KitchenAid KUDE20FBSS Review
Looks pretty and packs a lot of power.
Sometimes, it’s not enough just to get the job done. The KitchenAid KUDE20FBSS is a sleek, stylish dishwasher that will get it done with flair. This machine combines many of the designs and features we’ve seen in others, but with a few extra little details that help it stand out. On top of performing very well on our battery of tests, the KUDE20FBSS was kind enough to beep when it was finished.
The MSRP of $1000 might scare away a few buyers, but sale prices usually have this dishwasher closer to the $900 range. Our estimated yearly cost of running the KUDE20FBSS is $33.77, which is about average. Since it delivers a solid performance and looks good while doing it, you may find that the KUDE20FBSS is worth the extra dollars upfront.
Design & Usability
Very pretty, if a bit oversensitive.
If nothing else, the KUDE20FBSS is an attractive-looking machine. From the front, we have the usual, monolithic stainless steel face, except for one little light near the top right corner. This light changes color depending on what stage of a cycle it’s at: blue means it’s washing, red means it’s drying, and green means it’s done. The control panel is mounted along the top of the door, hidden away under the counter when the door is closed. The controls are clearly labeled, touch-sensitive buttons and soft, blue indicator lights.
The pretty controls do have a few drawbacks, however. We have found that the buttons are extremely sensitive, to the point that lightly brushing a fingertip against them is enough to activate them. It left us wondering if a stiff breeze could interrupt a cycle. Thankfully, there is a control lock feature to prevent accidental activations, and given how sensitive the KUDE20FBSS is, it’s practically a necessity. Also, similar to devices with a touch screen like an iPad or smartphone, the controls are prone to picking up fingerprints and smudges.
Control options aside, the KUDE20FBSS also features a cutlery tray above the top rack. Some users will find this feature adds flexibility, as it opens up the possibility of doing loads without the use of the cutlery basket. Others wil complain that it cuts into room for stemware on the top rack.
That said, the cutlery basket itself is a very adjustable piece of equipment. It’s got four separate compartments with the familiar array of slots for your utensils, but the slots can be retracted. Collapse one, two, or all four if you want; the idea is that you can fit just about any combination of eating and serving utensils in that basket.
Not very many extra wash options.
In contrast to the neat design features, the KUDE20FBSS doesn’t come with anything too noteworthy when it comes to wash options. You have the usual Normal, Quick (Whirlpool, Maytag and KitchenAid machines call it "1-Hour"), and Heavy cycles. There’s also a Pro Wash cycle that uses the machine’s sensors to determine the optimal amount of water and energy to use. Finally, there’s a Light cycle for lightly soiled items or for china.
As for extra options, the KUDE20FBSS features a Hi-Temp Scrub for higher wash temperatures (up to 120ºF), and a Sanitize Rinse for even higher wash temperatures (up to 150ºF, but the manual claims it should reach up to 155ºF). The former is good for cleaning tough, baked-on food, and the latter is good for destroying bacteria and evidence. The aforementioned Control Lock and a 4-Hour Delay round out the KUDE20FBSS’s repertoire of options.
The pretty lights aren't compensating for anything; this machine can clean.
The KUDE20FBSS gave an overall excellent performance. In Normal and Heavy washes, it was nearly perfect in every category. Our main performance gripe is that it didn’t wash away the stray pasta remains on our lasagna test, and instead left them floating around in the serving dish. At least it wasn’t still baked on to the dish, but to consider that clean would be too generous. With the Normal cycle clocking in at two hours and 47 minutes, and the Heavy cycle taking four whole hours, this machine's more suited to the 24 Hours of LeMans than a drag race.
We were really impressed by how well the KUDE20FBSS handled our chopped spinach test. Any spinach particles that weren’t washed away were only found on the dishes that originally contained them, so redeposit—the transfer of filth from dirty dishes to clean—is clearly not a problem. Even the 1-Hour Wash, which sacrifices performance for speed, managed not to spray spinach all over the other dishes.
For those who want a little bit extra from their dishwashers, and are willing to pay for it.
The KUDE20FBSS is clearly designed with usability in mind, and it plays very well to its strengths. The controls are simple, responsive, and nice to look at. The cutlery tray and the highly adjustable cutlery basket allow you to make efficient use of the dishwasher’s space. The displays light up clearly, and let you know what stage the current cycle is at. It beeps when it’s done. Dishwashing is always going to be a chore, but the KUDE20FBSS tries its best to make it seem less like one. Even with a price tag that breaches four digits, you’re at least getting a strong performer with a nice list of extra perks.
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