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

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MSRP: $1,499.99

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.

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7.7 Overall
  • Features 8
  • Design 6
  • Performance 9
  • Usability 7

Review Sections

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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...

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).

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

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