Great Couches for Less

A new couch can cost you thousands.

These days you can find them at stores like Pottery Barn, Ethan Allen, or a traditional furniture store.

Consumer Reports just tested a dozen couches to see how much you have to pay to get a good one.

Couches in store displays look gorgeous.

But beyond the looks, there's a lot to know about buying a couch.
Consumer Reports just tested 12 to see what makes a quality couch.

The sofas identified by number only, included ones from Crate and Barrel, Jennifer Convertibles, and La-z Boy.

Staffers were asked to sit on each one in several positions for five minutes each. Then they filled out an evaluation form.

People assessed how comfortable the couches were, both sitting and lying down.

Testers removed the couches' fabric and padding to evaluate how well they're made.

Next, testers checked to see how much punishment a couch could take. A machine strained the back of each sofa until the frame broke.

In the end, Consumer Reports found the inexpensive couches were no bargain at all.

They found that the lower priced couches from Ikea and Wal-Mart weren't as well made and may not hold up well over time.

The best of the bunch was one of the most expensive. The Ethan Allen Preston couch rated excellent. It costs about $1,800.

But you don't have to break the bank for a new couch. Ones that cost about $800 up to $1,200 were almost as good as the best in the tests.

Consumer Reports rated two couches as best buys.

They are the Flexsteel Christopher Lowell home collection. It cost $1,050. The other is the Broyhill Fontana which goes for $800.

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