The Dyson V11 Torque Drive (available at Dyson for $699.99) is the first Dyson cordless vacuum we’ve tested to that can truly stand toe-to-toe with its corded vacuum cousins. While past attempts have required too many attachments to deal with the challenges of whole-house cleaning, this time around Dyson trimmed down and delivered a versatile, easy-to-use solution.
The V11 is smarter and more efficient than its predecessors. The suction power automatically adjusts based on floor type—more power for carpets and less for smooth surfaces—and the remaining battery life is displayed on an LCD screen that faces the user. No more nasty surprises when the battery dies halfway through your living room.
Design and Usability
When you’re paying top dollar, you expect attention to detail. And as usual, Dyson sweats the small details.
The V11 Torque Drive is roughly the same dimensions as the previous model, the V10 Absolute, but weighs in at 6.68 pounds, about one pound heavier. That added weight comes with an improved interface. You’re probably not used to the idea of a vacuum having an LCD screen, but it’s totally a plus. The screen tells you, down to the second, how much cleaning time you have left. When the V11 is fully charged, that turns out to be a decent amount of time.
On its lowest settings, the Dyson V11’s battery can run for about an hour, which is sufficient for maintaining your light cleaning. For the big jobs, like embedded dirt, the V11 shifts to “Boost” mode that ramps up the suction power but takes a huge toll on the battery life: just 9 minutes and 30 seconds (approx.).
Your mileage may vary because the Torque Drive features dynamic load shifting—a fancy way of saying that the suction adjusts automatically based on the surface. The cleaning time updates if you switch from carpet to hardwood. It’s a neat trick but the important part is that suction goes up and down based on the surface the vacuum is cleaning. You don’t want too the brushes to spin too hard on wood floors, lest they scratch everything up.
The main brush head is the titular Torque Drive with a beltless motor for greater durability. However, even with the Dynamic Load Shift, it’s sometimes too wide for cleaning cars and upholstery. For that, you should use the mini motorized tool. Those two are the standouts but our favorite attachment actually doesn’t clean. It’s an attachment clip that fits onto the wand. The clip lets you carry up to two tools securely. In the past, Dyson has tried various methods to help you manage all your attachments, including a $30 tote bag. This clip is the one method that actually seems sane to us.
Normally, when we test a cordless vacuum, we do so in a very regulated method. We place 20 grams of dirt that has an average grain size between 300 and 425 microns on a medium-pile carpet. The V11 aced this test, picking up 95 percent of the dirt we laid out for it. The next test we do involves picking up uncooked rice and macaroni. The engineers at Dyson clearly had concerns about their vacuum turning into a snowplow while in operation. The main brush head has crenellation-like gaps so debris does not pile up in front of it but rather sucked in.
Aside from our standard procedures, we wanted to turn the testing up a notch see what a pricey vacuum like this could handle. It just so happened that deep in the bowels of our headquarter’s basement, we were setting off smoke grenades while running some unrelated tests. The result was a room full of fine, red dust that would challenge any vacuum.
In the end, the Dyson handled itself well. The automatically shifting suction was not as quick as we’d like but this is the most powerful cordless vacuum we’ve ever tested.
Should You Buy this?
If you’re in the market for the best cordless vacuum, this is the one to check out. For the money, you’re getting features and performance that no other manufacturer can provide. The LCD screen with real-time battery monitoring is a big upgrade, particularly if you’ve ever had a cordless vac die on you in the middle of a task. Also, the automatically adjusting suction ensures you’re getting the proper clean on any surface. If you’re the type of person that wants an immaculate home and car, this is the V11 is the best.
The downside for many of you will, of course, be the price. The V11 is about three times more expensive than our Best Value pick among best cordless vacuums, though it’s not three times more powerful or convenient. If you just love the Dyson name (and hey, we get it!) there are older models, like the Dyson V8, with similar performance at a lower cost. You won’t go wrong if you choose the V11, but it always pays to know your options.
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