Still, it's important to note that you can get the slightly smaller Kenmore 51763 for hundreds less—and that popular French door fridges can now be found for under $1,000. With customer reviews on Kenmore's own website trending uniformly negative for the 51773, this might be a fridge to pass by.
In the main section, most of the temperature output was spot on. The top and middle sections displayed average temperatures of 36.68°F and 37.16°F, respectively. That’s fantastic, plus a little extra warmth down at crisper level—which clocked in at about 40.23°F—is good for produce.
Still, when any section of a fridge gets that close to 41°F, we get a little wary, especially with measured fluctuations of ±0.28°F. Once you hit 41°F, you run the risk of accelerated bacteria growth, so be sure to store prepared foods up top.
The freezer, while even less stable (it fluctuated about ±0.67°F) was so chilly that the shifts should really have little to no impact. The upper sections averaged -1.24°F, while the lower shelves came in at a brisk -2.67°F, more than cold enough to dodge freezer burn.
If looks could chill
For a fridge in this price range, the 51773 has a lot of design cred. From the ample LED lighting to the silvery grey trim on the drawers and shelves, this is a stylish side-by-side.
On the outside, the blue-tinted symbols on the control panel match the cool elegance of the stainless finish perfectly. Unfortunately, there are a number of symbols and text that don't fade away when the fridge isn’t actively being used, and they can be distracting in a minimalist or dark kitchen.
A door-mounted ice maker is a wonderful space saver in this kind of fridge, plus the multiple shelving brackets let you customize almost any section with ease. Extra perks like the five-can door rack and the four-bottle wine rack add further organizational options to keep your fridge accessible and coordinated.
Of course, not all is perfect: The drawers feel loose, and can slam if you’re not careful opening or closing them. What’s more, all those fridge shelves can cramp overall storage depending on how you lay them out.
The Kenmore’s crisper was one of the highlights of our tests. Over the course of three days, our test materials lost an average of only 0.07 grams of moisture per hour. Other fridges in this price range lose twice that.
Regardless of design and features, a fridge is only as good as its cooling. In that sense, this Kenmore falls just shy of "Elite" status. First, the good: The freezer stayed cold enough that even moderate fluctuations over time will never be enough to accelerate the development of freezer burn.
The crisper drawer also did a fantastic job. Despite an underwhelming feel and general looseness, it retained plenty of moisture. Plus, Kenmore includes two ethylene filters to help slow down the ripening process in both drawers. The only downside? Just one of the two crispers is outfitted with a humidity slider.
Over in the main fridge compartment, temperatures hovered around the ideal 37°F, but the fluctuation over time was wider than we prefer. Plus, the shelves down around the crispers reached almost 41°F.
It’s good to store produce at a slightly warmer temperature than the rest of your food, but storing many ready-to-eat foods above 41°F for more than two hours can accelerate bacterial growth. Normally we’d tell you to just turn down the thermostat, but with the rest of the fridge already hovering at just below 37°F, turning it down could risk freezing the stuff up top.
Energy efficiency was also not anything to crow about, and it'll cost more to run than many French door models.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Despite its chilly temperatures, the Kenmore Elite’s freezer was only so-so at chilling food quickly. Room-temperature sensors took 1 hour and 39 minutes to hit 32°F. We’ve seen slower, but 90 minutes is average.
This Kenmore Elite's warranty is a two-parter. First, you've got your basic one year parts and labor coverage for any bits and bobs that fail through no fault of the consumer. On top of that, the sealed refrigeration system comes with five years' of parts-only coverage.
For a side-by-side, the 51773 is actually quite roomy. In the main section, the numerous shelves and drawers add up to 12.75 usable cubic feet of storage. Still, with all those shelves to arrange, you might find yourself stuck with some sections that feel cramped and short.
The freezer is actually quite roomy, with plenty of adjustable shelves and sliding drawers to utilize. Throw the small shelves on the door into the mix, and you’ve got 7.99 usable cubic feet for your frozen goods. Bear in mind the slim design of side-by-side compartments means you’ll have to do some shelf juggling to fit wide objects like frozen pizzas or Thanksgiving turkeys.
The energy efficiency of this model wasn't great. With the ice maker running, this fridge needs about 0.09 kWh per usable cubic foot. Assuming a fixed electricity price of $0.09 per kWh, we think this fridge will cost you roughly $63.21 annually—about 30% more than some of its similarly sized competitors.
Style isn't everything
In our tests, the Kenmore 51773 experienced its fair share of highs and lows. Positives—like the freezer and extra racks—were weighed down by some shaky temperatures and underwhelming efficiency. For a sale price of just under $1,440 in stores, you could find something better.
On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got the Kenmore 51763, one of the best side-by-sides we’ve ever tested, which retails for just under $1,200. You’d be getting a fridge that performs even better than the Kenmore Elite for less money, but at the cost of some storage space and style elements.
On the other hand, you’ve got the Samsung RH25H5611SR, a gorgeous side-by-side that performs just as well and only costs about $120 more. Unless your budget doesn’t allow for the extra expense, or you’re trying to match other Kenmore appliances, we’d strongly suggest either of these alternatives.
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