LG's "Door-in-Door" feature proved popular with some fridge shoppers, and Samsung was quick to follow suit with the nearly identical Food Showcase feature. So perhaps LG's $4,300 LPXS30866D represents a little bit of payback for the Korean manufacturer, with a four-door "t-type" design that seems aimed at stealing the spotlight of similar Samsung models.
Like those other t-type fridges, the LPXS30866D is an awfully good-looking appliance, with a modern build that makes more traditional fridges look dated by comparison. LG takes things further with a striking black stainless steel finish that repels smudges, and, of course, Door-in-Door functionality. But with just 16.8 cubic feet allocated for fresh food storage, it's one of the most cramped high-end fridges we've tested, and not nearly as feature-rich as I'd like to see at this price. Unless you're all-in on the way this fridge looks, you'd do much better splurging on something else.
The LPXS30866D is part of LG's new "Diamond Collection" of high-end appliances, all of which boast that black stainless steel finish. It's an admittedly nice design, and it repels smudges as well as advertised.
As a four-door, "t-type" refrigerator, you get two swinging doors up top for the fridge and a matching set down below for the freezer. The handles for each door are recessed horizontally across the middle, which takes some getting used to with the fridge, where you're probably used to vertical handles. It's a minor quibble, but I much prefer the build of the Samsung RF32FMQDBSR t-type, which gives you both horizontal and vertical recessed handles.
You'll also notice a silver button on the right door. Give it a press, and the door's front panel will pop open, revealing the inside of the Door-in-Door compartment. It's an oddly satisfying approach -- a fridge with a magic button that opens a secret compartment. To that end, though, I found myself wishing the button were hidden down along the recessed handle for a look and feel that's even more streamlined.
That Door-in-Door compartment is really the key feature of the fridge. Inside, you'll be able to access the in-door shelves, along with a couple of smallish bonus shelves lining the interior of that front panel. The idea is that door-in-door offers quick access to common fridge fodder like beverages, condiments and butter.
In practice, you're still opening a door and grabbing what you want, so it's up for debate whether or not Door-in-Door actually makes things any easier. I say it doesn't. In some cases, it actually seems to cut against usability. Take the butter bin, for instance. With Door-in-Door, you can access it from the back, but it's a narrow opening -- big enough for a single stick of butter, but too narrow for a full-sized tub of margarine. Given that this is a family-sized fridge, I have to imagine that family-sized dairy products will often be in play.
Other storage-minded features are more successful. In particular, I'm a big fan of LG's "Slim Spaceplus" ice maker, which squeezes the entire ice maker flush into the door. That frees up space in the body of the fridge, and makes the in-door shelves easier to use (though the compact design also means you'll get less ice out of it). An "EasyLift Bin" in the Door-in-Door compartment acts like an elevator, easily shifting up or down to make room for tall-sized items. You'll also find a slide-in shelf in the body of the fridge that does the same thing (a fairly common feature in high-end designs like this one.)
What you won't find, though, is a region with its own temperature controls -- a surprising omission given how much this fridge costs. Several less expensive LG models, including the LMXS30786S , feature a CustomChill Drawer that lets you select from a number of ingredient-specific temperature presets. You'll find similar drawers in fridges from GE and Electrolux . Samsung goes even further -- its four-door t-type, the RF32FMQDBSR , lets you switch the right half of the freezer up into fridge mode, giving you a good deal of additional fresh food storage space. The LPXS30866D doesn't have any such feature, and it costs more than all of those.
LG refrigerators have a very decent track record in our climate-controlled test chamber, and the LPXS30866D kept the streak going. Taking the minute-by-minute temperature in each region of the refrigerator over 72 hours, the main body of fridge came back with averages that were more or less dead-on. The left door shelves performed well, too.
However, the weak spot was the Door-in-Door compartment on the right, where all three regions averaged temperatures above 40 degrees, a benchmark for food safety set by the FDA. In fairness, the top compartment is the butter bin, where temperatures tend to run warm by design, but the middle and bottom sections are legitimate hotspots. You'll want to resist the temptation to store milk, eggs or other sensitive ingredients there, as they'd likely spoil a bit quicker.
Still it's a better-than-average result. Graphing the results out over all 72 hours, you can see where the solid averages from the main shelves and left door shelves come from, with those blue and green lines that all hug tight to the target of 37 degrees.
We open the doors on a regular schedule to help simulate real-world usage -- two of these timed door openings produced notable spikes in temperature, likely because they occurred right at the start of a defrost cycle. In each of those instances, the fridge needed a little extra time to pull things back down to the target, but was still able to do so within a few hours, and without spending too much time above 40 degrees.
The results were almost identical when we repeated the test at the 33-degree setting. Again, the main body of fridge and the left door proved both accurate and consistent, each region holding steady within a degree or two of the target. And again, the Door-in-Door shelves ran warm, though this time, the middle section managed to score an average below 40. The bottom section averaged out to 40 degrees on the dot -- the best case scenario when I'm breaking out the orange.
