Whirlpool WRB322DMBB Bottom Freezer Refrigerator review: Buy this bottom freezer fridge for the cooling power

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The Good This Whirlpool bottom freezer offers the best performance of any fridge we've ever tested, and it comes at a reasonable asking price, to boot.

The Bad The design is boring and the features are few and far between. Certain build aspects also feel flimsy.

The Bottom Line If you value performance over gimmicks, then this unassuming icebox is the fridge for you.

8.3 Overall
  • Features 6.5
  • Design 6.5
  • Performance 10
  • Usability 8

The Whirlpool WRB322DMBB is a good fridge. Yes, it's plain-looking inside and out, and no, there's nothing unique about it. It doesn't have any flashy features. It isn't as stylish as today's French door models are. It won't make your neighbors jealous.

But this is a good fridge -- a really good fridge. At $1,400 (or $1,500 if you want it in stainless steel), it offers cooling performance that's as strong as any refrigerator we've tested, including ones that cost thousands of dollars more. Basic build aside, it's a solid option, solid enough to unseat last year's LG LDC24370ST as our pick for best bottom-freezer fridge. If you're shopping for a bottom freezer and you value performance, I'd have a hard time finding a reason to recommend anything else.

The Clark Kent of refrigerators

You'll find 15.6 cubic feet of storage space in the body of the fridge -- a decent amount of room for groceries.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Bottom freezer fridges flip the script on the traditional top freezer build that many of us probably grew up with. Like the name suggests, bottom freezers put your frozen goods down below the fridge compartment. This makes it more comfortable to reach fresh groceries, though you will need to bend over a bit to grab a frozen pizza.

As bottom freezers go, the WRB322DMBB is a pretty basic one, with a plain-looking 22.1 cubic-foot interior. 15.6 of those cubic feet are allocated to the fridge compartment -- that's a bit better than the 14.8 cubic feet in the Kenmore Elite 78022 and the 14.9 cubic feet in GE's Artistry Series bottom freezer, but not quite as big as the 16.4 cubic feet in the LG LDC24370ST or the equally-sized LG LDCS24223S that replaced it this year.

Both of those LG fridges sit atop the bottom freezer storage space scoreboard, but the WRB322DMBB isn't far behind. We had no trouble finding room for all of our test groceries, and we were very nearly able to fit all six of our large-sized stress test items in, too (the party platter didn't quite make it in). All in all, it's a very solid result for a relatively inexpensive bottom freezer model.

Whirlpool vs. the bottom freezer competition

Whirlpool WRB322DMBB LG LDCS24223S Kenmore Elite 79029 GE Artistry Series ABE21DGKBS GE GDE21EGKBB
Fridge capacity 15.6 cubic feet 16.4 cubic feet 14.8 cubic feet 14.9 cubic feet 14.9 cubic feet
Freezer capacity 6.5 cubic feet 7.7 cubic feet 7.3 cubic feet 6.0 cubic feet 6.0 cubic feet
Total capacity 22.1 cubic feet 24.1 cubic feet 22.1 cubic feet 20.9 cubic feet 20.9 cubic feet
Ice maker Yes (in freezer) Yes (in freezer) No Optional (+$89) Yes (in freezer)
Water dispenser No No No No No
Available in stainless steel Yes (+$100) Yes (+$100) Yes (+$200) No Yes (+$100)
Energy Star-qualified Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Yearly energy consumption(kilowatt hours) 584 kWh 608 kWh 589 kWh 488 kWh 572 kWh
Yearly energy cost ($0.12 per kWh) $70 $73 $71 $59 $69
Efficiency (yearly energy cost per cubic foot) $3.17 $3.03 $3.21 $2.82 $3.30
Suggested retail price $1,400 $1,500 $1,800 $1,200 $1,550
Lowest retail price (as of 7/29/16) $1,165 $1,300 $1,250 $1,075 $1,395

The klutzy crisper bins come out way too easily.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Less solid: the interior design. Specifically, I'm talking about the drawers -- they're wobbly and plasticky, and they don't catch very well when you open them, which caused me to accidentally yank them all the way out of the fridge on several occasions. They're my least favorite thing about this refrigerator.

Still, there's some good stuff going on in there, too. Spill-proof shelves and humidity sliders on the crisper bins are always appreciated, and with a total of eighteen resting spots, you can rearrange the in-door shelves to your heart's content -- that gives you a lot of flexibility over what you put in them.