Although top-freezer refrigerators are enduringly popular with consumers, they tend to get a lot less love from experts and professional reviewers than other types. Mostly, that's because this type of fridge is thought to be less convenient to use, since you have to stoop to get to the main compartment, and offer fewer organizational options. However, they also tend to be more reliable and less expensive. If you think that a different style of refrigerator might be a better fit for your needs, see our discussions of bottom-freezer refrigerators, side-by-side refrigerators, French-door refrigerators and counter-depth refrigerators elsewhere in this report.
Among top-freezer models, the GE GTE15CTHRWW (Est. $600) is not only a top-rated fridge, it's also a great value. Both experts and owners have nothing but love for this 14.6 cubic foot refrigerator, giving it raves across the board for excellent performance, a very straightforward design and enough features for most people. One of the few complaints we saw about the GE GTE15CTHRWW is that it's too small for most families, but GE has that covered too, with the otherwise identical, 17.5 cubic foot GE GTE18CTHWW (Est. $630).
While this GE is just a solid, basic fridge, it has some nice features that are worth noting. Most popular is the fact that, in spite of its smaller footprint, the shelves in the door are designed to hold gallon-sized jugs. It also features the standard two-crisper design with a solid top for more storage, two adjustable wire shelves, and a single shelf in the freezer. It doesn't include an icemaker, but you can add the GE IM4D Icemaker Kit (Est. $90), which users say is very easy to do.
Where the GE GTE15CTHRWW really shines is in its temperature control performance. According to owners, it gets cold fast and stays that way, with littler variation in temperature around the interior. In professional tests it gets a Very Good rating for temperature performance, just as good as many refrigerators costing quite a bit more. It also earns an Excellent score for energy efficiency, adding to its great value. It's estimated that this GE fridge will cost about $40 per year to run, and it is Energy Star qualified.
Reviewers don't have much to say about the appearance of the GE GTE15CTHRWW, but owners do, and they like their options a lot. The GTE15CTHWW comes in white, black and bisque; the GTE18CTHWW comes in silver as well. The silver will run you about $50 more, but the other colors are all the same price. We saw plenty of comments about the sleek attractive design and clean lines, something owners say fits well in their kitchen, without standing out.
If you need even more capacity, check out the 20.4 cubic foot Kenmore 70623 (Est. $1,000). It's the top-rated, top-freezer style fridge at Reviewed.com, where Matthew Zahnzinger praises its great temperature performance and low power consumption. He does note that, in order to maintain the optimum ideal temperature of 37 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge and 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the freezer, you may want to slide the thermostat to the coldest setting.
Still, for a top-freezer model, the Kenmore 70623 has a good assortment of storage options, including three drawers -- the two smaller crisper drawers and a larger, full-width drawer. The in-door storage features "bucket-style" bins that are easy to remove and adjust, offering a variety of height options. It also features upscale-looking LED lighting, a cool touch at this price.
Our former Best Reviewed pick, the Kenmore 79432 (Est. $1,300) is still available and is still a good, albeit much pricier, option. It fell from our top spot only on the basis of more recent professional tests.
Still, if you need a larger top-freezer refrigerator and want one that's feature-rich the 23.8 cubic foot is still worth a look. When originally tested by Reviewed.com in December of 2013, it was named an Editors' Choice and Best of the Year. Owners praise it too, saying it has a great assortment of features, keeps veggies fresh for at least a week, and has a cool, modern style that they like.
The Kenmore 79432 comes in a white finish, but the identical refrigerator is available in black as the Kenmore 79439 (Est. $1,300). If your budget allows and/or your sense of style demands it, $200 more will net you the Kenmore 79433 (Est. $1,500), the identical refrigerator in a stainless steel finish.
Temperature performance isn't this refrigerator's greatest strength, but all agree that is it more than satisfactory. Reviewed.com notes that temperature fluctuations in the freezer could lead to freezer burn for items that are stored long term, but is very impressed by the performance otherwise. "In our lab tests, the 79432 consistently kept the temperatures right where they should be, and were warmest at the bottom -- which benefits the produce in the crisper drawers," says Ethan Wolff-Mann.
Testers find plenty of usable storage space -- and lots of touches to maximize that space. That includes adjustable glass shelves, two lower crisper compartments and a lot of on-door storage in both the refrigerator and freezer. Some of the copious interior is eaten up by an internal ice maker in the freezer and an internal cold water dispenser, but most reviewers count those features as pluses.
Elsewhere in this report: