Top-of-the-line performance for a mid-range price tag
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Kenmore only gives the Elite badge to its high-end appliances, and as far as dishwashers are concerned, they deserve it. Every Kenmore Elite we’ve tested so far has aced our stain tests. The Kenmore Elite 12762 (MSRP $1,149) is no exception. Although this dishwasher lacks the features and design of the other Elites that have gone through our labs, it’s a few hundred bucks cheaper. The 12762 also shares the TurboZone high-intensity spray jets and 360° PowerWash Plus motorized spray arm of its cousins, so it still packs quite a punch.
If you’re looking for a trimmed-down Elite that loses a few options without sacrificing cleaning power, the 12762 is a great choice. Only available from Sears, we’ve seen sale prices for around $859 for the white 12762 and black 12769, and $889 for the stainless 12763—identical aside from the finish. That puts it squarely in competition with most mid-range models.
The Kenmore Elite 12762 costs less than some of the other Elites we’ve tested, since it lacks many of the fancier features from these other machines. Fortunately, while those features were trimmed out to make a more affordable Elite, one thing the 12762 did not skimp on was performance. Running this through the same tests we put its cousins through, we quickly found that the 12762 was just as strong at cleaning dishes despite the lower price tag.
The 12762's control panel faces forward and consists of a row of touch-sensitive buttons and bright blue indicator lights. The interface is clear and responsive. There’s nothing fundamentally wrong with the exterior, but fans of hidden controls should look to another model. If you think the 12762 looks similar to some Whirlpool models, you've done a good job guessing who built it for Kenmore.
But as romantic comedies over the years have taught us, it’s what’s inside that counts. When you open the 12762’s bright white door, you’ll notice that it stays in place at any angle. Thanks to the clever design of its hinges, the door will never slam shut, nor will it fall to the floor. The interior is stainless steel all around, with the bottom of the tub dominated by a motorized spray arm and a steel screen filter. Located in the back is a quartet of red spray nozzles. These are the TurboZone spray jets, which will blast even the toughest stains off of your dishes.
There are quite a few ways the 12762 makes loading your dishes easy. The silverware basket can be split into three parts, which can help free up space on the bottom rack. Stemware and plasticware clips on the top rack keep awkward items in place, and the whole top rack can be raised or lowered to accommodate tall items. We were able to fit ten place settings and one serving setting inside the 12762.
The Normal cycle on the 12762 lasts a snooze-worthy 2 hours and 57 minutes, which means you’ll probably only want to run it overnight after dinner. It’s definitely not slacking during those three hours: nearly every stain was removed and negligible amounts of redeposit were spotted. This was one of the most thorough Normal cycles we’ve ever tested, and it didn’t leave much room for improvement.
The Pots & Pans cycle got most of what the Normal cycle could not. This cycle scored perfectly on the meat, milk, and oatmeal tests, and it also completely removed the burnt cheese and lasagna stains that we reserve for testing heavy-duty cycles. It faltered a bit with burnt sugar, leaving about 2% of it behind. The whole ordeal took 3 hours and 34 minutes, meaning this is definitely a cycle meant for overnight washing.
1 Hour Wash is a good counter to the long durations of the other wash cycles. It clocked in at 67 minutes, but delivered a great cleaning performance with very few instances of redeposit. As is common with most quick cycles, the 1 Hour Wash had trouble with milk stains, and only scored 92.04% on that test. Given that many of the stains we use in the test are far heavier than what you would normally toss in a fast cycle, we were impressed by the amount of stains that it managed to remove.
The 12762’s overall efficiency is good, with an estimated annual utility cost that is slightly lower than the average dishwasher. The cheapest cycle to run is the Normal cycle, which only used 2.74 gallons of hot water and 0.71 kWh of electricity. The Pots & Pans cycle is fairly prohibitive, using 8.19 gallons of water and 0.90 kWh of energy. This is definitely the cycle you should use sparingly. Finally, the 1 Hour Wash takes 6.17 gallons of water and 0.42 kWh of electricity with each run. The total water and energy cost of running the 12762 for a year is about $29.18.
The 12762 may be slimmed down in the features department compared to other Elite models, but it still has everything you need for every type of wash. There are five wash cycles: Smart Wash, Normal, 1 Hour Wash, Pots & Pans, and Quick Rinse. Their names pretty much tell you what they do, so there are aren't any surprises here.
If you need more power, engaging the TurboZone option will obliterate tough and greasy stains. The other usual suspects are there: Sani Rinse, High Temp, Heated Dry, Top Rack Only, and 4 Hour Delay. There’s a Control Lock option, too, which is especially important for this machine due to its front-facing control panel. The sound can also be disabled, letting you press buttons in peaceful silence.
Overall, the 12762’s cleaning performance was impressive. The Normal cycle felt like the heavy duty cycle of lower-end dishwashers, taking nearly 3 hours and leaving very few stains behind. The major difference is that this cycle used less than 3 gallons of hot water to do its job. It also had no issues with redeposit, which is when food gets washed off of one dish and stuck to another.
The Pots & Pans cycle picked up even what the Normal cycle left behind, getting nearly perfect scores on all the stain tests. Redeposit was once again non-existent, and even tough stains like the burnt cheese and lasagna were removed entirely. This cycle took even longer than the Normal, clocking in at 3 hours and 34 minutes.
If you don’t have three hours to wait, the 1 Hour Wash cycle will give you faster results. It performed reasonably well, with scores that were only slightly lower than the Normal cycle. The only exception was the milk test, in which the 12762 performed significantly worse. For an average load, you’re better off sticking with the Normal cycle, which also happens to be the most cost-effective wash cycle on this machine. We estimate that the cost to run the 12762 for a year will be about $29.18, which is slightly below average.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Thanks to the cutlery basket that can be divided in three, the 12762’s bottom rack is very flexible. There are plenty of ways to maximize the space or make adjustments to fit oddly-shaped cookware. The top rack can also be lowered or raised to fit taller items. We were able to fit ten place settings and one serving setting inside this dishwasher.
Although the 12762 doesn’t have a cool LCD screen or a neat handlebar for adjusting the top rack, it still performs as well as the other Kenmore Elites that we've tested. This dishwasher is a lighter version of its more expensive cousins, with some of the fancier features removed to cut costs. While this machine might not be the best bargain at its full price, it is definitely worthwhile if you find it on sale.