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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.