What every best Refrigerators has:
- A flexible layout.
- Convenient features.
- A well-lit interior.
Bottom-freezer refrigerators get more recommendations than top-freezers, primarily due to their more convenient layout. However, their popularity is giving way to French-door fridges that are more convenient still -- replacing the sometimes massive one-piece refrigerator compartment door design with two piece doors that can be more easily accommodated in tighter kitchens. We cover French-door refrigerators, side-by-side refrigerators, top-freezer refrigerators and counter-depth refrigerators in their own sections elsewhere in this report.
Our top-rated model in the bottom freezer category is the 24 cubic foot LG LDC24223S (Est. $1,600). This refrigerator measures just under 33 inches wide (32.75 inches to be exact) and comes in a stainless-steel finish. It is also available in smooth white as the LG LDCS24223W ($1,500) and in smooth black as the as the LG LDCS24223B ($1,500).
The LG LDC24223S earns a Recommended nod at Consumer Reports, where a top pick in the bottom-freezer category, with scores of Excellent for thermostat control and temperature uniformity. Reviewed also gives it a high score, 8.8 out of 10. At CNET, Ry Crist gives it a slightly lower score of 7.2 out of 10, and rates it at 3.5 stars overall. Owners praise the LDC24223S for its great performance and plethora of storage options, noting that it's very quiet and attractive, too. Many say they chose it because they had to have a fridge that fits in their smaller space of 33 inches, and are thrilled that something they had few options in turned out to be so great.
The feature list on the LG LDC24223S is good, including some nice touches like an alarm that alerts you if the door is accidentally left ajar. There's also an interior ice maker. The glass shelves are adjustable and easy to clean, users say. Door storage is designed to accommodate a variety of items of different shapes, heights and sizes, from a child's juice carton to a full gallon of milk, although those shelves are not adjustable. There are two crisper compartments and a full-width drawer underneath the crispers that can hold wider, narrower items, like party platters. Two drawers in the freezer compartment help you access items more easily.
The one drawback to the LG LDC24223S is the too-warm crisper temperatures. In testing at both CNET and Reviewed, the temperatures were found to be much higher than the settings would indicate they should be. At CNET, Crist found that the average temperature in one crisper bin was 39.5 degrees, even after he dialed the temperature down to 33 degrees. Reviewed's findings were similar, with Zahnzinger calling crisper performance, "flat-out disappointing." Still Crist's bottom line regarding the LDC24223S is, "It's a storage champ with plenty of room for groceries, and the interior feels sturdy and well-built."
The Whirlpool WRB322DMBM (Est. $1,500) is a little smaller, a little noisier, and a little cheaper than the LG LDC24223S, but is very much worth considering for those on a tighter budget. It gets some of the highest ratings we saw from thousands of owners who praise its attractive styling and good storage options that are reported as easy to adjust.
Performance is impressive as well, and the Whirlpool WRB322DMBM gets scores of Excellent for thermostat control and temperature uniformity at Consumer Reports. They only give it a score of Good for energy efficiency, which is puzzling because this fridge is Energy Star certified, and with an estimated annual running cost of about $70 per year, it's in line with the other refrigerators we reviewed, and lower than the LG LDC24223S.
Like the LG LDC24223S, the Whirlpool WRB322DMBM is designed to fit into a 33-inch space (its width with the doors closed is 32.75 inches). Inside you'll find spill proof glass shelves, two slide-out baskets in the freezer, digital temperature controls and an ice maker.
The Whirlpool WRB322DMBM has a stainless steel finish. However, if you don't want or need that upgrade, you can get the same model in a more basic white, as the Whirlpool WRB322DMBW (Est. $1,400), black, as the Whirlpool WRB322DMBB (Est. $1,400), or black stainless as the Whirlpool WRB322DMHV (Est. $1,600). Whichever option you choose, you get a solid performing, 22.1 cu. ft. workhorse that, according to reviews, pleases experts and users.
For those looking for a bottom freezer on an even tighter budget, the Kenmore 69313 (Est. $1,300) is also worth a look. It's rated a Best Buy among conventional bottom freezer refrigerators at Consumer Reports (keep in mind that the MSRP is misleading -- it's usually found on sale for less than $1,000). It has a lower capacity (19 cubic feet) and is narrower (just under 30 inches with the door closed) than the two bottom freezer models we discuss above. That's terrific for those looking for a fridge that will fit well in a kitchen where space is tight, but it may not be the best choice for those with larger families. The Kenmore 69313 has a stainless-steel finish. While occasional sales may negate the price difference, you can often save about $100 by opting for the white Kenmore 69312 (Est. $1,200) or the black Kenmore 69319 (Est. $1,200) instead.
Features are more limited on the Kenmore 69313 than the other two bottom-freezer fridges we detail here. There are glass shelves in the fridge, but the freezer lacks even an ice maker (though one can be purchased as an option). Still, if its dimensions and capacity are a match for your needs, testing reveals a strong performer in the Kenmore. Noise, the ability to maintain steady temperatures and energy efficiency all draw the highest ratings. User reviews are somewhat limited, and found only at Sears, but most are very happy with this fridge.