As for the freezer, the LPXS30866D did well, with steady averages just above the target of 0 degrees. Standard defrost cycles never brought any section of the freezer above a temperature of 5 degrees, and during our door openings, things never spiked any higher than 12 degrees. I'm happy with any freezer that keeps the door opening spikes below 15, especially one like the LPXS30866D, which was always able to bring temperatures right back down to the target in quick fashion. Still, it's worth noting that the freezer in LG's less expensive LMXS30786S did slightly better, with temperatures that never spiked higher than 9 degrees.
30 cubic feet is an impressive number, one that manufacturers of large, high-end fridges will often throw around as a boastful selling point. LG is no exception, but in the case of the 29.8 cubic foot LPXS30866D, the number is a bit misleading. Break it down by section, and you'll see that LG allocates a higher-than-average 13 cubic feet to the freezer and a lower-than-average 16.8 cubic feet to the fridge. That's great if you hunt a lot of elk, but for most people storage space in the fridge is what's most important.
Sure enough, things felt tight when we loaded the fridge up with groceries, and then tried to pack our six stress test items in, too. Each one fit on its own, but we couldn't get all six in at once until we rearranged the shelves. Even then, it was about as cramped as successful results come.
Poor shelf design contributed to the problem. On the right side of the fridge, the Door-in-Door feature essentially tries to offer two separate rows of in-door shelves: one inside the main door, and another on the inside of the Door-in-Door panel. To pull this off, the shelves have to be fairly narrow -- too narrow in some cases for a bottle of hot sauce, a can of dog food, or other groceries you might commonly want to store in the door.
The Door-in-Door feature is a storage liability on the inside, too. There's a plastic panel blocking off the Door-in-Door shelves in order to help the fridge hold the cold whenever you open the Door-in-Door panel. There are little windows to let you reach in, but it takes some tricky maneuvering to get tall or bulky items out. Just try and imagine pulling that six-pack of beer out in the main storage pic up above. You'd likely be forced to go in through the back -- the opposite problem of the butter bin, which forces you to go in through the front for larger items. All in all, Door-in-Door just seems like more trouble than it's worth.
|LG LPXS30866D||Samsung RF32FMQDBSR||LG LMXS30786S||Electrolux EW28BS85KS||GE Profile Series PFE28RSHSS|
|Refrigerator capacity||16.8 cubic feet||18.1 cubic feet||21.1 cubic feet||19.2 cubic feet||18.9 cubic feet|
|Freezer capacity||13 cubic feet||12.3 cubic feet||8.8 cubic feet||8.8 cubic feet||9.2 cubic feet|
|Total storage space||29.8 cubic feet||30.4 cubic feet||29.9 cubic feet||28.0 cubic feet||28.1 cubic feet|
|Energy use||766 kWh / year||745 kWh / year||690 kWh / year||564 kWh / year||724 kWh / year|
|Estimated yearly energy cost ($0.12 per kWh)||$92||$89||$83||$68||$87|
|Energy cost per cubic foot||$3.09||$2.93||$2.78||$2.43||$3.10|
|Energy Star certification||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Yes|
|Suggested retail price||$4,300||$4,000||$3,700||$3,350||$3,100|
Something else to consider when you're considering a fridge's capacity is how much power it uses to keep that space cool. Bigger fridges have a bigger job on their hands, so they'll typically use more power, and the LPXS30866D is no exception, with a projected yearly energy cost of $92. That's on par with most other king-size refrigerators, if not slightly higher.
The better approach might be to divide that yearly expense by the fridge's total capacity, giving you the cost of cooling each cubic foot. By this metric, the LPXS30866D clocks in at over $3 -- less efficient than the Samsung RF32FMQDBSR t-type , and less efficient than the LG LMXS30786S French door . Incidentally, the best large-sized French door in this test is the Electrolux EW28BS85KS , but that fridge isn't Energy Star certified, and was too weak of a performer for us to recommend.
In some cases, less is more, but in the case of the LG LPXS30866D, less is simply less. At $4,300, it looks appropriately high-end, but it lacks legitimate high-end features beyond the Door-in-Door compartment, a feature that still doesn't seem all that compelling to me. There's also less room in the fridge than with other high-end models -- all of which don't cost as much.
Unless those Diamond Collection looks are a must-have for your kitchen, the $3,700 LG LMXS30786S is clearly the superior option here, with better features, better efficiency, a bigger fridge capacity and a lower price point. The $3,100 GE Profile Series PFE28RSHSS offers stronger overall value, as well. And if it's the four-door, "t-type" styling that you're after, the less expensive Samsung RF32FMQDBSR is roomier, and boasts a better-looking build. Given those alternatives, I can't see this fridge as anything more than a play at aesthetics. At $4,300, you should expect more.