Finishing with a top score that is significantly higher than any other handheld vacuum that we have tested, it is easy to see why the Dyson V7 Car+Boat claimed the Editors' Choice award and the title of Best Overall. This vacuum is absolutely phenomenal at cleaning up every sort of mess we threw at it, delivering an unparalleled performance in each of our cleaning metrics. On top of that, this cordless vacuum has one of the longest runtimes of the entire group, all while being exceptionally convenient to use and making it easy to clean even the most difficult areas of your home. If you are on the hunt for the best of the best handheld vac, the V7 should definitely be your first choice — if you can afford its significantly higher price tag.
Dyson V7 Car+Boat Review
Pros: Unmatched cleaning performance, unrivaled battery life
Cons: Expensive, heavy
Compare to Similar Products
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dyson V7 finished about 20 points ahead of the BLACK+DECKER Flex Vac, the next closest competitor. While the V7 did do a better job in all of our cleaning metrics, the Flex Vac isn't that far behind and holds its own at cleaning difficult to reach areas. Unfortunately, the Flex Vac doesn't come close to matching the V7 in terms of convenience and battery life. However, the V7 is quite a bit more expensive than all of the other products, costing at least $100 than the next most expensive product.
To select which handheld vacuums are worthy of winning an award, we first conducted extensive research to decide which models showed the most promise, then bought them all to test head-to-head and see which one is truly the best. We ranked and scored the performance of each product in tons of different tests, which we grouped into six weighted metrics, with the V7's results in each of these discussed below.
Dust & Dirt
The V7 got off to a great start in our first metric, which is worth 20% of its overall score. We looked at how well it picked up fine particulates and caked on dirt to determine scores, as well as how well it can clean light messes from small ledges and in corners — think the tops of baseboards, small shelves, or window sills. This product earned a 9 out of 10 — the top score out of the entire group.
The Dyson V7 with the brush attachment made short work of cleaning up the flour on our statically charged plastic sheet, taking less than 15 seconds to completely clean it.
It did equally well cleaning up dirt and dried on mud from a hard surface, rendering it spotless in less than 5 seconds with almost no effort at all.
The long bristles on the brush attachment also make it super easy to clean small little ledges and tight corners.
This makes the Dyson a great option for cleaning the tops of baseboards, railings, or window sills.
Next, we evaluated and scored how well the Dyson did at collecting up some more difficult types of messes. In particular, we looked at how well each product did at cleaning up flour and crushed oats from carpet and upholstery, as well as how each vacuum handled larger particles. Additionally, we also measured and compared the air flow each vacuum caused with an anemometer in a sealed box. In total, these tests are accountable for 20% of the total score, with the V7 earning a 9 out of 10.
The V7 did an excellent job cleaning up flour from a section of automotive-style carpet, eventually removing the bulk of the flour. However, it didn't get as much with the initial pass as some of the other products, even when using the motorized brush head.
We used the same brush head in our crushed oats collection challenge, where the Dyson gave another spectacular performance. This vacuum sucked up all of the oats from both the section of carpet and from a couch cushion, easily getting at least 99% of the oats with only one or two passes.
The motorized brush head also easily crushed up the mini-wheats in our large particle test, cleaning all of them up without any clogging issues. The Dyson finished out this metric with a fairly strong showing in our anemometer test, generating an airspeed of 1594 FPM with its high-power cleaning mode — the second highest of the group.
We then moved on to ranking and evaluating how convenient and easy it is to clean cramped and confined spaces with each vacuum. We used each vacuum to clean out a sliding window track and crevices of varying sizes to come up with our score, with these tests also being worth 20% of the final score. The V7 again delivered another excellent set of results, earning a 9 out of 10.
The Dyson did fairly well at getting debris out of the window track, but the crevice tool is a bit wider than some of the other models, making it difficult to get as far into the track. However, it does make up for this a bit with its increased suction power on high, meaning that you don't need to be as close to the dirt or dust to suck it up.
The V7 did do an excellent job cleaning in a 3" gap, allowing you to reach up to 33" with the included hose attachment.
It still did well when we reduced the gap to 1.25", but could only reach about 7.5" when using the hose — still tied for the furthest reach of the group.
Our next metric, battery life, accounts for 15% of the total score for each vacuum. We simply timed how long each vacuum ran with a full battery and in the case of vacuums with multiple cleaning modes, like the Dyson, we based our results on 70% usage on low power, 30% usage on high power. The V7 did very well, earning an 8 out of 10.
This vacuum lasted for about 26 minutes in our combined usage test — one of the longest runtimes of the group. If you run it exclusively on high power mode, you can expect it to last for around 6.5 minutes. Running it solely in its low power mode allows you to maximize the battery life and clean for close to 34 minutes.
Convenience and ease of use also account for 15% of the final score, with the V7 earning a 7 out of 10 for its excellent results. We based this on the weight and noise level of each vacuum, as well as the ease of emptying and the size of the collection bin. We also took into account the difficulty of managing all the different attachments and accessories that each vacuum comes with.
The Dyson V7 is a bit on the heavier side, with the base unit weighing almost three pounds without any tools and the vacuum weighing close to four with the heaviest tool attached.
However, it did earn some points by being one of the quietest vacuums on its low setting and being only marginally louder on its high setting.
It also is very easy to empty the collection bin, which is about average in size with a 0.5L capacity.
Unfortunately, the V7 doesn't come with any integrated storage for all of its tools, so it can be a bit of a pain to manage them in an organized fashion.
For our final rating metric, we scored each vacuum on how well it did at cleaning up pet hair. This accounts for the remaining 10% of the final score, with the V7 finishing out our tests with another superb showing, earning it a 9 out of 10.
We spread out some donated pet hair on both a cushion and on a section of carpet, then tried to clean them both with the V7 with its motorized brush attachment. It did very well in both tests, collecting over 99% of the hair, but it can be a little harder to maneuver on the upholstery than some of the other products.
Regrettably, while the Dyson is a great vacuum, it is a terrible value option, costing two to three times as much as many of the other products.
Overall, the Dyson V7 should be your first choice if you want the absolute best handheld vacuum that you can buy. It comes with a hefty price tag, but it is the best. Period.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer