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Kenmore 65132 dryer review: There's a speed demon hidden behind this dryer's stodgy looks

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Clad in a very basic design, and sporting simple mechanical controls, the $600 Kenmore 65132 dryer won't win any points for style or sophistication. Neither will the laundry appliance wow you with extra features. But despite its modest appearance, hidden within this unassuming Kenmore machine you'll find a surprising amount of clothes-drying power.

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6.7

Kenmore 65132 dryer

The Good

The Kenmore 65132 dryer powers through wet clothes quickly and has controls that are simple to use. The appliance also has a very low sticker price.

The Bad

The basic design and boring exterior of the Kenmore 65132 dryer won't excite anyone. Outside of automatic drying cycles, this Kenmore dryer is devoid of fancy extras. Also, it has a lint screen that's awkward to manipulate.

The Bottom Line

The plain Kenmore 65132 dryer offers swift performance for not much cash but no extras either.

The Kenmore 65132 dryer is affordably priced especially when you consider how well it performs. Its old fashioned interface means it can be cantankerous to operate at times too Still, it's hard to find a dryer this powerful at any price let alone one this affordable. Another penny-pinching option is the $650 GEGTD45EASJWS dryer which offers similar performance yet is a little easier to use.

This budget Kenmore dryer has freakish speed

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Design and features

All white and almost completely unadorned, there's no escaping that this cube-shaped appliance is essentially a bland rectangular box. The only mildly interesting element is the Kenmore dryer's back-mounted control panel. Specifically, the panel's top edge slopes gently upwards at its center, then softly drops back down again -- exciting stuff.

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The Kenmore 665132 dryer looks boring and basic.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Measuring 43 inches tall by 29 inches wide and 28 inches deep, the Kenmore 65132 is relatively compact and offers a smallish 7-cubic-foot-capacity drum. It's similar in size, shape and capacity to the $1,000 LG DLEY 1701V (7.3 cubic feet), another laundry appliance meant to squeeze into cramped laundry rooms. Of course, LG's machine costs close to double the Kenmore's asking price, is packed with features, and flaunts a beautifully designed exterior.

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The only design flair to speak of is a curving control panel.

Chris Monroe/CNET

This Kenmore dryer's controls are just as sparse as its appearance. There are just four dials on the machine and no screen or display whatsoever. Moving from left to right, the first knob sets cycle temperature according to fabric type; Low (delicates), Medium (casual), High (cotton). Next is the main control, the cycle knob, which selects whether the dryer operates automatically using its moisture sensors, dries by timer, or just runs cool air through the drum.

Last are dials to engage the Wrinkle Guard function, a final fluff cycle to stop wrinkles from setting in, and a Cycle Signal toggle that sounds an alarm when the dryer has reached the end of its cycle. This knob also doubles as the dryer's start button. There are certainly no bells and whistles on this machine, such as fancy steam modes or specialized garment cycles. The upside, though, is that the dryer's uncluttered controls are simple and straightforward.

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The dryer door is small and doesn't open all the way.

Chris Monroe/CNET

There are aspects of this machine's basic construction, however, that I'd rather do without. For instance the drum door's exposed metal hinges give the appliance a shoddy and unfinished feel. I also don't like shape of the door, which is wider than it is tall and swings downward instead of left or right. The door doesn't open all the way either but instead stops at a 90 degree angle (parallel to the floor). All this makes the door's opening feel small and much too narrow.

What I find most annoying, though, is the Kenmore dryer's lint screen. Long, thin and made from flimsy metal mesh, it's awkward to handle and bends easily. It also takes some elbow grease to yank the screen out of (or push it back into) its bay.

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The lint screen is a pain to use.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Performance

Don't prejudge the Kenmore 65132's drying ability based on its low price and unexciting exterior. Like the budget-friendly GE GTD45EASJWS, this Kenmore unit can power through loads of damp clothing in short order.

Keep in mind, we design our testing procedures to measure exactly how much water a given dryer can pull away from fabric along with the time required to complete the task. It's also our goal to remove as many variables as possible during testing, including environmental conditions and test materials. For our tests we chose the machine's normal cycle (meant for "work clothes, medium-weight fabrics and sheets," as outlined in the manual) and its medium temperature setting.

The Kenmore 65132 dryer took an average of 41 minutes to finish its cycles, the second fastest time we've seen to date. Currently the speediest dryer title belongs to the Kenmore 69133 (38 minutes) while the LG DLEX 5000 remains in third place (42 minutes). GE's GTD45EASJWS dryer took a slower 48 minutes on average to run through its loads.

Dryers compared

Dryer Electrolux EFME617S Perfect SteamGE GFDS260EFWWGE GTD45EASJWSGE GTD81ESSJWSGE GTD86ESPJMCKenmore 65132Kenmore 69133Kenmore 81383Kenmore Elite 81072LG DLEY 1701VLG DLEX 5000LG DLEX 9000V
Capacity 8 cu. ft. 8 cu. ft. 7.2 cu. ft. 7.8 cu. ft. 7.8 cu. ft.7 cu. ft.8.8 cu. ft.7.4 cu. ft.9 cu. ft.7.3 cu. ft.7.4 cu. ft.9 cu. ft.
Cycle types 91241214491014121414
Avg. cycle time 54 min.48 min.48 min.67 min.60 min.41 min.38 min.46 min.43 min.44 min.42 min.43 min.
Avg.. water amount removed 5.5 pounds5.7 pounds5.5 pounds5.6 pounds5.6 pounds5.4 pounds5.3 pounds5.7 pounds5.4 pounds5.5 pounds5.6 pounds5.5 pounds
Energy Star certified YesNoNoYesYesNoYesNoNoYesYes No
Avg. power usage per year 608 kWhNANA608 kWh608 kWhNA608 kWhNANA607 kWh607 kWhNA
App NoNoNoYes, Android/iOS (optional upgrade)Yes, Android/iOSNoNoNoNoNoYes, Android/iOSYes, Android/iOS
Warranty 1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)1 year limited (parts, labor)

To describe just how powerful a dryer is in one figure, we calculate its water evaporation rate. Specifically the number states the average weight of the moisture a dryer can remove from test loads of wet fabric in a given period of time.

As expected the Kenmore 65132 dryer notched a high evaporation rate of 0.133 pound per minute. This showing currently places the Kenmore in third place and a hair behind the LG DLEX 5000. The Kenmore 69133 still sits at the lop of the leaderboard with an evaporation rate of 0.139 pound per minute.

WATER EVAPORATION RATE (POUNDS PER MINUTE)

Kenmore 69133 0.139LG DLEX 5000 0.135Kenmore 65132 0.133LG DLEX 9000V 0.128LG DLEY 1701V 0.124Kenmore Elite 81072 0.124Kenmore 81383 0.122GE GFDS260EFWW 0.121GE GTD45EASJWS 0.115Electrolux EFME617S Perfect Steam 0.103GE GTD86ESPJMC 0.095GE GTD81ESSJWS 0.084
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Conclusion

It's hard to ignore the $600 Kenmore 65132 dryer's ability to handle wet laundry with great speed. That's especially true when you factor in this appliance's extremely reasonable asking price. Ultimately it's what makes this dryer slightly easier to recommend over $650 GE GTD45EASJWS, another budget dryer option. The GE machine offers essentially the same drum capacity and features, but slower performance, for a comparable amount of money.

Of course for those who can't deal with either dryer's frumpy design and annoying physical quirks such as cranky knobs and junky lint screens, I suggest a third path. It'll cost more, but the $1,000 LG DLEY 1701V boasts a similar 7.3 cubic foot capacity, compact size, and a design that's breathtakingly attractive.

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6.7

Kenmore 65132 dryer

Score Breakdown

Design 5.5Usability 6.5Features 5.5Performance 8