On Kenmore’s 100th anniversary, everything old is new again
It’s been a century since the first Kenmore sewing machine gave birth to a new brand, probably named after Kenmore Avenue in Chicago. Now controlled by Sears Holding Corporation, the Kenmore brand is on an array of appliances, including dishwashers, refrigerators, and washing machines. Earlier today, Consumer Reports was on hand for the 100th anniversary media event in New York City. For all the innovations on display, it was also apparent that, when it comes to appliance design, what goes around comes around. Here are three ways:
In 1929, Kenmore introduced the Gyrator, one of the earliest washing machines, which sold for $79.50 and promised to “wash clothes clean in 3 to 7 minutes.” That’s quick! Especially given the 60 to 100 minutes you have to wait with most modern washers, the result of stricter water-use regulations. And so you had Kenmore promoting its Accela-Wash Technology, which can supposedly wash and dry a load of laundry in 45 minutes. In our tests of the Kenmore Elite 4147, $1,100, results weren’t quite that speedy, but the machine did a superb job cleaning clothes—much better than the Gyrator, we have to imagine.
See Consumer Reports’ washing machine Ratings and recommendations..
Double ovens continue to get more popular, especially above the $1,000 price point. Most models feature a smaller top oven over a larger bottom oven—the so-called 30/70 configuration. But 50/50 double ovens are coming on strong, and darned if that split doesn’t resemble stoves of old, including the 1943 unit Kenmore had on display. Its contemporary counterpart, the Kenmore Elite 30-inch electric freestanding range, $2,400, offers modern styling, with stainless steel accents and sculpted handles. True convection in both 3.5-cubic-foot ovens, and cooktop elements ranging from 1200 to 3200 watts deliver up-to-date performance.
See Consumer Reports’ range Ratings and recommendations.
The Grab-N-Go, a door-in-door innovation on the new Kenmore Elite 7206 refrigerator, has helped make this new French-door model one of the brand’s best sellers. Presumably, consumers back in 1984 didn’t flock as freely to Kenmore’s side-by-side fridge with a similar hidden-door configuration. It could have been the almond finish with wood grain accents, though actually that styling was pretty hot back then. We’ve had a chance to test the Kenmore Elite 7206, $3,400, and recommend it on the strength of its superb temperature performance and solid energy efficiency. The slim in-door icemaker and LED theater lighting are two other notable innovations.
See Consumer Reports’ refrigerator Ratings and recommendations.