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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 72482 LG LMXS30786S Samsung RF32FMQDBSR Electrolux EW28BS85KS GE Profile Series PFE28RSHSS
Refrigerator capacity 21.1 cubic feet 21.1 cubic feet 18.1 cubic feet 19.2 cubic feet 18.9 cubic feet
Freezer capacity 8.8 cubic feet 8.8 cubic feet 12.3 cubic feet 8.8 cubic feet 9.2 cubic feet
Total storage space 29.9 cubic feet 29.9 cubic feet 30.4 cubic feet 28.0 cubic feet 28.1 cubic feet
Energy use 741 kWh / year 690 kWh / year 745 kWh / year 564 kWh / year 724 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 Yes Yes Yes No Yes
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.

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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