In need of a new fridge? Things can get expensive fast, especially if you're looking for unique features, premium performance or a more distinctive design than what you've already got.
Fortunately, there's a middle ground of refrigerators priced below $2,000 (and even some below $1,000) that manage to offer true upgrade appeal without the sticker shock of top-of-the-line models. We've busily been testing them all out to find where the value lies -- here are the results thus far, straight from our test floor, each with an in-depth review to help point out the pros and cons.
CNET's reviews score products on a 10-point scale, and this top freezer from Frigidaire earned a solid 7 across all categories. That tells you a good deal of the story right there. This isn't the flashiest, fanciest fridge out there, but it doesn't have any significant weakness, either. If you're just looking for a dependable and affordable stainless steel option, this one fits the bill -- and you can snag it for less than a thousand bucks.
This budget-friendly top freezer from GE also left us impressed, and costs even less than the Frigidaire Gallery model. The fingerprint-resistant slate finish gives it a distinctive spin on more common stainless-steel stylings, and makes it feel like more of an upgrade than it actually is. You won't find many features packed inside of it, but it holds the cold just fine, making for a attractive value at less than $800.
That top freezer isn't the only option from GE with a slate finish. Far from it, actually. Take this French door model, for instance. It sells for $1,600, which is about as affordable as French doors get, yet it still performs well and looks good doing it. Again, it isn't terribly feature-rich, and the features it does offer -- like a water dispenser hidden inside of the fridge -- didn't leave us all that impressed when we tested them out. Still, as a functional, budget-friendly French door that you'll like looking at, it definitely gets the job done.
If you're design-minded, but underwhelmed by those slate models, GE hopes you consider the bottom freezer fridge in its retro-styled Artistry Series. With old-school-cool looks and steady, satisfying performance, it's equal parts distinctive and dependable. We didn't love the swing-door freezer (drawer-style freezers make a lot more sense with this kind of fridge), but we were big fans of the $1,200 price tag, which sits at the low end of the bottom freezer price spectrum. For a fridge that looks this good, that's a great value.
Kenmore is Sears' appliances brand, and rather than manufacturing its own fridges, it buys the rights to sell re-branded versions of competitors' models. The Kenmore 78022 is no exception, borrowing its build from an existing LG bottom freezer. In this case, that's a good thing, as LG's bottom freezers have been stand-out performers on our test floor -- so too was the 78022. The interior was a standout as well, with plenty of features aimed at helping you make the most of its 22 cubic foot capacity. The recommended retail price is $1,500, but you'll almost certainly find it for less on the Sears showfloor.
The Kenmore 51832 side-by-side fridge is another re-branded LG model, but a less successful one than the 78022. With the 51832, it's the "Grab-N-Go" door that's front and center (or as LG calls it, ""). It's definitely an interesting feature, offering quick access to the in-door compartments without the need to open the whole fridge, but with walled off shelves and a door that doesn't always shut very easily, the execution could have been a lot better. That said, if you covet a fridge with that sort of door-in-a-door functionality, this is one of your most affordable options, costing $1,500 at Sears.
Near-perfect performance. That's what this LG bottom freezer has to offer, with remarkably consistent cooling capabilities throughout the interior of the fridge. It's a nice interior, too, with plenty of room and lots of thoughtful features. At $1,800, it's one of the pricier models in this roundup, but it's still one we wouldn't hesitate to recommend.
As French door refrigerators go, this LG model definitely feels a bit compact, and perhaps more cramped than you might like. Then again, if you're trying to outfit a smallish kitchen space, that might be exactly what you need. At any rate, we came away satisfied with the performance, and at $1,800, it's an affordable mid-range option for fans of stainless steel design.