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Electrolux EI28BS80KS4A review: It's tough to warm up to Electrolux's high-end fridge

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The Good The Electrolux EI28BS80KS4A gets style points for self-closing drawers and glass shelves that turn into trays. It's roomy both by the numbers and in terms of practical use.

The Bad A lot of the features look nice and make a good first impression, but end up being a pain to use. More importantly, this $3,100 fridge doesn't perform up to expectations, with inaccurate interior temps.

The Bottom Line Despite a high-end feel, the Electrolux EI28BS80KS4A runs warm and falls flat overall. Look elsewhere for a premium French-door fridge.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

5.5 Overall
  • Features 6
  • Design 7
  • Performance 4
  • Usability 6

Review Sections

The industrial exterior of this foreboding fridge makes its brightly lit, welcoming interior a surprise. The initial sense of intimidation melts away. On the inside, LEDs fade up gently as the doors open; the curving glass shelves pull out to form food trays and the drawers close gently on their own after you nudge them inward. The interior feels classy yet welcoming.

The roomy Electrolux EI28BS80KS4A is full of contradictions. On the one hand, it's filled with features and little design touches like those pullout shelves. On the other, those same shelves make it tougher to actually use the fridge, as changing their position is an exercise in tedium. In fact, a lot of the features packed into this machine prove cooler in concept than practice.

It's certainly an upgrade from $1,000 top freezer models in design and space, but unimpressive performance keeps this $3,100 fridge from being worth the cost. I can't recommend it, despite some likable features.

Inside out: The look and feel of the fridge's many features

Electrolux certainly filled the EI28BS80KS4A with enough stuff to make it seem high-end. The inside of the left door has a touch panel called the IQ-Touch controls. The way the drawers glide the last half-inch or so toward their shut position is called Luxury-Close.

A Perfect Temp drawer offers its own temperature settings that you can adjust separately from the fridge. You scroll between the preset temps -- listed by food -- with the push of a button, or customize an exact temp for a favorite setting anywhere in the drawer's 28 to 42 degrees Fahrenheit range (about -2 to 6 Celsius).

You can customize temps for the Perfect Temp Drawer. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

There's even a Soft Serve drawer in the upper right corner of the freezer with a slightly higher temperature than the rest of the compartment. Stick ice cream in there and it'll come out scoopable. It's a neat idea, but there aren't any separate temperature controls up there. Electrolux just put a closed-off compartment at the top of the freezer where the temperatures would be warmer anyway and called it a feature.

There's nothing inherently wrong with that, or with how hard Electrolux is trying here. Electrolux didn't skimp on the extras for this premium fridge.

You can buy the Electrolux EI28BS80KS4A and its many extras from the company's website. It's also available from Home Depot, Best Buy, Sears and other major appliance dealers. Right now, you can readily find it for under the list price, which is typical for large appliances. Home Depot and Sears both list it at $2,600 instead of the $3,100 MSRP.

Overseas, the price converts to roughly £2,085 and AU$4,080 in the UK and Australia respectively. I've contacted the company to find out exact pricing and any differences in the model number and will update when I hear back.

Pay a bundle for this fridge, and you'll have plenty to show off to your neighbors. That said, the bland exterior will prove a sizable barrier to stirring up fridge envy.

The exterior

A plain silver exterior. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Door handles and a small Electrolux logo at the top right corner adorn the 36-inch-wide glistening stainless-steel front, and that's it. The rest of the front of the fridge is unbroken silver. This fridge doesn't have a dispenser and the front feels a bit plain.

The cylindrical handles don't help. They run straight up and down for the fridge and side to side for the freezer, and look utilitarian. I found them reminiscent of poles you'd hold onto on a subway car and they didn't appeal to me. That said, the design has a clean and inoffensive look and some in our office found the simplicity pleasant. If you want your fridge to blend in instead of making a statement, it works.

The fridge interior

Open up the French doors, and LEDs quickly fade up to reveal an elegant interior. Two rows of glass shelves line the space above the drawers at the bottom. Gray plastic handles run the front width of each of those shelves, and you can remove the shelves by pivoting them up and free from the brackets that hold them in place at the back of the fridge.

The shelves supposedly double as serving trays, but you have to pivot them pretty high to get them out. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

You have to pivot them to a pretty steep angle. I have trouble picturing anyone actually using wide glass trays with a small gray handle on one side as a serving tray as Electrolux intended, but even if I'm wrong here and people do want to present food to guests on the shelves of their fridge, it would be tough not to mess up any arranging you've done when tilting the shelf to lift it free.

