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Kenmore Elite 51172 Refrigerator Review$2,119.99
Size isn't everything.
The Kenmore Elite 51172 (MSRP $2,119.99) has a number of things working in its favor. With a clean, bright finish and lots of interior lighting, it looks like a high-end appliance. Unfortunately, the shelf layout is cramped and hard to access, the crisper drawers lose too much moisture, and the freezer fluctuates too much. Unless you’re buying this Kenmore for its massive storage capacity, you can easily find a fridge that offers better food preservation.
Design & Usability
A pretty face
At face value, this Kenmore has a lot going for it. The bright white finish is quite vibrant, and should lighten up even the darkest of kitchens. Fingerprints are nigh invisible on the glossy front, making this a great fit for consumers with small children. Stainless is available on the otherwise-identical 51173 if you want to pay extra—about $100 more if a sale is on.
On the inside, you’ve got bright LED lights that offer tons of interior illumination, shelves and drawers with classy steel trim, and an on-the-door icemaker that’s both spacious and very easy to access. Kenmore even includes two optional racks for can and bottle storage.
The controls are easy to read and use thanks to a highly responsive touch screen. All the high-end fridge features are there: control lock, fast ice—called Acceler-Ice—and an off switch for when you're away on vacation.
As far as layout is concerned, only the freezer uses its available shelves and drawers wisely. The fridge lost points when it came to accessibility. Despite the fact that there’s plenty of room for even shelf distribution, the available slots are designed in such a way that—no matter what—at least two of the available shelves had to be put almost comically close together. Short of removing one, you could only fit eggs or yogurt there, and it would be impossible to easily reach anything stored in the back.
Performance & Features
Too much flux in the freezer.
The main fridge compartment in the Kenmore wasn’t bad, but it didn’t offer the kind of performance we’d expect from an appliance this expensive. It was slightly warm throughout, and had some noticeable consistency issues over time at the top.
What’s more, the crisper drawers failed to retain acceptable amounts of moisture. Losing almost three times more water than the best crispers we’ve tested, you may very well notice your carrots and lettuce spoiling before their time.
We did find the 51172 to be very energy efficient, and its massive 29.8 cubic feet interior—19.39 of which proved to be usable for storage—is hard to be in a side-by-side. That said, it also turned out to be one of the few models we’ve tested that failed our 36-hour power loss test.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Save your money.
Despite its visual flair, energy efficiency, and spacious freezer, the Kenmore Elite 51172's temperature flaws and disappointing crispers simply don't justify its $2,119.99 MSRP. Sure, it’s huge, and sale prices often hover around $1,600, but you'd be better off buying a slightly pricier French door or a somewhat smaller side-by-side that will cost less and perform better.