We like the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher. It’s not going to win awards for being pretty. It’s never going to be leading the pack when it comes to innovation. However, what it does do, which is wash dishes, it does reliably every single time we use it.
And we use it a lot.
That’s the promise of this super simple appliance and it keeps it.
We’re not saying that the the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is hideous or that it lacks technology. It’s just that they’re not the foremost item when you buy one.
There are some nice red accents on the interior and the exterior looks polished and solid. You can tell that this isn’t some half-cocked cheap clone dishwasher at a glance.
Under the hood there is a TurboZone reach system with a ton of high-power spraying power that ensures that no matter how you put a dish in the dishwasher – it will get washed from all the possible 360 degrees.
That’s not to say that there are no drawbacks to using this wonderful dishwasher.
As you’ll see a little later in this review – the one thing that the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is not, is fast. We don’t think that’s a big deal, mind you, but you might.
We’d recommend the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher to any family that wants its washing done without effort and done right, each and every time. We probably wouldn’t recommend it to fashion victims or those who are constantly in a hurry even when they don’t need to be.
The Best Of The Kenmore Elite Dishwasher’s Features
We found that we only really use three cycles of those available on the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher and they are:
- Express wash (which is slightly faster than the other settings but not so fast that you’re going to feel like you’re winning a race)
- Normal wash (yes, the setting that most homes are going to fall back on most of the time)
- Pots and pans wash (when you’ve got some serious burned on material to take care of)
In addition, you might find the Smart Wash useful which is designed to deal with seriously soiled dishes and the China Gentle Wash which they recommend for the products that you’d normally wash by hand.
You can also tap into a Quick Rinse cycle which is designed to tackle a half load of dishes and make sure they don’t start stinking if you have to wait a while to fill up the dishwasher. This is simply not a problem in our house with 2 hungry kids and a hungry husband to deal with.
It’s worth noting that on its standard settings the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is not particularly environmentally friendly. Power and water consumption are about typical for the industry when using the pre-programmed settings.
You can, however, get a bit greener if you use the other functionality provided.
Consider Half Loads When Practical
For those with a fairly light amount of dishwashing to be done. The Kenmore Elite Dishwasher has half load cycles which let you prioritize the bottom rack or top rack only.
That’s pretty handy and, of course, when you run half a load, you use about half the electricity and water.
You can also use the inbuilt timer function to run your dishwasher overnight. That won’t use any less power but does mean that you can consume the power during the off-peak period and reduce your bills.
A Minor Grumble
We do feel that this is a premium product. There’s no doubt that the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is not the cheapest machine on the market, in fact, far from it.
We’d like to see a third rack option and we think that the tines in the racks provided ought to be all collapsible rather than just a few as the machine is currently supplied.
However, the cutler basket is really nice and is a little compensation for the other niggles.
There are other means of customizing the washing cycle that we’ve never used apart from to test each one once. With a Hi-Temp Wash (when you really need to sterilize the contents of your dishwasher), SaniRinse (a more thorough rinse mode) and TurboZone (faster, sort of, zone washing).
We also like that there’s a cancel button which makes halting a cycle very easy. We’ve known a few dishwashers over the years that made you stick to a cycle once it had begun. This is better.
Please note though, you have to hold the cancel button for 3 seconds if you want it to take effect – this is designed to prevent someone from accidentally halting your dishwashing cycle by bumping the button. The attention to detail here is good.
The Best Of The Kenmore Elite Dishwasher Design
From the outside, we’re going to have to say – the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is not the prettiest of dishwashers. It’s not ugly but we’d be hard pressed to identify it in a line-up of 10 other stainless-steel fronted dishwashers too.
The real design effort is on the inside. Once you get under the hood of this dishwasher, you can’t help but be impressed by the engineering efforts that enable nearly perfect water flow inside.
The biggest part of that is the incredible 360-degree power wash function. It utilizes a spray arm which spins omni-directionally. That takes up quite a bit of space under the racks as it has to be able to ensure water gets evenly distributed over your dishes.