Two more drawers for fruit and veggies split a row between the Perfect Temp compartment and the glass shelves. A slider on the bottom front of each adjusts airflow for the sake of managing humidity. All three of these drawers feature those luxury-close gliders. Push it shut, and it'll gently move the last half-inch of the way for you.

The drawers include humidity sliders and Luxury-Close rails. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

As much as I enjoyed this soft-close feature, it wasn't perfect. About a half dozen times during our testing -- often enough to be a pain and not a fluke -- the slider for one of the drawers would shift out of position. The first couple of times it happened, I didn't notice until I tried closing the drawer again and it wouldn't shut.

Fixing it didn't take long. I simply needed to reach to the side of the drawer, pull the slider out and put it back into position on the rail of the drawer. Still, it was especially aggravating that this otherwise nice feature kept messing up.

The wine and beverage mat successfully keeps bottles from rolling. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

A wine and beverage mat rests on the bottom of the Perfect Temp drawer, giving you a spot for items that might otherwise roll around, though you can move the mat easily to wherever you'd like it. This little accessory is fortunately free of any hidden drawbacks, and does a good job of keeping wine bottles in place.

The doors and controls

The drawers have four spots each for special items: a narrow bin for butter and the like at the top, two wider bins for condiments, and a pivoting bin at the bottom the width of a can of soda. That spot is actually called the Tilt-Can bin.

It's neat idea that does what it's supposed to -- it holds your cans and tilts out to make them easy to reach. The edge is also high enough to stop cans from dumping over the side. I had my doubts, and tilted the bin up and down as fast as it would go, but my Coke stayed in place.

It's an oddly specific move to dedicate part of the fridge to a single item, but since that bottom bin had to be narrow to make room for the longer Perfect Temp drawer, it makes sense. Just as Electrolux turned the potential flaw of a naturally warmer spot in the freezer into a soft-serve drawer, the Tilt-Can bin shows a limitation viewed from a different angle to make it more appealing. I applaud the creativity.

As a whole, the inside of the doors are easy to use. By lifting the middle bins, you can adjust the height. Notches rest under their back corners, so they're easy enough to maneuver and get where you want.

The control panel is responsive and intuitive. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

The control panel for both the fridge and freezer runs vertically along the inward-facing edge of the left door. It's responsive and intuitive, letting you set the temperatures, switch readings from Fahrenheit to Celsius and turn on vacation mode for longer compressor cycles or Sabbath mode to trim the functionality in accordance with the day.

Other controls include a button to turn cooling off if you need to leave the doors open to clean, and options for fast freeze and fast ice. Both of those put the fridge into high gear as needed.

An alarm will sound if the door is left open, if the power fails or if the fridge temp gets too warm for any reason. The bottom button of the panel acknowledges the issue and turns off the beeping.

The freezer

Of the 27 cubic feet of space, the freezer takes up 8.8 cubic feet. Electrolux kept the structural pieces dividing the space to a minimum, and I like that in a freezer. A drawer at the top and a sliding divider in the main compartment provide enough barriers to be helpful, but not get in the way if you just want room for stacking.

Plenty of room in the fridge and the freezer. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Squeeze the handle of the main divider and it slides back and forth to separate the space as you please. It's a simpler mechanic than the spring-loaded divider in the Perfect Temp drawer. You have to pull that one all the way out to get it shifted to a new spot.

The soft-serve drawer in the top right corner works as advertised -- it stays a few degrees warmer than the rest of the freezer. A sizeable ice bin sits on the left side of the upper drawer. It produces ice at a solid rate of 4 pounds a day, and is capable of holding around 12 pounds total or roughly twice as much as the comparably priced Frigidaire FGHB2866PF .

Again, though, a minor design oversight keeps the experience from feeling seamless. The ice bin needs to sit in the exact right place in order for the automatic ice maker to turn on, and it's much too easy to mistakenly put it ever-so-slightly off.

The difference between putting it in the front half of the drawer, where it feels secure and properly fitted, and the correct spot less than an inch farther back where it's looser is so small that it took me a full day of trying to get the machine to make ice with growing frustration before I realized what was wrong.

It's easy to put the ice bin in the wrong spot. Tyler Lizenby/CNET

With the ice bin in the incorrect spot, it still looks like the arm that flips the ice maker on and off is at the right angle. It's a problem that's easy to fix, but our technical editor ran into the same issue when setting up the fridge, so it's certainly a mistake that's easy to make, and one that could cause you to unknowingly lose a few hours of ice when you're preparing for a party.

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