Best Upright Vacuums of the Year

Mary H.J. Farrell

If you’re looking for a new vacuum, check out the uprights when you shop. These vacuums outperform canister models on carpets and are much easier to store. Upright vacuums outsell all other types by far. In fact, almost half the vacuums on the market are upright models, according to NPD, a market research group.

The upright vacuum has a design edge over canisters when it comes to carpet cleaning. “With the full weight of the vacuum sitting over the powerbrush, you can more easily push it down into the carpet pile to suck up the debris caught deep inside,” says Frank Rizzi, a senior lab technician for CR who tests vacuums. In our tests, the best uprights are good at cleaning bare floors, too. 

How We Test Vacuums
Consumer Reports is continually testing vacuums in its labs. For the carpet-cleaning test, we embed talc, sand, and pet hair into carpet before vacuuming. For bare floors, we use the same type of debris and observe whether the vacuum picks it up or scatters it around instead. To judge how easy an upright is to operate, we maneuver the vacuum around and under furniture just like you would.

The Overall Score for each model incorporates results for each of these tests, as well as ratings for that brand’s reliability and owner satisfaction. Both are determined based on information from CR’s member survey regarding respondents’ experiences with more than 80,000 upright, canister, and stick vacuums purchased over the past 10 years. A brand’s reliability rating gauges the likelihood that newly purchased models will have problems within five years, and owner satisfaction shows how likely members are to recommend their vacuum to others. 

Here are eight great upright vacuums from our tests, arranged alphabetically, not in order of Overall Score. For more on vacuums, see our vacuum buying guide and our latest vacuum ratings.

Kenmore Pet Friendly 31140

CR’s take: If you have a pet that sheds and hardwood or tile floors, the Kenmore Pet Friendly 31140 will serve you well because it earns Excellent ratings on both those tests. It also earns a Very Good for cleaning carpet. Suction through the hose is impressive, so if you use your attachments to clean curtains or upholstery, you won’t be disappointed. Emissions are clean, meaning this bagged vacuum retains what it sucks up. It comes with a HEPA filter, which is designed to capture more dirt particles, and a light that indicates when the bag is full so you know when it’s time to change it—two pluses if you’re sensitive to dust. Based on data from our exclusive member survey, Kenmore uprights earn a middling score of Good for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction.

Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150

CR’s take: Although “pet” is part of this model’s name, the Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 is better at cleaning bare floors than pet hair, earning an Excellent rating in that test. It still earns a Very Good rating for removing pet hair, though. It reliably cleans carpet and has clean emissions, meaning everything it sucks up stays in the vacuum. It’s a bit on the noisy side compared with some of the other models on this list, however. It’s also heavier than most, weighing 21 pounds. It has a cord that's 35 feet, which is fairly long, and an indicator that lets you know when the bag should be replaced.  

Kenmore Pet Friendly CrossOver 31220

CR’s take: At 18 pounds, the bagless Kenmore Pet Friendly Crossover 31220 is lighter than its brandmate above. It matches the Kenmore 31150 with top-notch bare floor cleaning and, true to its name, earns an Excellent rating at picking up cat fur. It falls short of our top marks for carpet cleaning, earning a still-impressive Very Good rating. And unlike some bagless models, it’s top-notch at retaining the debris it cleans up. But this Kenmore is noisy, and the cord is 29 feet long, a foot shorter than the cord on some of the vacuums featured here.

Kenmore Pet Friendly Cross-Over DU3017

CR's take: A new addition to our ratings, the Kenmore Pet Friendly Crossover DU3017 is another strong contender. It earns Excellent ratings for cleaning bare floors and removing pet hair, living up to its model name. It's almost as good at cleaning carpet, and tool airflow is impressive, making this a good choice if you use your attachments a lot to clean upholstery or curtains. Emissions are clean. But like some of its brandmates, this Kenmore is a bit noisy, and our testers report that it's not the easiest vacuum to maneuver around and under furniture.

Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog

CR’s take: If you have pets and carpeting, the bagged Miele Dynamic U1 Cat & Dog is the upright vacuum for you. It aces our tests for cleaning pet hair and carpet. In fact, there’s not much this vacuum can’t do. It earns an Excellent rating for cleaning bare floors, and no matter the surface, it doesn’t spew debris back into the room. A bonus: It’s quieter than most uprights. With a generous 40-foot cord, you’ll have a lot of running room, too. But our testers found the 22-pound vacuum a bit harder to handle than some other models. Miele earns top marks for owner satisfaction in our survey but only average for predicted reliability.

Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away NV831

CR’s take: The Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away NV831 is a good choice whether you have bare floors or carpet, earning an Excellent rating for floors and a Very Good score for carpet. But it’s so-so at removing pet hair, so if you have a dog or cat, there are better choices. It handles and traps dirt well, but it’s a bit on the noisy side. The bagless model weighs 18 pounds and has a 30-foot cord. Shark gets a Very Good rating for predicted reliability and also top marks for owner satisfaction.

Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Speed NV800

CR’s take: At 15 pounds the bagless Shark DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Speed NV800 is one of the lighter uprights on this list. It earns an Excellent rating for cleaning bare floors and is almost as good at removing pet hair. But cleaning carpet is a challenge, so it’s not the best choice for homes with rugs. Emissions are clean—no debris is released back into a room—and it handles well. The cord is 30 feet long.

Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away NV586 (Target)

CR’s take: A Target exclusive, the Shark Navigator Powered Lift-Away NV586 has a 26-foot cord and weighs about 16 pounds. It receives an Excellent rating in both our pet hair and bare floors tests, though it doesn’t fare as well on carpet. Our testers found that this vacuum handles well, but it’s noisier than other upright vacuums.

Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680

CR’s take: At 14 pounds, the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed NV680 is the lightest model on this list. But it’s no lightweight at cleaning, and it’s one of the quietest bagless uprights in our tests, earning a rating of Very Good for noise. It does a solid job of getting embedded dirt out of carpets, plus it’s a beast at removing pet hair, a must if you have a dog or cat. This vacuum is great at keeping debris from flying back into a room, and it handles very well. The cord is 30 feet long.

Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501

CR’s take: If you have mostly bare floors, the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away NV501 is for you; it earns an Excellent rating in our test for carpetless floors. It’s not bad on carpets, either, earning a Very Good rating in that test. This Shark is easy to maneuver and keeps dirt trapped inside. But it’s not the best bet for households with pets; in our tests it struggles to vacuum up pet hair. It weighs 17 pounds and has a 30-foot cord.

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