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Some ‘identical’ mattresses have big differences

Consumer Reports compares a Serta to its so-called replacement

Published: February 25, 2015 05:15 PM
Serta iSeries Vantage

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Take Consumer Reports' mattress Ratings along while you're shopping and a sales clerk may tell you that the mattress you’re looking for isn’t available anymore. But, wait, you’re in luck! The store stocks its “replacement,” which the clerk insists is the exact same mattress under a different name. We put that claim to the test with the $1,300 Serta iSeries Vantage, which the manufacturer says is the successor to our top-rated Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause, $1,075. And if you're considering that newer Serta, you're in luck—just not in the way you think.

We’ve just updated our mattress Ratings with 19 new innerspring and foam models, and the top-ranked innerspring, the Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause, is already becoming hard to find. So when we learned that the Serta iSeries Vantage would replace the champ, we hurried to test it. As you might expect, we thought it would, at the very least, offer similar back and side support.

The results are in, however, and while the new “identical” Serta iSeries Vantage scored similarly in most other ways, it delivered only marginally good back and side support in our tests. Not only did the older model score a notch higher in both tests, it’s also more than $200 cheaper. Watch for sales and you could pay far less.

Serta Perfect Day iSeries Applause

Buying a mattress has always been a tricky endeavor. In the hypothetical scenario above, for example, the last thing a sales clerk wants to tell you is, “We don’t carry that model.” Then, of course, you’d say thanks and leave.  So that's when the hard sell begins. You might be told that nobody carries that mattress, that it’s no longer being made but that there are many other fine choices in the store.

We recommend that you try out a mattress before buying it; even 10 to 15 minutes of sampling it in various sleep positions can give you an idea of how comfortable you find it, which is an individual and subjective judgment. And armed with the results of our mattress tests, you'll also learn how well the bed will support your back and side, how durable it will be over time, and other criteria such as how much it transmits vibration across the bed. All this information is the enemy of misinformation, the mattress seller’s stock in trade.

One more piece of advice: Mattress makers discontinue some models even after only a year or two, though that very model may be reintroduced under a completely different name. So check our mattress Ratings each time you shop. They now include almost 40 models, along with survey-based Ratings of the mattress stores and brands preferred by our readers. Be sure to see our mattress buying guide before visiting the store.

—Ed Perratore (@EdPerratore on Twitter)

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