Top-load washers don't get as much love from reviewers as front-load machines, but users continue to adore them. Cost is a big reason why as top loaders tend to cost less -- sometimes hundreds less -- than front-loading washing machines with similar clothes cleaning prowess.
Among top loading machines, we found the best feedback for the LG WT1001CW (Est. $600), a moderately priced high-efficiency model. It is recommended and rated a "best buy" by one independent consumer testing agency. Its cleaning performance is excellent, and efficiency in terms of power and water used is very good or better; it is Energy Star qualified and earns a CEE Tier 3 rating. You might not want to entrust the WT1001CW with your daintiest finery, however, as the impeller system (used in place of a standard central agitator) can get a bit rough on fabrics.
Despite the relatively low price, the LG WT1001CW isn't low on bells and whistles. Gone is the standard back panel. Instead LG moved the controls to the front lip of the machine, making for easier use (no more having to close the lid and reach across the washer to make settings) and a cleaner design. LG's SmartDiagnosis feature allows for remote diagnosis over the phone, or via a smartphone app, eliminating the need for many service calls. Eight washing programs are available, including SpeedWash, which can clean small loads in 15 minutes. The chassis is painted steel and comes in white only. The drum is stainless steel. The WT1001CW is covered by a one year warranty, plus 10 years on the direct-drive motor.
User feedback is strong. For example, the WT1001CW earns a rating of 4.5 out of 5 at Lowes.com, where 90 percent say that they would recommend the washer to a friend. LG as a brand is well regarded, finishing at or near the top in most brand reliability and customer satisfaction surveys, and above industry average.
One drawback with the LG WT1001CW is that its 3.6 cubic foot capacity is on the small side, making it a less-than-ideal choice for large families or those that only want to do laundry occasionally. LG offers an essentially identical washer with a 4.3 cubic foot capacity, the LG WT1101CW, but reviews for that model are more mixed. Reviewed.com calls this HE front-load washer "a competent machine," but grouses about its water usage and how it handles unbalanced loads. That's also somewhat reflected in the recommendations by another reviewer, which cites user complaints regarding unbalanced loads. However, user feedback at the large retail sites is nearly uniformly stellar. For example, the WT1101CW earns a 4.6-star rating at HomeDepot.com, with that rating based on more than 1,000 reviews overall.
The Whirlpool Platinum Cabrio WTW8000BW is worth considering as well. At 4.5 cubic feet, this HE top loader has a higher capacity than the LG machines above. One expert reviewer did not include it among its top recommended washers, but says that the machine is impressive nonetheless. Washing performance, capacity and relatively quiet performance are why. The trade-off is fewer features, but that's okay in the eyes of Jonathan Chan at Reviewed. Com: "If you're just looking for a washing machine that gives stains the business and nothing else, the Whirlpool Cabrio Platinum WTW8000BW is worth a look." User reviews are again top shelf, with ratings of 4.5 or better the norm at most major retail sites.
Washing performance under most of this machine's 11 cycles is pretty much average, and on a par with similar machines of its type and price category. Reviewed.com is less impressed with the Quick Wash cycle, however. It takes more than a half hour to complete, and only cleaned well enough to be suitable for lightly soiled items. Washer controls move back to the back, but are generally judged easy and intuitive to use. The cabinet is white, the drum is stainless steel, and the warranty is for one year. The washer is Energy Star qualified and earns a CEE Tier 3 rating.
Large families might want to check out the Maytag Bravos XL MVWB880BW, another HE top loader. Its 4.8 cubic-foot capacity can hold "a whopping 21 towels at once," says Reviewed.com's Christopher Snow. Cleaning performance is typical, though it's safe to assume that best results will result from more powerful cycles, such as PowerWash and whites, which are also the ones that can be toughest on delicate items. Performance is judged to be relatively fast. Again, don't expect very many extras, though some might find the glass lid to be a nice touch. That dearth of extra features doesn't faze owners, who seem to be generally pleased. The MVWB880BW earns scores of 4.5 stars or better across the major retail sites, with those scores based on hundreds of reviews. Energy Star qualified and CEE Tier 3 rated, of course. One year warranty on the machine, plus 10 years on the motor and stainless steel wash basket. Available only in white.
Elsewhere in this report:
Front-load washing machines save energy and water. Read our take on the best choices.
For those on a budget, these washing machines are good performers and great values.
Need a washing machine but don't know where to start? Our Buying Guide explains what to look for in a washer.
Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the top washing machines, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.