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Kenmore Elite 81072 dryer review: Mega laundry machine dries fast but has a hefty price tag

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MSRP: $1,400.00

The Good The Kenmore Elite 81072 dryer has attractive modern styling and intuitive controls that are easy to operate. The appliance also removes moisture from fabric quickly, has a large 9-cubic-foot capacity along with 14 separate dryer modes plus steam abilities.

The Bad Unlike other appliances that use an attached water line, the Kenmore Elite 81072 obtains the water for its steam modes from a small reservoir you must fill by hand. The Elite 81072's lightweight door feels flimsy and can't be slammed shut.

The Bottom Line Though you have to fill its steam feeder with water by hand, the Kenmore Elite 81072 dryer's excellent performance, huge 9-cubic-foot capacity and included drying rack make this laundry appliance very enticing to big families.

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7.4 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Usability 7
  • Features 6.5
  • Performance 8

Review Sections

There aren't many dryers for sale that can swallow 9 cubic feet worth of wet laundry at once, but the $1,400 Kenmore Elite 81072 can do just that. Thanks to its massive drum size and speedy cycle times, the Elite 81072 is a good fit for large families who need to power through hefty laundry loads often and quickly. The Kenmore Elite 81072 has other alluring attributes, too, including straightforward controls, plus numerous specialty drying modes and steam functions.

Saddled with a cantankerous door and manually fed water supply for making steam, however, this dryer isn't perfect. If your weekly routine demands frequent laundering of monster-size bedding or handling enough dirty clothing to outfit a small army, the Elite 81072 will serve you better than sleeker but smaller units like the $1,500 LG DLEX 5000 and $1,099 Electrolux EFME617S Perfect Steam.

Design and features

Standing a full 40.8 inches tall, 29 inches wide and 33.9 inches deep, the Kenmore Elite 81072 dryer is positively massive. While roughly the same size as the also gargantuan 8-cubic-foot capacity GE GFDS260EFWW, this machine takes up more space than both the LG DLEX 5000 and Electrolux EFME617S Perfect Steam, which measure 7.4 and 8 cubic feet, respectively.

The benefit to the Kenmore Elite's extra girth is that its roomy dryer drum that offers 9 cubic feet of capacity. It's enough to accept two large washer loads simultaneously from its companion appliance, the Kenmore Elite 41072 washing machine. Additionally, the Elite 81072 dryer's big format helps it to process bulky items like comforters, blankets and bath mats with less stress than with compact dryers.

The Kenmore Elite 81072 dryer offers a big 9-cubic-foot capacity.

Chris Monroe/CNET

I found the Elite 81072's controls a breeze to operate as well. A central knob swivels and clicks softly in increments to select the dryer cycle you desire. 14 options in all, choices range from treating specific garment types such as Bulky/Comforter, Khaki/Jeans or Workout Wear, just to name a few. The appliance comes with steam modes, too, with labels such as Sanitize, Touch Up or Steam Refresh.

All these controls plus the dryer's other buttons are backlit by blue LED lights or sport indicators of the same hue. A matching blue LED screen lives on the control panel's right-hand side and displays the remaining cycle time in minutes. While small, the screen is bright and clearly legible from various angles or from across the room.

The controls are intuitive and fun to use.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Honestly, the Kenmore Elite 81072's interface felt eerily familiar, and as it turns out, there's a good reason. Like its matching Kenmore Elite 41072 washer, this dryer is really an LG appliance in disguise -- specifically, the LG DLEX 8100. The smaller LG DLEX 5000 I reviewed also has a similar control panel.

The Elite 81072 dryer relies on a tiny water reservoir to supply moisture for its steam modes. While the machine will flash a warning light when the tank is running low, it's a drag to have to fill it by hand. For an appliance this expensive, I expect the convenience of a dedicated water line. And like the lid on the LG DLEX 5000, this dryer's door feels disconcertingly lightweight. You can't slam the door shut either -- an action I find deeply satisfying -- but must gently push it closed. It's a minor quibble but an annoyance nonetheless.

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