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Makita XML03 Review

A medium-sized mower with average performance and a price tag that will raise some eyebrows
Makita XML03
Credit: amazon.com
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Price:   $570 List | $469 at Amazon
Pros:  Quiet, long runtime, convenient battery meter
Cons:  Uncomfortable bail, limited cutting height range, wide cutting gap
Manufacturer:   Makita
By Nick Miley and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Oct 1, 2019
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55
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 11
  • Mowing - 35% 6
  • Battery - 25% 6
  • Handling - 25% 4
  • Ease of Use - 15% 6

Our Verdict

The Makita XML03 is a basic, mid-size mower that offers customers plenty of runtime with its twin 18-volt battery system. However, the mower also presents users with an awkward, off-set wheel design, an uncomfortable bail, limited cutting heights and difficult to release battery system. That said, the mower has ample power and a conveniently located battery meter.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Makita XML03
This Product
Makita XML03
Awards  Editors' Choice Award  Editors' Choice Award  
Price $570 List
$469.00 at Amazon
$549 List$400 List$90 List$80 List
$70.84 at Amazon
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Pros Quiet, long runtime, convenient battery meterExtensive runtime, rapid recharge, massive cutting deck widthGreat handling, good at edging, broad cutting deckInexpensive, simple, minimal maintenanceMinimal storage footprint, maneuverable
Cons Uncomfortable bail, limited cutting height range, wide cutting gapFairly expensive, more mower than some may needLimited runtime, prolonged rechargingLimited cutting heights, manual powered, relatively loudLoud, hard to adjust cutting height, no bagging option
Bottom Line A compact lawnmower with middling performance at a price that may induce mild sticker shockThis long-lasting mower can tackle the biggest jobs without breaking a sweatDespite the limited battery life, this is a high performance mower at a low sticker priceThis human-powered machine is always ready to mow so long as the user is willing to pushAn easy to maneuver mower that performs best on small, flat turfs
Rating Categories Makita XML03 EGO LM2102SP Ryobi RY40190-Y Greenworks 25052 American Lawn...
Mowing (35%)
6
9
8
4
2
Battery (25%)
6
8
6
10
10
Handling (25%)
4
7
7
7
6
Ease Of Use (15%)
6
8
7
9
9
Specs Makita XML03 EGO LM2102SP Ryobi RY40190-Y Greenworks 25052 American Lawn...
Self-Propelled no yes yes no no
Estimated Cutting Area 11,513 ft² 14,275 ft² 7,031 ft² N/A N/A
Measured Recharge Time 62 mins 57 mins 250 mins N/A N/A
Cutting Deck Width 15 1/8" 18 1/8" 17" 16" 14"
Measured Cutting Gap 3/4" 3/4" 1/2" N/A N/A
Measured Noise 70 dBa 71 dBa 71 dBa 86 dBa 86 dBa
Power (1 - 10) 6 7 7 Manual powered Manual powered
Folding/Unfolding Ease (1 - 10) 5 9 7 10 10

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Makita XML03 cordless lawn mower has a medium width cutting deck with a reasonably powerful motor. At 70 dBA, the motor, and the blade that it spins, produce some of the lowest sound levels in the class. Unfortunately, this model is among the more expensive in the review, which magnifies its shortcomings. Namely, the model has a limited cutting height range and a substantial cutting gap. Additionally, the mower has an off-set wheel design that makes edging all the more difficult.

The Makita in the rough. Note the off-set wheel design.
The Makita in the rough. Note the off-set wheel design.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Performance Comparison



Likes


Among our favorite features on the Makita XML03 is just how quiet it is when compared to its peers. From the user's position at the handlebar, the machine measures just 70 dBA. That is quite in comparison to other electric mowers, not to mention its gas-powered predecessors.


The Makita also has an ample runtime which allows for an estimated 11,513 square feet of turf to be trimmed on a single charge. Performance like this puts this mower at the top of the class in the battery metric. However, this result can in large part be attributed to the lack of self-propulsion. Yet, given the right lawn, this isn't necessarily a knock against the mower.


Another feature that we like is the Makita's battery charge meter. Although it will be infrequently used, when needed, the battery meter is conveniently located on the handlebar. While this may seem like a mundane feature, it is actually quite nice to quickly see how much charge remains in the battery cells. In contrast, many other models in the class require the user to flip open the battery cover to access this feature.

The Makita's battery indicator (top), the energy mode switch...
The Makita's battery indicator (top), the energy mode switch (middle) and power switch (bottom) are conveniently located on the left side of the cockpit
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Dislikes


Aside from the cost of the Makita, our main gripes about this machine focus on the cutting deck and some of the ease of use features. For example, the cutting deck only covers a range of 15/16 to 2 15/16, which is quite narrow and excludes the longer recommended cutting lengths for some grass species. The cutting gap — which is the space between the end of the blade and the outside edge of the cutting deck — is quite wide at 3/4". The cutting gap combined with the off-set front and rear wheels creates some edging problems.

The Makita's bail is a bit stiff and uncomfortable to hold down
The Makita's bail is a bit stiff and uncomfortable to hold down
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Finally, the bail bar on this model is poorly designed. The spring that returns the bail to the neutral position is quite stiff and that, combined with the shape of the bar, makes it uncomfortable to hold down for long periods.

Value


Value, in the context of consumer purchases, means getting a greater degree of performance from a purchase while spending less money than what similar products cost. By this definition, the Makita does not offer consumers much value. There are several other models in this review that perform in much the same fashion while costing less.

The Makita has a narrow range of cutting heights that make it...
The Makita has a narrow range of cutting heights that make it unsuitable for some grass species
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


The Makita XML03 is a nice enough mower. It is quiet, the motor is powerful, and the batteries are long-lasting. However, this model has significant issues with ease of use and handling that make its steep price seem unwarranted. If you are looking for a mid-sized mower that won't cost an arm and a leg, have a look at some of the other models in the class.

Nick Miley and Austin Palmer