Considering a Whirlpool appliance? Act fast for savings

Consumer Reports News: February 04, 2011 12:21 PM

In Consumer Reports' latest review of washing machines, Whirlpool nabbed the top spot among front-loading and top-loading machines alike. The Benton Harbor, Michigan-based corporation, whose brands include Maytag and KitchenAid, also manufactures Consumer Reports' highest-rated French-door-style and side-by-side refrigerators

Many of these top models are competitively priced, especially after Whirlpool, like other manufacturers, was forced to lower prices during the economic downturn. But that trend appears to be ending, as higher costs for raw materials, including steel, copper, and plastic, are being passed on to consumers. Whirlpool says it will have to raise prices between 8 percent and 10 percent in April, according to the Wall Street Journal. Sweden-based manufacturer Electrolux is projecting similar inflation. 

Some analysts believe Whirlpool's actual increases will be lower, since South Korean rivals LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics aren't going along with the price hikes. More worrisome for Whirlpool (though good for you, potentially) is the fact that the South Koreans are turning out quality products while keeping prices in check. Consumer Reports' top-rated gas and electric dryers are LGs, our number one microwave is a Samsung, and both manufacturers have several recommended models in Consumer Reports' various refrigerator reviews.

The increased competition is forcing Whirlpool to step up its features and flourishes. For example, the newly-tested Whirlpool Vantage top-loading washer (shown above with its matching dryer) has a sleek metallic finish, a self-opening glass lid, an LED-lit stainless steel interior, and an eco-monitor that tracks energy use. Impressive, sure, as is its overall washing performance. But at $2,000, the Vantage costs two to three times as much as other high-performing top loaders—and that's before the anticiapted price increase. 

—Daniel DiClerico

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