Testing is heating up in the toaster labs at Consumer Reports. It will be another few weeks before the final results are in, revealing which toasters pop out the most evenly browned toast with the highest rate of consistency, but we can tell you this much—the current batch of toasters is the hottest we've seen in years. Here are a few of the highlights:
Pops of color. The trend for brightly colored countertop appliances is gathering steam in the toaster aisle. Red appears to be the most popular hue, with Kenmore, KitchenAid, Nostalgia, and Bella all offering toasters in that finish. The Bella Dots two-slice toaster, sold exclusively at Target for $25, has the widest spectrum, including blue, purple, orange, and more, all with a recessed dot pattern and sleek metallic finish.
See-through walls. More toasters allow you to watch your bread turn brown with transparent side walls, including the new Nostalgia Electrics RWT500CHR Retro Series window toaster for $50. From our current Ratings, the Magimix Vision toaster is a see-through model that makes our recommended list, and its single-slot design is helpful if you prefer long pieces of toast.
Streamlined design. Toasters are taking on cleaner lines, especially as more manufacturers get rid of the traditional push lever in favor of a motorized lift that lowers and raises bread with the push of a button. The latest example: Cuisinart's 4-slice toaster CPT440, $100. The 2-slice version of this toaster is currently our top-rated toaster in that category. Our top-rated 4-slicer toaster is a Breville model that also uses a motorized lift, setting up a showdown between similarly streamlined toasters.
Pro-style looks. KitchenAid, the biggest name in stand mixers, is looking to extend its reputation to toasters with the KitchenAid Pro Line Toasters, sold at Williams-Sonoma. Their heavy-duty die-cast aluminum construction makes for one of the sturdiest toasters on the market, though they're also among the priciest, with the 2-slice model costing $300 and the 4-slice costing $400. The toasters do have many of the features we look for, including extra-wide slots and settings for bagels and defrost.
Check back in a few weeks to see how the entire batch of newly tested toasters does in our Ratings.
More from Consumer Reports:
Top-rated home appliances
Best and worst products for your home
Expert Ratings and reviews