Top honors in Consumer Reports brand-repair surveys and stout metal parts designed to be rebuilt instead of replaced could make the high-scoring, $1,350 Kirby Sentria upright the last vacuum you buy. But our latest tests of 100 upright and canister vacuums show that you can get top performance without the heirloom price.
The 90-year-old Kirby company is known for selling its vacuums through in-home demonstrations by certified distributors. “We firmly believe that every buyer deserves the opportunity to try it in the comfort of their very own home,” states the Kirby website. A hands-on test can be a good thing. Consumer Reports recommends that you push, pull, turn, and lift models that you’re considering. For example, using tools with the Kirby means removing the powerhead, rather than simply attaching a hose, which can be tricky.
Still, in our tests the Kirby was excellent at removing pet hair, vacuuming carpet and bare floors and had excellent airflow. It was a bit noisy and, at 23 pounds, one of the heavier models in our tests. Here are some other good choices.
Hoover’s WindTunnel T-Series UH30300, for $140, and Pet UH30310, $150, are two new additions to a long list of picks that cost $180 or less. Both bagged uprights cleaned carpets impressively and sucked up pet hair superbly. We also found solid choices among bagless models for as little as $50.
Prefer a canister? Kenmore’s new Progressive 21614, $300, is among the lower-priced bagged models that ranked high in our Ratings and is a CR Best Buy.
Other vacuums didn’t fare as well in our tests. “Never loses suction” is the claim on the bin of Eureka’s $80 bagless Endeavor NLS 5400A upright (sold at Walmart). Suction for tools was, indeed, strong. But this budget-priced vac was among the worst we tested when it came to the carpet cleaning that’s Job One in most homes. The Electrolux JetMaxx Green EL4040 canister, $400, boasts that 55 percent of its plastic is recycled. But carpet cleaning and airflow were just so-so.
Oreck touts a lifetime warranty for its Forever Series uprights, the $600 Oreck Edge and Oreck Pilot, based largely on motors it says should last at least 25 years. But like most warranties, this one covers only manufacturing defects, which typically show up in the first couple of years. And while both models did well at cleaning and were easy to handle, the Edge flubbed our airflow tests for tools, which the Pilot doesn’t accept.
Two other new bagged uprights from Oreck—the Graphite, $350, and XL Element Professional Series, $200—weigh under 12 pounds but offer mediocre carpet cleaning. Dyson’s DC26 City Multi Floor canister, $400, is similarly wimpy. But airflow, a selling point for other Dysons, was poor. And like the brand’s larger and heavier DC23 Turbinehead canister, this one was dismal at carpet cleaning.
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