Experts say standard top-freezer refrigerators are generally more efficient and reliable than other types, and they usually cost a lot less, too. Despite these advantages, there's a dearth of recommendations for current top-freezer models. ConsumerReports.org tests dozens of top-freezer fridges, but most of the better performers run $800 or more. That's on the high side for this type; most top-freezer models cost between $500 and $800. The Good Housekeeping Research Institute's latest tests don't include top-freezer refrigerators at all.
User reviews for this type of refrigerator are a little more helpful, but keep in mind that only a small fraction of owners take the time to post comments. Those who do usually have something specific to share, which is undoubtedly why few user reviews describe an adequate refrigerator that performs as expected. Instead, most feedback warns others to avoid a particular model, describes a breakdown or shares the buyer's excitement about a recent purchase. Top-freezer refrigerators don't generate as much enthusiasm as other types, and we found fewer positive user reviews for fridges in this category.
Overall, we saw good recommendations for the white Maytag M1TXEGMYW (*Est. $800) , which replaces the discontinued M1TXEMMWW, our 2011 Best Reviewed top-freezer fridge. This 21-cubic-foot refrigerator does well overall in professional tests, getting very good results for temperature control and excellent scores for energy efficiency. However, its performance is subpar in a couple of categories: The built-in ice maker is judged only fair, and the two humidity-controlled crispers do a poor job of stopping moisture loss. The M1TXEGMYW is Energy Star-rated and has a reversible door. It's also available in bisque as the M1TXEGMYQ, in black as the M1TXEGMYB, and in stainless steel as the M1TXEGMYS for about $200 more. Maytag refrigerators carry a one-year limited manufacturer's warranty; extended warranties are available for an extra charge from most retailers.
We found about 40 reviews for this Maytag refrigerator at HomeDepot.com, most of which are positive. In general, users say it's quiet and roomy, and does a great job of keeping food cold. They also like its adjustable glass shelves and adjustable storage bins in the door, which are large enough to accommodate a gallon jug. Complaints are mostly minor: Several owners want a light in the freezer section and some found it to be noisy. Another limitation is that this fridge has only a single temperature control dial for both compartments, so fridge and freezer temps can't be adjusted separately. However, only one user posts that this is a problem.
Maytag refrigerators as a whole earn above-average ratings for overall consumer satisfaction in the annual survey of appliance owners conducted by J.D. Power and Associates. While Maytag refrigerators have had some reliability problems in the past, the brand is now produced by Whirlpool, which has an excellent track record for reliability.
Another top-freezer fridge that gets good overall reviews is the LG LTC22350WH (*Est. $830) . This 22-cubic-foot refrigerator is Energy Star-rated and has an ice maker, four split-glass shelves, one full-width and three half-width door bins, two humidity-controlled crispers and a dairy drawer. Like the Maytag model, it doesn't include a light in the freezer. In professional tests, the LG refrigerator has very good temperature control performance and excellent energy efficiency, but its noise level is merely average. Users posting at both HomeDepot.com and AJMadison.com give it good ratings; however, many reviews on both sites are pulled from the LG manufacturer site, so there's considerable overlap.
Owners say this refrigerator is quiet and spacious, and the crisper drawers do a great job of keeping food fresh. They especially like being able to select different sizes of ice cubes. In the negative column, some users say the ice maker can be loud and the freezer door tends to pop open after the fridge is shut. But the main reason this refrigerator doesn't earn the Best Reviewed slot is the many complaints about LG's customer service, which one user calls "horrible and unaccommodating." Multiple owners report that LG took days or even weeks to repair a damaged fridge that was still under warranty, then refused to reimburse them for the cost of spoiled food. One claims that LG said her 6-month-old refrigerator was no longer under warranty even though LG covers parts and labor for one year, and the sealed system is covered for 7 years. This model is also available in a stainless finish as the LTC22350SS, which costs about $150 more.
The more expensive Energy Star-rated Kenmore 79302 (*Est. $840) has a capacity of 22 cubic feet. In addition to standard features such as humidity-controlled crispers, adjustable gallon-sized door bins and a deli drawer, it offers extras like an internal water dispenser and four adjustable glass shelves, including a sliding shelf that can be pushed back to accommodate tall items. In tests, it's much quieter than the Maytag and LG fridges, but doesn't do quite as good a job as the LG at maintaining a consistent temperature.
More than half of the owners posting reviews at Sears.com rate this refrigerator highly, praising its appearance, roomy interior and good lighting. However, we also saw several complaints about its temperature control, with one user saying, "I've had layers of ice form on Jell-O on the bottom shelf but it's fine on the top shelf." Another common gripe is that the freezer door pops open after the refrigerator door is shut, and even when the fridge is properly leveled the doors won't close on their own. One owner says the door must be "nudged" to close fully; another claims she has to "press and hold it for a count of five," and even then it sometimes pops back open. Colors include the white Kenmore 79302, the bisque 79304, the black 79309 and the stainless-steel 79303 (*Est. $1200) . All versions come with a one-year limited warranty.