Husqvarna 576 XP AutoTune Chainsaw - Review
So what does a $1,000 chainsaw look like?
We're not kidding. This thing will set you back a grand. Well actually $909.95, but once you breach the $800 mark, who really cares? This is the Husqvarna 576 AutoTune Chainsaw. Is the engine block made of solid gold? Does it use liquefied silver for the chain lube? What gives? Why the sky-high sticker price?
When we first found out that Husqvarna was going to send us one of these saws to review, we danced around the shop in a very un-logger like fashion. We (obviously) like using tools, and we love using good tools, but when we get the chance to use an elite tool, it's a particular thrill. And at $1000, this one reeked of wonderful, pure, sugary elitism.
So what's the mystery of the Midas saw? We found out. Read on....
We'll start with some of the more regular features before we get to the freaky stuff. The 576 is powered by a 73.5 cc 5.7hp engine, encased in a durable shell. The entire upper half of the shell pops off with the release of four clips, making for very easy maintenance. There is a large air filter that produces an odd-looking bump on the top of the saw. The engine is an entirely separate unit from the handle carriage, and the two are connected only by springs, which greatly reduces the vibration passed on to the user. The starter cord is engineered to give as little resistance as possible, meaning a tool that is very easy to start.
Now on to the crazy stuff....
So what really sets this saw apart from the crowd are two things. The first is an onboard sensor that is constantly (and when we say 'constantly,' we mean 20 times per second) monitoring the gas/air mix heading into the chamber and alters it based on, get this, temperature, altitude, humidity, as well as the efficiency of the air filter and the gasoline blend. This translates into no carburetor adjustments and more user comfort for the life of the saw. Better emissions too.
The second is the X-Torq technology which we'll defer right to Husqvarna for the explanation:
A disadvantage of 2 strokes is that the incoming fuel air mixture gets mixed up with the outgoing exhaust gasses. Fuel air mix can end up in the exhaust and wasted exhaust gasses can also be forced back into the engine cylinder, diluting the fuel air mix (caused by the exhaust pulse).
4 strokes don't have this problem as they waste (half) an engine revolution just to push out the exhaust gasses.
'X' torq engines have a porting system that during every engine revolution a shot of clean, cold oxygen rich air is introduced to the cylinder. This acts as a buffer between the incoming fuel air mixture and the outgoing exhaust gasses.
This separates the inlet gasses from the exhaust gasses. This with the 'super scavenging' front positioned ports gives probably the most efficient small 2 stroke so far made.
At full speed B.H.P. is the same. At lower speed the X torq motor out pulls a conventional 2 stroke.
So you see, not only will this saw take down trees, it'll beat you at chess too.
The net gain of these two features can be felt if you're someone who is going to be using this saw day in and day out. The micro-adjustments of the AutoTune and the X-Torq are going to add up. They're going to mean an engine that runs with less emissions and more efficiency. And more efficiency means less effort on the part of the user, which means a safer work day. If you take down one or two limbs each year, you probably will never notice anything.
We have a Poulan Chainsaw (reviewed here) that we're really fond of. We know it's not a studly arborist brand and it's all green and purple and the bar has 'Wild Thing' written on it which is lame, but it has always started when we wanted it to and it has always cut with little fuss. It's been a great saw to us.
But after using the AutoTune for a couple weeks, we don't know if we'll ever be able to go back. We now consider ourselves ruined on chainsaws. We first thought that the Husqvarna, a saw so obviously meant for the 300-lb muscle-bound logger descended from Odin, would be difficult to manage, heavy, and simply too much saw for our needs. The AutoTune is a little over 15lbs (compared to the 12lbs of the Poulan), but the extra weight actually made us feel safer because we could let the saw do more of the work. But it's not like the weight matters much anyway because this saw, brand new, with a bright and shiny chain fresh out of the box, went through wood like it wasn't even there.
We first tested the tool over at the woodpile, cleaning up all of the pieces too long to fit in the stove. It felt silly too, using this tool for minor work like that; kind of like using a Lamborghini to drive your mom to the grocery store. So we then headed out to the log pile in the field for some more aggressive work and, even though that was putting the saw through it's tree-felling paces (just on the horizontal), it still felt like it was too little a task for the saw.
We don't have an elaborate emissions testing set-up, so we can't confirm or deny the functioning of the AutoTune or the X-Torq, but we can say that this is one amazing chainsaw and even if there's a bigger chance of you winning the lottery than dropping this kind of money on a tool, it's good to know that this kind of technology exists. Maybe in 10 years, it will dribble its way down to the homeowner level. Or maybe it will stay in the upper stratosphere of the elite tool.
At Ronan Power Products and Agri Products,
Also, a host of other, more reasonably priced, Husqvarna saws at Amazon.com
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at October 26, 2010 6:30 AM