Kenmore 70343 Refrigerator Review
Aside from the price, we couldn't find anything special about this French door.
The Kenmore 70343 (MSRP $2,374.99) French door fridge usually goes for around $1,899. Compared to most similar models, that’s pretty darn cheap.
We say "most" because there is one competitor that sells for less: The Frigidaire FGHB2866PF can be found on sale for $1,799. The catch? It's almost the exact same fridge as this Kenmore. Aside from a few cosmetic differences, the two fridges are made in the same factory and are based on the same design, and perform about as well.
That means both share a bulky icemaker and sticky interior drawers. Our tests also revealed that the crispers aren't great at retaining moisture and temperatures are somewhat inconsistent over time. Spend a little more and get a fridge like the Samsung RF28HDEDBSR, and you'll avoid most of those pitfalls.
It’s not all bad, of course: low energy consumption and ample storage are always good. But at the end of the day, there are enough models on the market—many of which cost about the same—that it’s easy to pass this Kenmore by.
Design & Usability
No surprises here
The 70343’s design is, for lack of a better term, "safe." There are no bells or whistles, no gimmicks, nothing to make it stand out from the existing sea of stainless steel. In fact, Kenmore didn't do too much to distinguish it from the Frigidaire on which it's based.
Bulky icemakers like the one found here hold more cubes, but that capacity comes at the cost of useable internal space. Also, this Kenmore's crisper drawers don’t slide smoothly, while the full-width deli drawer got caught on itself almost every time we opened and shut it.
Similarly, the upper freezer drawer jumped out of its track more than once during use. It’s likely the more you put in the freezer, the less this will happen—but be aware. At least the 70343 does feature bright LED lighting in both compartments, an upgrade you don't see in basic top freezers and side-by-sides.
Performance & Features
Price isn't everything
There are some bright spots in our testing. In particular, this new model turned out to be exceptionally energy efficient, even with the icemaker running.
Temperature output in the primary fresh food section was more or less spot on, and relatively consistent over time. Unfortunately, the crisper drawers did a lousy job retaining moisture, which won't do produce any favors.
The freezer, however, is where things really got dicey. It ran a few degrees warmer than the displayed 0°F, which is the minimum ideal temperature for long term frozen food storage. Temperatures were also less consistent over time, which is a recipe for freezer burn.
Despite the long list of options on the control panel, ancillary features are actually quite limited. Express Chill—which quickly cools the freezer, useful for when you’re restocking it with new groceries—is the only “extra” feature. The other options cover basic fridge maintenance: turning the icemaker on or off, adjusting temperature settings, checking the water filter status, and so on.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Kenmore's standard one-year limited warranty covers part failure (should the icemaker stop working, for instance) or any defects out of the box. Sears offers extended coverage for either three or five years at additional cost. It's a standard warranty for appliances in this price range.
You Get What You Pay For
An affordable entry into the French door format
The Kenmore 70343 will keep food cold, it looks decent, and the retail price of about $1,899 is quite low for a French door fridge. Unfortunately for Kenmore, the Frigidaire it's based on sells for $100 less.
Regardless of which fridge you choose, you'll find food preservation performance that's a tad spotty compared to more expensive models, especially in the freezer. Also, the fit and finish leaves a bit to be desired.
If you’re not looking for something outrageously fancy, there’s no harm in checking out this model a bit more. Just make sure to do some comparison shopping before making your final decision.
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