We have owned our Kenmore Elite Washer and Dryer for about three years now and we are still satisfied with our purchase. It is true that you will pay more for the Elite Series, but it is worth it.
The washing machine is front loading. The only thing that you have to get used to is that if you need to add another item once you've already started the machine, you need to hit pause and then wait a bit until the machine unlocks.
There is a compartment on the top side of the machine to hold the soap, softner and bleach. This is nice because you are not pouring these things directly on the clothes or do you have to wait until the water fills to add it.
The part that holds the softner and bleach can be removed for washing, as the softner tends to build up after a while.
Once the soap is in and the cycle begins, water sprays in this compartment washing the soap down into the inside of the washer.
The controls for this washer and dryer are electric, so no turning dials. With the push of a button you decide cycle type and length and water temp.
There is no need for a button for how large the load is, it figures this on it's own. This washer nicely washes clothes, towels, and we have even used it for a queen size comforter.