It wasn’t so long ago that you had to spend thousands to get a treadmill that could do things like track your workout progress and connect to the Internet. But this kind of interaction has made its way to the entry level. In fact, three budget folding models from Consumer Reports' latest treadmill tests feature some form of connectivity, including the category’s new top-rated machine, the Nautilus T616, which sells for $1,000. 

Of course, you can have the “smartest” treadmill in the world, but if it doesn’t have sound ergonomics, sturdy design, and all the requisite safety features, it won’t do you much good in the long run (and it could even cause you harm). So let’s start with what impressed us about the Nautilus T616 during our performance and safety tests.

Among its roomy 61-inch-long belt, well-positioned console controls, and combination front and side handrails, the machine should comfortably accommodate a wide range of users and body types (though we always advise trying any exercise machine in the store before buying, be it a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike).

The Nautilus T616 also showed little sign of wear after six months of simulated usage during durability testing. And in terms of safety, the plastic tang style safety-key disengaged without issue and the belt came to a stop after the key was removed in 3.7 seconds on average, compared with an overall average stopping time of 5.7 seconds for all treadmills in our tests.

That solid all-around performance gave the Nautilus T616 an overall score that’s quite a bit higher than the next best model in our current treadmill Ratings. And as with all folding treadmills, the deck can be raised for compact storage when the machine is not in use.

The Nautilus T616 is one of the low-cost treadmills.

Now for the Fun Stuff

Like all new Nautilus treadmills, the T616 features Nautilus Connect, a free service that lets up to four users save and upload workout data for online tracking. That makes it possible to set goals, measure progress, and more. The technology works one of two ways: either you save your data to a USB stick, transfer it to your computer, and then upload it to the Nautilus Connect website, or download the free app to your smartphone and sync your data to it, via the T616’s built-in Bluetooth.

If weight loss is part of your fitness goals, Nautilus Connect also syncs with MyFitnessPal, another free service that allows you to track the food you eat. (Check out our report on diet plans to see how it fared against a dozen other options.)   

When you think about what you could spend on a commercial weight-loss plan and a personal trainer, the $1,000 price tag on the Nautilus T616 looks even better. But the fact that this low-cost treadmill performs as well as models costing two and three times as much is the smartest feature of all.