Shopping for a new washer: Whirlpool vs Roper

I've gotten some good advice from this group, and thought I'd share my recent experience. I had to replace my 11 year-old Whirlpool washer (we push our washer pretty hard - we probably average 3 loads a day), and naturally my main concern was reliability, balanced with low cost. Here's what I found:
Consumer reports 2 most recent repair frequency ratings (March 06 and Jan 07) put Roper at the top, at 6%-7% . Whirlpool and GE were in the next tier at 9%-10% (that's percentage of reported machines that ever needed a repair). This is by far the most useful information CR provides, since it's based on thousands of actual consumers reporting their experience. The rest of the stuff they report on is of dubious value. I read the reports, but don't always agree with their conclusions or opinions. It's funny, because they focus a lot on efficiency of water and power usage, but also freely admit that the extra cost for the most efficient machines will take many, many years to recoup.
After a bit of research (mainly here), I found that Roper is apparently made by Whirlpool. I had always associated Roper with bottom-of-the-line el-cheapo appliances, but I gave them another look, especially after seeing the CR reliability numbers. Whaddayaknow, the Roper at Lowes said "Roper by Whirlpool Corporation". So I looked at it a bit closer. Looking into the tub was almost like looking into my old Whirlpool. I pulled the agitator cap off, and there was the same agitator dog assembly underneath. Looking down below, I saw what looked like the same pump/motor/direct drive assembly, and the basic innards looked almost identical. To top it all off, it was the cheapest washer I'd looked at so far! I bought it right there and hauled it home. And this wasn't the bottom-of-the-line 1-knob 2-cycle cheapo either. It had 4 water level settings, 3 temperature settings, and 3 main cycles: Normal, Permanent Press and Gentle. The only feature we gave up was the nice-to-have-but-in-reality-little-used PreSoak cycle. No, it's not a fancy, feature-laden machine, but it has everything we normally use with no fluff. Cost? $275! Comparable Whirlpools and GEs were going for $50-$100 more, and outside of a couple of minor features, the main thing they had going for them was that they looked sharper and more modern. The Roper looks more plain and utilitarian. If we were hosting dinner parties to show off our laundry machines, then the looks might be worth something, but they pretty much spend their days alone in the laundry room. Big deal. And to top it off, the Whirlpool it replaced cost me $410 11 years ago! (Have appliance prices really gone down that much, or did I pay too much back then?)
I have theory about the reason Ropers rated higher in reliability than their Whirlpool brethren: I suspect most Ropers sold have fewer features - less stuff to go wrong. I bet a good chunk of the Whirlpool repairs reported had to do with fancy new features - electronic panels and such. I don't know, but maybe Roper only sells basic machines. I read a couple of comments here about Ropers being more simple machines, and that was a big factor in me giving them a second look.
I had also been considering a GE (Sam's club had a nice model at a good price), but since I wound up with a Roper, I already know how to replace such common part failures as the pump or motor coupler (in fact, I scavenged all the useful parts from the Whirlpool before hauling it to the recycling place). Since I'm not an appliance repairman, there's always a learning curve for me the first time I have to repair one - this way, the first time something goes out, I'll be able to fix it in a jiffy.
I hope this is helpful to someone in the future. I'd be interested to hear any comments or other opinions.
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wrote:

Basically all Whirlpool/roper top loaders are the same mechanically and that is a pretty good system. You will be replacing agitator dogs and drive couplers every once in a while over a decade or more (my Wp is 25+ years old, one set of couplers 2 sets of dogs) but the rest will probably last forever. The real difference is the timer and the simpler the better. Most people never use more than one or two "cycles" anyway.
One problem I have with consumer reports is they do not differentiate between minor problems and serious ones in their frequency of repair statistics. This might actually be a bettter indication of the customers than the machine.
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