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Kenmore 13699 review: Bland looking Kenmore dishwasher shines where it counts

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The Kenmore 13699 dishwasher proves one thing that's sure to make budget shoppers smile -- you don't have to shell out big bucks to get a dishwasher that can clean well. This $700 Kenmore cleans like a champ and backs it up with all the basic cycles you'd hope for in a dishwasher and a few helpful extra features to boot.

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Kenmore 13699

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The Kenmore 13699 is one of the best cleaning dishwashers we tested, and a fine dryer as well. It also outclasses its $700 price with six different cycles and a few appealing features.

The Bad

The control panel feels cheap, the design is bland, and I wish it had stem holders for your wine glasses. The plastic tub is also a step down in terms of energy management from the stainless variety of higher end models.

The Bottom Line

A great value for bargain hunters, this top performing Kenmore is a steal if you don't mind the plain design.

The main reason this dishwasher costs less than competitors with similar features is the plastic tub. The stainless steel tub adorning higher end models saves energy during the cycle. This Kenmore also has a pretty bland design and a clunky control panel that feels cheap, so I can't entirely brush away the cost-cutting measures Kenmore took to trim the price of the 13699.

But especially given its cleaning power, if you're looking for a dishwasher that'll wash away whatever you throw at it and if you're hoping to save some money in the process, I strongly recommend the Kenmore 13699.

Kenmore's budget dishwasher has the heart of a champion

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Dark Knight

Perhaps the plain black exterior of the Kenmore 13699 won't be a negative for you. I like my superheroes wearing darker colors, and this dishwasher has fantastic cleaning powers. Plus, the same model is available in white or stainless steel, though the stainless costs an extra $50. Regardless of which color you pick, the look of the Kenmore 13699 doesn't do much to stand out.

The interior has a little more going on, with red jets accenting the grey racks. The racks themselves feel a little cramped. The Kenmore 13699 only has space for 12 place settings, versus 16 in the $600 GE GDF610PMJES, so even with our test run of 10 place settings, following the manufacturer's recommended loading pattern resulted in a little overlap of plates. But the tines themselves are positioned well enough so that the plates feel secure and we were still able to find a spot for large pans during anecdotal runs.

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The red jets add a nice bit of color to the interior.

Chris Monroe/CNET

You can purchase the Kenmore 13699 at Sears or on Sears' website. As is typical of the Kenmore brand, the dishwasher is exclusive to that department store and it's not available overseas. This particular model was manufactured by Whirlpool. Plus, as usual with large appliances, you can find it cheaper than the $700 price. Sears has it for $650 right now.

Making room

With only one set of fold-down tines, the Kenmore doesn't have a lot of extras to help make the space feel flexible. Higher end dishwashers have third racks. That similarly priced GE GDF610PMJES has a silverware basket you can slot on the door or the edge of the lower rack, along with bottle wash jets for washing the bottom of taller glasses.

You can change the angle of that one set of movable tines on this Kenmore -- the back row of the bottom rack. And you can raise and lower the upper rack a couple of inches. But that's pretty much it.

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You can raise and lower the upper rack.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The rack doesn't get in the way of loading, as with the tedious $800 Bosch SHS63VL5UC or the $900 LG LDF7774ST. The Kenmore 13699 doesn't win many points with usability perks, but it only lacks one thing that I really missed -- wine stem holders. As a result, you can't put wine glasses in the outer-most columns on the top rack, as the stems will lean over the rim and knock into the edge of the dishwasher when you push in the rack.

Other than those wine glasses, the Kenmore 13699 is easy to load and for the most part, it's inoffensive to look at. It even has hidden controls on the upper rim -- an increasingly popular dishwasher trend. Unfortunately, those controls look and feel like cheap plastic.

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You can shift the angle of the back row of tines or fold it down entirely.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Other than the controls -- the Kenmore 13699 does well to look plain instead of cheap, but the feel of the controls is a distinct step down from flashy touch panels of higher end models such as the $1,100 Frigidaire FPID2497RF.

