Whirlpool WRF535SMBM Refrigerator Review
For $999 on sale, this stainless French door is a steal.
The French door refrigerator—which puts fresh food on top and frozen food below—is currently the darling of renovators and foodies alike. But prices upwards of $1,800 have kept French doors out of reach for most consumers.
That is, until now: When its sale price dropped below $1,000 in November of 2015, the 25.2-cu.-ft. Whirlpool WRF535SMBM (MSRP $1,799) became the most affordable way to put a French door refrigerator into your kitchen.
But even though it's the least-expensive, stainless French door fridge we’ve ever tested, we're hard pressed to figure out why. Not only did this fridge excel in our temperature and energy tests, it even has some features we don’t normally see in this price bracket, like a temperature-adjust pantry drawer and LED lighting.
Sure, there’s no through-the-door ice and water dispenser, and the freezer's wire drawer doesn't look fancy, but for just three figures you’d be hard pressed to find another fridge this good—French door or otherwise. A $999 price tag at Sears, Home Depot, and Best Buy is remarkable—but it might not last forever, so snap it up if you can.
Design & Usability
Stainless steel, white plastic
Without a dispenser, the 36-inch wide stainless steel exterior is uninterrupted by anything except the handles. All that stainless looks great, but it also means more to clean... especially if you’re living in a household with small children.
The inside is simple and surprisingly stylish. Lots of white plastic gives the interior a clean look, while LED lighting adds a pale blue tint to your well-lit food. For an inexpensive fridge, the crispers move smoothly, plus no dispenser means no storage space lost to a bulky ice maker.
The control experience is the most glaring issue we have with this unit. The thermostat operates on a vague 0-7 scale, so unless you've got a thermometer handy, there’s no way to know exactly how cold your fridge is. If that's a deal-breaker for you, consider this slightly more expensive Samsung.
Down in the freezer, things are just as well lit and accessible. The wire drawer does betray this model's cost, and it's a bit stiff to pull out, but not so much we’d ding the fridge’s overall accessibility.
Performance & Features
More than you’re paying for
This Whirlpool achieved more than mere competence in our labs tests. This isn’t the best fridge on the market, but it's darn close—and is an amazing value at $999.
Temperatures in the upper section were a bit warm; however, average temps at the top of the compartment were less than one degree away from those at the bottom, meaning this compartment highly consistent overall. Just turn down the thermostat a notch below the instruction manual's recommendation for optimal cooling.
The freezer was even better, with chilly temperatures and consistent cooling over time. Again, it’s not perfect—we noticed temperatures fluctuate above and below 0°F over time, which could lead to freezer burn—but turning it down a notch like the fresh food area should yield better results.
Our other tests were unambiguously positive: Crisper drawers did an excellent job retaining moisture—great news for your fresh produce—and power consumption is low.
For in-depth performance information, please check out our full test results.
This Whirlpool carries one year of parts and labor coverage for any and all defects that aren't caused by the consumer. Find all the fine print in the owner's manual.
The dream fridge for frugal foodies
The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM isn't just a rare opportunity to buy a French door fridge for under $1,000. With a design that looks good inside and out, more than adequate chilling, and excellent energy efficiency, it's a great product overall. For extra savings, it also comes in white and black for about $100 less.
If you can afford to spend a bit more, this Samsung is another great option that sells for around $1,200. It also did well in our tests, and you might also prefer its design.
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