What's new with big-ticket appliances?

Do your kitchen appliances need replacing? If it's been a while since you've shopped around, you'll notice that a lot has changed.

That's where Consumer Reports comes in. It tests hundreds of appliances every year to help you save thousands of dollars.

For refrigerators, Consumer Reports says that after style considerations, there are only a handful of features worth the money. CR testers like a freezer compartment that converts to fridge space for storing extra food around the holidays or when you're entertaining. Even better, if you buy a lot of fruits and vegetables for your family, look for airtight crisper drawers. They're designed to keep produce fresher, and that means a good crisper drawer can save money in the long run. The crisper drawers in the French-door style LG model LFC22770ST performed well. Plus, CR's lab tests found that the LG keeps a consistent temperature throughout the fridge and offers excellent efficiency and thermostat control.

When it comes to cooking, you have plenty of options in gas, electric, and induction models. Plenty of people assume that gas is the way to go. But CR tests have shown that there are top performers among all three. And in general, one way you can save money is by skipping a separate wall oven and cooktop and going for a range instead. Chefs and bakers alike may want to consider the CR recommended Frigidaire Electric Smoothtop model FGEF3035RF, which offers excellent simmering and broiling, plus a large oven that our testers say is impressive at baking.

Are you looking for a dishwasher that delivers? So many of today's models have a soil sensor, which means you can just scrape off your dishes (skip the pre-rinsing), load them, and let the dishwasher do its job. The Bosch Ascenta model SHX3AR75UC is a CR Best Buy that comes with a soil sensor and has adjustable upper racks and tines so you can adjust them to what you need to wash. And it offers excellent cleaning performance.

Here is CR's MOST crucial tip: Size it right.

No matter which appliance you're shopping for, you want to be sure to measure the space it's going into and the doorways it will have to go through to get there.
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