Kenmore Elite 71052 Refrigerator Review
Consistent freezer, confused fridge
The Kenmore Elite 71052 (MSRP $2949.99) seems to have gotten things a bit backwards: It has all the basic features you’d expect from a mid-range French door fridge like an icemaker, through-the-door water dispenser, and bright LED lighting, but its performance disappointed in our lab tests. Even though the freezer was great, the fresh food compartment spoiled our opinion of this fridge.
Design & Usability
Standard size, average design.
The Kenmore 71052 is a standard French door refrigerator. Its 36-inch wide frame is marketed as being able to hold up to 27.6 cubic feet worth of groceries, putting it on the more capacious end of the spectrum. The layout is quite basic: Fridge shelves slide forward for rear access, while adjustable shelves on the right fridge door give you plenty of gallon-sized storage.
The symbols on the external control panel glow bright blue when you open the fridge door or make a selection and fade out after a few seconds of disuse. Buttons labeled in a small (but readable) font manage not to detract too much from the glossy white fridge exterior.
The 71052’s only unusual design elements are its crisper drawer handles. I found the handle ridge on top easier to grip compared to typical handles, and it doesn’t get in the way of the bottom shelf. Unfortunately, the crisper’s sliding switch was so stiff; adjusting it pulled the entire drawer to the left and right.
Bright LED lights illuminate the fresh food storage, while the freezer relies on a yellow incandescent bulb. The freezer itself is standard pull-out fare: two buckets on the bottom with a drawer on top. It comes with a large ice bucket even though the freezer lacks its own icemaker. That means the bucket will likely be more useful as segregated freezer storage.
For folks who like this fridge’s look and layout but have too small of a kitchen, you’re in luck! The 71032 is a slightly smaller, thinner version of the otherwise identical 71052.
Performance & Features
High highs, but disappointing lows
This Kenmore had enough strong points that we really wanted to like it. The freezer got very cold—and stayed that way—and our tests indicated low energy consumption for a fridge this large.
Unfortunately, fridge temperatures were all over the map, with average temperatures coming in two to three degrees both over or under the target 37ºF depending on where in the fridge we looked. Moisture retention in the crispers was only so-so—bad news for salad lovers.
As far as features are concerned, this fridge neither surprises nor skimps. An on-the-door icemaker should handle mixed drinks, but you’ll need to buy a bag of ice if you’re having a summertime barbeque. Also, a temperature control drawer in the fridge sports three nebulous settings: Deli, Meat, and Produce. We know nothing beyond that; even the manual doesn't have any specific temperatures for the different settings.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
A Chilly Verdict
Too pricey for a flawed fridge
While holiday sales gave the 71052 a pretty steep discount, current prices on the Sears website peg this model for just over $2,100. That’s still a huge drop from the much higher MSRP, but don’t be fooled—it’s not that much of a bargain.
The good news is that there are some great budget French door models out there. While they may not have an icemaker or some other features, they do offer up really great performance for equally budget-friendly prices.
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