The promise of a turbocharged dishwasher that attacks dried on goop and food is hard to resist, especially if you bake a lot. But in our past tests of this feature, it's often meant lackluster cleaning for the rest of the load of dishes. The results of our new tests of the TurboZone in the Kenmore 15693 have caused us to reevaluate our position. The TurboZone cycle blasted the gunk off our brownie bowls without degrading the performance for the rest of the dishes.
The Kenmore 15693, $1,000, is one of three dishwashers whose test results we'll soon add to our dishwasher Ratings. For this model we ran the turbo cycle in addition to the normal tests we usually run. The heavily soiled items we loaded were identical for both runs. But for the turbo cycle, we followed manufacturer instructions and moved the two brownie bowls that we typically place facing inward on the bottom rack to the turbo zone in the back facing the zone's special jets (see photo) in the stainless compartment.
In our limited test, the brownie bowls in the turbo zone indeed came out cleaner than those we washed in the normal cycle. But they weren't perfect. Better yet, other items in the dishwasher came out just as clean as items we washed in the normal cycle. Such power, however, comes at a price. While water usage for both cycles was about the same, the turbo cycle used about 15 percent more energy. And cycle time, already 130 minutes for the normal cycle, jumped dramatically to 200 minutes—well over three hours—for the turbo cycle.
The bottom line. You don't pay extra for a turbo cycle alone. In models costing roughly $800 or more, it's just one of a handful of stepped-up features you get, such as an adjustable upper rack and other flexible options. But if you routinely wash dishes that need some extra effort, having your own turbo zone may be worth the extra time and expense.
If you're shopping for a dishwasher, be sure to check out our dishwasher buying advice, which includes a video on our tough tests.