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Kenmore 13479 review: Affordable cleaning power washes away this Kenmore's flaws

The $500 Kenmore 13479 doesn't have a lot going for it, except awesome cleaning power.

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Andrew Gebhart
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Andrew Gebhart Senior Producer

Andrew loves writing about cool, futuristic technology. He's reviewed everything from vacuum cleaners to beer brewing robots in pursuit of the perfect smart home. He wants the smart home to make him feel powerful, and it's getting there.

5 min read

Testing the $500 Kenmore 13479 dishwasher made me nervous. For a built-in standard-sized dishwasher, it's priced at the low end. If it performed as such, that would have meant a lot of extra work for me. We spread 13 different types of foods over 112 different dishes, then let them sit for 24 hours before testing the cleaning prowess of our dishwashers. If the low-cost Kenmore 13479 wasn't able to remove any dirt, I would have to do it.

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Kenmore 13479

The Good

The $500 Kenmore 13479 cleans better than models that cost two to three times as much. It'll wipe away almost any dirt you throw at it, and it has a fine mix of cycles and a countdown timer.

The Bad

The countdown timer is the fanciest feature you'll find on this bare-bones model. It doesn't even have basics like fold down tines or wine stem holders.

The Bottom Line

If you want to save money without sacrificing cleaning power, and you don't care about features or design, this is the dishwasher for you.

Lo and behold, Kenmore came through. Price aside, it's one of the best performing dishwashers we've ever tested. So when you take the price into account, the Kenmore 13479 makes for a great bargain as it out-cleans dishwashers that cost almost three times as much. This $500 dishwasher doesn't have a whole lot else going for it. It's bland and it doesn't really have any special features. The interior is a little cramped. To an extent, you get what you pay for, but that doesn't hold true as far as cleaning.

If you're looking for a low-cost, no frills dishwasher that can handle your messes, the Kenmore 13479 fits the bill nicely. Consider the $700 Kenmore 13699 as well for a similarly capable dishwasher with a few more features.

Kenmore's ugly dishwasher will make your dishes beautiful

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Looks like a pauper

Saying the Kenmore 13479 is a "no frills" dishwasher is being too generous. It's not just missing high-end extras. It has no fold down tines, no wine stem holders, you can't adjust the height of the upper rack and it only has room for 12 place settings. It also has a plastic tub instead of an energy saving stainless tub, but I'd expect that at this price. For $500, I also wouldn't expect higher-end adornments like a third rack, specialized jets for difficult to wash dishes or customizable cycles for either the upper or lower rack. However, one or two simple add-ons would have been nice.

The exterior is an unadorned plain black. The model's also available in white or stainless steel, though the stainless costs around $100 more. The curved handle is nice, as is the status light on the front which shines green as the dishwasher works. Otherwise, this dishwasher blends in enough to be forgettable, which is as much as I can say for its design.

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Both the exterior and interior are pretty bland.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The interior is similarly bland, and again, it has no features to speak of to make loading easier. The red jets on the spray arm at the bottom and the red cap on the rinse aid dispenser are the only hints of color. Without features, even our load of 10 place settings felt cramped, though the design isn't so egregious as to get in the way. Though some plates overlapped, they all sat firmly in their spots when we loaded according to the pattern recommended in the manual.

The control panel on the top lip feels cheap and plasticky, but it does have a countdown timer and a nice set of six cycles. The hour-long speed cycle is a little slow, but the Kenmore has an otherwise standard but suitable mix including Pots and Pans, China Gentle and Smart Wash -- which senses dirt and saves energy.

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The 13479 does have a nice selection of cycles.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

After you select your cycle, you can add on any of three options -- Sani Rinse, High Temp and Heated Dry -- another fine if underwhelming mix. If you spend an extra $200, the Kenmore 13699 adds a set of fold down tines on the bottom rack, an upper rack with adjustable height and an extra option which focuses water through jets specialized for a casserole dish. The 13699 isn't feature-rich by any means, but it's not quite as bare-boned as the 13479.

Still, you can get the 13479 for less than $500. As is typical with Kenmore products, it's only available at Sears, and as of this writing it's listed for $400. I wouldn't expect a lot of features for such a low price, and what it does do, it does extremely well.

Performs like a prince

For the extra $200, you also get a little extra cleaning and drying power with the Kenmore 13699, but this Kenmore 13479 is certainly no slouch.

The 13479 earned an outstanding 87.1 percent cleaning score on our rigorous tests. We throw spinach, mac and cheese, coffee, egg yolk, wine, chili and more at it. The 13479 handled it all with barely a blemish, beating many similarly priced dishwashers -- as well as a few much more expensive models -- in the process.

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The 13479 outclasses plenty of other dishwashers at cleaning.

Steve Conaway/CNET

I found the occasional fleck of spinach still stuck to a plate. The filter handled most of the bulky noodles and spinach leaves and kept redeposit to a minimum, but it wasn't quite perfect. I'd also find a spoon or a bowl on occasion with dirt still clinging to the inside. The spray arms of the 13479 do a good job of covering almost every angle of every dish. The 13699 sometimes struggled with dishes on the edges of racks, and the 13479 does too.

Still, we pack the dishwasher full with a lot of extremely dirty dishes. Space out your bowls and spoons a little bit and you'll be hard pressed to find any dirt after everyday use.

The 13479 isn't quite as proficient at drying.

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The 13479 keeps noise to a minimum, but struggles to get your dishes dry.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

When we added the heated dry option, the dry score went up to 42.4 percent, but I'd still find water marks on the glasses in particular. Lots of dishes still had small droplets. The Kenmore 13699 predictably beats the cheaper 13479 on all three tests. It earned a 90.6 percent cleaning score, a 36.8 percent dry score and a 58 percent dry score with the power dry option enabled -- so it's still not great at drying dishes, but it's noticeably better.

The verdict

If you're willing to spend a little extra, I'd go with the $700 Kenmore 13699 over this $500 Kenmore 13479. The former is more well rounded and just a bit better at everything. With a few extra features, a reasonable price tag and the fact that it's simply so good at cleaning, the 13699 is one of my favorite dishwashers I've reviewed to date. The 13479 is pretty good too, it just doesn't quite hit the same sweet spot.

Still, the 13479 costs less and with everyday use, I'd doubt you miss the couple of extra percentage points of cleaning power offered by the 13699. The 13479 does the job and will handle almost everything you throw at it. Kenmore sacrificed features, design and usability to get the cost down on the 13479, but it didn't sacrifice cleaning power. So if you don't care about extras and you want to save money, the 13479 is a great buy.

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Kenmore 13479

Score Breakdown

Performance 9Features 6Usability 5Design 6
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