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Best Top Load Washer

By: Kelly Burgess on March 10, 2017

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.

Among top-loading machines, the LG WT1701CV ($1,000), gets raves for its unique design that puts the control panel on the front of the machine instead of along the back. The result is a modern, futuristic look that many reviewers say is wasted hidden away in the laundry room. However, it's also reported as very easy and intuitive to use, and many note that it's the first washer they've ever had that they can see in a dim room.

The LG WT1701CV doesn't fail when it comes to performance, either. At ConsumerReports.org it earns above average ratings in every category, except gentleness. Reviewing this washer for DigitalTrends.com, Ian Tucker also disses the gentle cycle, saying, "The delicate cycle doesn't quite scrub your unmentionables to their best and brightest." He suggests using the normal cycle for heavier soiling, though, noting that the extra wear and tear shouldn't be too damaging. At Reviwed.com, however, Christopher Snow is unimpressed with the LG WT1701CV, saying it doesn't do well at stain removal at all. Still, he gives it a score of 7, higher than many other washers that earn Editor's Choice awards in the site's roundup. What both Tucker and Snow do agree on is that this is one terrific-looking washing machine.

Owners tend to side with ConsumerReports.org's and DigitalTrends.com's findings. In the hundreds of reviews we evaluated, we saw a lot of love and very few complaints of incomplete cleaning. Most say the LG WT1701CV is a top performer and some even say they actually enjoy doing their wash for the first time. While we saw a few complaints that this washer overbalances too easily (an extremely common issue with HE washers that use impeller instead of agitator technology), most say that the self-balancing load feature works extremely well and that this washer overbalances less often than other machines they have owned.

The LG WT1701CV has plenty of features for all but the most OCD laundry doer, with 12 preset cycles, five wash temperatures, three spin speeds, a TurboWash to speed things up, and a custom cycle you can set to your wash preference. The only thing it's missing is a hand wash cycle.

In addition to the graphite steel finish that we review here, this LG washer also comes in white as the LG WT1701CW (Est. $900). The matching dryer is the LG DLEY1701V (Est. $1,000), which we cover in our separate report on clothes dryers.

If you don't need quite as much capacity, and would like to spend a few dollars less, the 4.5 cubic foot LG WT1501CW (Est. $750) looks to be a solid choice. ConsumerReports.org gives it Very Good ratings for washing performance, energy efficiency, water efficiency and noise, although it earns below average ratings for gentleness.

Still, owners love the LG WT1501CW, and it gets very high ratings across a number of retail sites, with owners saying it's a top performer in washing, and feature rich enough that there are plenty of options for most people, including soak, extra rinse, delay wash and a popular custom program option. The WT1501CW also features the front control panel that is so many owners love for its cool, modern look, and it is Energy Star Certified. It pairs with a very well-regarded dryer, the LG DLE1501W (Est. $700) that we evaluate in our separate report on clothes dryers.

If you need something even bigger than the LG, and with an additional color choice, you might want to consider the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DC (Est. $1,100), which, in addition to chrome shadow, also comes in white as the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DW (Est. $1,000), and cranberry red as the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DR (Est. $1,200).

The Whirlpool Cabrio 8000 series is a well-reviewed line of washers that has been around for years. Owners say the 5.3 cubic foot 8500 is plenty large enough 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 ConsumerReports.org bestows it with a Very Good rating in that category.

An ultra-high capacity washing machine will shorten laundry day

If your laundry needs run toward "I'm washing for a baseball team," then the 6.2 cubic foot Kenmore Elite 31633 (Est. $1,200) is going to make your day -- your laundry day much shorter, that is. This giant machine is not just big, it's a big performer earning raves from tough tester Megan Wollerton at CNET. She gives it the highest stain removal rating of any of the other top-loaders she tested. She ultimately concludes, "It's the top-load washer I would pick if I had a laundry room large enough to accommodate it."

Wollerton does note that it's not super-saturated with features, but there certainly is enough there for all but the most tweak-obsessed. That includes a well-regarded steam function that's really useful not only for touch ups, but for deep cleaning as well. Even more popular is Kenmore's Accela Wash technology. Jonathan Chan at Reviewed.com notes that it keeps all cycles under an hour; super speedy when you consider the default cycle on most modern machines runs for an hour or more -- some for two hours.

But, of course, the most important feature for most people is the fact that the Kenmore Elite 31633 can hold a lot of clothes -- the equivalent of 32 towels. Or, as Wollerton points out, "8 T-shirts, 3 pairs of jeans, 8 pairs of socks, 2 towels, 2 sweatshirts and 1 sweater." The fact that it can often be found on sale for around $950 makes it a terrific value too. The 31633 washer is metallic, it also comes in white as the Kenmore Elite 31632 (Est. $1,100). The dryer that pairs with the 31633 is the 9.2 cubic foot the Kenmore Elite 61633 (Est. $1,200), which we cover in our separate report on clothes dryers.

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