Kenmore Elite 51773 Refrigerator Review
If you want a side-by-side, keep shopping.
If you need a side-by-side fridge, the 28-cu.-ft. Kenmore Elite 51773 (MSRP $2,199.99) offers an attractive look and more-than-adequate food preservation for $1,440 on sale. With high style, superb crispers, and a chilly freezer working in its favor, the 51773 is a blend of good looks and usability that doesn't go overboard in either direction.
Still, it's important to note that you can get the slightly smaller Kenmore 51763 for hundreds less—and that popular French door fridges can now be found for under $1,000. With customer reviews on Kenmore's own website trending uniformly negative for the 51773, this might be a fridge to pass by.
Design & Usability
If looks could chill
For a fridge in this price range, the 51773 has a lot of design cred. From the ample LED lighting to the silvery grey trim on the drawers and shelves, this is a stylish side-by-side.
On the outside, the blue-tinted symbols on the control panel match the cool elegance of the stainless finish perfectly. Unfortunately, there are a number of symbols and text that don't fade away when the fridge isn’t actively being used, and they can be distracting in a minimalist or dark kitchen.
A door-mounted ice maker is a wonderful space saver in this kind of fridge, plus the multiple shelving brackets let you customize almost any section with ease. Extra perks like the five-can door rack and the four-bottle wine rack add further organizational options to keep your fridge accessible and coordinated.
Of course, not all is perfect: The drawers feel loose, and can slam if you’re not careful opening or closing them. What’s more, all those fridge shelves can cramp overall storage depending on how you lay them out.
Regardless of design and features, a fridge is only as good as its cooling. In that sense, this Kenmore falls just shy of "Elite" status. First, the good: The freezer stayed cold enough that even moderate fluctuations over time will never be enough to accelerate the development of freezer burn.
The crisper drawer also did a fantastic job. Despite an underwhelming feel and general looseness, it retained plenty of moisture. Plus, Kenmore includes two ethylene filters to help slow down the ripening process in both drawers. The only downside? Just one of the two crispers is outfitted with a humidity slider.
Over in the main fridge compartment, temperatures hovered around the ideal 37°F, but the fluctuation over time was wider than we prefer. Plus, the shelves down around the crispers reached almost 41°F.
It’s good to store produce at a slightly warmer temperature than the rest of your food, but storing many ready-to-eat foods above 41°F for more than two hours can accelerate bacterial growth. Normally we’d tell you to just turn down the thermostat, but with the rest of the fridge already hovering at just below 37°F, turning it down could risk freezing the stuff up top.
Energy efficiency was also not anything to crow about, and it'll cost more to run than many French door models.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
This Kenmore Elite's warranty is a two-parter. First, you've got your basic one year parts and labor coverage for any bits and bobs that fail through no fault of the consumer. On top of that, the sealed refrigeration system comes with five years' of parts-only coverage.
Look a Little Closer
Style isn't everything
In our tests, the Kenmore 51773 experienced its fair share of highs and lows. Positives—like the freezer and extra racks—were weighed down by some shaky temperatures and underwhelming efficiency. For a sale price of just under $1,440 in stores, you could find something better.
On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the Kenmore 51763, one of the best side-by-sides we’ve ever tested, which retails for just under $1,200. You’d be getting a fridge that performs even better than the Kenmore Elite for less money, but at the cost of some storage space and style elements.
On the other hand, you’ve got the Samsung RH25H5611SR, a gorgeous side-by-side that performs just as well and only costs about $120 more. Unless your budget doesn’t allow for the extra expense, or you’re trying to match other Kenmore appliances, we’d strongly suggest either of these alternatives.
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