Top freezer fridges get overshadowed by flashier French door models, but there's value to be had by bucking the trends and sticking with something simple. Take the LG LTCS24223S, for instance. At a price of $1,200, it's one of the biggest and fanciest top freezers you can buy at retail, and yet it still costs less than the cheapest, most feature-sparse French doors.
That positions it nicely as an upgrade that won't break the bank, but it's not a clear slam dunk. Kenmore's comparably priced lookalike model offers sharper performance and a few extra features, including a water dispenser and sliding dividers in the in-door shelves. And, of course, a less expensive top freezer like the $800 GE GTE18GMHES might offer better value if you're on a tight budget (or if you don't need the LG's whopping 24 cubic feet of storage space).
Still, the LG LTCS24223S gets enough right to qualify as a legitimate upgrade over almost every other top freezer on the market. Unlike many of those, it doesn't feel like a fridge you have to settle for, and that makes it an interesting option in its class.
Design and features
The LTCS24223S ditches the usual refrigerator handles in favor of recessed grooves along the top of the fridge door and the bottom of the freezer door. This, combined with the stainless steel finish, gives it a modern, flat-faced look that helps set it apart from a good deal of the competition, though not all of it -- shop around, and you'll find plenty of other models employing the same trick, including some higher-end refrigerators that use it to even greater effect.
The refrigerator's size also helps to set it apart. At 33 inches wide, it's as fat as top freezers come, and with 24 cubic feet of total storage space, it's also the most spacious in it's class. That's great if you need lots of room for your family's groceries, but the big, boxy bulk of the thing is an obvious tradeoff.
Something else worth mentioning: the stainless steel finish isn't magnet-friendly. That means you'll need to relocate your kids' artwork and report cards to someplace else (that, or pick up a roll of tape).
The interior of the fridge is attractive and spacious, with LED lights illuminating your groceries and a diamond contour pattern at the bottom of each in-door shelf. None of the main shelves slide out, slide in, or fold up, like you might find in a more expensive refrigerator, but you do get a deli drawer that runs the entire width of the interior, a nice feature that you won't find in a lot of top freezers.
All told, you get 17.6 cubic feet of storage space in the fridge compartment, which is about as good as you're going to get from a top freezer, and more than you'll get from a lot of mid-range French door models, including the GE GNS23GMHES and the Samsung RF263BEAESR. At $1,200 or less (I didn't have a hard time finding the LTCS24223S marked down below $1,000), this fridge is a good value compared with models like those if all you're after is the extra storage space.
My only complaints about the fridge from a design perspective are pretty minor. For instance, the LED lights along the sides favor the front -- the fridge would have benefited from a few extra diodes in the back. And as big as the LTCS24223S is, its butter bin is surprisingly small -- too small for the tub of margarine that we use in our storage tests.
My other qualms come from comparing the LTCS24223S to the Kenmore 79432, a top freezer fridge built off an LG model similar to the LTCS24223S (instead of making its own appliances, Kenmore purchases its competitors designs, then rebrands them and sells them at Sears). That Kenmore fridge is essentially the previous year's version of the LTCS24223S, and while it doesn't look quite as good, it's basically the same appliance. However, it includes a water dispenser and sliding dividers in the in-door shelves -- you won't find either one of those features in the LTCS24223S.
I was eager to test this refrigerator's cooling performance for two reasons. First, LG fridges have consistently done well in our tests, showing greater temperature accuracy and fewer hotspots than any other brand we've reviewed. Second, the previously mentioned Kenmore 79432 is our top-performing top freezer to date. Given that the 79432 is more or less last year's version of the LTCS24223S, I was optimistic as I started my tests.
Though it didn't necessarily disappoint, the LTCS24223S fell short of my expectations. At its default setting, it successfully kept the main body of the fridge below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, a benchmark for food safety set by the FDA, but only just barely. The in-door shelves and crisper bins both ran warmer, which isn't a bad result, per se -- the doors and bins will almost always be warmer than the body of the fridge. Still, it wasn't nearly as impressive a level of performance as the Kenmore 79432, or as some of LG's other models, like the LDC24370ST bottom freezer.