Best Elliptical Machines of 2018

Nicole Johnston ·
Updated
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We spent over 120 hours researching all there is to know about elliptical machines, and while it’s impossible to physically test every machine, we did get a few workouts in at our local gyms and on personal ellipticals to get a feel for how they work, features to look for and basic quirks of various brands. After considering a few dozen machines, the NordicTrack C 9.5 is our top pick because it includes 32 workout presets, lets you adjust the incline with the push of a button and connects to the popular iFit app to help you track your workouts.  

Best Overall

NordicTrack C9.5

NordicTrack C9.5 has an adjustable stride length, 32 preset workout programs and 22 resistance levels. The flywheel weighs 25 pounds, enough to create smooth motions. Accessories include a personal cooling fan, a tablet holder and a touchscreen console.
View on Nordic
Best Value

Schwinn 470

Schwinn 470 is a versatile elliptical with customizable workouts that directly connect to fitness websites to track your progress. While it doesn’t cost as much as most other quality ellipticals, it still includes 29 preset workouts, 25 resistance levels and four user profiles.
View on Amazon
Best for Weight-Loss

Spirit XE295

Spirit XE295 holds up to 400 pounds, has 20 resistance levels and 10 workout presets, including fat burning and target heart rate workouts. It comes with a hands-free heart monitor and both stationary and motion handlebars.
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Product
Price
Check Price
$824.55Amazon
$942.99Amazon
$1399.00AvantLink
Check Price
$989.00Amazon
$617.73Amazon
$2199.00Amazon
Overall Rating
9.1
9
8.8
8.6
8.2
8.1
7.9
7.3
Equipment Design
9.3
7.8
7
7.5
10
7.5
9
6.8
High-Tech & Monitoring Features
9.8
10
10
9.3
4
6.8
6.3
9.3
Workout Programs
8.8
9.8
10
9.3
9.3
10
8.3
5.5
Built-in Accessories
8.3
9.3
10
8.3
9.3
9.3
7.5
10
Warranty & Support
8.3
8.3
7.8
10
8.5
7.8
8
5.3
Cloud-Based Workout Tracking
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Number of User Profiles
4
5
4
2
2
4
1
4
Console Style
LCD
LED
LCD
LCD
LCD
LCD
LED
LCD/LED
Fitness App Compatibility
iFit
MyFitnessPal, AFG app, UA Record, MapMyFitness
MyFitnessPal, Nautilus Trainer
Sole
N/A
MyFitnessPal, Schwinn Connect
iFit
MyFitnessPal, Apple Healthkit, Google Fit, Max Trainer
Chest Strap Heart Monitor
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Wireless Internet Connection
N/A
N/A
N/A
Hill Climb
Interval
N/A
N/A
Number of Workout Presets
32
43
29
10
10
29
18
11
Fat Burning
Target Heart Rate
N/A
N/A
N/A
Custom Program
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Cross-Trainer
N/A
Manual Program
N/A
N/A
N/A
Powered Incline Adjustment
N/A
Number of Resistance Levels
22
12
25
16
16
25
18
20
Speakers
Remote Control Holder
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Water Bottle Holder
Cooling Fan
N/A
N/A
N/A
Book Holder
N/A
N/A
N/A
Tablet Holder
N/A
Frame Warranty
Lifetime
Lifetime
10 Years
Lifetime
Lifetime
10 Years
Lifetime
N/A
Parts Warranty
3 Years
3 Years
2 Years
5 Years
5 Years
1 - 2 Years
1 Year
3 Years
Phone & Email Support
Labor Warranty
1 Year
1 Year
90 Days
2 Years
1 Year
90 Days
1 Year
90 Days
FAQs
N/A
Online User Guides
N/A
Machine Length (inches)
70
76
71.5
71
76
70.1
68.25
49
Machine Width (inches)
34.5
34
26.7
27
29
28.2
25.7
30.5
Maximum Stride Length (inches)
20
20
20
20
28.25
21
20
N/A
Machine Weight (pounds)
214
201
173.3
200
214
164
2.07
148
Step-Up Height (inches)
11
10
10
14
8
11
N/A
15
Maximum User Weight (pounds)
350
325
300
300
500
300
300
300
Adjustable Stride Length
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Locking Safety Mechanism
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
N/A
Flywheel Weight (pounds)
25
23
16
25
N/A
20
16
N/A
Machine Height (inches)
70.5
57
63.2
68
65
63.2
68.5
65.5
Best Overall

