Expensive washers and dryers don't necessarily clean or dry better than those that cost $700 to $900. But they do have the latest features and in Consumer Reports tests of washers and dryers we looked at all of them. Here's our take on 10. Keep in mind that features are often bundled, so to get one you want , you may end up paying for several you don't.
Large-capacity machines let you do more laundry in a single load so you can get done faster. Washers earning excellent capacity scores in our tests fit 17 to 24 pounds of laundry, or about 9 to 13 pairs of men's jeans.
Recommended model: The LG WM8000H[V]A, $1,350, front-loader is the largest we've tested and holds about 13 pairs of men's jeans, or 24 pounds. But its two inches wider than usual and wash time is 100 minutes for an eight-pound load. (Matching electric dryer is the LG DLEX8000[V], $1,350 and gas model is the LG DLGX8001[V], $1,440.)
Auto-load sensing matches water used to the load size, saving you a step and possibly saving water.
Recommended model: The LG WT1101CW HE top-loader, $700, is our top-rated washer of this type. (Matching electric dryer is the LG DLE1101W, also $700, and gas model is LG DLG1102W, $800.)
Automatic temperature control adjusts the hot and cold water to the appropriate temperature for each cycle. Washers without this feature just mix hot and cold water in preset amounts so a "hot" wash will be hotter in the summer than in the winter because the temperature of water from your main is higher.
Recommended model: The Samsung WA422PRHD[WR] is a HE top-loader, $800. (Matching electric dryer is the Samsung DV422EWHD[WR], $750, and gas model is the Samsung DV422GWHD[WR], $850.)
Automatic dispensers release liquid or powder detergent, bleach, and fabric softener at the right time in the cycle. Some washers have reservoirs that can hold months' worth of liquid laundry products, and the bleach dispensers also prevent spattering.
Recommended model: The Whirlpool Duet WFW88HEAW, front-loader, $1,000. (Matching electric dryer is the Whirlpool Duet WED88HEAW, also $1,000 and the gas model is Whirlpool Duet WGD88HEAW, $1,200.)
An extra rinse cycle may help if you're sensitive to detergent residue.
Recommended model: The GE GTWN7450DWW HE top-loader, $800, has this feature. (The matching dryer did not make our top picks list.)
Moisture sensors are must on a dryer. Compared with a thermostat, these sensors are better at determining the moisture level in laundry and will turn off the dryer when clothes are dry. That's easier on your utility bill and on fabrics.
Recommended models: All the matching dryers mentioned above have moisture sensors.
Four features to skip
Steam options on dryers left our shirts wrinkled, though they did remove more odors from fabrics than conventional dryers. On washers we found that steam settings only slightly improved stain cleaning.
Custom programming on washers and dryers may be a laundry lover's dream because you program your own cycles and can save them for future loads. But for everyone else, standard cycles and settings should do. Electronic controls make selection even easier.
Overnight cycles that let you wash and dry while you sleep. After the wash cycle, the washer spins laundry dry, but this cycle is limited to just a few, often lightweight, items at a time.
Smart washers and dryers offer the possibility of saving energy and money by letting you schedule use when energy rates are lowest. But these smart appliances won't save you a cent unless you have a compatible smart meter and your utility cuts rates during off-peak periods, such as weekends or weekdays from 10 p.m. to 10 a.m. Not that many utilities do. And even if yours does lower rates, you don't need a smart machine to save; just wash and dry your laundry during off-peak hours.