Ninja BL491 Nutri Ninja Auto-iQ Compact System review: This blender is not a Ninja star

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The Good The to-go cups of this Nutri Ninja system are as handy as ever and the food processor attachment adds versatility so you can do more with your blender than make smoothies on the run.

The Bad The main 48-ounce jar didn't perform well on any of our tests and the Auto-IQ feature isn't as intelligent as I'd hoped.

The Bottom Line The Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Compact system doesn't make the most of its power or its pieces. It's a fine if underwhelming blender.

6.8 Overall
  • Performance 7
  • Usability 7
  • Design 6
  • Features 7

One of my main complaints in my positive review of the original Nutri Ninja was the lack of a bigger jar with measurement lines. The new Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Compact system not only has that, it also a more powerful motor as well as a food processor attachment, a dough blade, and a stainless steel cup. At $160, it's more expensive than the $90 Nutri Ninja, but the price is still more than reasonable, especially compared to $400+ Vitamix and Blendtec blenders.

The Ninja Auto-IQ should be a home run, but it's not. The main 48-ounce jar isn't very well designed, and as a result, its blending performance is sub par. The other pieces work fine, and the food processor attachment is a nice addition to the Nutri Ninja package. The Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Compact System is still a fine blender, but it's not as special as it could have been.

Unmasking the Ninja

With an 1,200-watt motor, you get plenty of power for your dollar with the Ninja Auto-IQ Compact System. The base works with the various attachments, and has suction cups for feet that helps it stay upright as it blends your food.

The pieces of the Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Compact System.

Chris Monroe/CNET

You can buy this powerful Nutri Ninja with all of its attachments from the company site for $160, as well as Best Buy, Sears, Target, Amazon and other small appliance retailers. If you don't want the food processor attachment, you can save $30 and go with the $130 Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Complete, which is the same system otherwise.

Both models are available in the UK, though unfortunately not in Australia at the moment. The international versions are called the Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ Pro Compact and Pro Complete respectively. On, the Compact is priced at £180 and the complete at £150. The US price converts to approximately AU$215 for the Compact and AU$175 for the Complete.

Blending on the go

A single-blade attachment fits into both to-go cups and the 48-ounce food jar. With the to-go cups, that makes for an easy process of blending, swapping out the blades for the lid and walking out your door with your smoothie. It's a nice design that Ninja's employed for some time, both on the Nutri Ninja, and the to-go cups of the great Ninja Ultima.

The blade attachment fits on both to-go cups and the main 48 ounce jar.

Chris Monroe/CNET

It works quite well for smoothies in particular, but having the lid on the bottom still causes some annoyances, as I noted in the Nutri Ninja review. You won't be able to scrape the sides or help your blender in any way during tougher assignments.

The food processor

Other annoyances include the finicky food processor lid. I like the food processor attachment in general, it adds versatility to the package in terms of what you can blend, but it takes some skill to get the lid exactly in the right spot so you can push down the lever and seal it.

Get the lid on correctly, and the food processor will make pesto within seconds and even pulverize a full 8 ounce block of cheddar. The food processor did quite well on most of our stress tests, while the to-go cups held their own, as expected, on the basics like smoothies.

The lid of the food processor attachment proves tricky to put in place.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The main jar

Both results help redeem this Nutri Ninja system, as the main jar doesn't do either the heavy lifting or the fundamentals particularly well. The blades don't reach low enough or wide enough. Not only does that inhibit flow, but I consistently found small, untouched pieces of food stuck under the blades or pushed away to the sides.

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