KitchenAid 4-Slice Long Slot with High Lift Lever Review
Pros: Relatively good bagel toasting performance, aesthetically pleasing
Cons: Expensive, oddly placed controls
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Here we further discuss the KitchenAid's performance in each one of our individual tests.
Bread Toasting Quality
As with all the models we tested the KitchenAid made decent toast during our testing, but it had more inconsistencies than most. When toasting a single slice in a slot it tended to burn edges. As with the other long slot model we tested, the Breville Die-Cast, this problem was mostly solved when toasting 2 slices in each slot. So if you're using the KitchenAid to toast 2 slices of bread, we suggest you put both of them in the same slot and leave the other slot empty. It also often toasted the tops of slices a bit more than the bottoms, and left the area adjacent to the bottom crust quite light. It had some issues with consistency across sides of toast as well, often toasting one side much darker than the other. These issues left the KitchenAid with the lowest score of 5 out of 10 in our bread toasting test, putting it far behind the top performing Oster Jelly Bean and Smeg 2-Slice, which scored 9.
Ease of Use
The KitchenAid has our favorite crumb tray. It is spring loaded and clicks in and out with a light press, making it the easiest to remove of all the models we tested. The controls on the KitchenAid feel high quality and are easy to use. The shade knob clicks into each individual setting and the lever is smooth both when depressing and lifting it. However, we feel that the placement of these controls is flawed. The shade knob and mode buttons are on what we would think of as the side of the toaster, the long side, and the lever is on what we would think of as the front, the short side. This configuration seems to lend itself to placing the slots parallel to the edge of the counter. This may work well in some kitchens, but we found it disorienting and odd to use in our testing area.
While we liked the KitchenAid's interface, it lost points for its odd control placement. We gave it an average score of 5 out of 10 in our ease of use testing. This puts it well ahead of the low score of 3, but distant from the top score of 8.
Bagel Toasting Quality
Though we were generally disappointed with how the traditional slot models we tested made bagels, the KitchenAid was one of the better performers. It had the common problem of toasting half of the bagel slice more than the other, but to a lesser degree than most other models. It also reliably left the backsides of bagels untoasted when bagel mode was engaged. This earned it a 7 out of 10 in our bagel toasting test, still far of from the Smeg's perfect 10 but well ahead of the low score of 3. We feel that if you want good bagel you're going to be much happier with a toaster oven. However, if you're really looking to make bagels in a traditional slot model, the top performing KRUPS Breakfast Set does so slightly better than the KitchenAid, and at a much lower price.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Quality
We were surprised at the KitchenAid's poor performance in our defrosting tests, especially considering that its defrost setting utilizes a multi-stage thaw then toast method. It really struggled with frozen bread. Even on higher shade settings it turned frozen bread into extremely light toast. Despite barely toasting frozen bread, the defrost setting tended to leave numerous scorch marks on frozen waffles during our testing. This unpredictability of the defrost function earned the KitchenAid one of the lower scores on our defrosting test. It received a 4 out of 10 in a metric whose scores fell between 3 and 8.
The KitchenAid received some of the worst scores from our bread and frozen food toasting tests, and was not a pleasure to use. Despite its admirable performance in bagel toasting we feel the $130 list price makes the KitchenAid a poor value.
We didn't find enough redeeming qualities to justify the KitchenAid's high price. If you're going to spend that much on a toaster you'd be much better off with the Smeg or, if you really want a long slot, spending a little extra and getting the Breville Die-Cast. We feel the only reason to go with the Kitchen is if you're enamored with its aesthetics.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata