PROS / The long warranty inspires confidence that this will be a good long-term investment.
CONS / It does not come with a single-serve jar, so you have to clean the pitcher with each use, even if you make just one serving.
VERDICT / There are more powerful, higher-wattage blenders on the market, but this is still a decent option that is especially good at making frozen fruit smoothies.
Favored by the famed Culinary Institute of America, which trains professional chefs, the Vitamix CIA 1363 can whip, crush, puree, blend and mix smoothies, nut butters, soups and salsas. The versatile Vitamix CIA blender is one of the best blenders available but does not quite find its place with the best of the best based on some weakness on ice crushing tests, the amount of sound it produces and a relatively low final temperature when making soup. Warm soup can always be microwaved, of course, but other blenders did a better job of heating and blending in one step.
Both Vitamix units we tested were great at making smoothies. This energetic machine turned out top-quality smoothies every time – and we were using frozen-solid fruit. Somehow the Vitamix CIA faltered a bit when it came to crushing ice, though. It left some larger chunks behind in the ice test, which is not the end of the world, but other blenders did a better job of shredding ice into equally sized pieces, which are nice for making frozen drinks.
When we tried making a tomato soup recipe in this blender, it had a nice smooth consistency. The highest temperature for our soup from this blender was 145 degrees Fahrenheit, which was good but not great. A few other blenders got the soup hotter in the same amount of time.
This blender zooms along on 1,491 watts and gives you 10 speed settings, so you can adjust it as needed. That is a decent amount of blending power, but there are now machines that have more. Unfortunately, you do not get a single-serve jar with this kitchen appliance so you have to clean the pitcher out even if you just make a small amount of food.
This blender is a tad noisy when it is going at top speed, with a 95 dB reading. That sound level is not surprising, given its power, but be prepared if you plan to make an early morning smoothie with ice when the rest of your household is asleep. Of course, it is quieter at lower speeds.
You also might need to consider storage matters with this blender, since it stands quite tall at 20.5 inches. It might not fit well under your kitchen cupboards. The cord gives you flexibility but can be a nuisance at 6 feet long, though you do get a cord wrap. This will clear up some room on your kitchen counter.
For all its many virtues, this blender is not dishwasher safe, so you must hand-wash the jar, blades and lid. You also do not get controls that are flush with the blender base, which would be easy to clean. Instead, the controls protrude, and you will need to wipe around them with a sponge or dishcloth, and maybe even a toothpick, to get everything clean.
If you do invest in this blender, the manufacturer is going to be there with some fine customer support. You get a free seven-year warranty covering this appliance when you buy it, and you have the option of paying for an extra three years. The two-part seven-year warranty covers both the blender itself and the motor, which means you're covered if anything goes wrong.
If you need to get in touch with the manufacturer, you can do so by phone or email. There is no live chat on the company's website. This blender also comes with an instructional DVD, manual and two recipe books, so you should have no trouble operating it, nor should you run out of ideas for food and drinks to prepare.
The Vitamix CIA 1363 is somewhat noisy, cannot go into the dishwasher and lacks a single-serve jar, but it still does a great job at making smoothies and a good job at other common blender tasks like making soup, salsa and nut butter. Its laser-cut and tough stainless steel blades, large jar, consistently good food and drink production, and long warranty make it an option worth your consideration.