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Frigidaire Gallery 27.2 Cu. Ft. French Door Refrigerator FGHB2866PF review: This mid-range French door fails to impress

A lack of unique features and so-so performance has us passing on this mid-range model.

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Ry Crist
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Ry Crist

Senior Editor / Reviews - Appliances

Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, and home networking.

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9 min read

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When I say "high-end refrigerator," the chances are very good that you're picturing a French door model, and conversely, if you look at the Frigidaire Gallery French Door FGHB2866PF, you might think "high-end refrigerator." This is really more of a mid-range unit, though, and with an MSRP of $2,599 -- smack dab in between true top-of-the line models priced well above $3,000 and entry level French doors that cost a thousand dollars less -- it's priced as such, too.

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6.7

Frigidaire Gallery 27.2 Cu. Ft. French Door Refrigerator FGHB2866PF

The Good

The Frigidaire Gallery FGHB2866PF offers relatively steady performance at low temperature settings, and the smudge-proof stainless steel finish gives it a classy sheen.

The Bad

The fridge consistently ran a few degrees warmer than the target temperatures in our test lab, and it didn't blow us away in our capacity tests, either.

The Bottom Line

Though not a bad fridge, the FGHB2866PF doesn't do enough to keep up with the competition, or to set itself apart from cheaper models.

The FGHB2866PF tips more toward the low end of that spectrum than the high one, and sure enough, you won't have much trouble finding it discounted by at least a few hundred dollars. As of publishing this review, the average asking price seems to be sitting right around $2,160, and at that price, you might be tempted to buy in.

Ultimately, though, this Frigidaire doesn't do enough to separate itself from competitors that are more feature-rich, nor does it feel like enough of an upgrade over those entry-level French door models. That, coupled with durability concerns, has me recommending that you explore other options.

Chilling out with the Frigidaire Gallery French door (pictures)

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Design and features

This Frigidaire has a grey-bodied build with doors made of "smudge-proof" stainless steel. While anything can be smudged if you try hard and believe in yourself, these doors definitely do a good job of keeping fingerprints at bay -- more so than other, glossier stainless steel appliances I've tested. Overall, it's a good-looking build, so points to Frigidaire for making it easier to maintain that new fridge sheen.

You'll also find a black display panel with touch controls on the front of the fridge, making it easy to tweak temperatures or adjust basic settings. That said, it also compromises the otherwise seamless look of the fridge's stainless steel body just a bit, something that ultimately separates this design from more expensive models with more unified builds.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Open the thing up, and you'll find 27.2 cubic feet of storage space complete with multiple bins, customizable shelving racks, and roomy, in-door shelf space capable of holding your bulkiest family-size jar of mayo. You can rearrange those in-door shelves to create room for taller items -- inside the fridge, you'll be able to do the same thing using shelves that slide towards the back or fold up against the wall.

You'll also notice that the ice maker is kept inside the fridge itself, bucking the recent trend of in-door ice-makers. This keeps the doors from getting too hefty, but it does cost you a fair amount of space up in that upper left corner.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

While we're talking about ice makers, you should know that there are quite a few reviews online from consumers who claim that the one in their model broke within a few months of use. All told, I found numerous examples of such reviews on sites like Home Depot, HH Gregg, and even Frigidaire's own listing for the FGHB2268PF.

Frigidaire wouldn't confirm that this is a known issue when I asked about it, but they did offer the following statement: "Continuous improvement has been a major initiative within engineering, quality and manufacturing. The ice and water systems offered in the Frigidaire products currently are greatly improved over those from past products and models." For what it's worth, I made several batches of ice, both cubed and crushed, and didn't experience any trouble, but if I were buying an FGHB2268PF, I'd probably spring for one of Frigidaire's extended service agreements, too.

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The Frigidaire's spill-proof shelving is capable of isolating messes, like these 8 ounces of water. Ry Crist/CNET

Overall, this fridge doesn't have much by way of features to help it stand out from the competition. There's the smudge-proof exterior and the option for a second ice-maker in the freezer, along with plenty of the sorts of common design touches that you'd expect from a mid-range fridge, but nothing I'd call truly unique -- and nothing that would keep me from shopping around. With entry-level French door models starting to retail for well under $2,000, that's a problem.

