A bold step forward
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When it came to high-end, high-quality dishwashers, KitchenAid was once the only game in town. But the arrival of upscale European manufacturers like Miele and Bosch put the venerable American brand on notice.
KitchenAid recently debuted a whole new line of kitchen appliances, and its dishwashers got a lot of attention. The flagship KitchenAid KDTM704ESS (MSRP $1,849) is the culmination of years of research and development, and signals future innovations for the brand's dishwasher lineup.
On the outside, this expensive powerhouse features a thick, heavy-duty, knurled handlebar and an all-stainless steel body. Inside, you'll find the intimidating, motorized Dynamic Wash Arm, six bottle wash jets, a row of bright interior lights, and the powerful Clean Water Wash system.
Put together, the 704 represents the best of what a dishwasher can do. It's the OLED television, or the Tesla Model S—a technical tour de force that proves what's possible. That's why we found it deserving of our Editor's Choice award.
But, like most groundbreaking products, the KDTM704ESS isn't the best value. Although its individual parts are innovative, our tests show that the pricey '704 couldn't outperform other dishwashers in its price range. In fact, it didn't even beat dishwashers that cost hundreds less than the $1,624 sale price we found.
If you're planning on remodeling with a suite of high-end KitchenAid appliances, this dishwasher is a good bet. But most consumers would be better served by waiting for the KDTM704ESS's innovations to trickle down to the mass market.
The KitchenAid KDTM704ESS crams many loading and convenience features into its tub, but how does it actually stack up when it comes to washing dishes? Our tests found that, true to its word, the Clean Wash Water System did keep food particles from redepositing. However, we also found this dishwasher couldn't remove as many stains as competitors in its price range.
The KDTM704ESS features a textured, knurled handlebar on its stainless steel door, with bold red endcaps etched with KitchenAid branding. If red doesn’t match your kitchen’s color scheme, you can easily swap in other endcaps, sold separately.
The interior, which is also stainless steel, is loaded with features. Conveniences like a third rack, specialized high-intensity water sprayers, cup shelves, height adjustment, and interior lights are pretty much expected for a dishwasher at this price point. However, this KitchenAid sweetens the deal with unique bottle wash jets, a lower rack that glides out smoothly on its own rail system, a dynamic wash arm with multiple spinning heads, and a filtration system that never needs to be removed and manually cleaned.
Pound for pound, there's a lot of added value in there. Adjustable tines help with loading, allowing room for large pots and pans or thick plates and serving bowls. We were able to fit 11 standard place settings and a serving setting in the KDTM704ESS without any trouble.
But for all the clever moving parts inside this dishwasher, the cutlery basket is surprisingly lackluster. The thick handle is useful, but the sheer size of the basket, especially considering the presence of a third rack, makes the whole thing feel unnecessary. Who has that much silverware? The basket splits in two, but the halves are so difficult to separate that we wouldn't blame frustrated users for just leaving them stuck together.
The KDTM704ESS’s stain removal capabilities aren't much higher than results we’ve gathered from dishwashers at half the price. Its distinguishing feature is the absence of redeposit, but trouble removing food stains in the first place diminishes the benefits of a strong particle filtration system.
The Normal cycle exhibited particularly low scores versus meat, leaving many large, visible clusters of the stain behind. Even some budget models we've tested can reduce our meat stain to tiny flecks or remove them entirely. This cycle lasted two hours and five minutes on average, though, which is fairly quick. However, it probably could’ve benefitted from adding an extra wash and rinse to finish off those meat stains.
The Tough cycle, on the other hand, hit 100% on nearly every type of stain, except another protein-based stain—burnt cheese, which scored an abysmal 21.92%. While we’re certain ProScrub is designed for this kind of mess, we don’t test with non-default features enabled in order to keep testing methods consistent across all brands and models.
Finally, Express Wash clocked in at a brisk 56 minutes while delivering much lower stain removal scores than the other two cycles. Still, the overall goal of this cycle is to wash stuff quickly, and it certainly achieved that. This cycle will work swimmingly against light stains.
The KDTM704ESS’s cycle selection doesn’t go overboard, with usual suspects like Normal, Tough, Express Wash, and ProWash (a cycle that behaves differently depending on how much food waste it detects). This machine only has two specialty cycles: Light for delicate items, and Rinse Only for refreshing dusty dishes without detergent.
