Front load washers get higher ratings from experts than top loaders because they are able to clean clothes just as effectively as a front loader while using less water in the process. Front loaders tend to be more expensive up front, but the cost of ownership over time will be lower. They're also gentler on clothes, so you may want to take that into account as well.
Among front-load washers -- and, indeed, washing machines of all types -- no model earns more acclaim than the white Kenmore Elite 41072 (Est. $1,000) and its metallic silver identical twin, the Kenmore Elite 41073 (Est. 1,100). The washers are recommended across the board by every expert who has reviewed them, including ConsumerReports.org, which awards the 41072 an Excellent for washing performance.
This Kenmore washer is energy efficient, gentle on clothes and its 5.2 cubic-feet capacity means that it holds lots of laundry, even king-sized comforters will fit, which owners say saves them time and money compared to having to take them to a separate laundry facility. "Having a 5.2 cubic foot interior that can easily fit 16 pounds of clothing means you get to clean vast amounts of laundry at once," says Jonathan Chan at Reviewed.com. Users agree, and we saw a number of comments that the washer saves them so much time that they feel that it increases its overall value. However, Chan warns, be sure it actually fits in the space you have -- it's a giant washer with a big footprint, too.
The control panel on the Kenmore Elite 41072 has a simple, but stylish-looking user interface that's appreciated by the experts at Reviewed.com and Good Housekeeping. In fact, it's the top rated washer overall at Reviewed.com, with a perfect score of 10 out of 10, and earning both Best of Year and Editors' Choice awards. "Quick cycle times for moderately sized loads and powerful cleaning performance make this a machine to be reckoned with," Chan says. "Either one is a good choice."
If your family is a bit smaller, or you don't really have the need to wash the biggest, fluffiest, comforters, we recommend taking a look at the 4.5 cubic foot Maytag Maxima MHW5500FW (Est. $900). It earns a Recommended nod at ConsumerReports.org, with a rating of Excellent for washing performance and both water and energy efficiency. Jonathan Chan at Reviewed.com calls it "a powerful machine that doesn't deal in fustiness." What he means by that is that the Maytag MHW5500FW isn't the fanciest-looking machine around, but more than makes up for its Spartan appearance with great washing performance.
Chan in particular praises the Maytag Maxima MHW5500FW's PowerWash cycle, which, though very slow at two-and-a-half-hours, offers extremely effective cleaning for your dirtiest duds. Users agree that this Maytag's cycles are slow, but they don't care -- giving it top scores across the board for its ease of use and great cleaning power. It features 11 wash cycles, not as many as some other washers in this size class, but sufficient, owners agree for pretty much anything you want to clean. One popular option is the My Cycle, which enables you to set a preferred combination and access it at the touch of a button. This washer is white, but it also comes in metallic slate as the Maytag Maxima MHW5500FC (Est. $1,000). Both washers are Energy Star Certified.
If you'd like to spend a bit less for a very well-rated front loading washer, the Samsung WF45K6500AW (Est. $800) should be on your short list. This 4.5 cubic foot washer earns a Recommended nod at ConsumerReports.org, with Excellent ratings for washing performance, energy and water efficiency, and gentleness; Very Good ratings for noise and vibration. Owners agree, giving it some of the best reviews we've spotted for its superior stain removal capabilities.
The Samsung WF45K6500AW is fully-featured for such an affordable machine, and, as we see with all modern washing machines, it's "Steam Wash" technology is one of its most popular features. Not only does it allow you to quickly freshen items, but it cleans more deeply, virtually eliminating the hassle of prewashing. The WF45K6500AW also has 14 preset wash cycles, 12 additional wash options, an internal water heater to up its stain-fighting game, and noise reduction technology. There's also Wi-Fi connectivity to remotely control and monitor cycles, but it requires an optional Smart Home adaptor. Best of all, the WF45K6500AW is fast, with a cycle that allows you to wash a full load in 36 minutes. The WF45K6500AW is white, but it also comes in black stainless as the Samsung WF45K6500AV (Est. $900).