The CPT-160 received average scores across the board in our testing. If it matches the aesthetics of your kitchen perfectly then it's a good choice, as it offers reasonable performance at a reasonable price. In any other circumstances, however, there are other models that provide better performance at or below the same price.
Cuisinart CPT-160 Review
Pros: Simple and familiar interface, classic aesthetics
Cons: Relatively poor bread toasting and defrosting performance
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Below we expound upon the CPT-160's performance in each of our individual tests.
Bread Toasting Quality
Like all the models we tested, the CPT-160 was able to make respectable slices of toast, but with significantly more inconsistencies than most other models. It scored a 5 out of 10 in this metric, sharing the bottom spot with the KitchenAid and falling well behind the top performing Oster Jelly Bean and Smeg, which both scored 9. It made toast with conspicuous white areas near the crust, and often charred one vertical side while leaving the other fairly light. While most people wouldn't scoff at this toast, its inconsistencies were evident enough that even the less finicky of toast eaters would probably notice them. The last thing you want is picky Aunt Bertha complaining about her toast when she comes over for breakfast.
Ease of Use
The CPT-160 has fairly basic, intuitive controls. All of its mode buttons have adjacent lights that turn on when pressed, making it clear which mode is currently selected. The shade knob is continuous and doesn't click into each setting, so it is a bit more difficult to select the exact same setting each time. The lever feels a bit flimsy to use and the unit doesn't have much weight to it. Rubber feet prevent it from sliding when pressing buttons, but lifting the lever to pull smaller items out of the slot tends to lift the entire toaster rather than just the stubborn English muffin. It has a very wide and easy to clean crumb tray, but the tray removes from the back of the unit, which is a bit of a bother. Overall this scored the CPT-160 a score of 5 on our ease of use test. This separates it from the worst performer, which scored a 3, but is well behind the top performers, both of which scored an 8.
Bagel Toasting Quality
The CPT-160 shared common bagel toasting issues with many of the other models in our test. It often toasted one half of each bagel slice a few shades darker than the other. In some cycles it produced inconsistencies across slices as well, toasting one slice much more than the other. The bagel mode does not turn off the outside elements, leaving the backsides of bagels toasted rather than in their ideal warm and gooey state. All of this translated into a score of 6 out of 10 on our bagel toasting test. This is an average score in a metric where models that were capable of toasting bagels scored between 4 and 10.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Quality
The CPT-160's defrost mode slowly warms and thaws frozen goods before moving on to full toasting temperature. Generally, we found that models using this technique performed much better in our frozen food tests. While the CPT-160 performed acceptably in our tests, it did not perform as well as other models that utilize this technique. It struggled to make even toast from frozen bread, churning out slices with large white splotches. Even on higher shade settings the defrost function toasted frozen waffles on the light side, but they were toasted all the way through. This relatively poor frozen bread and mediocre frozen waffle performance earned the CPT-160 a score of 4 on our defrosting test. It was just slightly better than the worst performing Darth Toaster, but nowhere near the quality of the top performing Smeg and Oster Jelly Bean.
Listing for $50, the CPT-160 offers average performance at an average price. However, for a list price that is $15 less you can get the Best Buy Award Winning Oster Jelly Bean, which far outperformed the CPT-160 in our bread and frozen goods testing and feels more solidly built. We would call the CPT-160's value average, there are certainly better values out there, but it clearly is not a bad value.
At its core, the CPT-160 is a basic toaster that provides basic functionality. With its reasonably low price, few people will find it a dissatisfying purchase, but there are certainly better options and better values to be found.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata