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Whirlpool URB551WNGZ review: Whirlpool's skinniest fridge looks great, but runs too warm

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The Good Whirlpool's compact fridge looks fancier than it actually is, and even includes a built-in wine rack. At less than 2 feet wide, it'll fit into a lot of cramped spaces while still offering a reasonable amount of room for your groceries.

The Bad Performance was poor in our cooling tests, with the entirety of the fridge compartment running warm at the refrigerator's default setting. The fridge is also too tall to fit into standard-size enclaves with cabinets overhead.

The Bottom Line This fridge looks great, but it's expensive for what it is, and not nearly as good at keeping things cold as it should be.

6.6 Overall
  • Features 7
  • Design 8
  • Performance 4.5
  • Usability 8

If you're living with a cramped kitchen, or if perhaps you're shopping for a second fridge for the garage or a back room, then you might consider a compact model like the Whirlpool URB551WNGZ. At less than 2 feet wide, it's designed to take up a small  footprint in your home while still offering enough storage space for your groceries (provided you don't have a full family to feed). The retail price? $1,400, though, as of writing this, you can get it on sale for about $1,260.

With a clean, minimalist design that seems to echo the industrial aesthetic of designer fridges that cost thousands more, there's a lot to like about the look of this fridge -- but the cooling power left me, well, cold. Specifically, the refrigerator didn't keep things cold enough in my tests, with the entirety of the fridge compartment averaging well above 40 degrees F at its default setting. That, coupled with the fact that you can get better performance from compact competitors that cost half as much, leads me to recommend that you keep shopping around.

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The refrigerator's minimalism serves it well -- you won't even find a Whirlpool logo on it.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Design done right

As compact refrigerators go, this one makes a great first impression. The clean, simple design of the exterior and the sturdy stainless steel handles help it feel fancier than it actually is, and the interior reinforces things with glass shelves, multiple drawers, a surprisingly large butter bin and even a built-in wine rack. Of course, at a retail price of $1,400 -- hundreds more than compact models from competitors like LG and GE -- you would expect more of a high-end feel, but kudos to Whirlpool for delivering.


Whirlpool URB551WNGZ Compact Bottom Freezer LG LTNC11121V Compact Top Freezer GE GBE10ESJSB Compact Bottom Freezer
Fridge capacity 7.9 cubic feet 8.5 cubic feet 7.3 cubic feet
Freezer capacity 3.4 cubic feet 2.6 cubic feet 3.2 cubic feet
Total capacity 11.3 cubic feet 11.1 cubic feet 10.5 cubic feet
Height 74 1/2 inches 66 1/2 inches 60 3/8 inches
Width 23 1/2 inches 24 inches 24 inches
Depth 27 15/16 inches 26 inches 27 3/8 inches
Yearly Enery Consumption 396 kWh 339 kWh 387 kWh
Yearly energy cost ($0.12 per kWh) $48 $41 $46
Yearly energy cost per cubic foot $4.25 $3.69 $4.38
Energy Star qualified Yes No Yes
CNET performance score 4.5 / 10 7 / 10 5.5 / 10
Warranty 1 year parts and labor 1 year parts and labor, 7 years sealed system 1 year parts and labor
Suggested retail price $1,400 $700 $900
Lowest retail price as of 5/7/18 $1,260 $630 $900

In terms of storage space, that interior offers about 8 cubic feet in the fridge and 3.4 cubic feet in the freezer, both of which are right on par with the competition. It's several inches taller than the average refrigerator, though, coming in at 74 1/2 inches high. That's too tall to fit into a lot of standard-size fridge cutouts with cabinets overhead, so make sure to measure before you buy.

The 7.9 cubic foot fridge compartment up top features glass shelves, plenty of bin space and even a wine rack.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Despite that extra height, things still feel somewhat cramped inside the fridge, which is to be expected with a compact model like this one. There's no good spot for a gallon-size jug of milk, for instance, and I doubt that you'd be able to fit a full-size frozen pizza in the freezer, either. Plan on downsizing your groceries accordingly.

Still, it's a workable refrigerator. I was able to squeeze a two-liter of soda into the bottom door shelf, and the pair of crisper bins offer plenty of space for fruits and veggies. At the top of the door, the surprisingly large butter bin runs the full width of the fridge. Relocate your spread of choice to the butter tray dangling down below (yep, the fridge includes both), and you'll be able to use that bin space for something else. Or you could just buy, like, five different kinds of butter and have room for all of them. To each their own, I say!

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