laundry

Maytag Bravos XL MVWB980BW Washing Machine Review

Internal competition defeats one of Maytag's priciest top-loaders.

$894.10 at Walmart
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Maytag's Bravos XL MVWB980BW resides near the peak of the company's top-loader lineup. It's equipped with a super-hot Sanitize cycle with steam cleaning, a gigantic 4.8-cubic-foot drum, and a Cold Wash cycle that removes stains without relying on hot water. But this washer will need to get your clothes pretty darn clean to justify the four-figure price tag, meaning this unit is best for users who really depend on that Sanitize feature, and won't be right for those who don't.

Design & Usability

Sanitize is the only meaningful difference here

Other than the addition of the all-important Sanitize cycle with steam, the 980's user interface is identical to the next model down in Maytag's lineup: the MVWB880BW. In fact, you'll find this a trend that applies to much of the 980's design and performance.

A large cycle dial is centrally located on the control panel, and bright yellow LEDs make clear which cycle you've selected. Many will find this is all the control that's ever necessary. If you want to get more specific, it's possible to dial in wash temperature, spin speed, and soil level manually, using the Modifiers section of the control panel. Here you may also activate spray rinse and extra rinse, adjust the finished cycle chime, or make the washer aware that you're using fabric softener.

The lid's large window bezel is responsible for some of this washer's extra cost. The lid will stay open at certain angles for loading up the machine, and will slow down right before closing so that it doesn't slam shut.

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Performance & Features

Steam clean is nice, but there's no additional performance to sweeten the deal.

This washer will get your clothes clean, but so can its closest competition. We're more interested in how drastically the addition of steam features has affected other cycles, and the answer is "not much."

beforeafter.jpg
Before and after on a cocoa stain using the Power Wash cycle. View Larger

Turns out the 980 and the 880 aren't all that different from one another. Our tests confirmed the 980 does a similar job cleaning clothes, the most severe discrepancy was only a marginal, 5% difference in the Power Wash cycle. There were no additional efficiency gains, nor was this washer more gentle with clothing. The 980 retained a bit more water following each cycle, and will cost a couple dollars extra per year in hot water and electricity thanks to its specialty cycles.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Our Take

Need to sanitize? If not, save your money.

For every washing machine test that we run, the MVWB980BW failed to beat cheaper models within Maytag's very own lineup. The only difference is a Sanitize cycle, which may come in handy if you've got youngsters or frequent laundry messes. If that doesn't matter to you, and you want a top-loader, save some money and go with the 880 instead.

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