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Kenmore 72482 review: This boring-looking icebox is a sneaky smart value

It's not as flashy as some of the other high-end fridges we've tested, but this Kenmore Elite model is about as well-rounded as refrigerators come.

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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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8 min read

LG earned high marks with the high-end LMXS30786S French door fridge , but like most high-end appliances, it comes priced at a premium. Enter the Kenmore Elite 72482. A rebranded LG model (Kenmore doesn't make its own appliances), the 72482 is essentially the exact same fridge as the LMXS30786S -- but it's typically discounted to a much lower price on the Sears show floor.

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8.6

Kenmore 72482

The Good

With 21.2 cubic feet of fresh food storage space, the Kenmore Elite 72482 is about as roomy as refrigerators come. It also offers consistent performance and a helpful mix of features.

The Bad

Depending on the sale prices at Sears, you may need to pay more for a stainless steel finish. Also, temperatures in the right door ran slightly warm.

The Bottom Line

This is a very well-rounded high-end fridge that you can get at a mid-range price. If stainless steel is a must, upgrade to the 72483 (or to the LG model it's based on). Otherwise, the 72482 offers the best value in its class.

Like the LMXS30786S, the 72482 is a strong performer that offers ample storage space and plenty of useful features. It's about as well-rounded a fridge as I've tested, and though the design is nothing revolutionary, I'd have no problem recommending it for anyone looking for an affordable upgrade. The official MSRP sits at a hefty $4,000, but I've seen it selling for less than $3,000 -- a steeper-than-average retail discount that's fairly common by Kenmore standards. At that price, it's an outstanding value, and a worthy winner of our Editors' Choice distinction.

A closer look at the Kenmore Elite 72482 refrigerator (pictures)

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LG by another name

Kenmore doesn't manufacture its own appliances -- instead, it purchases the competition's appliances, rebrands them with the Kenmore name, then sells them at Sears, where they enjoy the lion's share of floor space. In the case of the 72482, you're looking at a rebranded LG model.

LG fridges have a very good track record with us. Though they tend to be a little expensive, almost all of the models we've tested have been above-average performers, and in general, we've been impressed with the feature-rich designs, too. One of our favorites of the bunch is the LMXS30786S , a standard French door model with LG's "Custom Chill" drawer. Though they aren't exactly the same, that fridge is the closest of LG's current offerings to the Kenmore 72482, giving it a good pedigree.

Designwise, the 72482 is hardly a standout. Aside from the "Pantry Drawer" that separates freezer from fridge, the boxy French door styling isn't much different than what you would have seen on the show floor seven or eight years ago. If you want a stainless steel finish, you'll have to upgrade to the nearly identical Kenmore Elite 72483 (emphasis mine). That model has a higher suggested retail price of $4,200, though at the time of writing this, Sears has it marked down to the same price as the white and black models.

At any rate, if you're looking for more of a forward-looking fridge design, you'll want to look elsewhere. Four-door, "t-type" models like the Samsung RF32FMQDBSR and the LG LPXS39866D might be more to your tastes.

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There are only three buttons on the front of the fridge -- water, ice and crushed ice. The rest of the controls are hidden inside the door. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The 72482 has just three buttons on the front door -- touchable icons that allow you to select between water, ice, and crushed ice. You'll find the rest of the controls up top when you open the doors. It's an approach that leaves the front looking simpler and more streamlined, but it also means that you can't tweak settings when the doors are closed.

The inside of the fridge offers 17.3 cubic feet of storage space, which is a little bit low by high-end French door standards, where 18 or 19 cubic feet is closer to the norm. However, once you factor in the Pantry Drawer, the total rises to 21.1 cubic feet. Spec for spec, those are the same numbers as we saw with the LMXS30786S -- I was a fan of them then, and I'm a fan of them now, too.

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The slimmed-down ice maker means more space for the in-door shelves. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Inside of the fridge, you'll find a crop of features designed to help you take advantage of all that storage space. There's a fold-in shelf to make room for tall items, and nifty compartments in front of the crispers for fresh ingredients (LG called them "EasyReach Bins" -- with Kenmore, they're "Convenience Bins").

Best of all might be the ice maker. It sits entirely in the door, and sports a slim design with no overhang above the in-door shelves. The tradeoff is that you get a little less ice out of it, but that seems like a fair deal to someone like me, who rarely needs more than a few glasses' worth.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Dependable performance

The 72482 held steady in our climate-controlled test chamber, where we recorded the minute-by-minute temperatures in its various shelves and drawers over a 72-hour period. Averaging those numbers out gives you the average temperature in each region. As you can see up above, everything held tight to the target temperature of 37 degrees in the main body of the fridge and the left-door shelves. The right door ran a little warm, but only just slightly -- not a bad result at all, considering that the top of that right door is the butter bin, which runs warm by design.

All in all, it's very close to what we saw from the LG LMXS30786S , which isn't surprising, given that the 72482 is essentially the same fridge (built perhaps from last year's parts). The LMXS30786S holds a slight edge, with results that generally fall about half a degree closer to the target temperatures, but for all practical purposes, it's the same level of performance.

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Ry Crist/CNET

Graphing those minute-by-minute temperatures out over the entire 72-hour test gives us a good look at how well each fridge holds the cold. As we test each fridge, we keep to a fixed schedule of door openings to help simulate real-world use. Those door opening will always cause the temperatures to spike up by a few degrees or so, but a good fridge will be able to wrangle them in and bring them back down within a few hours at most.

By that standard, the 72482 did a fine job at the 37-degree setting. You can see spikes during door openings and defrost cycles, but they aren't particularly fat spikes, meaning that the fridge is pulling temperatures back down pretty effectively, and isn't ever sitting above the target temperature for too long.

