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Whirlpool WRSA88FIHN side-by-side refrigerator (Sunset Bronze) review: Whirlpool didn't reinvent the refrigerator -- it gilded it

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The overwhelming majority of today's refrigerators come in stainless steel or some variation of it. That doesn't leave you with very many options if you're looking for something unique.

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7.6

Whirlpool WRSA88FIHN side-by-side refrigerator (Sunset Bronze)

Pricing Not Available

The Good

Whirlpool's golden side-by-side fridge is an attractive appliance that somehow manages to avoid looking gaudy. The sturdy build quality and glass shelves help give it a premium feel, and the water dispenser comes with a neat trick that'll dispense the exact amount of water you need.

The Bad

Though passable, performance wasn't as sharp as we've seen from other side-by-sides, many of which are also more efficient. You won't find any unique features of note on the inside, either.

The Bottom Line

This is a fairly basic midrange model with a very distinctive aesthetic, and worth the cash if you want a splash of rose gold in your kitchen.

Enter Whirlpool, which recently started selling gold-tinted, "Sunset Bronze" refrigerators, including the WRSA88FIHN side-by-side fridge. At a retail price of about $1,900, it's a fairly basic upper-midrange model with a distinctive design, and while it wasn't as strong a performer as other side-by-side models I've tested, it still offers enough to serve as a tempting pick for design-minded kitchens.

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The Sunset Bronze finish is a double-edged sword for Whirlpool -- it makes the fridge feel like more of an upgrade than it actually is for folks that like the look, but it'll also probably turn a lot of shoppers off (the same model is available for $100 less in standard stainless steel, too). I should also note that while Whirlpool has the retail price pegged at $1,899, you can currently find this Sunset Bronze side-by-side on sale at retail outlets like Lowe's and Home Depot for about $1,400.

"Sunset Bronze" might also be underselling it. The finish is flat-out gold as far as I'm concerned, but it's also surprisingly subtle. To Whirlpool's credit, it's gold without being gaudy, which seems like a pretty fine needle to thread.

Inside, you'll find a standard side-by-side arrangement of shelves and drawers and about 28.5 cubic feet of total storage space, 17.6 of which are allocated to the fridge. None of those shelves slide in or fold up to make room for tall-size items, but they're at least rearrangeable and made of glass, which helps keep the interior from feeling too cheap.

All of that is more or less right on par with similarly priced models from other manufacturers, if not a little bigger, so Whirlpool isn't charging an outrageous premium just for the gold-bodied design. Bottom line; a full-size side-by-side fridge available for less than $1,500 with looks that set it apart from the competition is a pretty decent deal, but the lack of any notable features inside might give you pause.

That said, the WRSA88FIHN does come with a "Measured Fill" option on the water dispenser that'll let you dispense the exact amount you need in liters, ounces or cups. That's a handy way to fill a pot with a few cups of water as you cook, no measuring cup necessary. I wish the fridge had one or two other tricks like that up its sleeve to help set it apart, but if it had to pick just one, Measured Fill isn't a bad selection.

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Of course, performance matters, too -- and in the case of the WRSA88FIHN, the performance was good, not great.

At the default setting, the main body shelves in the refrigerator all held to within a degree or two of the target temperature of 37 degrees F. That's good, but I also found multiple hot spots in the door and in the bottom crisper bin where the average temperature over the course of my 72-hour test came back warmer than 40 F, a benchmark for food safety used by the FDA.

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Hot spots like those aren't terribly unusual for side-by-side fridges, where the verticality of the design can make it more challenging for the refrigerator to hold consistent, accurate temperatures from shelf to shelf. Still, while I can forgive hot spots in the door shelves, where you'll probably keep non-perishable items like two-liter bottles of soda and preservative-heavy condiments, that warmer-than-average crisper bin would probably be enough to get me to dial the fridge down by a degree or two.

Of course, doing so would also up your energy usage slightly, which isn't ideal given that, at 747 kWh per year, the WRSA88FIHN already uses more energy than similarly sized, similarly priced competitors from GE, Samsung and LG. At that point (and at this price), I'd much prefer a fridge with a default setting that performed a little better.

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The verdict

At a retail price of $1,900 and likely on sale for less, Whirlpool's gold-tinted side-by-side is a perfectly decent midrange refrigerator. The distinctive design and sturdy build help give it a premium feel, enough so to make up for the near-complete lack of unique features inside. Its cooling power isn't the strongest that I've seen, but I wouldn't call it an underperformer, either. Rather, it's a pretty typical fridge in a very effective disguise, and worthy of consideration if you want to add some rose gold glam to your kitchen.

Editors' Note, 7/10/18: This review was originally published using an incorrect model number and suggested retail price. We regret the error and have updated the text accordingly.

whirlpool-gold-fridge-promo-shot-1
7.6

Whirlpool WRSA88FIHN side-by-side refrigerator (Sunset Bronze)

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Features 7Design 9Performance 7.5Usability 7