Consumer Reports Toilet Reviews-American Standard & Kohler On Top

blondelleJuly 15, 2009

Their top rated toilet was one of the Champion models from AS, and the second highest rated was a Kohler one. Don't remember the exact ones. I think the Toto Drake was #9, and the UltraMax much below that. I was really surprised. It's in the special issue for kitchen and bath products on the stands now.

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I think CR has a bias that includes cost. And I don't mean bias in a negative way, just that they include pricing in the equation.

A few plumbers I talk with say the Cadet 3 is a lot of toilet for the money and the Champion isn't that great. Hard to figure it out. I used to(20 years ago) think of CR as the gospel, now I look at lots of sources.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:18PM
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Usually I don't pay attention to Consumer Reports either, but it sounds like they may be right this go round. There is a report, an independent study done called MAPP (I think) and it has test results for thousands of toilets along with their model numbers. American Standards Cadet & Champion (certain models only) came out as leaders of the pack.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:24PM
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I wouldn't trust and/or rely on CR for any purchase. They offer good tips on what to look for in a product, but their ratings are biased and based too heavily on price.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 9:47PM
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We were talking about replacing the toilet in our powder room and I told DH about the Toto's. When he saw the price range he immediately said no! Price is a criteria (sadly) in my family too.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2009 at 11:54PM
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I recently stayed at a hotel that had an American Standard toilet in the bath. While it functioned satisfactorily, I am much happier with my Toto Carlyle.

Flush with AS was a bit weird, one had to hold it down for too long. With Toto, it is quick.
Noise with AS was tremendous and I had to use flush at least twice each time to clean completely. With my Toto, it is amazing how little water is used, how quickly the tank fills up and yet it cleans up 99.99% times.
Look-wise, I like the skirted look better.

In short, all due respect to CR, and definitely AS products are fine but I think if you are looking for a more high end experience definitely Toto is better than AS or Kohler.

Just my 2c.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 1:52AM
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After I had posted that I went over to the site and it seems a lot of people are unhappy there with the AS Champion toilet as it leaks and needs repairs frequently. I don't care for the look of the Champion either. I'm going with the Toto Soiree I think. Much prettier. To me design is as important as function. It is of concern though that the Toto's weren't rated very highly by CR. I thought the Ultramax was supposed to be great and it was towards the bottom of their ratings.

I'm curious what the second choice Kohler was. Going back to the bookstore to check the article again and make some notes.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 8:40AM
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For those interested, the 2009 report on "Maximum Performance Testing of Popular Toilet Models" is readily available on line.

Here is a link that might be useful: Both the condensed and full reports are posted

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 3:29PM
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Thanks! I had seen that before but I can't make heads or tails of their numbers, and which is best from that. The CU report is much easier to understand.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 5:29PM
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We have a Kohler Memoir and an American Standard, but here when we bought the house and it's have worked fine. Champion, there are several model Champion model numbers, specific ones have had problems. But most of the reviews I've read people have been for the most part, happy with them. According to the MAPP reports, there are specific models that have done very well. We shall soon find out, I have one sitting in the garage to be installed next week.

I didn't want a Toto. Not only because I don't like way the most of them look, but the reviews I've read over the past 6 mos were very mixed as well. They didn't do as well in the MAPP reports AND, I really wanted to buy a product that's American made.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 8:17PM
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After LOTS of on-line research, including the forums on Terry Love's website, we installed three AS Cadet 3 toilets in our new house. Although we've only been in for a month, so far I give them a "thumbs up", and the price was much less than the Totos. Only problem was that one of them had a defect in the glazing inside the bowl...something that others have reported, as well. I think that the bowls are made/glazed outside the US (?Mexico), and there have been some issues with quality control. When I pointed it out to our plumber, he straight away took it out and exchanged it for another one, no questions asked. We do not find that you have to hold the handle down, it flushes quickly and thoroughly in a single flush, and doesn't seem noisy to me. So my only caveat, if you decide to go with AS, is to carefully inspect the glazing on the tank and bowl before installation to ensure that it is continuous.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 9:46PM
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Of the three toilets that were in this house when I moved in (6yrs ago), two were AS & one is a Kohler. The Kohler is currently about 8yrs old, and I HATE it. DH wouldn't buy another Kohler product if you paid him. Anything more than two squares of TP requires a double flush, and everyone in my family knows that toilet is only for "little business". And when something breaks it's pain in the neck to get a replacement part or anyone to work on it.

On the other hand, one AS was put in during a 1980's addition, and will flush just about anything, the other one (I believe) was the original toilet (can't imagine they could ever have found a replacement in just that shade of ugly 60's mauve!). It also would flush anything, and with the exception of a chain that would break periodically, I never had any problems with it. It has just -- two days ago! -- been replaced with a new AS Champion. It's the Townsend, and I'll have to let you know how it does over time.

