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

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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.

8.6 Overall
  • Features 9
  • Design 7
  • Performance 8
  • Usability 10

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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