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Kenmore 795.78022 review: Kenmore picked a winner with this bottom-freezer fridge

There's a lot more to this basic-looking bottom freezer than meets the eye.

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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

The Kenmore 795.78022 is a 22.1-cubic-foot bottom-freezer refrigerator available in black, white or bisque. You'll find it at Sears for $1,100, which, save for a few bottom-tier models, is about as inexpensive as bottom freezers come.

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7.7

Kenmore 795.78022

The Good

The Kenmore 78022 shares the strong performance and user-friendly features of larger, pricier bottom-freezer fridges. It offers a respectable amount of storage space, too, with plenty of flexibility for large-sized items.

The Bad

The fridge is nothing special to look at, and it's a pain getting things in and out of the swing-door freezer down below.

The Bottom Line

This bargain-priced bottom freezer is much better than the basic-looking build suggests. If you can tolerate the hinged-door freezer, it's a solid purchase.

The bargain price and boring looks might make for a ho-hum first impression, but there's a lot more to this fridge than meets this eye. Inside, you'll find a number of helpful features that make it easier to make room for your groceries, along with some of the steadiest cooling performance we've found in this price class. I wish that it had a drawer-style freezer instead of the awkward, annoying hinged door, but still, this fridge is a solid value purchase that deserves consideration.

This Kenmore fridge has a few tricks up its sleeve (pictures)

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An LG lookalike

The Kenmore 78022 has an MSRP of $1,500, but typically sells for closer to $1,100 on the show floor at Sears. That price puts it right at the lower end of the bottom-freezer pricing scale (roughly $1,100 to $1,800 for most big-brand models), so it isn't surprising that the design isn't much of a standout.

Aside from the lack of stainless steel or some other kind of premium finish, what the build is really missing here is a drawer-style freezer compartment. Instead, you get a hinged door that swings open from the side -- an easy enough standard when the freezer's on top, but an awkward inconvenience when it's down below. You'll almost certainly need to squat or stoop down low in order to get things in and out of it.

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The hinged door isn't as easily accessible as a drawer would be. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

If you want to upgrade from a base unit like this to one with a drawer, you'll need to be willing to spend an additional $300 or so, and that's pretty typical across all major manufacturers. The cheapest bottom freezers from GE, including the $1,200 GE Artistry Series fridge , all have swing doors -- for a fridge with a drawer-style freezer, you'll need to spend at least $1,450. That number is $1,400 with Whirlpool, $1,500 with Maytag, and $1,700 with LG.

Speaking of LG, you should know that Kenmore doesn't actually manufacture its own fridges. Instead, it acquires appliances from other manufacturers, re-brands them with the Kenmore name, and then sells them at Sears. In the case of the Kenmore 795.78022, you're actually looking at an existing LG fridge with a couple of Kenmore logos slapped on. You can tell by the model number's "795" prefix -- that's Kenmore's code for LG.

You can also tell by comparing the 78022 with another of LG's current crop of bottom freezers, like the $1,800 LDC24370ST , which I reviewed a few weeks back. Sure enough, the interiors are virtually identical -- and that bodes well for Kenmore here, given that I was a big fan of that LG model's steady performance and user-friendly build.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It's the little things

I had glowing praise for the helpful features housed within the LG LDC24370ST, and you'll find those same thoughtful touches in the Kenmore 78022. There's the same "Pantry Drawer" beneath the crisper bins, the same spill-proof shelving in the body of the fridge, the same sliding dividers in the in-door shelves, and the same shelf up by the butter bin that folds out of the way to make room for tall things like wine bottles. Simply put, there's a lot to like about this interior, and more than I would expect from a bottom freezer that's about as inexpensive as they come.

None of these touches are the kinds of marquee features that you'd show off to friends and family during a dinner party. There's no door-in-a-door here, no touchscreen controls, and no smart features to speak of. The 78022 is just a basic fridge that gets an awful lot of little things right -- and that's a very good starting point for an appliance that you'll likely be using multiple times per day.

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Plastic sliders in the door's shelves help you section things off. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The only real difference between the body of the 78022 and the body of the LDC24370ST is that the Kenmore fridge is a bit smaller, with 14.8 cubic feet in the refrigerator compartment to the LG's 16.3 cubic feet. It's mainly a difference of width, as the two fridges are both 29 inches deep without the doors factored in. At 30 inches wide, the 78022 is three inches slimmer than the LG model.

As I found with the LG model, the default shelf configuration doesn't offer any shelves in the body of the fridge with enough vertical clearance for a carton of milk. Fortunately, the shelves come in and out easily enough, with enough additional racks to give you a satisfying level of storage flexibility. There's also ample storage space in those in-door shelves, although it typically isn't the greatest idea to store milk in the door, where temperatures tend to run a little warmer. And while we're on the subject...

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A close look at cooling performance

The Kenmore 78022 was a very steady performer in our climate-controlled test chamber, with almost identical results to what we saw from the LG LDC24370ST, one of the best performers we've tested. Set to 37 degrees F, the fridge yielded tight averages across all regions, with no worrisome hot spots to speak of. The middle of the door and the right crisper bin crept slightly above 40, a benchmark for food safety set by the FDA, but not nearly enough to have us concerned.

Turning to the minute-by-minute graph from the test, we can see that it shares much in common with the LDC24370ST, particularly the messy-looking nature of those overlapping lines -- something that actually indicates close, consistent performance across all of the regions in the fridge. Both sit at an overall average that's about two degrees north of the target temperature, but they both keep the body of the fridge (the blue lines) well below 40 without letting things get too warm in the doors (the green lines).