Still, the FGHB2268PF isn't an unattractive fridge by any stretch, and there's enough to like about its design inside and out to merit a close look at performance.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Performance and usability

We spend a great deal of time testing out each fridge in a special, climate-controlled chamber capable of holding the temperature and humidity steady for days or even weeks at a time. With all things kept equal -- and plenty of thermocouples strategically placed throughout each fridge -- we can get a good look at comparative cooling performance.

Each cooling test runs for 72 hours, with our equipment taking temperature readings every minute. At the end, we can average out the data to get a basic sense of how cold the fridge keeps each region inside. Per the FDA, your refrigerator should keep your food at 40 degrees F or below, so that's the number we're watching out for in our tests.

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The Frigidaire FGHB2866PF averaged out a few degrees higher than the 33 degrees we set it at. Jared Hannah/CNET

The result is a heat map like the one above, which represents the FGHB2866PF with both doors open. You'll notice that the average temperatures in almost every region of the fridge are a few degrees higher than that target of 33 degrees, and that things get warmer towards the top of the fridge. That last bit makes sense -- hot air rises, after all.

The door shelving is also significantly warmer than you might think, which isn't terribly unusual. That orange area at the top right -- the butter bin -- is warmest of all, averaging out nearly 15 degrees above the target of 33. Before you cry foul, keep in mind that by design, the butter bin is supposed to stay a little warmer than the rest of the fridge.

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Here's the minute-by-minute results from that same test. Temperatures in each of the fridge's three main regions fall a few degrees above the target of 33, but they stay fairly steady, and never come close to 40. Ry Crist/CNET

Along with the heat map, we can also take a look at the minute-by-minute temperature readings for each thermocouple across the entire 72-hour test. The graph above shows three of them -- the top, middle and bottom shelves in the main body of the fridge. The target of 33 degrees is there at the bottom, and you can see how each region ended up averaging out to something warmer -- none of them registered a temperature lower than 34 for the duration of the test. Set this fridge to 33, and what you're really getting is 34 to 38, depending on where you place your food.

The good news here is that the temperatures never went anywhere near that 40-degree mark, and they all stayed fairly steady throughout the test. Yes, each region's temperature continually rises and falls with each defrost cycle, but not by more than 3 or 4 degrees at a time. What's more, the "peaks" of each line all sit within about a one-degree range of each other, as do the valleys, and that indicates consistency on the part of the fridge. The cooling is kicking in at the right times, and chilling things down to more or less the same level.

A better-performing fridge would obviously hit the target temperature more accurately, and perhaps with slightly less variance between the top and bottom shelves. Still, at 33 degrees, I was more or less satisfied with the Frigidaire.

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The top shelf averaged a temperature of 40.2 degrees over 72 hours when we set the fridge to 37 degrees. Jared Hannah/CNET

We weren't finished, though. Next up was the same test with the fridge set a little higher, to 37 degrees. Dialing the temperature up can save you a good deal of money, but if you crank it up too high, your food might start to spoil faster than you'd like. Ideally, you want to keep things at 40 degrees or below in the body of the fridge, so an energy-saving "sweet spot" would be the highest temperature setting that does just that.

Looking at heat map number two, 37 degrees doesn't look terrible. The in-door shelving is still slightly warmer than the target temp, but the body of the fridge, for the most part, is looking pretty good.

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Same as before, here are the minute-by-minute results with the fridge set to 37 degrees. Again, everything's a few degrees warmer than we'd like -- and that top shelf (the orange line) spends about 60 percent of its time above 40 degrees. Ry Crist/CNET

But look at the minute-by-minute graph, particularly the orange line representing the top shelf. Out of 72 hours, it spends 44 of them -- roughly sixty percent -- above 40 degrees. On top of that, it also sits about two degrees hotter than the bottom two shelves for most of the test run.