How we test refrigerators (pictures)

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Still, it isn't a perfect result by any stretch. On the whole, everything is at least a degree or so warmer than I'd like, especially those purple lines representing the right door shelves. They spend almost the entire test at or above 40 degrees F, a benchmark for food safety used by the FDA.

The red line representing the Pantry Drawer is also off target. For the 37-degree test, we dialed it down to the 33 setting to see if it could hold a lower temperature than the rest of the fridge. It managed to do exactly that, but it wasn't terribly accurate, with an average that was more than three degrees warmer than we wanted. Even at its lowest point, the temperature never fell below 35.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Running the test again at the 33-degree setting gave us similar results, just shifted down a few degrees. Things were still a degree or two warmer than the target, but the averages all came down below 40 degrees F, even in the right door and the butter bin. As for the Pantry Drawer, we dialed it up this time, to 37 degrees. It did a much better job, falling within one degree of the target.

As for the freezer, it left me pretty impressed. Set to 0, the averages dipped into negative territory during each test, but not excessively so. Spikes during door openings and defrost cycles were always nice and thin, and out of the several that showed up in our data, only one spiked above 10 degrees F. I'm happy with any freezer that doesn't spike any higher than 15 F, so that's a very strong result -- and again, right in line with the LMXS30786S.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A place for everything

Capacity is a clear strong suit for the 72482. Add the fridge and Pantry Drawer compartments together, and you're looking at a fairly staggering total of 21.1 cubic feet of fresh food storage space. That's even more fridge space than you'll get from the behemoth that is Samsung's Chef Collection fridge (which, by the way, costs $6,000).

With all that space, it came as no surprise when the 72482 aced our storage tests. All of our test groceries fit inside, along with all six of our stress test items (a pitcher, a cake tray, a party platter, a casserole dish, a roasting pan, and an extra large pizza box). We didn't even have to move any of the shelves around to accommodate anything -- it all just fit, and it fit with room to spare.

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We were able to fit all of our test groceries and stress test items into the 72482 with room to spare. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

It isn't simply that the Kenmore Elite 72482 has a whole heck of a lot of cubic feet at its disposal, it's that it makes good use of those cubic feet. The slimmed down ice-maker keeps the in-door shelves in play, and none of them are too skinny to be of use, like we saw with the luxurious LG Diamond Collection fridge. None of the features get in the way, either, like we saw with the rather pointless in-door shelf accessories in Samsung's t-type model, the RF32FMQDBSR , or the sometimes clunky execution of LG's Door-in-Door feature .

I especially appreciated the right-door shelves, which are roomy enough to hold large, bulky items like beer, soda, and king-sized condiments. The Pantry Drawer is well-designed, too. With five inches of vertical clearance -- more than you'll get from similar drawers in Frigidaire , GE , and Electrolux models -- it offers a good deal of flexibility for whatever you end up stuffing into it.

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With about 5 inches of vertical clearance, the Kenmore's drawer is roomier than most. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Something else to think about when you're looking at capacity is how much it'll cost to keep those cubic feet properly cooled. A bigger fridge has a bigger job on its hands and will thus use more energy, but if you want to understand how efficiently it's doing its job, you need to look at the cost of cooling each cubic foot.

The 72482 is right where it should be for a fridge its size. It uses slightly more energy than the LG LMXS30786S, and is the slightly less efficient of the two, but it still manages to keep the yearly cost per cubic foot down below $3, which is a good standard for a large-sized refrigerator.

Capacity vs. Efficiency

Kenmore Elite 72482LG LMXS30786SSamsung RF32FMQDBSRElectrolux EW28BS85KSGE Profile Series PFE28RSHSS
Refrigerator capacity 21.1 cubic feet21.1 cubic feet18.1 cubic feet19.2 cubic feet18.9 cubic feet
Freezer capacity 8.8 cubic feet8.8 cubic feet12.3 cubic feet8.8 cubic feet9.2 cubic feet
Total storage space 29.9 cubic feet29.9 cubic feet30.4 cubic feet28.0 cubic feet28.1 cubic feet
Energy use 741 kWh / year690 kWh / year745 kWh / year564 kWh / year724 kWh / year
Estimated yearly energy cost ($0.12 per kWh) $89 $83 $89 $68 $87
Energy cost per cubic foot $2.93 $2.78 $2.93 $2.43 $3.10
Energy Star certification YesYesYesNoYes
Suggested retail price $4,000 $3,700 $4,000 $3,350 $3,100

Aside from the LG model it's based on, the only large-size French door fridge we've tested that outperforms the Kenmore here is the Electrolux EW28BS85KS . However, that fridge isn't Energy Star certified, and runs too warm for us to recommend.

Keep in mind that you'll also use less energy with a smaller fridge, so don't buy one that's as big as the 72482 unless you actually need the space. You can save a lot of money upfront by going with a smaller French door model like the GE GNS23GMHES or the LG LFC22770ST , and they'll add about $10 to $20 less to your energy bill each year, too.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The verdict

The Kenmore Elite 72482 offers the same strong features and storage capabilities as the excellent LG LMXS30786S , as well as about 95 percent of its level of performance and efficiency. You're also much more likely to see it marked down from its MSRP to $3,000 or less, making it the superior value of the two.

With 21.1 cubic feet of fresh food storage space, a dependable level of performance, and a user-friendly design loaded with helpful features, the 72482 has everything I'd want from a high-end, large French door model, and it costs less than competitors that try (and often fail) to offer the same thing. Unless the lack of stainless steel is a deal breaker for you (and if it is, take a look at the 72483), it's an upgrade you really can't go wrong with, and a deserving winner of our Editors' Choice distinction.

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8.6

Kenmore 72482

Score Breakdown

Features 9Design 7Performance 8Usability 10
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