Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DC Washing Machine Review
Whirlpool ditches the dial for a user interface unlike any other.
The Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DC (MSRP $1,299 in chrome or $1,199 in white) debuts a new user interface that divides the control panel into two halves: "What to Wash" and "How to Wash."
It's unlike any other washing machine we've seen, and it might attract some users who want wash customization but are intimidated by terms like "Permanent Press" or "Cold Wash."
When it comes to cleaning performance, the WTW8500DC keeps up with other top loaders. A 5.3-cu.-ft. drum can easily hold two baskets of laundry, and a low-profile impeller keeps laundry moving during a wash so everything gets evenly clean.
But while this model has sleek design and strong stain removal performance, it doesn't outperform cheaper Cabrios. Since the 8500 has a floor price of over a thousand dollars, it's only a good value if you love that new control panel.
For our review of this washer's matching dryer, the Whirlpool Cabrio WED8500DC, click here.
Design & Usability
Controls that are too controlling
The Whirlpool WTW8500DC is based on an all-new design, and it sure is sleek. It has no straight lines or pointed corners. Everything is smooth and rounded. High-end details include the slam-proof lid, and—of course—that massive drum.
However, what grabs the eye first is the control panel. It's completely touch sensitive and divided into two sections: What to Wash and How to Wash. What to Wash offers up what we'd normally call cycle selections, such as Mixed, Casual, and Sheets. How To Wash contains options like Normal, Cold, and Quick.
Over the course of several weeks, we had three different reviewers work the WTW8500DC's control panel. We came to two major conclusions. The first is that the layout is well thought out. The second is that we hope it ends up on less expensive machines, since it isn't so outstanding as to warrant a four-figure pricetag.
Most washers cram wash options along the right side of the control panel. On this Cabrio, options like Soil Level and Spin Speed are given their own level, which makes them a little more accessible and invites users to customize a wash.
In fact, this interface would be perfect for a user who hasn't owned a washing machine before—the sort of person who would really like to follow the care labels on his or her laundry, but always found it impossible to do so at the laundromat. Alas, at over a thousand dollars, this washer might be out of the price range of first-time homebuyers.
Additionally, there's not much differentiation among the options: Look at the owner's manual, and you'll see that most extra options aren't recommended. If you're washing Mixed, Casuals, Whites, Delicates, or Sheets, the manual tells you to leave the cycle selector on Normal—and you don't need a fancy control panel for that.
Performance & Features
Cleans like a $600 washer
Performance-wise, the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DC is an adequate top loader. Across all cycles it was particularly tough on blood and cocoa stains. The Mixed cycle set to Normal is long at 53 minutes, and when we ramped up the soil level to maximum, it extended the duration to 1 hour 7 minutes, but effectiveness increased dramatically.
Although the cleaning performance is solid, it's no better than previous Cabrio models like the WTW8000BW. That washer is currently selling for less than $600.
The only real advantage the WTW8500DC has over other top loaders is its size. At 5.3 cubic feet, this Cabrio is much larger than previous designs. If you're looking past the control panel, the high-capacity drum is the most compelling justification for the high price.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Before You Buy
Interesting, but not for everyone
Strictly speaking, the Whirlpool Cabrio WTW8500DC is a fine top-loading washing machine, even though it doesn't improve on the stain removal performance of its predecessors. What the 8500 does offer is a new type of user interface, one that would've been icing on a cake for a high-end washer with great performance—or an inexpensive washer aimed at first-time buyers.
Unfortunately, this mid-tier top loader straddles those two worlds. In the future, we hope that this technology will migrate to either better or cheaper machines.
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