Money-Saving Washing Machines

If you want to spend $2,000 on a washing machine, Whirlpool's got the Vantage. It boasts a fancy touch screen with more than 50 different wash cycles, a USB port for software upgrades, and even an illuminated washtub.

Consumer Reports tested the Vantage along with 117 other washers.

Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman with Consumer Reports explains, "We put all the washing machines through a series of tough tests to see how well they'll perform, and we also want to see about all the bells and whistles and if they're worth their extra cost."

These swatches stained with tough substances like like red wine, cocoa, blood, and dirt are used to see how well the washers clean.

And these fabric swatches allow testers to evaluate how gentle a washer is on your clothes. This swatch is from a washer you don't want to own.

Celia says, "Our testers even weigh the laundry before the spin cycle and after the spin cycle. That's to see how much water the machine extracts. And the less water that's in the laundry means the less time it's goning to spend in the dryer."

In the end testers found you don't have to spend anywhere near $2,000 on the Vantage to get a great washing machine.

Celia says, "Well, it was our top-scoring top-loading washer, but another model from Whirlpool did nearly as well. Actually, it only scored one point lower."

That washer is the Whirlpool Cabrio. It uses less energy and washes much faster than the Vantage, too. For about $660, it's a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

If you prefer a front-loading washer, Consumer Reports rated the $800 Kenmore model 4027 a Best Buy. It rated excellent for cleaning, gentleness, and capacity, as well as energy and water efficiency.

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