As for CR, well, the sad truth is that many of us do have to take price into consideration, so they are providing a good service, imho. But with any big purchase, you have to do your research, and that requires looking at different sources. Honestly, I value the opinions I get from all of you just about as much as any info I see at CR.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 9:57PM
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The tests are trying to replicate actual use. They cannot replicate your taste and values. That is the whole problem with the objective ratings by CR.

I bought a Cadet. I tried to install it. I had to take it back, as the base was not level, and I was a bit disgusted with the finish all around. I was going to exchange it for another, but checked the unit at the store first, finding other problems.

I now have the Toto Ultramax. It cost more. But, considering the function (perfect) and installation (perfectly easy and quick) I am very happy. We use this thing EVERY DAY. MANY TIMES. It looks nice, and functions well. Why do people get so upset about the price? This thing will be flushing crap for years and years. Money well spent.

I have a 1924 wall-hung toilet that is going to be replaced soon. Think of the value of that thing--how 85 years of flushing. Since it is a 14" rough, not everything fits well. Guess what we will be getting? Toto makes the only "real" 14" rough. Enough already.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 10:04PM
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Toto is made in Georgia. I think the Neorest and the Washlets are still made in Japan but mostly all the toilets they sell state side are made in the US.

Just wanted to clarify. I have owned Totos for many years and don't know that I would consider anything else. They fit the style that I like and function flawlessly. I also have a washlet that has performed without issue for 4years.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2009 at 10:17PM
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How many points seperate the #1 toilet and say the #12 toilet on the list?

What is the margin of error?

How much of a difference in points does CR find to be meaningless?

Do they place any weight on aestetics? Do their customers ?


    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 12:53PM
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We've got the ADA Toto Drake and are very satisfied. We just installed an AS Cadet in another bathroom a few days ago, because I couldn't find a ADA-height Toto in the required 10" rough-in. The Cadet had to be ordered from a plumbing supply house because the big box stores didn't have it in that size AND the bone color we needed. It's too soon to really give an opinion on the Cadet, but so far so good. Some reviewers said it leaves a big gap between the tank and the wall, which didn't happen in our bathroom--in fact, there's enough less of a gap now that I can't put back my spacesaver shelving unit. Maybe that's because of the space-saving tank, I'm not sure.

Bottom line, I think there are lots of good toilets these days. Manufacturers seem to have learned how to make a decent low-flow toilet, unlike 20 years ago. I definitely took into account the MAPP reports when choosing both of our toilets, after getting burned with a REALLY lousy Gerber. Once I discovered the MAPP ratings I learned that our model of Gerber had a performance rating of 400, compared to 800 for the Toto Drake and 1000 for the Cadet 3.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 3:47PM
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Yes, thanks for the clarification, I understand that some or even most of the models are manufactured in the states, but American Standard is an American owned company and that's what I probably should have clarified with. If I can do business with an American owned company I'd prefer that, just as I prefer to support small local businesses; even if that means a paying a little more at the register. To me, buying by from American owned company rates on the same level as buying green products. I firmly believe as a whole we should support our domestic manufacturers and local businesses whenever and where ever possible.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 4:40PM
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Good luck finding a truly American company.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 9:24PM
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American Standard has moved all its manufacturing to Mexico and Asia. I don't want to make this about American versus non-American manufacturers. There is no such beast any more. I am more concerned about spending my money where the countries attempt to respect their workers and don't undercut other workers in other parts of the world. Also, good quality material is important that wil not contain lead and good knows what other fillers to save a few pennies up front.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2009 at 10:42PM
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Just ordered 2 Kohler Cimarron Class 6 technology toilets in almond and am crossing fingers. Style is not exciting, but afraid to order Class 5 in Kohler.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 5:40PM
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Lukkiirish, I understand your desire to feed the American economy, but money is money and if the quality isn't there then you're just throwing your money away.

I bought the Kohler Memoirs pedestal and the Toto Clayton. They're a good match. In 18 months of use I've yet to need a plunger for the Toto, unlike the American Standard in the other bath.

Here is a link that might be useful: Toto Clayton

    Bookmark   July 18, 2009 at 10:09PM
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Luk -

Just curious how you reconcile supporting local in this instance. A.Standard is American but sends manuf jobs out of country as well as material sourcing. Toto is an Asian firm that has set up here and provides jobs to Americans, business to American suppliers ect...

