This machine is tough to write a review of, on one hand it is one of the few models made mostly of metal and will last you a long time, but on the other hand being metal means it is quite heavy and hard to carry. This machine is not like any other machine on the market, and in many ways has some great advantages, but in other ways it has some big drawbacks.
In one word, Wow. This machine has a LOT of power and does not hold itself back when put to cleaning. This machine employs a dirty fan system, with the fan being less than three inches from the floor, causing the airflow on this machine to be tremendous at the point of floor contact. The motor is also VERY powerful, and at times this can be a bit of a problem (think sucking up a smaller rug). The machine is raised and lowered manually through two pedals on the front wheels. This must be done to set the height every time you wish to vacuum your floors. Although the brushroll on this machine is a softer one (a stiffer version is available for those with pet hair) the airflow at the floor head more than makes up for it, creating amazing cleaning power. This brushroll is connected to the main motor shaft (that also runs the fan and transmission) through a belt and the BeltLifter. The BeltLifter is a bit complicated for those who haven’t used a Kirby vacuum before, but it is a great feature as it will properly load the belt and twist it for you as needed.
This machine is a bagged machine, and has a variety of bags that can be used in it for varying levels of filtration. The lowest level of filtration is a paper bag that restricts airflow quickly and leaks some dust but will get the job done and is pretty cheap. The middle level of filtration is a cloth aftermarket bag made by EnviroCare, this bag is pretty good at keeping in the dirt and dust but misses some fine particles. The top bag is the genuine Kirby Allergen Reduction Filter, this HEPA filter bag will capture an amazing amount of dirt, dust, allergens and more from the air being filtered through it. This bag is expensive, but does a great job at keeping the dirt in the bag and out of the air.
When it comes to attachments there is no machine like the Kirby, bar none. The standards like a turbo brush, crevice tool and wand are done quite well, but if that’s where you stop you will miss so much of the value of the machine. This machine also has attachments for sanding/grinding, shampooing your carpets, buffing hard floors and even spraying (yep, the machine can paint your house)! Most of these are not included with the base price of the machine but they can be purchased separately, or bargained for at the time of purchase. One downside to these attachments is the amount of steps required to take off the floor head and attach the tool you want to use. This requires a bit of work to do and you have to attach the floor head when you are done using the tools.
Ease of use
This machine is quite unique when it comes to usability, as it is a very heavy machine which makes it hard to use if you have more than one story, but also has features like a transmission to make it quite light to push. The machine will automatically apply forward or reverse motion to the back wheels when pushed forward or backward, lightening the amount of force needed to push. This really helps when the machine is sealed to the floor as it can get very hard to push when the transmission is not enabled. In addition the attachment system is somewhat hard to use and people that are new to the Kirby are often confused by it.
This machine is a great machine, combining durability, strength and an amazing array of attachments with a few negatives such as steps to use a tool, weight and the high cost of the machine. This machine is a great fit for those with messy environments, but no so much for those with more than one floor. Overall this machine has won the review team over, and we love the power of this machine enough to give it an almost perfect score.