I have relied on Consumer Reports--almost exclusively--when I've bought appliances, and other items as well, including cars. I've never been disappointed--everything performed as they said it would.
I haven't necessarily bought CR's "Best Buys"--those are determined by value for the money, and price isn't always the most important consideration for me.
And I don't just use their yearly buying guide--I go back and dig up the actual issue where they reported on their tests and ratings, because I want to know exactly what factors they considered when rating the appliance, and how each brand compared on those factors because some of them may be more important to me than others.
For instance, when I looked for a new TV, sound quality was very important for me, so CR's rating on sound mattered. When I bought a new dryer, there were some features I definitely wanted. So, whether their top-rated brands had those features was important, and their "Best Buy" in a dryer matched exactly what I was looking for, and I love my dryer.
I trust CR's independent ratings done by their own testers, and that's why I've always given them such great weight in my own buying decisions. And I find them a good source of unbiased general info about what to look for in an appliance and the pros and cons of various appliance features.
Generally I start with their top-rated 5 or 6 brands, then look at the rating factors that separate each of the brands (or models) from the others, and, if they are all in my price range, I'll then do my own online research on all of them. While I find online customer reviews useful, I've found they generally reflect the Consumer's ratings. Also, in many cases, buyer complaint reviews seemed due to the fact that people just didn't know what they were buying--they expected the product to do something, or have a feature, that it wasn't supposed to have. I'll trust Consumer's ratings over the buyers ratings because I know the standard that Consumer's uses in judging and testing the items.
I wouldn't expect Consumer Reports to tell me if I'd prefer a front loading washer to a top loader, but I'd trust them to advise me about the pros and cons of each type, and to lead me to the best performing model once I made up my mind about which type I wanted.
Right now, I'm also starting to look for a new dishwasher too. I know that things like noise, heat, etc. matter to me in a dishwasher, so CR's top ratings on specific factors like that influence me.
So, yes, I rely on Consumer Reports, and I always rely on them for major purchases--like appliances. And, I can honestly say, CR has never let me down, I've always been very pleased when I've purchased something that's within their top-rated models or brands.