Maytag MSC21C6MFZ side-by-side counter-depth refrigerator review
This counter-depth refrigerator can't keep its cool
A counter-depth refrigerator can enhance your kitchen with a built-in look. That's because they fit nicely into a kitchen without standing "proud" from the counter. (That what it's called when an appliance sticks out.)
I have a counter-depth refrigerator in my own kitchen, which I need to keep from bumping into the island while I'm cooking—but this stylish fit doesn’t come cheaply. You pay extra for the privilege of less depth, and you sacrifice storage space.
We tested Maytag's new side-by-side counter-depth fridge, the MSC21C6MFZ (available at Home Depot for $1,399.50), and weren't impressed by what we found. Regardless of style, this model shouldn’t be your first choice. If you're still in the market for a counter-depth model, we recommend you check out our guide to the best counter-depth refrigerators you can buy.
This 36-inch wide Maytag has 21 cu. ft. of space, but it also comes with all the disadvantages inherent with any side-by-side refrigerator. For instance, the freezer is too narrow to fit a big turkey, a homemade lasagna, or a large frozen pizza. But those are a minor issues compared to the difficulty it has maintaining a consistent temperature. After putting it through a battery of tests in our labs, we can’t recommend this model.
Our test fridge was stainless-steel, with a contemporary industrial look and sturdy rounded handles that are easy to grab. If you worry about little hands leaving fingerprints on stainless steel, this Maytag has a fingerprint-retardant finish. We could still see a few smudges, but only from certain angles.
Side-by-side fridges are not as popular as French door refrigerators these days, but not everyone likes a bottom freezer. So, if you don’t want to bend your back to search for a popsicle, a side-by-side could work well for you, since it keeps more of the food at eye level.
The interior is lit by very bright LED bulbs, so you can find what you're looking for easily in the 9 cu.-ft. fridge side.
Three drawers in the refrigerator side provide places to store deli meats, fruit, and vegetables. The stacked crisper drawers are noisy to open. There are a number of storage options, including two door bins for gallon containers, and two other adjustable bins. Store your condiments there. Anything that needs to be kept cool (for example, the milk) shouldn't be kept in the door—we'll get to why that is soon.
The freezer side has just over 4 cu.-ft. of space, with bins on the lower half of the door, and a pair of drawers toward the bottom.
This value-priced model is light on features.
Ice and water are dispensed on the outside, convenient for all family members. A space-saving ice dispenser takes back some of the room that the big ice maker takes up in the freezer.
The PowerCold feature helps get the temperature down when you've had the door open for a while while you unload the groceries, or when you've just put in a warm casserole.
Good humidity control is essential in a refrigerator to keep the fruits and veggies fresh in their crispers. In our tests, the water loss in this fridge was considerable, losing 5 or 6 grams of water per day. In other words, your kid might end up with dried-out carrot sticks in her lunch box.
The best fridges keep nearly all food as close to 37° as possible to hold off bacterial growth and ensure freshness. But during our 72-hour temperature test, the internal temperatures of items stored in the fridge fluctuated between 38° and 41°.
Even more concerning: If you keep milk in the door of this Maytag, you could find that it spoils quickly, because temperatures in the door averaged 5° higher than in the main refrigerator compartment.
The freezer did a great job cooling room-temperature food down to 0° in just an hour and 15 minutes. Unfortunately, that's when freezer temperatures started to fluctuate. If this was your freezer, you’d have to be on the lookout for freezer burn—definitely not what you would expect from a new refrigerator.
If you choose this refrigerator, it will cost you about $38 a year to run. That's about average for a side-by-side.
What the owners say
There are not a lot of consumer reviews of the MSC21C6MFZ posted out there. The few people who bought this refrigerator wanted it for its size and industrial look—which is now standard on all Maytag products. Some complained about how noisy the ice maker is, and a few buyers had fridges that failed entirely within the first few weeks.
The bottom line
This side-by-side fridge has a modern, industrial stainless steel exterior, and comfortable, heavy-duty handles. Whether you like the look is a matter of taste—but what's happening inside worries us.
During our tests, the temperature values were so far off that we needed to double check the initial temperature settings. It turned out that they were set correctly to 37° in the refrigerator and 0° in the freezer—but the fridge just couldn’t maintain them.
Before you buy this Maytag, check out our guide to the best counter-depth refrigerators. That may help you decide which fridge will work best for your kitchen and your wallet.
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