There are also a bunch of jet washes situated in the side walls. These are for getting the grime off glasses that are placed in the upper rack of the dishwasher. The jets in the TurboZone are the highest powered off all and are designed to smash off food that’s been stuck to dishes, pots and pans.
This is one of the most effective dishwasher interior layouts that we’ve ever seen. It really does make sure nothing emerges from the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher that isn’t sparkly clean.
The Kenmore’s control panel is kept discretely out of the way near the top of the door. The impression you get when viewing the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is simply that of a solid, stainless steel appliance. It’s not out to woo you with its looks.
The only noticeable item on the exterior is the Kenmore name badge and that’s about it.
The door opens and closes well and once it’s open, you can resize the height of the upper rack.
Near Perfect Performance From The Kenmore Elite Dishwasher
No dishwasher is 100% perfect and we’ve found that in hundreds of uses; this one occasionally lets an item through that isn’t 100% clean but it is a rarity and not something that happens regularly.
In fact, we’d go so far as to say that this dishwasher is the best we’ve ever known for cleaning things.
But it does come at a price and that price is speed. The normal wash cycle takes a whacking 3 hours to work its way through! That’s fine if, like us, you run your dishwasher while you’re sleeping but those with big families that need to run the thing twice a day – may want to think about this.
Worse, the pots and pans wash we mentioned earlier? That takes 4 hours. 4 hours!
On the bright side, the drying cycle is incredibly effective. No more drying the clean items with a tea towel before putting them away. Everything that comes out of the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is dry as a bone.
We took a look at the filtration system and found it be very effective – there’s no redepositing which is the sign of poor dishwasher design.
If speed is of the essence, you can use the Express Wash cycle which takes less than an hour but don’t bother putting heavily soiled pans or dishes in, you’ll need to wash those by hand. The Express Wash won’t cut it for these items.
You’ll also need to dry by hand if you use the Express Wash as the Smart Dry cycle doesn’t run with it.
The warranty for the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher is better than the industry average. It includes the standard 365 days warranty which covers both parts and the cost to replace those parts, but it also bundles a second year of parts only coverage. Not perfect, but better than most of its competitors.
In addition, Kenmore treats the racks separately. They cover replacements for these areas of the dishwasher for 5 years, though you will have to pay for labor after the first year is up.
The stainless components get an even better warranty – they are guaranteed for life. We can’t say fairer than that.
The Best And Worst Of The Kenmore Elite Dishwasher According To Our Testers
Overall, we think that this is one of the best dishwashers on the market today but we’d like to point out the things that we think really stand out on the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher and the things that might irk you if you bought one:
- The Kenmore is nearly silent and given we run ours overnight this is important to us
- The control panel is simplicity itself to use, no degree in computer science required
- It nearly always gets everything clean and it always gets everything dry
- The rack sizes feel a little cramped, not enough to annoy us but larger families may feel otherwise
- You can’t add a third rack and we really feel at this price, this ought to be an option
- The washing cycles are on average 3-4 hours and though this uses no extra power or water – we can’t help but feel this is too long
Final Thoughts On The Kenmore Elite Dishwasher
This is a rock-solid dishwasher that simply won’t let you down when you’re doing the dishwashing for your family.
It’s going to last a long time and it’s going to be as reliable as dishwashers get.
Having said that, it’s not cheap.
This is a $900 dishwasher and that really should see it come with a few more options (like that 3rd rack option) but it is what it is.
The cycle time is a pain but the trade off is near perfection in cleaning abilities. If you only use a dishwasher once a day, you can run it overnight and forget about this, of course.
While it won’t win any prizes for design, it looks good in the kitchen and feels solid too.
We really like Kenmore’s warranty program and if things do go wrong, they have a good reputation for fixing things quickly and without too much fuss.
We strongly recommend the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher to the discerning Kitchen Authority reader who cares more about performance and reliability than gimmicks and good looks.
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