Cycles for all occasions

Fortunately, though the control panel feels cheap, it's intuitive to use and has all the basic cycles you'd hope for, even in a higher-end dishwasher, along with a few helpful options you can add to your cycle.

The most unique option -- TurboZone -- makes use of specially designed water jets at the back of the tub. Activate TurboZone, put a casserole dish in the bottom rack facing the back and the jets will give the inside of the dish an extra dose of water to help scrape away dirt. It's a neat perk that rounds off a well-rounded mix of options and cycles.

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A solid selection of cycles.

Chris Monroe/CNET


The express cycle runs a little long -- it's appropriately called "1 Hr Wash." In general, this dishwasher takes its time and, with a sound rating of 50 decibels, makes a little more noise than its high-end counterparts. By comparison, the $1,200 GE PDT750SSFSS has a 30-minute express cycle, runs for less time on normal and has a sound rating of 42 decibels.

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The TurboZone option makes use of these jets to clean your casserole dish.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Still, the Kenmore 13699 won't interfere with a conversation, even if you're in the same room while it runs. And the Kenmore 13699 takes its time for good reason.

Pristine Performance

We use the Normal cycle for our official cleaning tests. According to the digital display when I select that cycle, the Normal cycle should run around 2 hours and 20 minutes. With our rigorous tests -- which involve 112 dishes that have been sitting out for 24 hours with egg, chili, cheese and spinach smeared all over them -- the Kenmore 13699 never finished in that short of a span.

During those tests, Kenmore typically took more than three hours to complete a cycle. Again, it's a slow dishwasher, but its sensor adapts to the task at hand admirably and the digital display updates the time remaining as the 13699 extends the cleaning process.

When the 13699 finally does finish and you open the door to take a look at your dishes, you'll be glad this dishwasher took it's time. It's an awesome cleaner that handily outclasses its price by performing as one of the best dishwashers we've tested at any cost.

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The Kenmore 13699 bests most of the competition at cleaning.

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The 13699 occasionally missed a spot on a dish near the edge of the racks. We found a little leftover peanut butter on a serving tray from time to time, and some dirt left on the spoons at the corner for the silverware bin.

But it doesn't miss many spots, and the 13699 keeps redeposit to a minimum, successfully filtering out bulky foods like spinach leaves and mac and cheese noodles. Redeposit, in particular, is an area where we've seen more expensive dishwashers struggle. The 13699 handily outperformed the $1,200 GE PDT750SSFSS and the $1,100 Frigidaire FPID2497RF, mostly by minimizing redeposit when those models couldn't.

To top off its impressive show, the 13699 dries dishes admirably, especially with the Turbo Heat Dry option selected -- scoring a 58 percent dry score on that test. Even without the extra drying, it fared well in our standard tests. The 13699 leaves its share of droplets, but I much prefer those to splotchy water spots. The glasses, in particular, came out of this dishwasher with a shine.

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Kenmore's a little noisier than premium dishwashers but it pairs great cleaning performance with fine drying capability.

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The 13699 isn't our cleaning champ. The $800 Bosch SHS63VL5UC still holds that title, but this Kenmore came close.

The Verdict

The Kenmore 13699 is a reasonably priced dishwasher that's great at cleaning, has a good variety of cycles and is easy to load. I wouldn't call the $700 Kenmore 13699 stylish, quiet or fast. So if you rinse or scrape your dishes anyway, the $600 GE GDF610PMJES has a sleek Slate finish and a few more features. I would certainly call the Kenmore 13699 effective. It out-cleaned the GE GDF610PMJES as well as a few dishwashers that cost more than a $1,000.

This Kenmore is also easier to use and has more features than our current cleaning champion -- the $800 Bosch SHS63VL5UC. The drawbacks to this budget friendly Kenmore aren't negligible -- especially not the plastic tub or the lack of wine stem holders. Where it matters most, though, this Kenmore shines. If you prioritize substance over style, put this Kenmore dishwasher at the top of your short list.

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Kenmore 13699

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Performance 10Features 8Usability 6Design 5