Joining Costco can lead to big savings with your household budget. But you must shop strategically, or that oversized cart will top off, even when you’re just popping in for a couple of staples. Lacking signage available aisles doesn’t help matters. Knowing which products in order to avoid does-and that’s where Consumer Reports’ testing comes in. We’ve rated a slew of Costco products, from small everyday products, like dish paper and detergent towels, to mattresses, grills and other big-tickets items. Allow me to share the winners and losers from our latest tests.
Bacon. Mmm, bacon-to quote the great ham-loving Homer Simpson. We think he’d go as well as our testers, who gave Kirkland Signature Regular Sliced Bacon, $14 for any 64-ounce package, top marks in our latest bacon test. The strips crisped up nicely, by using a balance of fat and meat flavors, complemented by wood smoke and a hint of sweetness.
Car battery. Suitable for largecars and trucks, and sport-utility vehicles from Ford or Mercury, the Kirkland Signature 12866, $85, aced all of our tests, nearly beating out the category’s top-rated choose from Interstate, which sells for $280. If you drive another type of vehicle, see our full battery Ratings, as there are other Kirkland batteries that performed perfectly in our tests, though they missed our recommended list.
Coffeemaker. Costco’s well-priced Mr. Coffee BVMC-EHX33CP, $30, is one of the highest scoring models in our Ratings of drip coffeemakers. Its brew performance was outstanding, and we also found it convenient and easy to take care of. Programmable settings let you set when the machine starts to brew, helpful if you love waking up for the aroma of coffee.
Ice cream. Beating out brands such as Breyers and Baskin-Robbins, the Kirkland Signature Super Premium Vanilla was explained by our ice cream tasters as full and dense with big dairy flavor and complex vanilla-extract flavor, though some commented that it could be slightly gummy at times. The system functions out to about 30 cents per serving, compared with a dollar per serving for that top-rated Ben & Jerry’s.
Laundry detergent. Our winner’s list of detergents that can be used in all types of washing machines includes the Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean, a CR Best Buy that works over to just 9 cents per load. The powder detergent was tough ongrass and blood, and ring-around-the-collar. Take into account the Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean Pacs, 14 cents per load, should you prefer the ease of a laundry pod.
Urban Islands 4-Burner by Bull
Gas grill. At $1,600, the Costco exclusive Urban Islands 4-Burner by Bull is actually more pricey than most midsize grills in our gas grill Ratings. And it’s nowhere near as proficient as our top-rated models. It’s particularly bad at maintaining even heat at high temperatures, a must for perfectly seared steaks. An improved bet from Costco will be the KitchenAid 720-0733A for $750, which misses our recommended list but was very good overall.
Gel dishwasher detergent. By having an overall score of 34, the Kirkland Signature Gel is one of our lowest-rated detergents. It struggled with pots, pans and dishes, and resistance to water spots. But all is not really lost from the Costco detergent aisle. While it fell lacking our picks list, the Kirkland Signature Dishwasher Pacs was excellent or better in all of our tests.
Facial tissue. With the overall score of 60, Kirkland Signature facial tissue, $1.23, is middle from the pack within our facial tissue Ratings. So-so strength is its big shortcoming, although the tissue is rather soft. A much better bargain buy is the Puffs Basic, $1.23, which combines superb softness with great strength.
Mattress. The best mattresses in our Ratings offer really good, if not excellent, support for back or side sleepers. Costco’s $1,100 Ara 13 100% Visco Memory Foam is just so-so for side sleepers and even worse for people who sleep on their back. It’s also mediocre at providing stabilization.
Toilet paper. Though it’s quite soft, Kirkland Signature toilet paper offers only so-so strength and tearing ease, making it an also ran in your toilet paper Ratings. While it costs twice as much, White Cloud 3-Ply Ultra, a Walmart exclusive, combines superb strength and softness, making it our top-rated toilet paper from a wide margin.