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LG LSXS26326S review: More to this modest-looking LG fridge than meets the eye

Beneath these three bins, you have another narrower bin at the bottom of the door wide enough for cans of soda. At the top of the door, you'll find a butter bin with a pivoting lid. The depth and height of the door bins made a big difference on both rounds of the load tests, as we were able to fit lots of condiments and tall items into them and relieve a lot of the burden from the main compartment.

On round 2, we again fit all of the everyday groceries without issue. Then, we fit five of the six large items individually -- rearranging the shelves didn't help make the space wide enough for that pizza box. This time, though, we fit four stress test items simultaneously, up one from the standard arrangement.

Too narrow for the pizza box. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

On the same test, the Samsung Food Showcase fit five of the six individually and five of the six simultaneously, edging out the LG LSXS26326S on this round, but the LG model kept up well enough for me to call it the overall winner based on how much better it did on round 1.

The main body of the freezer has a similar layout to the fridge, but only three movable shelves instead of four above the two drawers at the bottom. The door of the freezer has a markedly different layout, since the upper half houses the ice bin. For squeezing in extra frozen goods, you're limited to three narrow bins on the bottom third of the door.

We managed to fit in even more on round 2 of our load tests. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

I also wish the shelves were spillproof. As it stands, white rims frame the glass shelves on their front and back, but not the sides. The width was enough to keep most of the 8-ounce glass of water we dumped on the shelf from spilling over, but the liquid that made it to the side dumped all the way from the top shelf to the bottom.

The LG LSXS26326S doesn't have humidity sliders either, and again, both humidity sliders and spillproof shelves can be found on the $800 GE GTE18GMHES and the $1,000 Frigidaire FGTR1845QF.

I wish the shelves were spillproof, to avoid situations like this. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The LG LSXS26326S is still a fine machine. It looks similar to a lot of other fridges, but in an appealing way. And once I opened the doors, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the LG LSXS26326S uses its interior space.

Superior cooling

The LG LSXS26326S is more than a fine machine when it comes to cooling performance. To test the temperature prowess of our fridges, we put thermocouples on every shelf and in every compartment, then let them run for three days straight while collecting data and opening the doors to simulate use.

Fantastic accuracy from the main body of the fridge and freezer. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

We set the temp to the industry-standard default of 37 degrees Fahrenheit in the fridge and 0 in the freezer, so the averages in the diagram above impressed me, especially the accuracy of the middle shelves of the main body. That's arguably the most important area of your fridge, as it's where you'll have the bulk of your space for your perishables.

The FDA recommends keeping easily spoilable food below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and tossing out any that spend more than 2 hours consecutively or 4 hours lifetime over that 40-degree mark. None of the three main shelves crossed 40 at all during the three-day period. That's an excellent result.

In fact, the entire fridge maintained a steady hand throughout the testing period.

The LSXS26326S combines a steady hand with accurate averages. Jared Hannah/CNET

Only the top shelf -- that light blue line at the bottom of the graph -- shows any significant wiggle whatsoever, and that's understandable, as it sits right next to the fan that blows out the cold air.

The temperature performance of the main body of the fridge is perfect. No qualifier needed, this is a perfect result.

The temp toward the bottom of the fridge, both in the drawers of the main compartment and the bottom door bins, were not as perfectly accurate. We expect some warmness on the door. It's why we recommend putting your milk in the main compartment.

We've seen warm drawers on the other side-by-sides we've tested, including the Samsung Food Showcase and the Kenmore 51832 . It's likely systemic of how the model type is cooled, but unlike the warm door bins, it's not an issue I can readily forgive, especially since it's one rarely seen on other fridge types. You might reasonably want to keep cheese in that bottom drawer, and with this fridge, that wouldn't be a good idea.

The LG LSXS26326S did better than both the Food Showcase and the Kenmore 51832, but that warm drawer makes the results very good as opposed to amazing.

Next, we tested the usable range and flexibility of the LG LSXS26326S by running another three day test, this time with the fridge set to 33 degrees. Again, the accuracy of the main body impressed me.

When we turned the temp down, the fridge kept right on point. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Just like on the 37-degree test, the main shelves of the fridge kept an average right on top of the set point. This round, almost every compartment stayed below 40 degrees where food can spoil and above 32 degrees where it can freeze for the duration of the test. The top shelf did get cold when the compressor kicked in, and the lowest door bin occasionally spiked above 40. Both are minor issues.

The fact that the main body of the fridge could nail an average at two different set points makes the LG LSXS26326S versatile as well as accurate. If it wasn't for that bottom drawer, it would be the best performer we've seen yet. As it stands, it still shines brightest where it counts the most.

The verdict

I find it charming that the LG LSXS26326S looks like a lot of other fridges, while performing the way that it does. It's like a ninja wearing blue jeans. When you combine that performance with its easily usable interior, and a stainless finish that matches premium models, the $1,500 price of the LG LSXS26326S becomes a bargain. I certainly recommend it over the fancier, but less competent $3,000 Samsung Food Showcase RH29H9000SR .

Compared to other fridge types, the benefits of the LSXS26326S become murkier. In particular, the $1,200 GE Artistry ABE20EGHBS bottom freezer looks better, fits more food, and performs just as well. Even the $800 GE GTE18GMHES top freezer fits more food, includes the humidity sliders and spillproof shelves this LG fridge lacks, and performs fairly well, though it is a distinct step down in accuracy from the LG LSXS26326S. So the LG LSXS26326S doesn't do quite enough to be a standout, but its spacious interior and top tier performance make it worth a spot on your short list if you're shopping for a side-by-side fridge.

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