Does your fridge have a door in a door? Apparently, it's all the rage these days. LG kicked off the trend with "Door-in-Door" models like the LMXS30776S, and Samsung quickly followed suit with fancy-looking "Food Showcase" fridges like the RH29H9000SR. Now Kenmore wants a piece of the action with new "Grab-N-Go" side-by-side models -- press a button on the fridge handle, and you'll open a panel on the front of the door, allowing access to groceries stored in the in-door shelves.
The Grab-N-Go fridge comes in white or black for $2,000, or in stainless steel for an extra $100 (Kenmore typically discounts their appliances by a few hundred dollars, so don't be surprised to see it selling for closer to $1,700). We tested the white model out (number 795.51832), and found that, like other door-in-a-door models, it doesn't hold temperatures as well as counterparts with more traditional designs. That, coupled with a few significant usability quirks, leads me to recommend passing on this fridge in favor of something more well-rounded.
Design déjà vu
Kenmore doesn't actually manufacture its own appliances. Instead, it acquires appliances built by brands like GE, Whirlpool and Samsung, rebrands them under the Kenmore name, and sells them at Sears. If the Grab-N-Go seems like a knockoff of LG's Door-in-Door side-by-side, that's because, essentially, it is LG's Door-in-Door side-by-side. You can tell by the "795" prefix in the model number -- that's Kenmore's code for LG.
Unlike the LG version, which comes in stainless steel and stainless steel only, the Kenmore Grab-N-Go fridge comes in white and black models, too. Each one costs $100 less than the stainless steel version -- kudos to Kenmore for giving shoppers the option of saving a little money.
As the name suggests, the Grab-N-Go feature is front and center with this fridge. You'll open the front panel by pressing the button on the fridge handle -- an approach that's a bit more intuitive than the segmented, recessed handle of the Samsung Food Showcase fridge. Once it's open, you'll find access to the in-door shelves, along with a few, small extra shelves on the inside of the panel itself.
Aside from that, though, there really isn't much going on inside this fridge, save for the smallish ice-maker located inside of the freezer door. The crisper bins lack humidity controls. The glass shelving isn't spill-proof. There isn't even a butter bin. If you like your fridges to come with lots of bells and whistles, then you'd better be an awfully big fan of that Grab-N-Go door, because that's really all you're getting.
Grab-N-Go gone wrong
I'll admit that I'm still not sold on these kinds of door-in-a-door refrigerators. Is opening a panel on the front of the fridge to access the in-door shelving really any easier than simply opening the fridge like normal? Either way, you're opening a door and accessing a shelf. Seems gimmicky to me.
What's worse, the Grab-N-Go door feels cheaply made. Half of the times I tried to close it, I failed -- you really have to give it some extra oomph to be sure it clicks shut, something we didn't experience with the nearly identical front panel on the French door version of LG's Door-in-Door refrigerator. It's a tiny annoyance, but if I'm spending nearly two grand on this fridge and using it every day, I'd really rather it didn't annoy me at all.
The Grab-N-Go fridge doesn't stop there, though. On the inside of those in-door shelves, you'll find a plastic door guarding your food. Open the fridge like normal, and you'll need to pull it open before you can grab that bottle of barbecue sauce. The LG Door-in-Door French door fridge we tested has a similar plastic guard panel -- my colleague Andrew Gebhart found it similarly annoying .
Kenmore pushes things further, though. The top in-door shelf sits above this guard door, and is blocked from the inside of the fridge by a wall of solid plastic -- that means that you're forced to use the Grab-N-Go door to access anything you store up there.
In sum, the Grab-N-Go door doesn't make it easier or any more convenient to access those in-door shelves. The opposite is actually true, which is a rather striking failure given that the eponymous door-in-the-door is really this refrigerator's main feature.
There was one other factor with that inner guard door that merited consideration, and that was the refrigerator's cooling performance. Both the LG Door-in-Door and Samsung Food Showcase refrigerators ran hot throughout the in-door shelves. If the Kenmore's inner door helped its shelves keep their cool better than LG or Samsung, then perhaps its existence -- however irritating -- was justified.
Orange is the new bad
The Kenmore's hopes for redemption through performance were soon dashed. Just like the Samsung Food Showcase and LG Door-in-Door models we've tested, the in-door shelving runs hotter than you'd like. It's easy to spot when we map out the average temperatures from a three-day test -- just look at all of that orange.
On the plus side, the body of the fridge is actually right where you want it, with very solid averages and no significant spikes north of 40 degrees F (a food-safety benchmark set by the FDA) throughout the entire test.
You can see what I'm talking about even more clearly in the minute-by-minute graph of the test, posted above. Those blue lines are the body of the fridge -- they hold fairly steady near the target temperature of 37 degrees F. The top crisper bin (that bright red line) does pretty well, too.
