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, and Samsung quickly followed suit with fancy-looking "Food Showcase" fridges like the . 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.
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.