Pros: Thorough cleaning, long cord and hose, versatile
Cons: Very heavy, attachments inconvenient, high price
I don't know why I let that Kirby salesman in the door. The pitch the salesmen give is tempting - "would you like one room's carpet shampooed for free?" Why, sure I would! I can't even remember if I actually got my rug cleaned. Our salesman was excellent, and pulled my husband right along with him. When I refused to shell out $1500 for a vacuum cleaner, the salesman informed us that he'd conveniently brought along a refurbished Heritage II. "Exactly the same as the G5," he said, "it's just not auto-propelled."
I wrinkled my nose. My husband looked at me with a raised eyebrow. "You don't need an auto-propelled vacuum cleaner, do you?" Well, I wouldn't if the thing didn't weigh so much. Kirby vacuums haven't changed much over the years. The Heritage looks like it was made in 1940. It may as well have been, according to my husband, who is suddenly an expert on vacuums. "It's solid. It'll last forever." Oh, joy.
The trick to effective cleaning with a Kirby is in the height adjustment. At its highest setting, the Heritage glides along effortlessly. Once you click the lever down to the point where it will clean as advertised, sweeping an average-sized room becomes a workout. I have to admit, my second floor doesn't get vacuumed very often, because I hate carrying it up and down the stairs.
The attachments come with a molded plastic storage case, which hangs on the wall. There's a good variety to choose from, and they fit perfectly. Along with the usual vacuum attachments (hose, round dust brush, crevice tool, long dust brush) there's also a long curvy pipe that extends the hose's reach (perfect for ceiling fans) and an attachment that turns the Heritage into a canister-type vacuum, for easily reaching under furniture. The hose is very long, which I like.
You can take the handle off, attach a smaller one, and turn the Heritage into a hand-held vacuum for maneuvering on stairs, sucking the dust out of furniture and mattresses.
The coolest part, though, is that the Heritage also works as a rug shampooer! I've never tried it, though. We already had a steam cleaner, which probably does a better job anyway.
My main gripe with the Heritage is that the attachments are so hard to use. You have to remove the entire front to hook up the hose. Sit down, lift up a hinged piece, twist a lever that removes the belt, flip the clip that holds the front section on. Fit the hose onto the holder, flip the clip back on. You can bet I'm not going to go through all this just for a quick sweep under the couch cushions!
I admit, though, it seems to do an excellent job of dirt and dust removal. The bags are HEPA-filtered, and though they're expensive and only available through mail order (or a Kirby shop, if you can find one), they hold a lot. It's got a very long electrical cord on it, which is probably the vacuum's only convenient feature.
Incidentally, the salesman insisted on keeping our old vacuum (a Panasonic, which worked fine) as a trade-in. He said they cleaned them up and donated them to charity. It's probably a good thing he took it, too. If we still had that old vacuum, I'd be using it instead!