Are you saying you are merely concerned with where the profits end up ?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 8:05AM
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this is actually the first I've heard that they are manufactured outside of the states. I was completely under the impression from things I've read that they were manufactured here, in the US. That doesn't change the fact that I feel Terry Love's site is biased in Toto's favor and I've read many a poor review on the toto toilets including the MAPP reports which reflect many of them don't rate as high as American Standard. I'd still prefer to spend MY money on AS over Toto. I have btw, lived in Mexico (in a mud house on a ranch in the middle of no where) and understand the situation there better than most. After the manufacturing leaves the states it's pretty much a moot point but because of my own personal experiences, I probably would support jobs in Mexico before I'd support them abroad in China or any other country for that matter.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 9:59AM
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Luk, just make sure you keep a plunger handy. ΓΆΒΊ

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:51AM
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I have 4 very recent (last 3 years) toilet purchases, from a Jaccuzzi- not worth discussing, to a Kohler (Ingenium, I think), AS and Toto. I think one must distinguish old from new, 5 gal flush from 1.6 from even less...

The latter 3 are all excellent. Differences are notable from water spot size, to noise, to clean bowl. BUT I would still buy any of those 3 again, the AS cadet and Toto Promenade are the most similar in function, but the Toto is much more quiet, for certain.

I find that MaP thing a little cumbersome to read... antss- yes, studies must show their data: study size, confounders, statistical significance of results, etc., ;-). Where is the p value?!?!

And to note, in allll the yeeaars of using CR, which has been very helpful, one does need to understand that the rating is definitely cost related- best value for the dollar. I have purchased things that were top of the list, but definitely not the top product. I have learned. They don't always prioritize the same as I would, and it can be difficult to pick apart that subtlety.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 2:17PM
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Don't want to start a fight. I just don't want someone reading this thread and assuming incorrect information. Everyone needs to make the best choice for their home.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 2:43PM
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Thanks for the advise Natal, but I don't think we'll be needing it. We looked for a specific model that rated well, and am optimistic it will be fine, just like all the other American Standard toilets and faucets I've used.

Pepperidge farm put it very well, thank you. Yes the Map thing can be cumbersome, but IMHO it seemed much more thorough and detailed and the specific model number we bought rated very high, the highest to be exact even when compared to totos.

Hmmm, I'm not sure what the p value is? Pepperidge what is that anyway?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 2:53PM
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Luk - "I probably would support jobs in Mexico before I'd support them abroad in China or any other country for that matter."

My question is would you rather support jobs in Mexico or China over those in Georgia USA ?

and a follow. up what point does performance enter into the equation? Meaning how much inferiority will you tolerate in the USA made product before you'd live with the Asian or S.American product assuming the prices are all relatively the same?

P Farm - I'm talking about CR's data. They don't have to show or tell us anything and most often don't. In this example there is very little point difference in the top 10 and most Americans would most likely want the #1 or 2 choice over that of # 10-11. If the error or subjective judgement rate that separates 2 & 11 is within a margin of error the public isn't really getting a good review of a top 10 list are they?

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Performance is my main criteria. Past experience with American Standard led to the decision to try Toto. Next bath remodel will have another Toto.

As much as it pained my dad, who served in WW II, to see us buying Datsuns and Toyotas there was no denying we were getting a better product.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 6:29PM
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Homepro - Thanks for your information, I know you're not.

Antss - I don't HAVE to justify my preferences or reasons for them to you or anyone else. Opinions are asked for and therefore given. You are entitled to yours and I'd appreciate it if you would stop questioning me about mine. -- Lukki

    Bookmark   July 19, 2009 at 11:34PM
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Luk - you're correct That's what makes America great.

I'm not trying to be snippy , I'm simply trying to gain insight into the minds of the typical American consumer. I am especially interested in the thought process when someone says they want to or have bought an item because of it's "Made in the USA" connection.

This is a perfect case in which to tell whether it's just the aura of a USA product or if the item really should be made in the USA by American workers.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2009 at 7:42PM
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I've been lurking & learning for awhile now. Thanks for that help! ;)

I'm interested in purchasing a vanity made by Indocraft, but I can't find any info on the company. Does anyone know anything about them (quality & customer service)?


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 6:12PM
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Adding my experience with the AS Cadet 3 here. I installed one 3+ years ago, & it has performed flawlessly during that time, & still looks & acts brand new.

The other (old, cheap, unknown brand) toilet in the house broke yesterday, so I popped in here to look through any new info & reviews before going shopping. Based on what I've read so far, I'll probably get another AS Cadet 3.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 7:33PM
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>>one AS was put in during a 1980's addition, and will flush just about anything>>

A 1980's addition? Are you sure about that date? It should flush anything, that's not a low-flush toilet. We have a Kohler low-flush that was put in 1990 - the first one Kohler ever offered, in fact. CA was the first state to mandate low-flush toilets and water-saving showerheads/faucets. If you press the handle and release quickly, it does a 1.5gl flush. If you hold it down, the entire 5gl tank empties.

BTW, it's been shown that much of the performance of low-flush toilets is dependent on your own plumbing. New plumbing works best with low-flush toilets.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 11:00PM
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