We begin (as usual), with brief specs & images of the base 300-series dishwashers. Click an image for a larger view.
SHE23R52UC (white) - SHE23R55UC (stainless steel) - SHE23R56UC (black)
As to the most basic specs, this is what we're looking at in the above SHE23R5xUC models:
- 52dBA sound level (loudest bosch model)
- 259hWh energy star rating
- 4 wash programs – Heavy, Auto, Normal, Rinse&Hold
- digital time display, front-facing buttons
- upper rack adjustable
- stainless steel tub
…Now for the Ascenta models we'll compare to. We'll begin with the low-end Ascenta dishwashers (again, click the images for larger versions). These ones don't have the LCD display (the Ascenta models further below do).
SHE3AR52UC (white) – SHE3AR55UC (stainless steel) – SHE3AR56U (black)
Comparison to the 300-series:
This base Ascenta Series model “trades” features with the 300 series. It's a little quieter, but uses a little more energy. The “sanitize” feature is better (you can choose/force it to sanitize), but the “delay start” is limited to static 3/6/9h choices. The door will hold “open” at various angles, but you lose on the full-stainless-steel tub (Ascenta carries a plastic/stainless-steel hybrid). Buttons have a more modern look to them (rounded and stylish), but you lose out on the digital timer countdown. You gain a “half load” wash, but lose the “rinse & hold” wash (the other 3 primary wash's are the same).
- many similarities to the 300-series
- 50dBA sound level (slightly quieter than the 52 rating of the 300-series)
- 279 kwh energy star rating (slightly higher than the 300-series 259kwh rating)
- adds a “Sanitize” option
- non-flexible pre-wash options (3/6/9 hour only)
- adds “variable spray pressure”
- 4 wash programs – Heavy, Auto, Normal, Half-load
- no digital display
- upper rack not adjustable
- stainless/plastic tub
- self-latching door (door holds at nearly any position)
According to the specs, the low-end Ascenta isn't really an upgrade (or a downgrade) from the 300-series. It's just different. You get different features.
Honestly, it's a tough choice. If you're picking between these models, you'll want to determine which features are most important to you, and choose the dishwasher that satisfies most of them. If you “must have it all“, you'll have to step up to another model.
Moving on to the higher-level Ascenta (again, click images for larger versions)…
SHE3AR72UC (white) – SHE3AR75UC (stainless steel) – SHE3AR76UC (black)
This is the slightly-better Ascenta series. Think of it as an Ascenta “plus”. It's virtually identical to the base Ascenta mentioned further above, except that it adds 2 wash cycles (Delicate & Express), the digital countdown display of the 300-series, the racks of the 300-series, and…. well… that's about it.
- Virtually identical to the above Ascenta, except…
- minor rack upgrades (flippable lower tines, adjustable upper rack)
- 6 wash programs
- digital display
If you were having a tough time choosing between the 300 and basic Ascenta series, the upgrades above might sweeten you to the Ascenta series a little. However, most of the fundamental differences remain the same. If you preferred aspects of the 300-series before, it's unlikely that the “Ascenta +” did anything to change your mind. On the other hand, if you were already partial to the Ascenta, this version does have those few upgrades you may want to consider.
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