Power steering draws mixed reviews. An independent research organization describes the Cub Cadet 526SWE's controls as "excellent." Although a few owner reviews praise the blower's ease of handling due to its power steering, a 6-foot-tall owner notes on SnowBlowersDirect.com that its drive axle had to be raised to accommodate the power steering feature. In other words, if tall users press down on the handle to turn the unit, they must bend at the waist. "Not good ergonomics," he says.
The same reviewer gives a thorough analysis and addresses other design issues, including the headlight pointing too high due to the front end's elevation from the power steering, and the chute and chute control sitting in the way of the headlight. "It seems more cheaply made," says another, who compares the Cub Cadet to a Lawn Boy snow blower that lasted 20 New England winters.
Paul Sikkema of MovingSnow.com says the Cub Cadet's 277cc engine is significantly larger than the 208cc engines in similar models he compared it to, but doesn't say much else about its features. This is a very loud blower, so hearing protection is recommended.
Powerful, clears berms and surfaces well. The Cub Cadet 526SWE gets great scores for removing plow piles, cleaning surfaces and overall removal speed in one expert comparison. However, it doesn't fare as well in throwing distance. One owner says on SnowBlowersDirect.com that his 526SWE "chugs happily away" through a few inches of heavy "spring-type" snow, but lobs the snow only 5 to 8 feet at most. Others say this blower typically throws lighter snow 20 to 25 feet. There isn't enough user feedback to form a solid picture of the 526SWE's long-term performance, but based on expert test results and scant owner comments, it appears versatile enough to handle most snow conditions.
Effective, but with nagging design complaints. Despite the Cub Cadet 526SWE's admirable performance in expert tests, owners voice concerns about its elevated drive axle, which forces tall owners to bend over during use. Others complain that the discharge chute and its controls obscure the headlight. The Ariens Deluxe 28 (*Est. $1,100) is just 2 inches wider, but is widely admired for both its snow clearing and features.
Excellent The editors at ConsumerReports.org evaluate more than 70 snow blowers in several categories. The Cub Cadet 526SWE isn't actually tested here; its scores are based on the performance of a similar Craftsman model. Full details are available to subscribers.
Review: Snow Blowers Ratings, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of September 2012
Good Paul Sikkema, who says he has spent years working on and maintaining snow blowers, writes a comparative review of several units manufactured by MTD, including the Cub Cadet 526SWE. Instead of declaring a single best blower, he evaluates them all in multiple contexts.
Review: 2011 Craftsman, Cub Cadet, Troy-Bilt, Yardman, MTD Pro, Yard-Machines, Craftsman/MD Snow Blowers What's the Difference?, Paul Sikkema, Oct. 22, 2011
3. Snow Blowers Direct
Good Schrader, the resident snow blower expert at this website, recommends the Cub Cadet 526SWE as one of the better two-stage, residential-grade blowers. A handful of owners weigh in, too, giving this unit a score of 4.3 stars out of 5.
Review: Cub Cadet (26") 277cc Two Stage Snow Blower, Kriss Schrader and Contributors to SnowBlowersDirect.com, As of September 2012