Everything else is disappointing. The orange lines represent the temperatures in the Grab-N-Go shelves, and all of them sit above 40 degrees for the entirety of the test. So too does the bottom crisper bin (the pink line) and the bottom in-door shelf beneath the Grab-N-Go section (the green line). A single shelf averaging slightly above 40 degrees might be tolerable, but more than half of your fridge's storage space? That's too much for me.
Things weren't much better when tested again at 33 degrees. Again, the body of the fridge did fine, but the door continued to run warm, with three out of four sections still averaging a temperature above 40. Not good at all.
Aside from the steady temperatures in the main body of the fridge, the only other real positive here is that the freezer performance was more or less was on point, with temperatures averaging out acceptably close to the target of 0 degrees F. Put those two together, and you've got a fridge with its otherwise positive performance potential spoiled by the temperatures in the door -- arguably another failure of the Grab-N-Go feature.
The Kenmore Grab-N-Go fridge clocks in at 26 cubic feet of storage space, 16.9 of which are dedicated to the refrigerator. Anything above 16 cubic feet is decent for a side-by-side, so on paper, this one's fairly spacious.
However, I've said it before and I'll say it again: capacity is more than just a number. Size is definitely nice, but the flexibility of the shelf positioning and how effectively each one optimizes space are arguably more important. In other words, it's not the size that counts -- it's how the fridge uses it.
We start by filling the fridge with a standardized grocery load. This proved more tedious than expected with the Grab-N-Go refrigerator, as the default shelf configuration doesn't provide any shelves in the body of the fridge that offer more than eight inches of clearance -- too short for wine bottles, milk cartons, or even a six pack of beer.
The shelves are easy enough to move around, but you don't get many rack positions to choose from. The best we were able to do with all shelves still in the fridge was to create a single shelf with about 10 inches of clearance -- barely enough for milk or beer, but still too short for a 2-liter of soda.
Your other option is to turn to the in-door shelving. Sure enough, there are three shelves tall enough for large-sized items -- but two of them sit behind that annoying plastic door, and the third is at the bottom of the door, tucked awkwardly beneath the overhang of the Grab-N-Go compartment. Plus, given how warm they run, those shelves are the worst spot in the fridge for storing milk.
What's more, since we were forced to store our beer, 2-liters and milk jugs in the door when we tested the standard configuration, we ended up running out of room for our condiments, most of which were also too tall to store comfortably in the body of the fridge. That meant we ended up with at least one bottle of hot sauce lying awkwardly on its side on the top shelf.
Still, with compromises like those, we were able to fit all of our groceries into the fridge without rearranging the shelves. The next step is to try and squeeze in stress test items, too -- big, bulky items like a party platter, a cake tray with a lid, a pitcher of lemonade, and an extra-large pizza box.
Unsurprisingly, the pizza box was a clear no-go -- this is a side-by-side fridge, after all. Out too was the pitcher, since none of the shelves were tall enough to accommodate it.
The other four items -- the cake tray, the party platter, a roasting pan, and a casserole dish -- all fit individually, but when I tried to see how many I could get in at once, I could only fit two.
Next, I pulled everything out and started over, but this time, I allowed myself to rearrange the shelves and move groceries around to optimize space however possible. In this optimized configuration, the fridge obviously did a little better. There was room for the pitcher this time (still no pizza, though), and I was able to get four items in all at once.
That's a definite improvement, but it still wasn't very impressive. The very basic GE GTE18GMHES top freezer , the well-reviewed LG LDC24370ST bottom freezer, and the GE Artistry Series bottom freezer all performed better in both the standard and optimized load tests, and all three cost less than the Grab-N-Go. The Samsung Food Showcase side-by-side outperformed it as well, although it costs more.
The Kenmore Grab-N-Go fridge isn't one I'd recommend. Storage space wasn't as spacious as the size of the fridge suggests, and the in-door cooling performance leaves a lot to be desired. Its only real feature worth mentioning is that Grab-N-Go door, and after using it over the course of a week, it's a feature I could do without, with a panel that's a pain to close and shelves that are a pain to access.
The word that keeps coming to mind for me is "annoying." This is an annoying refrigerator, and not one that I'd enjoy having in my kitchen. I'd be much happier with the performance I'd get out of the comparably priced LG LDC24370ST bottom freezer , and if design was the key factor in my buying decision, I'd go with the fantastic retro looks of the GE Artistry Series fridge , and save a few hundred dollars in the process.
If I was dead-set on a side-by-side with creative in-door access, then the Samsung Food Showcase fridge offers a much less aggravating, much better-looking build. The bottom line is that with so many other options, there's really no reason to put up with a fridge that's as irritating as this.