Makita XML03 Review
Pros: Quiet, long runtime, convenient battery meter
Cons: Uncomfortable bail, limited cutting height range, wide cutting gap
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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.
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.
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.
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, 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 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