The HIR staff got to test-drive Honda Power Equipment’s new self-propelled HRN216 Series 21-in. lawn mower. This thing has some real pep! It’s powered by the all-new Honda GCV170 engine that delivers 9 percent more power and 18 percent more torque than the Honda HRR model it replaces.
Unlike some of the all-wheel-drive models on the market, this is a rear-wheel drive unit. For very rugged, extremely uneven terrains, the two-wheel drive design might have less traction than a four-wheel drive, but if you don’t usually mow such a yard, you won’t notice the difference.
The trade-off for the rear-wheel drive design seems to be a jump in top speed, because it seemed I could run this mower faster than the AWD model I’m most familiar with, which is nice on those long return trips back to the tool shed.
The Honda HRN mows like a champ, too, and we were not kind to it with our test regimen. With the blade set on mulching mode, we introduced it to the first seasonal cut of an unkempt yard covered with more weeds than grass. Some of this ruffage was more than a foot high, and although it choked the mower a couple times (entirely expected), the Honda engine fired right up and knocked down our jungle of weeds with an impressively smooth finish and a powerful drive, which takes the physical labor out of uphill climbs. Just hold on tight and let it pull you along. Since that first test, we’ve used the mower regularly, and it performs without a hitch.
The comfortable (and easy-to-adjust) thumb-lever drive accelerator is instantly responsive for quick, variable boosts of speed and power to the rear wheels when dealing with rugged areas or climbing uphill. Four new Honda HRN216 models offer different options. The HRN216VKA we tested includes a 3-in-1 Clip Director lever on the side of the engine, which controls the entry shutter between the mower deck and the grass bag, allowing operators to mulch all the clippings, bag all the clippings, or discharge from the rear. Find it at Lowes.
Honda HHT String Trimmer
The HHT35SLTAT Honda string trimmer is ideal for homeowners who tackle heavy-duty trimming and brush removal. This model comes standard with a loop handle, semi-auto line for easy bump feeding, and a shoulder harness for balance and support. The HIR staff got an early look at this unit, and it has the muscle you need when an electric trimmer just won’t cut it—literally. The mini 4-stroke Honda GX35 engine gives a quick, easy start and runs on straight gas so there’s no need to mix gas and oil. The fuel-efficient engine is engineered to save so much gas that it costs 50-percent less than a two-stroke trimmer. The vibration-dampening design makes it comfortable to operate, and the straight flex shaft comes with a limited lifetime warranty. Frankly, this unit has more power than some homeowners will need, but if you’ve got an unruly yard and fight a lot of backyard battles, the HHT trimmer will have the bite you need. Find it at Lowe’s.