Whirlpool Cabrio Platinum WTW8540BW Washing Machine Review
If it's worth doing once, it's worth doing again
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Whirlpool's Cabrio Platinum WTW8540BW ($899 MSRP) is nearly a carbon copy of the excellent WTW8500BW, which is among the most cost-effective top-loaders of 2013. Only two buttons distinguish these models from one another: the 8540 is equipped with Clean Boost which adds extra rinses and spin, along with a dispenser selector to choose between Oxiclean, fabric softener, or both. The 8540 has a $100 lower MSRP, but sale prices will decide which is the better deal.
Design & Usability
A functional sense of deja-vu
Outside of our labs, few people will get the opportunity to examine the 8540 side-by-side with the 8500, but even under such circumstances, the two are nearly indistinguishable from one another and, by extension, nearly indistinguishable from the rest of the uniform Cabrio Platinum lineup. Other than the tinted drum window, which appears on some of the nicer Cabrio models, this washer's black control panel with chrome accents is totally familiar.
This machine's extra features are Clean Boost, an option that triggers additional agitation and soaking time to the cycle, as well as compatibility with stain fighters like OxiClean in the liquid bleach dispenser.
Performance & Features
Get's the job done.
Each of this washer's cycles offers overall performance that is statistically indistinguishable from the 8500. That's not surprising, since the two models are nearly identical. Since the 8500 was positioned in the Cabrio lineup's Goldilocks zone between cost and stain removal, so too is the 8540.
There's no Sanitize cycle, but the 8540's Heavy Duty and Whites cycles were each effective against particulate stains like dirt. All cycles struggled with sweat, but few washing machines really excel against this type of stain anyway. The Normal cycle was only a few percentage points behind Whites and Heavy Duty, so we do think this cycle will be sufficient for most loads.
We'd estimate an annual operating cost of over $50 for this washer, and that's more expensive than the average front loader by about $120 extra over the first five years. Water retention, the amount of moisture this washer wasn't able to spin out, was consistent with other models in the 8000 series, but this entire series lags behind the average front loader. More leftover moisture means more work for your dryer, which is more costly to run.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
A balance of power, price, and usability
The Cabrio 8540 is a derivative of one of the best washing machines of the year, but doesn't offer much new over the 8500 aside from a Clean Boost cycle and a dedicated dispenser for stain removers like OxiClean. Which one you choose will likely depend on sale prices and local availability, but if you're looking for a solid top-loader, either one is a good choice.
By the Numbers
Our suite of lab tests comprised more than 16 test loads for the Whirlpool Cabrio Platinum WTW8540BW, including measurements for hot and cold water requirements, electricity usage, internal drum temperature, and water retention. We gauge stain removal using controlled, pre-soiled testing cloth, and report results relative to the AHAM industry standard. Clothing wear is tested with controlled mechanical action cloths, which fray according to agitation intensity.
The performance profile is pretty consistent across all Cabrio models. Whites was this machine's most effective cycle, and was particularly strong against carbon (dirt) and cocoa, with decent scores for red wine and blood.
After this, Heavy Duty was the second best option, lagging behind Whites by 3% overall, with significantly less stain removal for carbon and cocoa. The Normal cycle was only 4% less effective than Heavy Duty, but this time struggled with carbon and cocoa. All cycles had trouble removing sebum (sweat) stains.
The Delicates cycle was considerably worse at removing all types of stains, but clothing was subjected to less than one-fourth the wear and tear of an average Normal cycle. Whites was the most aggressive cycle, with 50% more frayed threads than Normal.
Based on the cleaning habits of a typical American household, we've calculated the WTW8500BW will run you approximately $51.63 to operate annually, between the costs of hot water, cold water, and electricity. That's nearly double that average front-loading washing machine. None of the washers in Whirlpool's 8000-series earned particularly strong water retention scores, and the 8540 is no different. After spinning out as much moisture as possible, washing clothing still retained an average of 65% moisture across all cycles. Average water retention was 59% for a Normal cycle, but went as high as 92% for Delicates.