Read This: August Consumer Reports Tracks Appliance Reliability, Grocery Chains

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August 2019 issue is a must-have for high-end appliance shoppers.

Consumer Reports is a magazine most of us don’t read often enough. Sure, when we need a new TV or car, we scour the library for back issues, but this is hit and miss. Last weekend, sipping a cool drink outdoors at a local watering hole, I needed armor, so I bought and brought the latest Consumer Reports. So interesting was the August issue that my drink’s ice melted long before I’d finished reading.

For the first time, the magazine issued a report on appliance reliability by the manufacturer. Even more enticing is the inclusion of ultra-premium brands like Miele, Thermador, Sub-Zero, and Viking, which often get left out due to a lack of data compared with brands selling tons more units like GE or LG.

While not to be confused with the organization’s ratings on appliance usability and features, reliability is clearly as important when buying a car as a refrigerator. The surprising yet unsurprising thing was the general consensus by appliance makers that 10 years of life is good enough. Some ultra-premium players like Miele and Sub-Zero/Wolf claim 20 years of useful life while washer/dryer brand Speed Queen touts 25 years.

Of course, that’s not to say that consumers will have 10, 20, or 25 years of flawless service from their appliance. The organization reports that 40 percent of refrigerators will require some type of servicing within their first five years – ranges, the most reliable class of appliance will see 25 percent requiring service.

Reliability is important environmentally too. Those 10-year appliances produce twice as much landfill as those lasting 20 years – and if they’re not twice the price, you’re saving money in the long run. For example, a quick search found a stackable Speed Queen washer/dryer for $2,898 whereas similarly highly reliable LG would run roughly $2,200 for the set. For $700 more you get a set striving for 2.5 times the longevity. Quite the bargain.

Knowing our readers, you want to know where all the hotsy-totsy brands fall. Speed Queen was No. 1 overall, but they only sell laundry appliances. In the more full-line arena, Miele scored the top spot (followed by IKEA!). LG, Thermador, and Bosch rounded out the top six (not surprising as Thermador and Bosch are part of the same business that includes Siemens and Gaggenau – who weren’t rated).

The magazine does a good job breaking down how each appliance type within their lines fared in addition to an overall number. For example, Sub-Zero/Wolf got an overall middle-of-the-pack score of 58, but their refrigerators were rated “above average” only to be drug down by Wolf ranges and cooktops only receiving an “average” reliability rating.

The bottom of the list has surprises too. Dead last, with a score of 15 (!!!) was Viking, which received the lowest rating of “poor” reliability in all appliance categories except one where it received “below average” (cooktops). Next to the worst were Electrolux, Dacor, Fisher & Paykel, and Asko. For reference, Hotpoint and Amana were rated as being nearly four times as reliable as Viking.

I don’t want to give away too much of the non-profits’ secret sauce (buy the issue you cheapos), but there’s also a very useful section on the most frequent repairs by appliance. My friends think I’m odd for eschewing ice makers (I remove them) and water dispensers (never buy) but according to Consumer Reports’ research, 43 percent of all refrigerator repairs are tied to ice makers and water.

Anyone renovating or updating a kitchen needs to buy this issue and marry its rankings with Consumer Reports’ features and specs ratings before buying. Seeing Viking’s ranking, I feel I’ve dodged a bullet on the 8-year-old refrigerator I no longer own.

Central Market Takes Top Score

In the same issue, Consumer Reports ranks grocery store chains and various delivery services. Without delving into the details, Texas’ own Central Market, at 91 points, was rated the best grocery store chain in the nation. Of the top six, Trader Joe’s was the only national chain. Dallas big chains Kroger and Tom Thumb rated a middle-of-the-road 77 and 76 respectively.

Central Market’s individual rankings are not shocking to regulars. No one expects competitive pricing at the Tiffany of grocery stores. We’re all just happy they let us shop there.

Every time I pick up a Consumer Reports, I’m enthralled by all the information they have in every ad-free issue. For renovation junkies like me, appliance reliability has become another chapter in my renovator’s bible. Get your copy while they’re still on newsstands (you’ll want to own this issue as someone will invariably pinch the library’s and your dentist’s copy).

Remember:  High-rises, HOAs and renovation are my beat. But I also appreciate modern and historical architecture balanced against the YIMBY movement. In 2016, 2017 and 2018, the National Association of Real Estate Editors recognized my writing with three Bronze (2016, 2017, 2018) and two Silver (2016, 2017) awards.  Have a story to tell or a marriage proposal to make?  Shoot me an email Be sure to look for me on Facebook and Twitter. You won’t find me, but you’re welcome to look.



Jon Anderson

Jon Anderson is's condo/HOA and developer columnist, but also covers second home trends on An award-winning columnist, Jon has earned silver and bronze awards for his columns from the National Association of Real Estate Editors in both 2016, 2017 and 2018. When he isn't in Hawaii, Jon enjoys life in the sky in Dallas.

Reader Interactions


  1. Dr. Timothy B. Jones says

    Great story Jon. I upgraded to a Viking kitchen with the existing Sub-zero fridge in my Mayfair condo. The Viking stove was great (except hard to clean) but the microwave lasted only three years with light use. The dishwasher cleaned well but didn’t dry worth a flip. The Sub-zero fridge was a disappointment! Ice maker had a recurring leak and you had to take it apart and vacuum the coils every couple of months or it would stop cooling indicating a poorly designed air circulation system. It also was not deep enough to hold a pizza box! It’s pretty….but there are far better fridges out there!

    • Lori says

      Very strange. I’ve had a subzero fridge in a lake house that is now 25 years old. Only problem has been the ice maker and that is because we have very hard water. I’m told by others that ice makers are the main problem in their KitchenAids, Whirlpools, etc., too. We have neighbors whose house is 10 years older than ours. They are still on their original subzero. Had to replace the motor after 22 years. The new motor cost $1800. I have another subzero in main house that is 7 years old. Both my fridges coils are above and all I have to do is open that door and wipe the coils with a microfiber cloth. Have never had to take anything apart. As far as not deep enough for a pizza box, any fridge you get that is “counter depth” is going to have that problem. If you get a regular depth subzero, you don’t have that problem.

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