Front-loading washers use less water than top-loaders but have longer wash cycles—some take 100 minutes or more. That's not the end of the world, but it may be the beginning of laundry pile-up. That's one reason the Whirlpool Duet WFW96HEAW front-loader was impressive in Consumer Reports' latest washing machine tests. It took only 50 minutes to complete a test load.
That's the fastest of the 26 recommended front-loaders in our tests and even faster than most of the recommended high-efficiency top-loaders. Since front-loaders use less water, the detergent is more concentrated and the machine's tumbling action can also help boost cleaning. The Whirlpool excelled at getting our laundry clean and extracting water, which speeds up drying time, helping to make it a recommended model. It has a large capacity and a big price tag—$1,300.
Plenty of washers have auto-dispensers that release detergent. But Whirlpool's Precision Dispense Ultra determines the amount of liquid HE detergent to dispense based on load size, cycle selection, water hardness level, and detergent concentration. Manufacturers recommend using HE detergent—that's high efficiency—for front-loaders and HE top-loaders. Regular detergents are too sudsy for these machines.
Not all matching washers and dryers are great couples, but the Whirlpool's matching electric dryer, the $1,300 Duet WED96HEAW, was superb at drying and quieter than most of the 100 dryers we've tested. It's recommended too. For more details on performance and features see the results of our tests of washers and dryers. If paying $2,600 for a matching washer and dryer is more than you budgeted, see these impressive washer and dryer pairs that cost $1,500 or less.