Kenmore Elite Dishwasher 1312X

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued.

Manufacturer: Whirlpool

This is easily one of the most popular dishwashers at Sears. The Kenmore Elite dishwasher 1312X combines many features that people like in an attractive package at a decent price.

The first thing that you'll notice is the shape of the door, which has curved edges rather than square edges, offering a more sophisticated look. The controls are traditional, with a plastic console on the top-front of the door.

The cycles include "Smart WashHE," which is the only button you'll ever need for almost every load. By choosing this cycle, an optical sensor will determine how dirty your load is, and a temperature sensor will determine how large the load is. As the dishes get clean, the sensors will detect how clean they are, until the dishes have become totally clean. When that happens, the dishwasher will automatically stop washing and start rinsing, which saves time and energy. The first time you use this cycle, it will take a couple hours (the sensors have to calibrate to your water's hardness and cloudiness), but afterwards it will generally be the shortest-running cycle.

Open the door, and you see the stainless steel interior, which is handsome, stain-resistant, and helps with the drying process. The racks, also silver-gray to match the interior, are nylon coated. Nylon is about 10x as durable as the PVC used to coat racks on lower-end models (according to Whirlpool's laboratories), so you won't have the little tips breaking off of the tines and rusting.

Look beneath the racks and you'll realize that the wash arms are quite different than a traditional dishwasher. They have several slits rather than just circular holes. These slits fan the water and increase water pressure, increasing washing power, without using more water (like putting your thumb on the end of a garden hose).

Look at the bottom of the tub, and you may find an unfamiliar apparatus. That's the triple filtration system. It's standard in European dishwashers, and new to American dishwashers. Instead of using a grinding disposal to get rid of food waste, there are three levels of filtration (the top of the removable filter for large food, the metal circular screen for small food, and the mesh screen on the removable filter for fine food particles). This has several advantages:

  • Less noise: without an additional motor, and without hard bits being ground up, the dishwasher is whisper-quiet (52 dBa vs. 59-61 dBa in an average machine)

  • Less water: because the dishwasher doesn't have to flush down water during the wash cycle to dispose of food particles - it's washed down as the wash cycle water drains out - the dishwasher doesn't need as much water (qualifies as high-efficiency)

  • Less energy: using less water means less draw on the water heater, which saves energy; not having the grinder motor also reduces energy use (Energy Star qualified)
The filter should be removed and rinsed out every few months. Just twist it out, give it a rinse in the sink, then twist it back in.
Then, in the very back of the dishwasher, you will find four red disks. This is the TurboZone, and is by far the most popular feature in Kenmore dishwashers. The TurboZone sprays water at high pressure as the disks spin, blasting baked-on, caked-on food off your casserole dishes and lasagna pans. No more will you have to wash them before putting them in the dishwasher. Just set it in the back of the bottom rack, slide the rack in, and select the "TurboZone" option to effortlessly get your cookware spotless.
If you're looking for a top-performing dishwasher with good looks, durability, and features that will help you save time, water, and energy, the Kenmore Elite Dishwasher 1312X is an excellent choice.