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refrigerators
  • Best of Year 2012

KitchenAid KFIS29PBMS Review

One of the newest members of the KitchenAid family is the $3,099 KFIS29PBMS. This fridge looks great, feels great, and performs… with moderate results.

$3,099.00
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Introduction

One of the newest members of the KitchenAid family is the $3,099 KFIS29PBMS. It’s a stainless steel French door fridge that contains such high end elements as LED lighting, an on-the-door ice maker, and KitchenAid’s fancy Preserva technology. This fridge looks great, feels great, and performs…with moderate results. So moderate, in fact, that it may not be worth such a high price tag, unless you’re a vegan... or a rabbit... who eats nothing but fresh produce—a dietary choice that would make you the ultimate fan of the concept behind the Preserva system.

Most households refrigerate a lot more than just produce, however, and you should keep the big picture in mind when making such a pricey investment. Some of our highest scoring French door models cost almost $1,000 less than this one, though certain retailers do offer this one for as low as $2,609. Even so, we have to question whether the performance is worth the price. But let’s be clear: It’s still a very good fridge with plenty of storage space and lots of fun, convenient features that you may not find on cheaper models.

Design & Usability

It may not innovate much in terms of overall layout, but this fridge's personal design flourishes give it a distinctly modern flavor.

This stainless steel fridge looks very elegant, sporting a through-the-door ice and water dispenser set below an external control panel on the left-hand exterior. The panel does a nice job blending in with the overall finish, and it’s still easy to read and use. When the fridge is left alone, the control screen remains blank, but the images on it light up as soon as you touch one of its buttons. In an unusual design twist, the indicator symbols here are lit with a bright white light.

The blue LED lighting and detachable beverage rack are meant to optimize both storage space and user interaction.

While the overall layout is unremarkable in terms of originality, the inside of the KitchenAid does have a few interesting design elements. Indeed, the attractive blue LED lighting and detachable beverage rack are meant to optimize both storage space and user interaction. Aside from the traditional layout of shelves and drawers, you'll find a full-width drawer at the very bottom that comes with its own temperature control panel.

While the freezer consists primarily of three pull-out sections of varying height, there's one nifty feature that's worth mentioning. At the very front, just inside the door, is a thin compartment labeled In-Door Pizza Storage. It’s a full-width slit designed to fit two or three full-sized frozen pizzas when placed upright on their sides.

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Features

Accessibility was never a problem with this fridge, and don't forget: on-the-door ice maker!

The most exciting thing about this fridge is the inclusion of KitchenAid's Preserva technology, which uses an attachable filter on the inside of the vegetable drawer to absorb excess ethylene. This gas is responsible for the degradation of produce, such as browning around the edges of sliced apples. Removing this harmful gas theoretically prolongs the lifespan of stored produce, resulting in less food and money wasted.

Getting to food shouldn’t ever be a huge issue with this fridge. Sure, there’s always the possibility that you may lose something in the back; if you like to overstock, it’s inevitable. As long as you don’t shop for food as though the world may end next Tuesday, you should be able to reach items without an issue. The freezer is actually quite accessible, even more so than usual for a pull-out compartment. The drawers slide out very far, and the buckets aren’t so deep as to risk frost bite every time you reach in.

The task of providing bulk ice at a party is now an effortless chore.

Speaking of food storage, let's revisit the temperature control drawer in the fridge. While you can manually adjust its internal temperature using the plus and minus buttons (it ranges from 32 degrees Fahrenheit up to 41), this drawer’s control panel comes equipped with four programmed settings. At the touch of a button, you can adjust it to 32 degrees for fresh meat, 36 degrees for the ambigous “party” setting, 39 degrees for deli storage, or 41 degrees for wine.

The ice maker is located entirely on the left fridge door, and makes the chore of getting to bulk ice as easy as possible. It has a clear window in the front that allows you to see how full the storage bin is; the panel that this window is built into can be opened like a door, revealing a smaller removable bucket inside. It’s very easy to take out and put back—the task of providing bulk ice at a party is now an effortless chore.

Performance

We were somewhat disappointed by the test results, which were more or less average across the board.

The middle shelves were the only ones that had a temperature matching the 37 degrees (Fahrenheit) we set on the thermostat. It was a bit cooler at the top, and a bit warmer at the bottom, more so in both directions than we'd have liked. Given how expensive the fridge is, we expected superior temperature accuracy. Fortunately, it was stable throughout the whole fridge with very little shift over time. As long as you remember to keep highly perishable items at the top, such as soft cheeses or other dairy products, you should be fine.

It was a bit cooler at the top, and a bit warmer at the bottom, more so in both directions than we'd have liked.

The freezer was pretty good, albeit a bit unusual. Temperatures varied widely from top to bottom. But this makes sense given the larger number of drawers and obstacles the cold air is forced to pass through.

The vegetable drawers are quite unusual. According to KitchenAid, the Auto Humidity Control drawers adjust to whatever setting will best care for their contents. The manual is very evasive about how this works—it just says it happens. We test moisture retention using a water-filled floral foam ball which mimics the water retaining properties of a carrot. It's possible the drawer may do a better job with real food... but we doubt it. As for what the fridge “sensed” when we put it in there, no one can say. What we do know is that it lost a disappointingly large amount of moisture over time; it's far from the worst we've seen, but the Auto Humidity drawer didn't do a very good job living up to its name.

Conclusion

Make no mistake; this is a good fridge. We just didn't think it was $3,099 worth of good.

The KitchenAid KFIS29PBMS was only recently made available for purchase at appliance retailers, but just because it's new and pretty doesn't mean you should jump at it. It's a good fridge, with a sleek finish and lots of fun toys built in, but we’d recommend thinking long and hard before spending the $3,099 on it.

The issue we had was that, overall, the performance it displayed in our tests was of the quality we might expect from a $2,000 fridge, not one this expensive. The self-adjusting vegetable drawers produced disappointing results, and the slightly warmer fridge temperature towards the bottom was not ideal, either. If you’re looking specifically for a fridge with KitchenAid’s Preserva technology—which is included in this model—it may be worth it for you, especially if you can find it on sale. The best price we could find was $2,609; it's quite a deal, but still more expensive than some of the higher-ranking French door models that we’ve reviewed.

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