Crimson appliances that were red-hot in our tests

Consumer Reports News: November 29, 2012 04:08 PM

One outcome of the prolonged housing slump has been that when consumers postponed renovating their kitchens and buying large appliances, manufacturers got busy redesigning small ones. The rosy results can be found in the housewares department where a bevy of stylish beauties beckon with bright colors and interesting contours for your counters. The best news is that some of these flashy machines are brilliant performers as well. Here's a collection of scarlet models that earned our top honor—a bright red blob.

Magimix Vision toaster (Williams-Sonoma), $250, Recommended
If you don't mind spending top dollar for an eye-catching toaster that also does its job exceedingly well, consider this model from Magimix. It features unique see-through sides that allow you watch your toast turn an even shade of brown with nearly every batch. Its single-slot design is helpful if you toast wide pieces of bread. Special features include bagel, defrost, and warm/reheat settings. Its stainless steel housing pairs well with the glass viewing windows for a toaster that will look good on the countertop.

Oh, and did we mention? It was excellent at toasting successive batches and very good on both our color range and full batch toasting tests.

Full toaster and toaster oven Ratings and recommendations.

Red_mixer_KithchenAid-Artisan.jpgKitchenAid Artisan KSM150PS stand mixer, $300, Recommended
From the classic stand mixer maker, the KitchenAid Artisan has a batch of features that makes it easy to use and very versatile. It was rated very good overall in performance with excellent scores in whipping time, mixing and kneading. And it capably handled a double batch of bread dough.

The tilt-head mixer includes a stainless steel bowl with a comfortable grip, a pouring shield and can accommodate a whisk and other attachments. We did give it a few knocks because it's heavy and allows less clearance for adding ingredients.

Mix and match. Two other red models didn't stand up as well in our tests including the Kenmore Elite 89208 and the Viking Professional VSM700.

Full stand mixer Ratings and recommendations.

Red_coffeemaker_Circulo-small.jpgDeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Circolo coffeemaker, $150, Recommended
The DeLonghi single-serve coffeemaker uses a manual joystick-like control for quick filling of the first and subsequent cups, which makes for quick servings if you're in a hurry. The snazzy circular machine maintained temperatures consistently across multiple cups and allowed flexibility in adjusting brew strength. The unit will also supply unheated water for cold drinks, and you can position the drip tray to one of three levels for varied cup sizes.

On the minus side, this model requires so-called "flavor capsules" available only from the company, and you can use only one at a time no matter how large a serving you want. And because of the joystick control, cup-size consistency can be a challenge. Dispensing can only be turned off manually.

More joe to go. Starbucks Verismo 580 narrowly missed our list of top picks and is a good choice for ardent Starbucks fans. Three other bright red choices paled in comparison including the DeLonghi Nescafé Dolce Gusto Creativa Plus, the CBTL Americano and Cooks Single-Serve from JC Penney.

Full coffeemaker Ratings and recommendations.

Red_blender_Vitamix_5200.jpgVitamix 5200 blender, $450, Recommended
The Vita-Mix 5200, our top-rated blender, is one of the most powerful blenders on the market today. Backed by a two horsepower motor, it aced our ice-crushing and icy drinks tests, and more. This robust machine was excellent at grating cheese and pureeing soup. It also excelled at the durability test in which we perform the ice-crushing test 45 times.

The Vitamix has a plastic container with an eight-cup capacity and dial/switch controls with 11 claimed speeds. It comes with a seven-year warranty. Although this blender costs more than all but two of our other top picks, its advocates like the online community, which shares recipe ideas and other tips.

Full blender Ratings and recommendations.

Red_processor_Cuisinart_small.jpgCuisinart DFP-14BCN food processor, $200, Recommended
This capable food processor trades a shorter motor warranty for a larger capacity. It offers impressive slicing, shredding, pureeing, and grating, but like many other Cuisinart models was less than impressive at chopping. It has wide feed tube for larger items and comes with a dough blade, but no mini-bowl insert for small items or a case for discs.

The Cuisinart has a capacity of 14 cups and features a wide feed tube that accommodates larger items. And it doesn't drown out conversations when used on its highest speed. It comes with slicing and shredding disks, a chopping and mixing blade and a dough blade, which is a nice extra.

Full food processor Ratings and recommendations.

Red_ microwave_Kenmore.jpgKenmore 6622 microwave (Kmart), $110, CR Best Buy
This midsized microwave excels at auto-defrosting and is relatively quiet, but it's only so-so at heating evenness and lacks a sensor, which shuts off the microwave when food is ready. It was excellent at defrosting.

Very easy to use, this model features buttons that are intuitive and don't require paging through the owner's manual. The microwave has an auto popcorn option but it doesn't work as well as some others we've tested and could not be adjusted for smaller bags of popcorn. The 1100-watt microwave also has a 12-inch turntable.

Full microwave Ratings and recommendations.

canister_Kenmore_Progressive_21714.jpgKenmore Progressive 21714 vacuum, $370, Recommended
Here's a vacuum you won't want to keep in the closet. Impressive cleaning and pet-hair pickup helped make this bagged canister a top pick. Carpet cleaning and airflow for tools are both impressive, while pick-up on bare floors and in our pet-hair tests proved superb. Other pluses include manual pile-height adjustment, suction control for drapes, a brush on/off switch for bare floors, and a retractable cord. While hardly a lightweight at 24 pounds, it's in line with most canisters we've tested.

More for the floor. Perhaps because they represent a dreaded chore, vacuum manufacturers have been making an extra effort to produce colorful uprights and canisters that get the job done. Here are four more in red that made our list of top picks including three CR Best Buys: the Panasonic MC-CG902 canister, the Kenmore Intuition 31100 upright, the Kenmore Progressive 31069 upright, and the Hoover WindTunnel Max UH30600 upright.

Full vacuum cleaner Ratings and recommendations.

Mary H.J. Farrell

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