We say "most" because there is one competitor that sells for less: The Frigidaire FGHB2866PF can be found on sale for $1,799. The catch? It's almost the exact same fridge as this Kenmore. Aside from a few cosmetic differences, the two fridges are made in the same factory and are based on the same design, and perform about as well.
That means both share a bulky icemaker and sticky interior drawers. Our tests also revealed that the crispers aren't great at retaining moisture and temperatures are somewhat inconsistent over time. Spend a little more and get a fridge like the Samsung RF28HDEDBSR, and you'll avoid most of those pitfalls.
It’s not all bad, of course: low energy consumption and ample storage are always good. But at the end of the day, there are enough models on the market—many of which cost about the same—that it’s easy to pass this Kenmore by.
To start with some good news, the main fresh food storage area was actually spot on in terms of temperature output. Based on our data, the top shelving area averaged 38.55°F, the middle hit 37.87°F, and the bottom hovered around 39.74°F—which is actually good, since produce does well with a little extra warmth. An average temperature fluctuation of ±0.28°F isn’t as consistent as we’ve seen in other models, but it's still well within an acceptable margin.
The freezer, however, wasn’t quite as accurate. Despite being set to 0°F, the top and bottom of the freezer averaged 1.84°F and 1.89°F, respectively—bad news for frozen foods, as temperatures that warm lead to freezer burn. A gap of less than 0.1°F from top to bottom is excellent, but the shifts over time—about ±0.94°F—could be better. Turn the thermostat down about two degrees for optimal chilling.
No surprises here
The 70343’s design is, for lack of a better term, "safe." There are no bells or whistles, no gimmicks, nothing to make it stand out from the existing sea of stainless steel. In fact, Kenmore didn't do too much to distinguish it from the Frigidaire on which it's based.
Bulky icemakers like the one found here hold more cubes, but that capacity comes at the cost of useable internal space. Also, this Kenmore's crisper drawers don’t slide smoothly, while the full-width deli drawer got caught on itself almost every time we opened and shut it.
Similarly, the upper freezer drawer jumped out of its track more than once during use. It’s likely the more you put in the freezer, the less this will happen—but be aware. At least the 70343 does feature bright LED lighting in both compartments, an upgrade you don't see in basic top freezers and side-by-sides.
Price isn't everything
There are some bright spots in our testing. In particular, this new model turned out to be exceptionally energy efficient, even with the icemaker running.
Temperature output in the primary fresh food section was more or less spot on, and relatively consistent over time. Unfortunately, the crisper drawers did a lousy job retaining moisture, which won't do produce any favors.
The freezer, however, is where things really got dicey. It ran a few degrees warmer than the displayed 0°F, which is the minimum ideal temperature for long term frozen food storage. Temperatures were also less consistent over time, which is a recipe for freezer burn.
Despite the long list of options on the control panel, ancillary features are actually quite limited. Express Chill—which quickly cools the freezer, useful for when you’re restocking it with new groceries—is the only “extra” feature. The other options cover basic fridge maintenance: turning the icemaker on or off, adjusting temperature settings, checking the water filter status, and so on.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
The crispers were easily the most lackluster elements of this fridge. We periodically check the weight of test materials saturated with water to track their moisture loss over time. Over the course of three days, we found materials in the crispers lost an average of 0.21 grams of moisture each hour—much worse than the ideal. The best refrigerators we've tested lose only 0.08 grams of moisture an hour.
Kenmore's standard one-year limited warranty covers part failure (should the icemaker stop working, for instance) or any defects out of the box. Sears offers extended coverage for either three or five years at additional cost. It's a standard warranty for appliances in this price range.
Freezing performance was just adequate. We placed room-temperature test materials into the Kenmore’s freezer section, and from the time we shut the door, it took 1 hour and 35 minutes for those materials to reach 32°F. Many of the models we’ve tested can do this about 20 to 25 minutes faster, making the Kenmore slightly worse than average.
If nothing else, the Kenmore 70343 offers enough storage space for a decent-sized family. With its adjustable fridge shelves, gallon-deep door storage, and roomy crisper and deli drawers, the main fridge section serves up 11.68 usable cubic feet of space.
The freezer is also relatively roomy, with an upper and lower drawer. Each drawer comes with an adjustable divider, making it easier for you to organize your food. In total, you can freeze about 5.66 cubic feet of groceries.
Perhaps the best part of this fridge, however, is its energy efficiency. Even with the icemaker running, we calculate the 70343 will only require about 0.09 kWh to cool each usable cubic foot. At a standardized rate of $0.09 per kWh, this fridge will cost you about $51.65 per year to run. Adjust accordingly based on local rates, and keep in mind that if you don’t use the icemaker all the time, you may see an even lower electric bill.
An affordable entry into the French door format
The Kenmore 70343 will keep food cold, it looks decent, and the retail price of about $1,899 is quite low for a French door fridge. Unfortunately for Kenmore, the Frigidaire it's based on sells for $100 less.
Regardless of which fridge you choose, you'll find food preservation performance that's a tad spotty compared to more expensive models, especially in the freezer. Also, the fit and finish leaves a bit to be desired.
If you’re not looking for something outrageously fancy, there’s no harm in checking out this model a bit more. Just make sure to do some comparison shopping before making your final decision.
Meet the testers
Logistics Manager & Staff Writer@ReviewedHome
Matthew is a native of Brockton, MA and a graduate of Northeastern, where he earned a degree in English and Theatre. He has also studied at the Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin and spends most of his free time pursuing a performance career in the greater Boston area.See all of Matthew Zahnzinger's reviews
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We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.Shoot us an email