Agreed on all counts. It's definitely a mower for properties that are regularly maintained, it doesn't like overgrown grass at all.Every time I see that cage, it annoys the **** out of me (on those Toro Turfmasters, but the Exmarks are the same). They basically direct tree branches onto the plastic air filter housing. If you are lucky, only the cover breaks off, unlucky and you get to buy a nice expensive carb.
I made extensions from flat iron on mine, so the cage sits about 2-3 inches higher, so now branches magically don't hit anything except the cage.
And the recommendation to turn a 170lb mower upside down so you can drain the oil out the filler tube is also beyond idiotic when there is a drain plug on the side of the engine...
And don't forget to periodically remove/lift up the front cover over the blade spindles and blow out the grass that collects there, as if you don't, it will eventually cause problems with the belt (it just keeps packing in more and more, like there is a vacuum in there, and the grass has no way to get out).
It works ok, if slightly underpowered (as the next size up motor is significantly heavier).