There are plenty of options that let you modify a wash. The high-intensity ProScrub jets and Bottle Wash jets can be engaged for most cycles, and the slower, more thorough cycles (cycles that aren’t Rinse Only or Express) can have Hi-Temp Wash and Sani Rinse options applied to them. Some cycles also pair with the Top Rack Only option, allowing you to save water and power.
A handful of extra commands don’t directly affect the wash, but do provide convenience. You can set a Start Delay for up to 24 hours if you want to save the load for later, lock out the control panel to prevent accidental inputs, and even shut off the sound if the beeps and chimes annoy you. There’s also a prominent Cancel button for easily interrupting a cycle if you have to.
Compared to most dishwashers, each of the KDTM704ESS’s cycles uses more electricity. We suspect this is due to the motorized Dynamic Wash Arm and interior lights.
Overall, it's a minor contributor to costs, and we estimate the total annual utility cost of running this dishwasher will be $31.37 per year. Broken down by cycle, Express Wash used 0.76 kWh of power and 5.6 gallons of hot water, Normal used 0.84 kWh and 2.89 gallons, and Tough used 1.25 kWh and 4.52 gallons. Similar cycles on other dishwashers use about the same amount of water, but not as much power.
Like many Whirlpool dishwashers, there’s enough room to fit 11 place settings and a single serving setting inside the KDTM704ESS. Sliding plate supports, adjustable rack height, and retractable cup shelves provide flexibility for items of all shapes and sizes, plus the smooth-gliding racks make the entire loading process easier.
Dishwashers work by mixing water with detergent, spraying it against dirty dishes, filtering out the food particles that get knocked off, and repeating that process multiple times. Trouble is, if the filtration system doesn’t do a good job removing the free-floating food from the water, that stuff just ends up back on the dishes.
Clean Water Wash is a KitchenAid-exclusive filtration system that stops food particles from redepositing, and it worked like a charm on our stain tests with the KDTM704ESS. Even Express Wash, which is a fast cycle and thus more prone to redeposit, showed zero instances of the issue.
But even with Clean Water Wash to take care of filtration and the Dynamic Wash Arm to handle water coverage, the KDTM704ESS’s cleaning ability was still far from perfect. While water coverage didn't appear to be an issue in any particular section of the dishwasher, bits of food still stuck to dishes—seemingly at random—after Normal, Tough, and Express Wash cycles. It's true that we use far more food stains than a typical diner would leave behind on their plates when we run our tests, but most $1,000+ dishwashers can handle that. Sadly, the KDTM704ESS can't.
Also, we test stains using default settings, because that's how dishwashers get used int he home. So while the KDTM704ESS’s Tough cycle scored poorly against the burnt cheese stain, users can typically combat this by scraping their plates beforehand or using the dishwasher’s ProScrub feature.
We estimate the KDTM704ESS's annual running cost will be around $31.37, which is about average. Its cycle times are rather fast, though, with Normal cycles running close to two hours, drying time included. This means users that need to run two loads in one night can do so.
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This KitchenAid is backed by an industry-standard 1-year warranty that covers parts and labor. After the first year, the nylon dish racks and control panel are covered up to the fifth year, but any labor costs for installing replacement parts aren’t covered. For the life of the appliance, the stainless steel tub and inner door liner are covered, but once again, you’ll have to pay for the cost of labor.
Anytime a manufacturer makes a bold claim about some new technology, it’s up to us to put those new toys to the test. Clean Wash proved its worth in the past, and the new Dynamic Wash Arm on this KitchenAid has also made good on its claims.
The KDTM704ESS is the top-of-the-line KitchenAid dishwasher. If you’re already loyal to the brand and money is no matter, this is the KitchenAid you want. Few dishwashers have as many features as the KDTM704ESS, and its cleaning ability, while not quite as thorough as some of the other high-end dishwashers we’ve tested, is still more than enough to handle whatever you throw at it.
Of course, taken at MSRP, this is the most expensive non-luxury dishwasher we’ve ever reviewed, and even some of the staunchest KitchenAid devotees will hesitate to pay full price for this appliance. Opting for the KitchenAid KDTM354DSS, which also has the powerful filtration system found on the KDTM704ESS, would be more economical.
And if you’re not married to the KitchenAid brand, you’ll find that the KDTM704ESS isn’t much different from other high-end dishwashers, save for the price. Whether it’s a Bosch or a GE, clean dishes are a given. At this price point, you should be shopping based on the little extras that make loading and using the appliance easier or more convenient.
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