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On top, the LG LDC24370ST. On the bottom, the Kenmore 78022. The two offer similar performance -- but the Kenmore costs several hundred dollars less. Ry Crist/CNET

Still, there are some subtle differences. The Kenmore fridge spends slightly more of its time up above 40, though much of this comes from the butter bin, which is typically the hottest spot in the fridge by design. And while the bottom of the LG model's door also averaged a temperature above 40, it spent less of its time above that benchmark, and ran slightly colder than Kenmore's did.

Additionally, there's a slightly bigger difference between the warmest and coldest points on the Kenmore graph than there is with LG, with an overall swing of about 7 degrees for the former and a swing of less than 6 degrees for the latter. It's a minute difference, but one that's indicative of the type of incremental performance enhancements that you'd expect between two generations of refrigerators.

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That's the LG fridge on top and the Kenmore on the bottom. Set to 33 degrees, the Kenmore arguably did better, with slightly more accurate averages throughout the fridge. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

After testing at 37, we ran the fridges again, this time setting them at 33 degrees. Again, the Kenmore did a fine job, with performance that essentially mirrored what we saw from the similar LG model. I'd even argue that Kenmore outperformed it -- each region in the refrigerator compartment averaged out closer to the target than with LG (except for the two pantry drawers, which finished dead even at 36 degrees flat). The entirety of the fridge also stayed above freezing for the duration of the test, as we saw with LG.

All in all, you're looking at two refrigerators that finish in a virtual tie at the top of our performance rankings. One costs $1,800, the other can be had for $1,100. If a stainless steel finish, a drawer-style freezer, and a slight uptick in storage space aren't worth $700 to you, then the choice between the two should be pretty easy.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A game of grocery Tetris

The Kenmore 78022's 22.1 cubic foot capacity isn't much when you compare it with pricier French door models, but among bottom freezers, it's actually pretty decent. Go with GE, Whirlpool, or LG, and you'll have to pay at least a few hundred more than that $1,100 sale price if you want a bottom freezer that beats it, or even one that matches it.

Of its entire cubic footage, 14.8 of them are allocated to the fridge compartment, and that turned out to be plenty of room for our standardized load of test groceries. The door shelves did a lot of heavy lifting for me -- even with two jugs of milk eating up shelf space, we had plenty of room for an ample assortment of condiments, along with beer, soda, and wine. We were also able to keep a can of dog food isolated on its own shelf -- sort of a bonus goal as we load up each fridge.

The only real shortcoming in the door is a skinny little mini-shelf tucked away at the bottom. It's practically hidden beneath the door's main shelf, and I almost missed it as I was loading the groceries in. Even if I had, it wouldn't have mattered much -- hardly anything from our test load would fit in it, and even if it did, it'd be awkward to get in and out with the overhang from the shelf above it. Kenmore/LG could have left this shelf out all together and I wouldn't have minded -- although maybe it's a handy, low-hanging spot for kid-size things like juice boxes.

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Plenty of room in that Pantry Drawer for this casserole dish. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Once the groceries are in place, we break out the big stuff -- bulky items like a casserole dish, a cake tray, and an extra large pizza box. I was able to squeeze five of these six stress test items into the fridge individually. The one exception was a tall pitcher -- like the milk, it wouldn't fit on the main shelves without rearranging them, and the shelf space was already gobbled up. The final test is to try squeezing all of the stress test items in at once, and the best I could do was three out of six: the casserole dish, the cake tray, and a roasting pan.

What's interesting here is that these are similar results to what I saw with that LG bottom freezer, which also couldn't fit the pitcher in the standard configuration test, and also fit three out of six stress test items in at once. The LG fridge boasts an extra 1.5 cubic feet over the Kenmore's fridge compartment, and while the Kenmore does feel a bit more cramped, it still uses space efficiently enough to get the job done.

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With items and shelves moved around to optimize space, we were able to comfortably fit five of six stress test items in simultaneously with our groceries. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

From there, I repeated the test, but this time, I allowed myself to move the shelves around and rearrange the food as much as needed to optimize space. With things reconfigured, I had a shelf in the body of the fridge that could fit taller items, which gave me room to fit the pitcher in and claim six out of six individual stress test items.

When I tried to fit everything in all at once, I was able to get five out of six items in (the roasting pan didn't quite make it, though I could have swapped it out for the party platter on that bottom shelf). I was even able to keep the dog food separate, thanks to those plastic sliders in the in-door shelves.

Again, this mirrors LG -- six out of six items fit individually, five out of six fit all at once. That's indicative of a fridge with a more flexible capacity than the number alone might suggest.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

The Kenmore 78022 isn't much to look at, but it's a very steady performer with a surprisingly thoughtful slate of features inside the fridge compartment and better-than-you-might-expect storage capabilities. With a Sears show-floor price of $1,100, it's a bargain among bottom freezers.

Still, it's awfully tough for me to recommend a bottom freezer fridge that doesn't have a drawer-style freezer door. That, coupled with a stainless steel finish and an uptick in capacity, might justify splurging instead on the $1,800 LG LDC24370ST , which shares all of this Kenmore model's strengths (save for the price).

The best bottom-freezer bet might be to consider the $1,500 Kenmore 79022 as a middle-ground pick -- it's essentially the same as the 78022, but it replaces the swing door freezer with a drawer. We'll pencil that model in for a full review in the near future, but given the consistent performance we've seen thus far from LG-built bottom freezers, it looks like a smart buy to me.

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7.7

Kenmore 795.78022

Score Breakdown

Features 8Design 6Performance 9Usability 7
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