LG LDT9965BD review: LG's black stainless dishwasher washes away its flaws

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MSRP: $1,200.00

The Good The black stainless finish on the LG LDT9965BD looks great and resists the typical fingerprint smudges of stainless steel. And more importantly, this dishwasher aced our cleaning tests.

The Bad The upper rack is a pain to use, the controls are counterintuitive, and it's not great at drying.

The Bottom Line The $1,200 LG LDT9965BD gets a lot of the big stuff right, particularly design and cleaning performance, but fumbles some of the little things like ease of use to fall short of a seamless dishwasher experience.

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7.8 Overall
  • Performance 9
  • Features 7
  • Usability 6
  • Design 8

The LG LDT9965BD annoys me. It's beautifully designed, with a black stainless finish that resists fingerprints as promised, and it has plenty of space for dishes thanks to a third rack that can fit small coffee cups or silverware. But the main upper rack is a pain to load. It doesn't have a true express cycle. I don't like how the buttons work. It's extremely expensive for a dishwasher at $1,200 and it doesn't even dry the dishes particularly well, leaving water spots everywhere.

So there's plenty about this premium LG dishwasher that I don't like -- but my goodness, it can clean your dishes. It finished our trials with an average clean score just over 90 percent. That's amazing. We intentionally stress out our dishwashers with our tests to see what they're good at and what they aren't. As far as cleaning is concerning, the LG LDT9965BD is good at just about everything. By comparison, the similarly priced GE PDT750SSFSS earned a clean score of 67.7 percent -- a fine, if underwhelming, result, given the rigor of our tests. The LG even manages its sparkling clean at a quiet 42 decibel sound rating.

The LG LDT9965BD drops the ball on a lot of the little things, and for a $1,200 dishwasher, that's tough to forgive. If you thoroughly rinse your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher and value flexibility and ease-of-use over cleaning prowess as a result, this isn't the dishwasher for you. But if you're willing to pay a premium for cleaning power, so you can throw whatever you want in your dishwasher without worry, then the LG LDT9965BD will come through for you where it matters most.

Designed to impress

I'm a big fan of the black stainless exterior on the LG LDT9965BD. It's not actually black -- more of a dark grey -- but next to the other stainless steel dishwashers in the lab, the dark shade stands out. It's distinguished and classy.

The only adornments on the front are a gently curving handle bar, an LG logo in the upper left corner, and four status indicator lights in the upper right. The controls are hidden on the upper lip of the door, a popular method of reducing the clutter on the front that I'd expect of this dishwasher, given the price. All told, it's an elegant look that suits the $1,200 cost.

LG's front panel looks great and resists fingerprints well.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The roomy interior maintains that elegance with lighter color racks against a dark stainless tub. Purple wine stem holders and brackets provide a hint of brightness along with an orange steam vent on the left side -- both colors a playful touch in an otherwise professional looking machine.

With a capacity of 15 place settings, the LG LDT9965BD feels roomy, and that effect is aided by a third rack dedicated to silverware and items of small stature. A light silver frame pulls out from just under the top of the tub, holding two darker grey plastic baskets. These basket lift free easily so you can load silverware into them on your countertop before placing them back where they belong. They're convenient, but the plastic feels a bit less elegant than the rest of the interior, if not cheaper. These baskets are useful, but maybe not as nice as the rest of the machine.

The third rack is useful, but the plastic feels cheaper than the rest of the interior.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The main upper rack suffers from the opposite problem. The bottom of each column angles up and in, creating a fine visual accent, but actually making it more difficult to load dishes. I'm sure the lips and angles created by the uneven terrain are meant to help somehow, but even following the manufacturer's recommended loading pattern, I found them to be a pain.

Glasses in the middle column cramp the bowls in the second, none of them feel particularly steady in place, and in order to actually use the stem holder for wine glasses, you need to actually take up two columns, placing the wine glass in the fourth and leaning it into the stem holder covering the fifth. With the stem holder lowered, it's very hard to fit anything else into that column, a problem made worse by the bottom wires sloping up. We managed to squeeze small coffee cups under the stem holders, but they became entirely blocked in by glasses in the next row. You'll have to plan ahead when loading this dishwasher, because the upper shelf tries to do too much. You can probably get used to the issues, but with a $1,200 sticker price, I wish there wasn't anything I had to get used to.

Even with 10 place settings, the upper rack feels jammed, in part because the wine glasses take up two columns.

Chris Monroe/CNET

You can raise and lower the upper rack easily, and still remove it from the dishwasher entirely if you choose. Pull it and angle it upward and it'll come free. When it's in place, you can lift up on the sides and it'll latch in a couple of inches higher so you can fit taller items on the bottom. Pull up on the purple triggers on the sides and it'll drop back down. It's easy enough to adjust the height that you can likely do it with a rack full of dishes.

The purple brackets also serve a purpose other than adding color to the interior -- they mark the movable tines. The two right columns on the top rack fold down. The two on the left can shift to five different angles. The bottom tines are flexible as well. Each half of each row of tines can fold down independently of the other half. And for an extra option, you can space the tines on the left half of the rows further apart by folding every other tine down.

Lift the upper rack to raise it a couple of inches, or lift the purple level on either side to drop it back down.

Chris Monroe/CNET

The LG LDT9965BD tries hard to help you use the space as you see fit, and has a few options for flexibility. Some of those options do indeed help, but others hurt.

Get your dishes loaded and you can choose from the six cycle options using the smooth buttons on the hidden control panel. Hit the power button on the right to turn on the LED display next to it. Tap any cycle option and it'll show the estimated time to completion. You can pick between Auto, Heavy, Delicate and Dual Wash -- all of which use steam to assist the cleaning process -- or pick Normal or Quick & Dry -- which just use water.

Quick & Dry is the LG's LDT9965BD version of an express cycle, but it isn't actually that fast, with an estimated run time of an hour and 20 minutes. The GE PDT750SSFSS's express cycle takes only 30 minutes to run its course.

The Dual Wash cycle varies the intensity of the upper and lower spray arms, keeping things gentle on the upper half of your load, while maintaining an intense spray on the lower rack. It's designed to help you wash fine china at the same time as normal dishes, and its the only unique cycle or option this LG dishwasher offers.

You can add options to your cycles with other buttons for Extra Dry, Rinse, High Temp, Half Load and Delay Start, most of which are pretty self-explanatory; the Rinse button cycles between a Sanitary rinse at 160 degrees Fahrenheit, an extra rinse and a rinse-only cycle. Figuring that out without the instruction manual, though, would be a trick.

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