Fancy-looking French door fridges are a dime a dozen (give or take several thousand dollars). The easiest way to stand out is to add something unique -- perhaps an innovative design twist, or a clever new feature. Enter the Electrolux EW28BS85KS, a $3,350 refrigerator boasting "Wave-Touch" controls and a bevy of "Luxury"-branded features. As standouts go, it certainly looks the part.
Looks can be deceiving. Despite the high-end price, this Electrolux model isn't a high-end performer -- unless you're talking about the temperatures in the body of the fridge, which ran too high throughout all of our tests. On top of that, the fancy-sounding features weren't actually that compelling to use. The Electrolux Wave-Touch French door fridge looks and sounds like a premium model (and it's definitely priced like one), but in practice, it feels like something a lot worse. I say steer clear.
Electrolux promises luxury with the Wave-Touch French door fridge (pictures)See all photos
Designed to impress
The EW28BS85KS sticks to the Electrolux design playbook. It's a safe, simple build aimed at fitting in with its high-end competition. The finish is a sleek stainless steel that passes on unnecessary curves in favor of straight, utilitarian edges. The aim seems to be elegant minimalism, and this fridge fits the bill, if not in somewhat boxy fashion.
The refrigerator's marquee feature is its touchscreen, where you'll access settings using what Electrolux calls "Wave-Touch" controls. It's a lot less fancy than it sounds. Really, all Wave-Touch means is that the display is touch sensitive, and that the options fade out when not in use. For $100 less, you can go with-- it's still touch sensitive, but the options stay illuminated even when you're not using them. Of course, that's not to mention the dozens upon dozens of other refrigerators and kitchen appliances that offer touch controls. Nothing special here.
You'll also notice right away that the Electrolux Wave-Touch fridge makes liberal use of the word "luxury." Open it up and you'll find "Luxury-Close Drawers," "Luxury-Design Lighting," and "Luxury-Design Glass Shelves." Clearly, the branding wants to convince you that this is a ritzy refrigerator, but take it with a few grains of salt. LED lighting is all but ubiquitous starting at midrange prices, and those shelves and drawers aren't all that luxurious in practice.
Let's start with the shelves, the lesser of the two offenders. Each one is a solid piece of curved glass that comes in and out with relative ease. Electrolux envisions you using them as serving trays as your next get together, which seems like a pretty odd use case to me. The more practical benefit of the design is that the curved glass makes each shelf about as spill-proof as you'll find.
The downside of this design is that it makes for awkward usage space around the edges of the shelves. Try sitting a flat-bottomed container of food near the edge of a shelf, and it'll tilt uncomfortably to the side. That's not a deal-breaker, but it's still a textbook example of a feature that puts form ahead of function.
As for the drawers, the "Luxury-Close" nomenclature refers to a simple mechanism that makes each one impossible to slam shut. Try and close one, and you'll feel resistance at the last inch or so. Let go, and the drawer will finish closing on its own.
In reality, the approach brings some new problems into play. You'll feel that same resistance as you pull a drawer open, meaning you'll need to put some extra oomph into your tug before it'll glide free. Once it does, and the resistance drops out, you're suddenly pulling too hard and yanking the thing open. I must have opened and shut the drawers a hundred times during my tests -- it never felt natural to me.
Even worse is that the mechanism is a bit flimsy, with plastic catches on the sides of the bins that often come unhooked during those inevitable yanks. Once that happens, the drawer won't close at all -- you'll need to wedge your fingers in along the sides to reattach things. This happened about a dozen times or so during my tests; my colleague Andrew Gebhart experienced identical frustrations while reviewing. All told, it's a feature I'd rather do without.
Thankfully, there are a few other features that struck me as more successful. For instance, you'll find mini-sized shelves at the bottom of each door. This isn't uncommon with French door designs, and usually, the larger shelf above blocks them off, making them borderline useless. With the Electrolux line of French door models, though, these drawers tilt out, offering easy access to whatever's stored inside. It's a perfect solution, and it makes for a handy, appropriately low spot for storing kid-friendly snacks.
The "Perfect Temp Drawer" that sits below the two crisper bins is another strong feature. It runs the width of the fridge and comes with its own temperature controls, allowing you to dial the coolness up or down, or select from one of several ingredient-specific presets. It tested well, too. No matter what we set it at, the drawer held steady at the target temperature.
Cool your performance expectations
Unfortunately, the rest of the fridge didn't fare quite so well in our temperature tests. We run each fridge for 72 hours in our climate-controlled test chamber, with several strategically placed thermocouples recording the minute-by-minute temperature in various regions. At the end, we're left with a mountain of data to dig through -- and in the case of this Electrolux, things didn't look great.
The easiest metric to look at is the average temperature in each region. Per the FDA, you want to keep your perishable food at 40 degrees F or below. We test each fridge at the common default setting of 37 degrees F, giving it a few degrees' worth of wiggle room beneath 40. A good one will be able to keep everything below that level -- especially in the main body of the fridge. And, as the above heat map shows, the Electrolux came up well short. Each in-door shelf averaged in the 40s, along with two thirds of the main body.
Looking closer at this bad result, the graph above shows minute-by-minute temperature readings. That bright red line at the bottom is the Perfect Temp Drawer -- we dialed it down to 33 degrees for this test, and it did a terrific job. The rest of the fridge? Not so much. Only the dark red lines representing the crisper bins and the light blue line representing the main body's bottom shelf are anywhere close to 37. The rest -- the doors and upper shelves -- are almost all above 40 degrees for the entire 72 hours.