When it comes to front-load washers, expert feedback is extensive and highly positive. However, user feedback can be scant -- not a surprise when you consider these machines' often hefty price tags. If you're weighing the decision on whether or not to spring for a front-loading machine, keep in mind that water costs and energy consumption are sometimes drastically lower. That means that cost of ownership can be lower, especially for those that do lots of laundry.
Among front-load washers -- and, indeed, washing machines of all types -- no model earns more acclaim than the platinum steel LG WM8000HVA (Est. $1,200) and its white-cabinet identical twin, the LG WM8000HWA (Est. $1,000). The washers are recommended across the board by every expert who has reviewed them. Testers at Good Housekeeping found that the washer was gentle on clothing, yet cleaned well, especially in its normal cycle. They also noted that the washer did an exceptional job in its water retention tests; that means that clothes could need less time in the dryer, resulting potentially in even additional savings in energy costs. Overall, the washer earns a grade of A-.
Elsewhere, an independent tester found that the WM8000HVA is a little on the slow side, taking 100 minutes to finish a load (though a TurboWash feature cuts that without decreasing cleaning performance). However that's not enough to keep it from being recommended. This LG washer is energy efficient, easy on clothes and its 5.2 cubic-foot capacity means that it holds lots of laundry (24 pounds compared with 13 to 15 with a regular top load washer).
The most effusive praise comes from Reviewed.com, where the washer earns both Editors' Choice and Product of the Year honors. Cleaning performance is judged to be average or better in most regards. Efficiency is a strength: Jonathan Chan estimates yearly electricity and water usage to run about $30 on average. "If you've got a big family, or really hate doing laundry more than once a week, the LG WM8000HVA may actually change your life," he concludes.
Surveying user-review sites, owners are just as pleased if not more so. At Lowes.com, the washer earns a near perfect 4.9 score following more 175 reviews, though some of that feedback was originally posted elsewhere, such as at LG's website. Other review sites have slightly lower scores -- but only slightly -- for example, 4.7 stars at BestBuy.com, and 4.8 stars at HomeDepot.com (the latter again includes reviews from LG.com). These scores are among the best we spotted for any washing machine.
The LG WM8000HWA/WM8000HVA earns the Energy Star Most Efficient designation for 2014. Other features include steam technology to remove deep dirt while keeping wrinkles to a minimum. SmartDiagnosis cuts down on service calls by allowing remote troubleshooting either via telephone or a smartphone app. The warranty is for one year, while the motor is covered for 10.
While you can put a lot of clothes into the LG WM8000HVA and LG WM8000HWA, there are front-loading washers that can hold even more. Among those, the Samsung WF56H9100AG (Est. $1,630) is perhaps the most notable. Like the LG washer, the Samsung WF56H9100AG earns raves from virtually every expert. Good Housekeeping awards it an even higher A rating, Reviewed.com grants it an Editors' Choice award, and others put it at the top of their lists of recommended washers.
Reviewed.com says that the Samsung WF56H9100AG is the "world's largest residential washing machine," able to hold 5.6 cubic feet of laundry. Size could be an issue -- it measures a considerable 30 by 42 by 33 inches -- as could be the price tag. That leads Chan to recommend it mainly for families that have unusually large laundry needs.
Reviewed.com is a little less impressed with washing performance, which other reviewers describe as very good or better. No one disputes that the washer is fast, and one report states that engaging a SuperSpeed option cuts washing time by an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
User reviews were essentially nonexistent at the time this report was prepared. Samsung is among the higher rated brands in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys. Most recently, Samsung captured the 2014 J.D. Power and Associates Customer Satisfaction award in the front-load washers category.
Among this washer's features is Self Clean+. Good Housekeeping is impressed, calling it "unique and useful." That feature steam cleans the drum and gasket to cut back on mold and mildew -- one of the chief drawbacks to front loaders. A reminder to clean the washer after every 40 cycles is also provided. Efficiency is excellent, and the washer earns the Energy Star Most Efficient designation for 2014. The washer is covered under a one-year basic warranty, with coverage extending to two years on the control board, three years on stainless steel drum, and 10 years on the motor. The WF56H9100AG comes in Onyx (black). The same washer is available in white as the WF56H9100AW (Est. $1,440).
According to Reviewed.com, the Kenmore Elite 41072 (Est. $1,200) is based upon our best reviewed selection, the LG WM8000HVA, with a few Kenmore-exclusive touches. Those touches include a simplified user interface, something that's appreciated by the experts at Reviewed.com and Good Housekeeping. Still, "Whether you choose the 41072 or the nearly identical WM8000HVA depends on availability and sale pricing," Chan says. "Either one is a good choice."
The Kenmore Elite 41072 comes in white. The Kenmore Elite 41073 (Est. $1,300) is the same washer in metallic silver; that's the version tested by Good Housekeeping, which names it the top performing washer in its 2014 lab tests.