If price is as much of a concern as performance, our research revealed several washing machines that deliver good performance and great value. You should expect to give up a little in the way of features and convenience, however. For example, washers in this category may not have as many wash cycles or temperature settings, and they lack trendy features like steam or sanitizing settings.
If your heart was set on a front-load washer, but sunk when you saw their typical price tags, be sure to check out the LG WM3050CW (Est. $700). It doesn't get as much feedback as some pricier front-load machines, but what's there is very positive. It's an Editors' Choice at Reviewed.com. "If you're looking for a front loader that cuts the fat, and has a good price-to-performance ratio, the LG WM3050CW is definitely worth checking out," says Jonathan Chan. User feedback at most sites is scant, with the exception of HomeDepot.com, where it receives an impressive 4.6 rating in well over 700 reviews.
You give away some bells and whistles compared to higher end front-load machines, such as the LG WM8000HVA (Est. $1,200). For example, headline features of the WM8000HVA such as SmartDiagnosis, TurboWash and steam technology are nowhere to be found on the WM3050CW. You also lose some of the flexibility -- seven washing programs compared to 14 on the WM8000HVA. The capacity is also lower -- 4 cubic feet versus 5.2.
What you don't give up is very much in the way of core performance. Reviewed.com describes cleaning prowess as above average. It's also very efficient -- so much so that it earns a 2014 Energy Star Most Efficient designation. The washer is covered by a one-year warranty, plus 10 years on the motor The LG WM3050CW is available in white only.
For those on the tightest of budgets, the Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW (Est. $540) looks to be an excellent option. Reviewed.com calls it a "perfect mix of effective, efficient, and affordable," and grants it an Editors' Choice award. Another expert reviewer is not quite as enamored, but agrees that the MVWC425BW is impressive at cleaning, and is a speedy performer. Owner feedback is good, though satisfaction is a little lower than with higher-rated, and higher-priced, washing machines. It earns 4.1 stars at HomeDepot.com, and 4.2 stars at Lowes.com, with both sites hosting more than 300 user reviews each.
All experts agree that delicate clothes have no business being put into this high-efficiency top loaders' 3.8 cubic-foot drum. "Unfortunately, the Centennial achieved its cleaning objectives through brute force," writes Reviewed.com's Jonathan Chan. "The Delicates cycle, for instance, removed stains as well as the Normal cycle because it was just as rough on clothes."
In terms of features, the Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW is pretty bare bones. You won't find fancy programs or LED readouts, but the controls are intuitive and easy to use. "If you've used a top loader in the past fifty years, you'll be able to use this Centennial," Chan says. The 11 wash cycles should give most users all the flexibility they normally need. The lack of a fast cycle is a notable omission, but that's partially made up for by the fact that the MVWC425BW is already fast: 43 or 45 minutes for the normal cycle, depending on who's holding the stopwatch.
Energy efficiency is good for this class and type of washing machine. It is Energy Star qualified and earns a CEE tier 3 (the highest) designation. The manufacturer does recommend the use of HE detergent. The Maytag Centennial MVWC425BW is covered by a one year warranty, plus 10 years on the motor and wash basket. It is only available in white.
The 3.8 cubic-foot Whirlpool WTW4900BW (Est. $500) is also worth considering. It doesn't get as much professional feedback as the Maytag MVWC425BW, but the one expert that does review it scores the two machines identically across the board, with the same highs and lows. User feedback is likewise similar, with the two machines scoring within a tenth of a point or so. It's covered by a one year warranty, and comes only in white.