Makita Cordless Lawn Mower Sets the Stage for New Models in 2020
When we tested 24 mowers for our Best Gas Mower and Best Battery Lawn Mower, we weren’t entirely sure how the newest Makita XML03 battery-powered lawn mower would handle its competition. It’s clearly a well-built mower, but its 18″ blade diameter had to compete against 20″ and 21″ models. While the smaller deck size definitely works well for smaller yards, it’s a legitimate contender for medium-size lawns as well.
- Cuts more area with kitted batteries than any other push mower we tested
- Keeps the noise level lower than more cordless models
- 4 batteries included in the kit
- Batteries are compatible with a full line of cordless OPE and a deep line of cordless tools
- Batteries fully charge in 45 minutes
- Price is on the steep side for a cordless push mower
- No side/rear discharge option
The second-generation Makita XML03 cordless mower sat right in the middle of the pack when we tested blade tip speeds.
Under no-load, the blade tips spin at an underwhelming 133.6 MPH. Considering the top of the push mower class was at 173.3 MPH and the self-propelled leader registered 198.7 MPH, it’s a concerning start.
But Makita’s strength is in the way they control their brushless motors under load and the speed picks up quickly. With just the weekly cutting’s worth of load, the speed doesn’t increase at all, letting you conserve your batteries.
When we took it to a heavy load, the Makita XML03PT1 called on an extra 37.4 MPH to exceed 170 MPH. No other push or self-propelled cordless mower increased as much as Makita.
The performance was impressive enough for us to let the Makita XML03 enter our torture cut test—5 weeks worth of growth with rain every day. With the grass at 8″ and the deck height at 2.5″, we pushed at 2.5 MPH until the blade stopped.
In the end, it did pretty well, lasting 30.5′. It’s the same distance Stihl was able to pull off, though several cordless models were able to do more.
The takeaway is that this Makita cordless mower does a fine job when you keep up with your mowing during the peak of growing season. It’s capable of keeping up if you let the yard go a few extra days, but you’re going to need to slow down and/or cut half swaths. That’s not unusual at all for cordless mowers.
When Makita says they have an 18″ mower, they mean it has an 18″ blade/cutting swath. Some brands play games with a 21″ mower that really uses a blade that’s smaller than that.
That said, 18″ is still smaller than most mowers out there and it has an effect on how much area you can mow on the pair of batteries the mower requires.
In our tests, the Makita XML03PT1 ran for 51 minutes on a regular maintenance load, giving it a cutting area of 11,220 square feet (~0.39 acres) if you can maintain a comfortable 2.5 MPH.
That’s pretty solid and Makita packs 4 batteries in the kit. That means you can mow up to 0.77 acres with what comes in the box. Keep in mind that’s in ideal conditions with no overlap. Most of us will actually cut 5%–10% less.
Makita includes a dual-port Rapid Optimum Charger in the kit. It charges two batteries in 45 minutes—6 minutes faster than the mower runs with them. If you buy the kit, you can cycle your batteries and run all day, save for breaks to swap the batteries out.
One of the great joys of owning a battery-powered lawn mower is the low noise. This Makita battery mower is one of the quietest, registering just 77 decibels. Only Worx’ 2 x 20V mower was quieter.
Makita XML03 Feature Set
When it comes to features, having a self-propelled drive is the biggest help you can get. While this Makita XML03 battery lawn mower is a push mower, there are still some solid talking points (and maybe Gen 3 will be self-propelled).
Makita opts for a steel deck instead of plastic and it’s an early indication that they’re aiming for quality on the build.
Steel makes the mower heavier as a trade-off for better durability. I could feel the difference between it and plastic deck mowers while cutting. It’s not enough of a difference that I’d want to give up the more durable construction, though.
Height Adjustment and Range
Makita goes with the popular single-point height adjustment system. Just pull one lever and set the height of all 4 wheels to any of 10 positions.
On some single-point models, we noticed that there was some undue flex in the mower. However, Makita’s steel deck helps keep the unit rigid and it’s a light enough mower to handle the weight on one lever.
What you miss out on is the ability to set the front wheels one step higher to improve bagging performance.
This Makita XML03 battery lawn mower opts for a cutting range that’s a little tighter than most. We measured 1-1/8″ to 3-1/8″ (Makita specs 13/16″ to 3″). The lower end is fine, but some grass species (like St. Augustine in our area) are happier cut around 3-1/2″.
The Makita XML03PT1 gives you 3 handle heights to work with. The middle is suitable for most people with adjustment up or down for taller and shorter folks.
Whether you prefer to mulch or bag, everything you need comes in the kit. If you prefer a side or rear discharge, you’re out of luck.
Just in case, I mowed with the rear flap down and the mulching plug out. The chute clogged pretty quick and the mower started leaving clumps of grass where I turned.
Makita includes what they call “Whisper Mode”. It tells the brushless motor to maintain 2500 RPM to keep the noise down and your battery efficiency up.
It’s a good fit for regular weekly cuts in dry grass or irregular off-season cuts.
- Vertical storage
- Battery level indicators on the batteries and handle
- Separate power button gives an extra layer of protection against accidental start-up
Admittedly, $569 seems kind of steep for a push mower, especially when there are some self-propelled options out there for less. However, this price includes four 5.0Ah batteries and a fast charger. Both the Makita XML03 and the batteries come with a 3-year warranty.
In addition to the mower, Makita has a full suite of cordless OPE products. Here are some of the ones we use most frequently:
- String trimmer
- Hedge trimmer
- Multi-head system
- brush cutter
- string trimmer
- articulating hedge trimmer
- standard hedge trimmer
- pole saw
- bristle brush
- paddle sweep
It’s an impressive range for a cordless OPE company. Keep this in mind, though: Makita has more than 200 other products that work on their 18V LXT batteries from Sub-Compact to heavy-duty and everything in between. If you want to run everything with one battery system, you’ll have a tough time finding a better lineup than Makita’s.
Makita XML03 Bottom Line
The XML03PT1 Makita cordless lawn mower has a price that might make you think twice but isn’t deficient in any of the areas we tested. What moves it forward as the best cordless push mower is its build and class-leading cutting area.
It ends up being a pretty versatile mower with a smaller deck that’s easy to use on small lawns. On the other hand, the 4 batteries in the kit can cover lots up to 3/4-acre if you don’t mind that it’s a push mower.
Makita XML03 Battery Lawn Mower Manufacturer Specs
- Model Number: Makita XML03PT1
- Power Source: 2 x 18V LXT batteries
- Blade Diameter: 18″
- Cut Height: 13/16″ – 3″
- No-Load Speed: 2500–3,300 RPM
- Dimensions: 66-1/8″L x 21″W x 37-3/4″H
- Weight with Batteries: 60.46 lbs.
- Warranty: 3-Year Limited Warranty on tool, battery, and charger
- Price: $399