.
Automatic Steering Makes Easy Maneuverability
What Toro calls “Automatic Steering” is essentially power steering. As you make a turn, the inner wheels automatically lock allowing you to turn the unit with ease. I prefer this method to traditional freewheel steering that requires a lever when turning. And it seems to be the norm across all manufacturers.
The 724 ZXR utilizes rear wheel steering and 11-inch tires. Traction is adequate on this unit, although I’d prefer some better tires. It is easy to upgrade or add chains if that becomes an issue.
Otherwise, at 117 pounds, this is one of the easiest gas snow blowers on the market to maneuver. I would have no problem recommending this to a Senior.
Poor Chute Controls
While there is a lot to like with the SnowMaster 724 ZXR, the way the chute is controlled is not one of them. If you’re familiar with the more expensive SnowMaster models that were discontinued, they used a terrific Quick Stick joystick right by the handlebars. To keep the price down, the ZXR model eliminates that for a manual hand crank (they call EZ Chute).
The problem with the manual crank is the location. No matter how tall you are, it is nearly impossible to control from behind the unit. Each time you want to adjust the direction of the chute, you’ll have to saunter to the side and move it. A metal rod that goes from the chute to the handlebars would solve this problem at minimal cost. It is surprising that Toro hasn’t done that yet. If you have your heart set on single-hand controls, this would be a dealbreaker.
Other than controls, the chute works well and comes with a lifetime warranty. It’s a heavy-duty plastic that uses a beveled design to increase plowing capacity. Wetter snow can cause some clogging, but a good non-stick spray solves that.
No Electric Start
As I mentioned earlier, the ZXR strips some features to bring down the cost. One of those casualties is the electric start. This seems strange considering you can find it on even the cheapest single-stage snow blowers. Odds are you don’t need it, but I liked having one available in the event the recoil was struggling. Can’t imagine this saves that much money.
No headlight is another head-scratcher at this price range. But there are kits where you can add them on fairly easily.
The Toro SnowMaster 724 ZXR comes with a 3-year limited warranty. The chute and deflector have lifetime warranties. Repairs must be made at authorized Toro service centers.
I would recommend the 724 ZXR for anyone in regions that get moderate snowfall totals. An average of 30-45 inches a year is the sweet spot. Perfect for Midwest cities like Chicago, Detroit, and Milwaukee. Anything above that and you might want to invest more in a two-stage like the Ariens Deluxe 24.
Toro makes a quality snow blower and this model is no exception. The 212cc OHV engine is a powerful and efficient engine. Top notch maneuverability with the personal pace system and automatic steering. Despite a few areas that use plastic parts, and my annoyance at the chute controls, I feel this Toro will hold up well over the years. Overall, it’s one of the best single-stage snow throwers that can compete with more powerful two-stage models in the right conditions.
Model: 36001 (Operator’s Manual)
Stage Type: Hybrid Single-Stage Gas
Engine: 212cc OHV 4-cycle
Fuel Capacity: 0.575 gallons
Oil Type: 5W30
Plowing Capacity: 2500 lbs/min
Clearing Width: 24 inch
Intake height: 18 inch
Throw Distance: 40 feet
Tires: 11 inch (4 inch width)
Weight: 117 pounds
Starting Method: Recoil
Speed/s: Variable Self-Propel (moves at your own pace)
Steering System: Automatic Steering
Chute adjustment: Manual
Heated handlebars: No
Warranty: 3-year Limited (Lifetime on chute and deflector)