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Top loading washers are popular, and keep improving

Top-load washers don't get as much love from expert reviewers as front-load machines, but plenty of consumers still prefer them to front loaders for various reasons. Manufacturers are acknowledging that love by improving their top-loading products to the point that we're beginning to see their expert ratings creep up.

Best top-load washer

Samsung WA52J8700AP
Samsung WA52J8700AP

One of the newest offerings among top loading machines, the Samsung WA52J8700AP (Est. $1,100), gets raves for its unique, integrated wash basin. Located in the top of the washer, just below the lid, this small sink enables you to pretreat or presoak heavily soiled items, then dump them, dirty water and all, into the machine to go through a regular wash cycle. This is an obvious boon for those who don't have a separate sink or faucet in their laundry area, but probably isn't necessary if your laundry room is already well-equipped. The dryer that goes with this washer is the Samsung DV52J8700EP (Est. $1,200) which also gets good reviews from owners for its performance and style.

The Samsung WA52J8700AP gets plenty of love from both experts and owners for its cleaning performance, but mixed reviews for efficiency. First, performance, experts agree that the WA52J8700AP is a top performer when it comes to even tough stains, earning a top score from one independent testing organization compared to other top loading washers. However, at Reviewed.com Jonathan Chan says it only stands out in Heavy Duty mode, which, he notes, uses a LOT of water, at least half of it hot. Still, Chan thinks it performs decently in normal mode. Users largely agree with the former opinion, saying that it does a great job with cleaning and they love it's large, 5.2 cubic feet capacity. Even when stuffing it, they say, it still gets clothes clean.

However, if water and energy efficiency are your top priorities, the Samsung WA52J8700AP may fall short of your needs. Chan notes that the washer's yearly operating costs of about $66 is "about double what an efficient front loader would use." It also doesn't excel at removing water from laundry, so your energy costs for the longer drying times are likely to be higher as well.

Still, those who don't have a fully-equipped laundry room buy the Samsung WA52J8700AP for the built in sink, and they are more than thrilled with it. In addition to that handy feature, the WA52J8700AP has 15 preset wash cycles and plenty of other settings so you can get as granular as you like load-by-load, or just dump stuff in and wash. In addition to the platinum finish, this Samsung washer also comes in white as the Samsung WA52J8700AW (Est. $1,000).

If you don't need a built in sink, the 5.2 cubic feet LG WT5680HVA (Est. $1,000) gets plenty of kudos from both expert reviewers and from owners for its excellent washing performance. Like the Samsung, it has a generous 5.2 cubic feet capacity. While Chan at Reviewed.com says it "lags behind in pure stain removal performance," he ultimately concludes that the WT5680HVA is, "one of the best top-loading washers we've ever tested."

Another independent consumer test organization is even more complimentary, giving the LG WT5680HVA Excellent scores for washing performance, capacity and vibration; a Very Good for energy and water efficiency and noise. Where it lags there is in gentleness, where it receives a score of Good. Owner reviews back up the conclusions of both expert evaluations, with users saying it's one of the best washers they've ever owned, and that it's quiet, efficient and will accommodate even a king-sized comforter. The downside is that the cycles can be very slow, with one cycle taking nearly two and a half hours in testing (although there is a quick wash option). The only other complaints we saw were that the washer up and died in mid-use, often after only a few months, but these durability issues are definitely in the minority. We saw plenty of other feedback from owners who have had this washer for a year or more and say it's still going strong.

The LG WT5680HVA comes with 14 preset wash cycles, four water temperature selections, three soil levels and eight adjustable fabric wash features. You may need to peruse the manual to figure out the difference between some of them, but, otherwise, reviewers say the controls are easy and intuitive to use. This washer also comes in white, as the LG WT5680HWA (Est. $1,000). The washer is Energy Star Certified.

If you need something just a skosh bigger than either of the above two washers, and with an additional color choice, you might want to consider the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DW (Est. $810), which also comes in Chrome Shadow (Est. $850), and Cranberry Red (Est. $1,200).

The Whirlpool Cabrio 8000 series is a well-reviewed line of washers that has been around for years, in fact, the now-discontinued Whirlpool Platinum Cabrio WTW8000BW was a runner up in our last report. The difference between the two is that the WTW8500DW ups the capacity of the 8000 from 4.8 cubic feet to 5.3 cubic feet, plenty large, owners say, to cut down on your time in the laundry room. It boasts an impressive 26 wash cycles, with four soil level adjustments. Owners say it does a great job washing, too, and one independent consumer testing service bestows it with a Very Good rating in that regard.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Washing Machines | Best Front Load Washers | Best Cheap Washers | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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