I used the word "novice" in the review title for the purpose of warning veteran tractorites that I realize a true comparison review was impossible because I have only driven one other tractor besides this Mahindra itself, being an old gray market Yanmar. Therefore I imagine my review might only be helpful to other novices in the market for a tractor.
Furthermore, I am not the natural mechanical type and have historically been given to throwing my hands up in the air and calling a more knowledgeable friend or professional to fix anything run by an engine when I have problems with it. I am a newbie mini farm-steader who has migrated away from the dirty, dangerous city to start anew. Disclaimer now given, I'll commence with my humble opinion and experience regarding the aforementioned.
First of all, WOW, what a crap ton of fun it is utilizing this machine! If a combat rifle is considered a combat multiplier, the small tractor, replete with implements and loader, should be called a production multiplier. For years I have done things the hard way. My mentality has always been that if you're not doing it the hard way then you're a softie or a wimp. Well my knees, for one, are paying the price for that mentality.
So far I have used it to load up block and stone to cart around to various parts of my land to build fence columns with, as well as sand, dirt, carted my mortar mixer around, used the loader to push posts into the ground (The 28XL WILL drive T-posts into the ground in my soil (rocky soil probably not)), Stretched fencing, pushed down/dug up small trees (very small, 2" diameter), pulled fallen trees to the burn pile, used the loader as a scaffold, and, of course, bush hogged and mowed.
The people at the dealership were great to work with. I could tell the lady who was working with me on it was a little new, herself, and I somehow liked that fact. Actually, I went in looking at the Max 25 but when I found out how close in price the shuttle shift 28 was to the 25 HST, I opted for the extra horses over the easier to drive HST. They also sold me a barely used bush hog as mine needed a rather significant weld repair that I decided wasn't worth fooling with since its rust was already significant and its blades also needed replacing. I was a little tentative about the shuttle shift, though primarily because I thought it would be too difficult for my son to drive.
But my uncertainty was unfounded because he has been driving that thing around like a pro, using the loader and everything (except bush hogging and mowing, which I won't let him do yet). So that has been a real bonus. Perhaps, albeit gradually, this video game kid will become an outdoorsy, farm kid.
I opted for the industrial tires over ag and turf because it seemed to straddle its possible roles the best, in my novice understanding. I liked the idea that turf tires wouldn't tear up your ground after some significant rains but didn't like the idea of spinning tires. Having experience on the Yanmar, I knew what ag tires did to soft ground. The tires on the 28XL are quite a bit taller than on the 25 and 22 as well, which I thought would give me a slight edge on ground clearance.
The stats on the 28XL indicate that the loader is a size up from the 25 and 22 (if memory serves) and I'm glad for that as well because honestly I can't imagine the bucket being any smaller and the digging capability being any less. I realize that this isn't a bobcat but I had imagined it would just a little more umph in the digging department.
I HAVE done a little digging and even more grading but I do work around a lot of machinery at my job and am used to seeing skid steers and excavators do awesome stuff so I'm sure I was being a little, well, quixotic about what I would get out of the bucket. ;)
Once I accepted reality about what a subcompact tractor loader could and couldn't do I ended up extremely pleased with what conveniences the loader has afforded me. I imagine you HST fans will also opine that the loader would be easier and faster to use without having to stop and shift to reverse every time you're using it to grade and stuff. Of course the shuttle shift vs. HST is another conversation but I can say that since I don't have any experience on an HST I'm not missing it or cursing the shifting that I'm doing while operating the shuttle shift. To me it still seems adequately efficient and easy.
I have noticed that the parking brake isn't 100% reliable. It has slipped out a couple of times and I don't know if this is indicative of all tractors or not. It hasn't been a deal breaker but nevertheless is a slight complaint, since there are times when I really would like to rely on it. One time in particular was when I was stretching a wire fence and I put the brake on and hopped out to hammer the staples in the posts and it slipped out. I was in neutral so it wasn't this dangerous tractor gone wild or anything but I did have to hop back on and reposition it. So, don't rely on the brake if you want to park on a hill.
So far this Mahindra seems sturdy and hasn't lacked for power to pull anything I tie to it. I would like to take some time soon to find out what that limit might be but I can say it has handled stuff as well if not better than my Yanmar 2210, which might be heavier, I'm not sure.
After 20 hours I guess this is more of a review in progress but I was prompted by email to review my tractor and it sounded like a good idea.
In the end I chose Mahindra because its price point was cheaper than a similar Kubota at the dealership down the street from Mahindra and Mahindra's warranty was more robust and they also offered to come pick up the tractor and/or send their mechanic to my house if something was wrong with it. Kubota didn't offer that kind of care. I could've spent less money on a more powerful used tractor but without a warranty, I just seemed too risky for me. I had already sunk several hundred dollars in various parts for the Yanmar here and there over only a 6 month period so I knew I wanted to go new. Time, and more reviews, will reveal the composite review on these MAX tractors. Right now, I'm having a ball!