As one of the top-tier stick vacuums from Dyson, we initially thought that this product would be a shoo-in for an award based on the performance of their previous models. However, that isn't how things played out. While the V11 Animal did very well overall for the most part, its second-tier performance in our hard floor cleaning tests dropped it out of the running for a top spot. That said, it performed well on carpet and offers three cleaning modes so you can prioritize battery life or the mess at hand, depending on your vacuuming needs.
Dyson V11 Animal Review
Pros: Good at cleaning carpets, convenient
Cons: Didn’t do as well as we hoped with hard floors, expensive
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Dyson V11 Animal offers multiple cleaning modes and excellent carpet cleaning abilities. It failed to impress us to the same degree on hard surfaces and will put quite a dent in your wallet, but there's no doubt that this is a well-designed vacuum in most respects.
We began by rating and scoring how convenient it was to use each vacuum to clean other areas besides the flooring and assess the weight, storage method, and battery life. The V11 did well here, as it includes a wide variety of different attachments and fittings, letting you clean practically anywhere in your home — even the hard-to-reach areas. All of the attachments use a single-button locking mechanism that is super easy to engage or disengage.
The V11 Animal is about average weight, tipping the scale just shy of 7 pounds. It's cordless and provides solid battery life, improving a bit on its predecessors. The V11 lasted for about 12.5 minutes on its boost setting and short-pile carpet and took about 3.75 hours to recharge completely once the battery was depleted.
Unfortunately, this vacuum is not balanced to stand on its own, so it either needs to be propped against something, or you need to use the included wall mount to store it.
Hard Surface Cleaning
After convenience, each vacuum's performance when it came to cleaning hard floors carried the most weight. We spread out rice, flour, cereal, pet hair, and oats on a section of hardwood laminate floor, noting how quickly and easily each vacuum cleaned up the mess and if there was any residual debris. The V11 did well but didn't match the performance of the top products, which largely contributes to it failing to claim an award.
The V11 does not include a hard floor brush like other Dyson models, hindering its performance slightly. It performed about average at collecting the rice we spread out, getting the single grains and smaller piles without much difficulty. However, it also tended to fling plenty of rice to the side.
Performance improved slightly with the flour but still wasn't as impressive as other Dyson models with a hard floor-specific brush. We tried out the V11 in all of its different cleaning modes for this test, finding the "Boost" mode to be the most effective, as it was the only one that could pull flour out from the cracks between boards. Overall, it got the majority of the flour up relatively easily.
The V11 did an excellent job with pet hair, collecting all of it without issue, and did quite well when sucking up Cheerios as well. It got all of the cereal on the first go, but it only has enough clearance to pick them up between the notches on the brush head. From there, the V11 finished out this test with a great showing in our final test: cleaning up oats. It didn't fling any to the side and got the vast majority on the first pass. It doesn't do the best at cleaning them up in reverse but still only left trace amounts behind.
Ease of Use
We focused on ease of operation for our next metric, looking specifically at the different power modes available, the ease of cleaning under furniture and along walls, maneuverability, and noise level.
The V11 Animal is about average in terms of noise. It has an excellent reach when cleaning under furniture, reaching about 33" under our simulated testing "sofa" with the handle in the normal orientation. You can make it go further if you twist the handle, but this isn't the most comfortable on the wrist. This vacuum also is highly maneuverable, with a swivel head.
The V11 leaves a lot to be desired when cleaning in tight corners, but it did well along the edges and walls of a room.
This vacuum also has the option of three cleaning modes: Eco, Boost, and Auto. This lets you decide if you need to maximize cleaning power for stubborn messes or battery life to clean a larger area. Auto mode is a neat addition that aims to provide you with the best balance between performance and runtime, automatically adjusting power based on the amount of mess and the type of floor you are cleaning.
Our fourth and final metric assessed the carpet cleaning performance of each product. We used the same sample messes as our hard floor metric, this time spreading them out on both flat and fluffy carpet. The V11 did exceptionally well at cleaning up flour from low-pile carpet, delivering one of the best performances we have seen to date. It removed over 90% of the flour in normal mode. When we increased the power to Boost mode, this powerhouse left practically no flour behind at all.
The V11 also did very well with pet hair, only leaving one or two stray hairs behind on the flat carpet. For our remaining three tests in this metric, we tested on both flat and the fluffy carpet, only omitting the fluffy carpet test with flour and pet hair since that is a bit much to ask of any stick vacuum.
The V11 did a solid job collecting Cheerios on both types of carpet, though it tended to push them around for a bit on the medium-pile carpet before collecting everything. Oddly enough, this vacuum did significantly better at sucking up rice from the fluffier carpet than the flat carpet — opposite to what we've observed with most vacuums. It often threw the rice to the side on flat carpet, leaving more residual grains. That said, it still got the bulk of the rice when all was said and done.
The V11 did about the same with oats, getting far more from the fluffy carpet than the flat carpet. It ended up dragging the oats around instead of sucking them up when pulling the vacuum backward, the same as with the rice.
Should You Buy the Dyson V11 Animal?
There is no doubt this high-end vacuum has it where it counts with better-than-average test results in most metrics. However, it did not perform as well as competing Dysons and other brands, and it sports one of the highest prices we've ever seen in a stick vacuum. The price of the D11 is on par with the regular Dyson canister vacuums, and we imagine most people will balk at a secondary vacuum sporting such a high price. For these reasons, we think there are better selections in this lineup, no matter what your sucking goals may be.
What Other Stick Vacuum Should You Consider?
If Dyson is your brand of choice, the Dyson V10 Absolute is one to consider. While it still sports a premium price tag, it did perform better during testing with better scores in cleaning on hard surfaces and ease of use. Alternatively, the Shark Rocket Pet Pro provides some of the best performance results in our tests and has a price about two hundred dollars lower than even the cheapest Dyson in this review. The Pet Pro is easy to use and has some of the highest results for cleaning hard surfaces and carpets.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
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