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Refrigerators that are packed with new features

Our latest tests found superb picks in every style

Published: August 21, 2014 04:00 PM
Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4

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Now is a great time to be in the market for a new refrigerator. Stiff competition between major brands, including GE, Kenmore, LG, and Samsung, has sparked innovative designs and a slew of new convenience features. Our latest tests of four-door, French-door, and side-by-side refrigerators turned out a dozen top picks, including a new high for overall score. There were some lemons in the mix as well, however, so check the complete refrigerator Ratings carefully to find the fridge that's right for you. 

The biggest and best gets bigger and better

The Samsung Chef Collection RF34H9960S4, $5,400, rides superb temperature control, energy efficiency, and quietness to a tied-for-best overall score, and its 23.4 cubic feet of usable capacity is the most we've ever measured. It narrowly surpasses its brand mate, the Samsung T9000, $3,500. Both models are true four-door refrigerators, with an upper fresh-food section behind traditional French-doors and two side-by-side bottom freezer compartments, one of which can convert to an additional refrigerator chamber. 

Paying more for the Chef Collection brings several upgrades, including stainless steel interior paneling, which Samsung says will help maintain consistent temperatures. There's also a through-the-door ice and water dispenser with built-in SodaStream sparkling water maker; pillar-style high-efficiency lighting; and an oven and dishwasher-safe metal pan that can be used to marinate meat and fish. 


A surge in side-by-sides

The side-by-side configuration has been losing market share to popular French-door models. But manufacturers aren't giving up on it, recognizing that the narrow door swing still offers the most streamlined fit for smaller kitchens. Plus a lot of consumers prefer the vertical freezer space of a side-by-side. Four newly tested models made our winner's podium, and they're loaded with features you probably haven't seen before. 

The Samsung RH29H9000SR, $2,350, part of the manufacturer's "Food Showcase" series, features a unique full-length door-in-door compartment, allowing you to access drinks, condiments, and other often-used items without opening the main fresh-food compartment; stainless steel paneling is supposed to seal in the freshness. 

Another novel design is the LG LSC22991ST, $2,700. At first glance, this side-by-side refrigerator resembles Samsung's four-door refrigerators, with its two-over-two door configuration. But the upper-right quadrant is actually a door-in-door compartment that opens with the press of a button; to open the entire fresh-food section, you pull on the horizontal handle. The LG is another cabinet-depth model, and it performed very well or better in all of our tests.

GE returns to French-door form

In 2012, GE announced that it would bring the manufacturing of its French-door refrigerators home, to a brand new factory in its Louisville headquarters. The move appears to be paying off, with the return of GE to our top picks list of French-door refrigerators. The GE Profile PWE23KMDES, $2,600, shares the highest oversell score in our Ratings, combining superb temperature control and efficiency. It's also the only recommended French-door model that is cabinet-depth, which confers the sleek look of a true built-in refrigerator for thousands less. And it's available in the new-ish slate finish, a matte, gray-toned metallic that resists smudges and fingerprints better than stainless steel. 

Check out our complete refrigerator Ratings for details on the roughly 40 models that make our recommended list.

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico on Twitter)

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