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That is, until now: When its sale price dropped below $1,000 in November of 2015, the 25.2-cu.-ft. Whirlpool WRF535SMBM (MSRP $1,799) became the most affordable way to put a French door refrigerator into your kitchen.

But even though it's the least-expensive, stainless French door fridge we’ve ever tested, we're hard pressed to figure out why. Not only did this fridge excel in our temperature and energy tests, it even has some features we don’t normally see in this price bracket, like a temperature-adjust pantry drawer and LED lighting.

Sure, there’s no through-the-door ice and water dispenser, and the freezer's wire drawer doesn't look fancy, but for just three figures you’d be hard pressed to find another fridge this good—French door or otherwise. A $999 price tag at Sears, Home Depot, and Best Buy is remarkable—but it might not last forever, so snap it up if you can.

Stainless steel, white plastic

Without a dispenser, the 36-inch wide stainless steel exterior is uninterrupted by anything except the handles. All that stainless looks great, but it also means more to clean... especially if you’re living in a household with small children.

The most affordable way to put a French door refrigerator into your kitchen.

The inside is simple and surprisingly stylish. Lots of white plastic gives the interior a clean look, while LED lighting adds a pale blue tint to your well-lit food. For an inexpensive fridge, the crispers move smoothly, plus no dispenser means no storage space lost to a bulky ice maker.

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The control experience is the most glaring issue we have with this unit. The thermostat operates on a vague 0-7 scale, so unless you've got a thermometer handy, there’s no way to know exactly how cold your fridge is. If that's a deal-breaker for you, consider this slightly more expensive Samsung.

Down in the freezer, things are just as well lit and accessible. The wire drawer does betray this model's cost, and it's a bit stiff to pull out, but not so much we’d ding the fridge’s overall accessibility.

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM's wire drawer in the freezer is one of the few visual elements in this model indicative of its lower price.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Matthew Zahnzinger

The wire drawer in the freezer is one of the few visual elements in this model indicative of its lower price.

The upper section of this fridge runs a bit warm. Our sensors recorded average temperatures of 40.04°F at the top of the compartment, 39.98°F in the middle, and 39.39°F at the bottom. Fortunately, that’s a very narrow spread, and—considering the small overall temperature fluctuation of just ±0.32°F over time—you can simply turn down the thermostat one point from its default for ideal chilling and food safety.

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM's controls are easy to adjust, but the 0 to 7 scale isn't terribly informative.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Matthew Zahnzinger

Controls are easy to adjust, but the 0 to 7 scale isn't terribly informative.

The freezer was better than the fridge, with even more accurate average temperatures. The upper drawer averaged -0.87°F, while the lower drawer clocked in at 0.72°F. An overall temperature fluctuation of just ±0.36°F is nice and steady for a freezer, but you’ll want to turn this section down a notch as well, just to keep everything below 0°F all the time.

More than you’re paying for

This Whirlpool achieved more than mere competence in our labs tests. This isn’t the best fridge on the market, but it's darn close—and is an amazing value at $999.

Temperatures in the upper section were a bit warm; however, average temps at the top of the compartment were less than one degree away from those at the bottom, meaning this compartment highly consistent overall. Just turn down the thermostat a notch below the instruction manual's recommendation for optimal cooling.

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM's controls are easy to adjust, but the 0 to 7 scale isn't terribly informative.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Matthew Zahnzinger

Controls are easy to adjust, but the 0 to 7 scale isn't terribly informative.

The freezer was even better, with chilly temperatures and consistent cooling over time. Again, it’s not perfect—we noticed temperatures fluctuate above and below 0°F over time, which could lead to freezer burn—but turning it down a notch like the fresh food area should yield better results.

Our other tests were unambiguously positive: Crisper drawers did an excellent job retaining moisture—great news for your fresh produce—and power consumption is low.

For in-depth performance information, please check out our full test results.
The crispers, simple though they may seem, actually did a great job retaining moisture. Over the course of three days, our test materials lost an average of just 0.1 grams of moisture per hour. While it’s not the best we’ve seen, it’s certainly the best we’ve seen in fridges at this price point, and great news for fans of fresh salad.

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM's crispers are unexpectedly smooth for such an affordable fridge, and highly effective, too.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Matthew Zahnzinger

The crispers are unexpectedly smooth for such an affordable fridge, and highly effective, too.

Looks, style, and efficacy make the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM an unparalleled bargain.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Matthew Zahnzinger

Looks, style, and efficacy make this fridge an unparalleled bargain.

This Whirlpool carries one year of parts and labor coverage for any and all defects that aren't caused by the consumer. Find all the fine print in the owner's manual.
Room temperature sensors took 1 hour 33 minutes to reach 32°F in the freezer. That's about 10 minutes longer than many other French door models, but passable considering this model's cost.

Looks, style, and efficacy make the Whirlpool WRF535SMBM an unparalleled bargain.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Matthew Zahnzinger

Looks, style, and efficacy make this fridge an unparalleled bargain.

Without ice and water dispensers hogging space, the upper section of this Whirlpool is fairly roomy. Across all of its shelves and drawers, plus the gallon-deep door storage, you get a total of 11.9 usable cubic feet of fresh food storage. We've seen roomier models, but this isn't bad.

Even with its ice maker and bucket, the freezer is still fairly spacious. The upper and lower drawers combined equal 4.55 cubic feet for frozen food. Depending on the kind of things you normally buy, the fixed plastic dividers in the upper level may get in your way, but the lower bucket should be large enough to fit oversized items like whole turkeys or pot roasts.

This Whirlpool easily holds its own against some of the more energy efficient fridges we've tested, requiring just 0.07 kWh per usable cubic foot. That keeps it on par with most of the new 2015 models, which means you'll likely see an improvement in your electric bill if you're swapping this out for an old one. In terms of power costs, assuming an average American rate of $0.09 per kWh, that comes out to roughly $37.06 per year—less if you turn off the ice maker.

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM's wire drawer in the freezer is one of the few visual elements in this model indicative of its lower price.
Credit: Reviewed.com / Matthew Zahnzinger

The wire drawer in the freezer is one of the few visual elements in this model indicative of its lower price.

The dream fridge for frugal foodies

The Whirlpool WRF535SMBM isn't just a rare opportunity to buy a French door fridge for under $1,000. With a design that looks good inside and out, more than adequate chilling, and excellent energy efficiency, it's a great product overall. For extra savings, it also comes in white and black for about $100 less.

If you can afford to spend a bit more, this Samsung is another great option that sells for around $1,200. It also did well in our tests, and you might also prefer its design.

Meet the tester

Matthew Zahnzinger

Matthew Zahnzinger

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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