Faster front-loaders from Whirlpool and Maytag ace our tests

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When you choose a product that's easier on the environment there's often a trade-off, such as a higher price or lower performance. Take washers, for example. Front-loaders use less water and extract more of it than top-loaders, but typically take longer. That's why the Maytag Maxima and Whirlpool Duet front-loaders Consumer Reports just tested turned our heads. They did an excellent job in 45 minutes.

"That's much shorter than our previous top-rated front-loader (100 minutes) and quicker than even the best top-loaders," says Emilio Gonzalez, the engineer who runs our tests of laundry appliances. "The cleaning performance and energy efficiency these machines are getting is impressive and we haven't seen any trade-offs, like more aggressive tumbling that's tough on fabrics."

The Maytag Maxima XL MHW7000AW, $1,150, tops our Ratings of 100-plus washers and is recommended. It was excellent at cleaning our laundry in 45 minutes, using the normal cycle on heavy soil setting. It has a large capacity, offers superb water and energy efficiency, and is relatively quiet. The matching dryer is relatively quiet and also a recommended model. The electric dryer is Maytag Maxima XL MED7000AW, $1,150 and the gas dryer is Maytag Maxima XL MGD7000AG, $1,300.

Maytag is part of the Whirlpool family and the Whirlpool Duet WFW88HEAW, $1,000, front-loader performed nearly as well as the top-rated Maytag. Both washers scored 90 out of 100, but the Maytag was better in our vibration tests. The Whirlpool's price and performance make it a CR Best Buy. The matching dryer is also a top pick. The electric dryer is Whirlpool Duet WED88HEAW, $1,000. The gas version is Whirlpool Duet WGD88HEAW, $1,200.

Learn more about their performance and features by checking the results of our tests of washers and dryers. In addition to front-loaders we test conventional and high-efficiency (HE) top-loaders. HE models don't have an agitator, use less water and extract more of it than conventional top-loaders. So HE washers are more energy efficient and top our Ratings of top-loaders, but they cost more and take longer than conventional washers. Sound familiar?

—Kimberly Janeway

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