≪ Go to our review of Vacuum Cleaner
Hands-on Gear Review
Shark Navigator Deluxe Review
Price: $180 List | $129.99 at Amazon
Pros: Best at cleaning up pet hair, solid cleaning performance across the board
Cons: Shorter reach
Bottom line: The best performance dollar for dollar of the entire group
Earning the Best Buy award, the Shark Navigator Deluxe is a great vacuum at an even better price. It performed well across the board and retails for less than half the cost of every model that beat it. This is the vacuum for those that still want a great product, but won't spend over $200 for an appliance. This model also does exceptionally well at collecting pet hair, making it a great choice for those with a cat or dog that sheds excessively.
RELATED REVIEW: Best Vacuum Cleaners of 2017
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
Finishing just behind the top scorer in three of our metrics, the Shark Navigator is a great, second-tier vacuum at a reasonable price, offering the best performance on a budget of any model that we looked at. It didn't have any major deficiencies in our tests, with no major concessions due to its reduced price. While this model doesn't have a ton of extra features or functions, this simple vacuum gets the job done without sucking away too much of your hard-earned cash.
To truly find out which vacuum cleaner is the best, we conducted extensive amounts of research to select the top models and formulate a testing plan that would push these products to their absolute limits. We then purchased the top models, pitting them head-to-head in out tests, then scoring their overall performance from 0-100. The tests were divvied up among five weighted rating metrics — Carpet Cleaning, Hard Surface Cleaning, Ease of Use, Handling, and Pet Hair — with the following sections detailing the performance of the Shark Navigator Deluxe in each metric.
The highest weighted metric in our test — Carpet Cleaning — takes credit for 35% of the overall score for each product. We tested each product by spreading out Cheerios, rice, cereal, and flour on both flat and fluffy carpet, assessing scores based on the amount of material collected and the number of passes required to do it. The Shark Navigator delivered a good showing, meriting it a 6 out of 10. You can see how the rest of the group compared to the Navigator in the chart below.
The Shark Navigator did an excellent job at collecting rice from the flat carpet, only rivaled by the performance of the Kenmore. The Navigator got all of the whole grains out of the carpet and only left a tiny amount of rice dust behind, using only two passes. Performance dropped a little in the fluffy carpet test, with the Navigator taking about 4 passes and only doing an average to above average job.
Starting a trend, the Navigator also did a fantastic job at collecting flour from the low-pile carpet. This model was a very, very close second overall, only outperformed by the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball and the Shark Rotator. However, it did drop back slightly when it came to extracting flour from fluffy carpets. It still did well, just not amazing, locking in the fourth place position.
Moving on to our cereal test, the Navigator delivered an unimpressive but not disappointing performance. It did well on flat carpet, but took an additional third pass to collect all of the fragmented Cheerios it had crushed up and failed to collect. It did have one of the best first passes of the entire group, collecting over 90% of the mess, just required a few cleanup passes to complete the task. The Navigator did about average in the medium-pile version of this test, tending to plow them around rather than collecting them.
For the final test of this metric — oatmeal collection — the Navigator did decently well. It took two passes on the shallow carpet, but left behind a fair amount. However, its performance improved considerably on the fluffier carpet, matching the score of the Kenmore, though it did take 6-8 passes.
Ease of Use
Once again earning a 6 out of 10, the Navigator performed above average when it came to the Ease of Use metric. This metric made up 25% of the total score, consisting of tests comparing the ease at switching between different types of floors, maximum reach, noise levels, cleaning under furniture, and in close to edges. The chart below shows how the Navigator's ease of use compared to the rest of the vacuums in the group.
This model doesn't do anything to adjust the height for different floor types, but it does have an option to turn the rotating brush off, usually for hard floors. The Navigator did an excellent job in our edging test, with only a small amount of rice pushed into the corner. It had a little trouble collecting this, but eventually whittled it down after subsequent passes.
This vacuum did about average at cleaning under furniture, hampered by its lack of a lift-away feature. The Navigator reached about 5.5"-6" under our simulated sofa — about half the distance of the top models in this test.
In terms of reach, the Shark Navigator was relatively subpar, having one of the shortest reaches of the whole pack of vacuums. This model only could reach about 27' from the outlet, comparing somewhat poorly with the group, as shown below.
This vacuum did finish up this metric by boosting its score in our noise test. Our rating panel judged this as tying for the quietest vacuum with the Shark Rotator. This assessment was backed up by our SPL meter, recording a level of 74 dBa, only about 4 dBA louder than the lowest measurement we recorded.
Comprising 20% of the total score for each vacuum cleaner, our Handling metric consisted of three tests: maneuverability, pushing/pulling effort, and competency at cleaning stairs. The Shark Navigator Deluxe did reasonably well in this metric, earning a 6 out of 10 for its efforts, putting it squarely in the middle of the pack, as shown in the following graphic.
This model does very well at cleaning a flight of stairs, having one of the longest reaches. The cleaning hose attachment can reach 12 stairs before the vacuum needs to be moved, though it did tend to fall over when using the hose at its maximum reach. At 15.9 lbs, the Navigator is also one of the lighter models in the test, as shown below.
This makes it no hassle at all to carry up or down stairs if you need to clean more than 12 steps. This also means it's hardly any effort to push or pull, on par with the Rotator or the Miele. To test the maneuverability of each model, we used each vacuum to clean an obstacle course of typical furniture found in a house. The Navigator was about average for an upright vacuum, but did earn some extra points for the swivel head making it exceptionally easy to turn.
Hard Surface Cleaning
For the Hard Surface Cleaning metric, we once again reverted to spreading oatmeal, cereal, flour, and rice on the floor and comparing how well each vacuum picked the debris up. The Shark once again earned a 6 out of 10 for its solid performance, again landing in the middle of the group, as shown by the chart below.
This model did an excellent job at collecting the rice in our test, getting all of it in a single pass. We used the hard floor option, meaning the rotating brush head was disabled. Moving on to the flour, the Navigator was a bit of a disappointment. This model collected plenty of flour — on its wheels, rather than in its collection bin, similar to the Kenmore.
Continuing with our Cheerios test, the Shark did fairly well. It caught up some of the cereal in its brush, but did an acceptable job at collecting it for the most part. This vacuum finished out this metric with a solid score in the oatmeal test, collecting more than the Dyson Ball Animal 2, but still pushing some of the oats into a pile.
For all those pet owners out there, we compared the prowess of each vacuum at collecting pet hair for our final metric, which accounted for the remaining 10% of the total score. The Navigator did an exceptional job, tying for the top spot with a score of 9 out of 10. The chart below shows how the rest of the vacuums fell in and which models shared the top spot with the Shark Navigator.
The Shark Navigator actually collected the highest percentage in our test, picking up 96% of the hair that we laid out. This hair was spread evenly and pressed in a section of low-pile carpet, with each vacuum getting about four passes over each section to clean it. The next closest vacuum was the Dyson Ball Animal 2, collecting 94% of the hair.
The Navigator is a fantastic value, offering a great performance at an awesome price.
For those shopping on a budget that don't want to make any concessions on performance, the Shark Navigator is the clear choice. This model is a particularly good choice for pet owners on its performance alone — without taking its price into consideration. This vacuum is capable of handling most common messes and is more than capable of keeping your floors nice and clean.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
You Might Also Like
Best Vacuum Cleaners of 2017Searching for floors that sparkle? We researched over 115 different products, then bought the top 12 vacuum cleaners...
Where to Buy?
*You help support TechGearLab's product testing and reviews by purchasing from our retail partners.
Table of Contents
Other Gear by Shark