The Kenmore Elite 51863 is part of the Refrigerators test program at Consumer Reports. In our lab tests, Side-By-Side Refrigerators models like the Elite 51863 are rated on multiple criteria, such as those listed below.
Thermostat control This assesses the ability of the refrigerator's thermostat to 1) achieve the desired initial set temperatures following manufacturer's recommendations 2) achieve optimum temperatures in both the fresh food and freezer sections simultaneously and 3) keep internal temperatures constant despite large changes in room temperature.
Temperature uniformity This performance test is based on how well a model minimizes warm and cold spots within its fresh food and freezer sections.
Energy efficiency This reflects electricity consumption per cubic foot of measured usable storage space. For example, two models with the same energy cost per year may have different energy efficiencies -- the unit with more storage space being more efficient.
Of course, it is already a given that the more up-scale version of anything costs more than the standard version. And that is the case with the Kenmore elite and Kenmore non-elite appliances, and costumers need to pay a premium to get the elite versions.
With the premium you are paying, one expects to get a number of advantages to offset the price. With the Kenmore elite line-up, you get a number of features that are not available on the lower end non-elite versions. The actual features vary from appliance to appliance and from one model to another. So you need to examine the actual models you want and compare them to each other in order to weigh if the price is worth it or not. Kenmore elite models are also more aesthetically pleasing than the non-elite models. The differences between the two stem from different designs as well as the use of better materials like aluminum instead of the cheaper but less sturdy plastic. This is also a major contributor to the jump in price as plastic is considerably cheaper to acquire and form than metals. It may not contribute to the functionality and usability of the appliance but it gives your home a more elegant and classy feel.
If you just need the basic functionality of a washing machine, refrigerator, or microwave, the non-elite models of Kenmore should be adequate for your needs. But if you also want to consider how the appliances would look in your home, you may prefer to get the elite models. The price would also not be a bad thing since the price of the appliances also add to the appeal.
- Kenmore Elite is the up-scale lineup while the non-elite version is the basic lineup
- Kenmore Elite costs more than the non-elite versions
- Kenmore Elite have better features and improved aesthetics than the non-elite versions
Kenmore Elite 31433 review: Kenmore's luxury washing machine is a bit of a let-down
Unfortunately, it earned a very poor cleaning score -- making it impossible to recommend -- despite its many appealing qualities.
Take a look at the chart below to see how the Elite 31433 compares to Samsung's $1,099 WA54M8750AW and Maytag's $1,399 MVWB955FC:
Comparing washing machines
|Kenmore Elite 31433||Samsung WA54M8750AW||Maytag MVWB955FC|
|Color finish||Metallic||White, black stainless steel (for $1,199)||Metallic slate, white ( for $1,299)|
|Capacity||5 cubic feet||5.4 cubic feet||6.2 cubic feet|
|# of cycles||8||12||10|
|Energy consumption||150 kWh/year||180 kWh/year||240 kWh/year|
|Water consumption||12.6 gallons||14.8 gallons||15.3 gallons|
|Dimensions (width, height, depth)||27x 40.8 x 28.4 inches||27 x 42.4 x 29.3 inches||29.5 x 43.4 x 30 inches|
As you can see, the Kenmore washer has a smaller internal capacity and fewer cleaning cycles than the WA54M8750AW and the MVWB955FC. Like the WA54M8750AW, the Elite 31433 has a related app.
The Kenmore Smart app for Android and iPhone gives you remote access to your Elite 31433. Download the app, follow the step-by-step instructions and select "Remote Start" on the washer display. When the washer is on and Remote Start is enabled, you can start, stop and pause your washer from your phone. You can also see how much time is left in a cleaning cycle.
It worked well, but you have to remember to turn your washer on and enable Remote Start to use it. Given that, you might as well just start the cycle when you're standing next to your washer. That's a gripe I have with every app-enabled washer I've tested -- you always have to enable remote functionality from the washer itself. It's a weird requirement considering that remote access is something I'd likely use if I had forgotten to start a cleaning cycle. But if I forgot, I also wouldn't have turned on the washer or pressed a Remote Start button.
Remote Start is most likely a safety measure to ensure that just anyone can't easily control a large appliance, but this process needs to be streamlined before I'd consider any "smart" washing machine truly smart.
How it performs
To test a washing machine's performance, we follow a very strict procedure. Check out this article I wrote about our test methodology if you have questions. Generally, though, we judge washer performance based on two things: how well it remove stains and how gentle it is on clothes.
For stain removal testing we use strips of fabric covered in five stains: skin oil (sebum), mineral oil (carbon), blood, cocoa and red wine. After running the stain strips through a normal wash cycle, we calculate the percentage of the original stains that are left on the fabric. The lower the number, the better the washer performed.
In the case of Kenmore Elite 31433, 51 percent of the original stains were remaining. That isn't the worst score we've seen -- that honor goes to the Speed Queen TR7 -- but it is a very low score.
The Samsung WA54M8750AW had 50 percent of its original stains remaining and the Maytag MVWB955FC had 49 percent of its stains remaining -- both relatively low scores, but not quite as low as Kenmore's Elite 31433.
To test gentleness, we use separate fabric squares with five holes punched in the middle in the shape of an X. After going through a normal wash cycle, fibers on the inside of each circle begin to fray and we count the number of frayed fibers that measure at or over 2mm long. The lower the number, the gentler that washer is on clothes in the normal cycle.
In terms of gentleness on clothes, the Elite 31433 did alright. It had 234 attached, frayed threads measuring at or over 2mm. Samsung's WA54M8750AW had a 254-count and Maytag's MVWB955FC had just 208 frayed threads (despite performing better on stain removal).
While the $1,300 Kenmore Elite 31433 looks nice and has a decent app, it's ultimately difficult to recommend. Its stain removal score is simply too low for it to be worth your money, especially considering its high price. If you want a top-load washer that performs well, consider the $1,530 Kenmore Elite 31633. Yes, it costs more, but it got an excellent performance score and has a huge internal capacity -- plus it's usually on sale at Sears.
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†Get reporting on temperature, water/electricity use and more, plus immediate alerts on any issue. Remote control and monitoring functionality of Kenmore® Smart products requires a smartphone or tablet, Wi-Fi router with a continuous home Internet connection and the free app. These devices are not included. Supports iPhone® and Android™ mobile devices. Phone not included with products.
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