NordicTrack C9.5

NordicTrack C9.5 is the best elliptical we’ve reviewed with an impressive amount of options and smooth motion during workouts.
Compared to other models, this elliptical has more workout presets and custom features to help you create and reach fitness goals, regardless of how rigorous they are. Extra accessories, such as a tablet holder, built-in speakers and a cooling fan, help create a fun atmosphere during your workout. And the 32 preset workouts, 25 resistance levels and powered incline adjustment create enough variety to ward off plateaus as you’re working towards your fitness goals. You can track your progress by connecting the NoricTrack C9.5 to your iFit app. While this elliptical machine is compatible with chest strap heartrate monitors, it doesn’t include one. It also is very heavy and bulky, weighing 214 pounds. While this makes the machine more stable and provides a smoother motion during workouts, it also makes it difficult to move the machine when it’s not in use. It doesn’t have a safety lock mechanism, an important feature if you have curious children around.
Pros
  • 32 workout presets
  • Adjustable stride length
  • Powered incline adjustment
Cons
  • Heavy and bulky
  • No chest strap heart monitor included
  • No safety lock mechanism
$1299Nordic
Best Value

Schwinn 470

Schwinn 470 doesn’t cost as much as most ellipticals on our lineup, but it still packs in a lot of features that make it a great value for your home gym.
It has 29 workout presets, including a customizable program, and four user profiles, so everyone in your family can save their own workouts to use during their exercise time. You can connect this machine to your MyFitenessPal app and keep track of your progress there without having to manually enter data after each workout. This elliptical is lighter than many others, but it still has a 20-pound flywheel, which helps create a smoother motion while you use it. Schwinn 470 doesn’t have a lot of high-tech features, such as wireless internet connection or cloud-based workout tracking, but it does have built-in speakers, a personal cooling fan and a tablet holder t. One big drawback is the relatively short warranty; it only covers labor for 90 days and the frame for 10. Most other manufactures provide a lifetime warranty.
Pros
  • 29 workout presets
  • Adjustable stride length
  • Multiple user accounts
Cons
  • Lacks high-tech monitoring features
  • Does not include a chest strap heart monitor
  • Less warranty coverage time
$805.52Amazon
Best for Weight-Loss

Spirit XE295

Spirit XE295 can hold up to 400 pounds, making it a good elliptical option for weight loss.
It comes with 10 workout presets, the minimum suggested by experts, and includes a fat burning and target heart rate setting, both important for weight loss goals. Spirit includes a second set of program controls on the motion handlebars, so you don’t have to take your hands off or break your rhythm to adjust resistance levels or choose another workout program. You can use the included chest strap monitor to keep track of your heart rate during your workout. The LCD console shows you which muscles you are working out, as well as when you increase your efforts on a muscle set. The Spirit XE295 doesn’t allow you to adjust the stride length, so it’s permanently set for 20 inches. You also can’t automatically adjust the incline; this must be done manually and breaks up your workout if you want to adjust it during your session.
Pros
  • Holds up to 400 pounds
  • Fat burning and target heart rate workouts
  • Includes chest strap heart rate monitor
Cons
  • Can’t adjust stride length
  • Incline is not adjustable
  • Doesn’t connect with popular fitness apps
$1499.99Amazon

Why Trust Us? 

After reading recommendations and opinions of dozens of personal trainers, health experts and exercise enthusiasts, we got a good feel of the features and functions you’d need to look for in a quality elliptical.

We researched hundreds of user feedback and consumer reviews to figure out the price point most people are looking at when they buy an elliptical machine for their home and the brands, features and tools they feel are most helpful for them. Using this information, we narrowed down our long list of exercise machines to the most popular and affordable models from ten manufacturers.

How We Tested 

Using gym models and personal ellipticals already in our homes, we got a feel for how different brands work and why certain features are suggested by experts. Our testers can tell you first-hand about the importance of a low step up for low-ceiling rooms or the need for a heavy flywheel.

We tested preset workouts, so we know the difference between a hill climb and a fat burn with a level three resistance. We checked out how both handlebar and chest strap monitors work and the situations where both have an advantage over the other. All this experience provided good context we delved into the specs of each of the individual elliptical machines we reviewed, allowing us to paint an accurate picture of the benefits each has and any potential hiccups you may encounter.

Important Things to Consider When Choosing an Elliptical Machine 

If you are looking to purchase an elliptical to lose weight, consider how much weight the machine can accommodate. Most elliptical machines hold about 300 pounds, but there are a few models that hold 400 or even 500 pounds.

For fitness training, a heavy flywheel helps keep the machine stationary and the motion smooth during high-impact workouts. Experts suggest a flywheel of at least 20 pounds, though a few ellipticals we reviewed have 25- or even 30-pound flywheels.

Workout presets help you get started if you’re not sure where to start with your fitness goals. These programs, such as fat burning, cross-training and target heart rate know how much resistance you need and where your target heart-rate should be, and the machine can adjust the workout program as you move through it. As you become more familiar with each program, you can create custom programs. Multiple resistance levels create more challenging workouts and help you avoid plateaus as your body strengthens.

When you’re working towards a fitness goal, additional support and tools are helpful to keep you focused. Many ellipticals integrate with popular fitness apps, such as MyFitnessPal, iFit, Google Fit and Apple Healthkit, letting you track your progress. Also, online diet sites have additional tools, such as modified exercises for specific health issues, recipes and food intake trackers. We’ve tested and reviewed both fitness apps and online diet sites.

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