This isn't a damning result -- like before, the fridge is maintaining a temperature range of about 4 degrees, with the bottom of that range sitting about one degree above the target temp. Still, if I owned the FGHB2866PF, I don't think I'd keep it set to anything higher than 35 degrees, which cuts out a lot of flexibility for saving energy. A better fridge will let you dial up higher than that with more accuracy -- which makes it easier to save money.

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After stocking each fridge with a full load of groceries, we test to see if we can squeeze in these bulkier items, too. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Large item load testing

The key usability concern with most refrigerators is capacity. You want to know that the fridge you're getting is enough fridge for your family, and that all of those space-saving customizability features inside the thing actually make a difference.

To test this, we fill each fridge with the same, standardized load of groceries. For mid-range models and up, this test is a piece of cake -- we've yet to test one that couldn't comfortably hold everything. Of course, those groceries are just the beginning.

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The real test comes from our large items: common refrigerator challenges like an extra-large pizza box or a tall, bulky cake tray with a lid. With a full load of groceries already in each fridge, we want to know if we can then stuff the large items in, too.

We start out testing each item individually, with the shelves locked in at their standard configuration and the groceries placed in a standardized setup. Without any major rearranging, the Frigidaire was able to fit a large-sized casserole dish and a tall pitcher, but none of the others. We weren't surprised to find larger models like the 30 cubic foot LG LMXS30776S and the beastly, 34 cubic foot Samsung Chef Collection fridge outperform the Frigidaire unit, but we were impressed by the Electrolux EI28BS80KS4A, a mid-range French door with the same 27 cubic foot capacity as Frigidaire. That fridge was able to fit four out of the six items.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Once we've tested each large item individually, we also try and see how many of the big guys we can squeeze in all at once -- again, without any major rearranging. We were able to get both items from before in at the same time, but that was it. Again, larger fridges were obviously able to do better, as was the Electrolux, which handled three items simultaneously.

From there, we repeat the test -- but this time, we're allowed to move things around as much as needed, and rearrange the shelves if doing so makes sense. With everything optimized to accommodate the big stuff, the FGHB2866PF was able to fit all six items individually. However, when we tried to jam everything in at the same time, it was still only able to fit two out of the six items at once, the largest pair being the cake tray and the party platter, both of which you can probably spot squeezed into place in the above photo.

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Again, this wasn't a great result, especially considering that the equally spacious Electrolux was able to fit all six items simultaneously in the same test. It's a slightly less surprising result when you consider that Electrolux allocates more of its total capacity to the fridge compartment (18.9 cubic feet out of 27) than Frigidaire does (18.5 cubic feet out of 27.2).

As for those other two, the Samsung Chef Collection fridge allocates 19 cubic feet out of 34, and you can switch one half of the freezer over to fridge mode if you need even more space than that (we didn't in our tests). The real standout, though, might have been the LG model we tested. It was able to outperform Frigidaire in our load tests in spite of the fact that it only allocates 17.5 cubic feet of its total capacity to the fridge. That's a refrigerator that does more with less, and solid evidence that capacity is much more than a number.

Granted, that LG fridge costs $4,000, and the Chef Collection fridge rings in at $6,000, so they aren't perfect comparisons for the $2,600 Frigidaire Gallery model. But as an initial look at a very wide refrigerator market (this is our first round of reviews, after all), they offer a good sense of what's out there if you splurge. We're currently working our climate chambers to the max, so moving forward, expect to see a lot more reviews of a wide variety of models and price points.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

There's been a veritable glut of stainless steel French door models in the refrigerator market ever since the look became the trend du jour for modern, upscale kitchens. That includes the recent arrival of models that sell for less than $2,000, a development that puts some extra pressure on mid-range fridges like $2,600 Frigidaire FGHB2866PF to justify their expense.

This is a fridge that looks the part, but in the end, I just don't think that it quite gets there. Its cooling capabilities are rather ho-hum, its features aren't unique, and it wasn't a standout in our capacity tests, either. Unless your kitchen is already filled with Frigidaire Gallery appliances and you're looking for a fridge to match, I say you can do better.

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6.7

Frigidaire Gallery 27.2 Cu. Ft. French Door Refrigerator FGHB2866PF

Score Breakdown

Features 6Design 8Performance 6Usability 7