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Bosch SHS63VL5UC review: A frustrating dishwasher that comes through in the clutch

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MSRP: $799.00
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The Good This $800 Bosch dishwasher has the best cleaning rating of any machine we've tested so far, including some $1,200 models. It tops that off with great drying performance that limits water spots. Your dishes will actually come out shiny, no matter what's covering them when they go in.

The Bad $800 isn't cheap for a dishwasher, yet the Bosch has minimal features and a plain design. Inflexible racks also make it a pain to use.

The Bottom Line You can throw anything you want at the $800 Bosch SHS63VL5UC as long as you can find a place where it fits. If you're willing to adapt to a tedious rack setup, it'll reward you with cleaning performance that far outclasses its pay grade.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

7.2 Overall
  • Performance 10
  • Features 5
  • Usability 5
  • Design 6

Review Sections

I have a love-hate relationship with the $800 Bosch SHS63VL5UC. With only a few cycle options and no extras such as a third rack, there isn't much about this dishwasher's feature list to lure you in. The adjustable height and fold down tines of the top rack are a plus, but you get no other flexibility, making it hard to fit any large or oddly shaped dishes. Plus, the plain color pallette and push buttons on the dishwasher's upper lip make it look outdated, so forget about a cutting-edge design.

For all of that, this Bosch unit does do one thing consistently well: clean dishes. This $800 dishwasher tackled everything we threw at it. It handled tough stains like chili and spinach, and water spots on glassware were almost non-existent. In fact, it out-cleaned our previous champ -- the $1,200 LG LDT9965BD -- by a couple of percentage points making it the best cleaner we've seen so far. It finished our trials with an average clean score of 93 percent. That's amazing.

I wish there were more features on the Bosch SHS63VL5UC for its price, but seeing sparkling dishes after each cycle makes this dishwasher hard to ignore. If all you care about is dish-cleaning performance and you're willing to spend for an upper-midrange appliance to get it, the Bosch SHS63VL5UC is an easy recommendation.

Design

The stainless finish of the Bosch SHS63VL5UC reminds me of many other modern large appliances, but the scoop handle provides a pleasant change of pace. Above the handle, a lighter steel color borders the rest and curves up to the control panel on the upper lip. As with every other built-in dishwasher with hidden controls, you'll need to pull open the door for the control panel to work. But unlike most other dishwashers with hidden controls, the Bosch SHS63VL5UC actually has physical buttons instead of touch controls.

The buttons are responsive, I just found them strangely out of place on a hidden control panel. There's nothing outright wrong about the design of the SHS63VL5UC, but there's no color accents on the interior, and as a whole it struck me as plain and a little old fashioned.

A little old fashioned, but not necessarily ugly.

Chris Monroe/CNET

You can purchase the Bosch SHS63VL5UC 300 Series dishwasher at AJ Madison and other large appliance dealers. Like most large appliances, you'll find it cheaper than the $800 list price. Right now, AJ Madison has it for $715. The SHS63VL5UC is not available overseas.

Features

Open the dishwasher and press the On-Off button, and you'll be able to select from a pretty standard selection of cycle options -- Heavy, Auto, Normal and Rinse -- each with their own respective buttons. I found the lack of creative cycle options on an $800 dishwasher more egregious than the presence of buttons themselves -- especially given that Bosch doesn't even give you an express cycle if you need to wash a load quickly.

Not many cycles to choose from.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The $900 LG LDF7774ST lets you vary the water pressure from the top rack to the bottom with one of its cycles. It doesn't have a true express either, but it comes closer with a Quick & Dry cycle that takes a little over an hour. Bosch's shortest cycle other than Rinse is more than two hours long.

The $900 LG's time display stays on as it runs, keeping you up to date with how much longer it will run. As you select your cycle, the display on the Bosch SHS63VL5UC blinks an estimate that updates as you add options such as "ExtraDry," then turns solid as you hit start on the right to show you it's ready to go. But once you close the door and the SHS63VL5UC whirs into action, the display turns off.

The InfoLight lets you know the dishwasher is running.

Chris Monroe/CNET

A red info light shines on the floor to let you know the dishwasher is running, so the SHS63VL5UC is sure to delight your family's cat, but I'd have liked a few more features aimed at humans for the $800 price.

Usability

The interior of the SHS63VL5UC doesn't have a lot going on in terms of features either, and I don't like most of what it does have.

You can lift the upper rack to adjust its height to any of three possible positions. Once it's all the way up, press the triggers on either side of the rack to lower it back down to position one, but even that is cumbersome as you'll need to prod and jostle the rack to actually get it to drop.

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