Whirlpool WRT318FZDB Refrigerator Review
This affordable fridge is worth every penny.
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The Cold Hard Facts
While it’s not perfect, the Whirlpool WRT318FZDB (MSRP $749) stands head and shoulders above most similarly priced 18-cu.-ft. top freezers. For $550 retail, you get remarkably low energy consumption and on-point average temperatures. Just don’t put a lot of faith in those crispers.
The Whirlpool WRT318FZDB (MSRP $749) is all new for 2015, and it shows. While this 18-cu.-ft. top freezer sets itself apart thanks to attractive storage solutions, a 65 3/8" height that will fit under cabinets, and good efficiency, we're especially impressed by its sub-$600 sale price.
Glass shelves and a Flex-slide Deli Bin are features we never expected on a fridge that's on sale for $589, where wire racks and fixed storage are standard. The smooth, glossy finish is much more stylish than the textured exteriors of equally economical options—and a stainless steel finish only adds $100 to the price.
There’s no ice maker, no freezer light, and the crispers aren't great. But if you’re in the market for an 18-cu.-ft. top freezer for the kitchen or the garage, this Whirlpool is worth a look.
Despite the thermostat’s lack of options, the recommended setting for the main fridge section turned out to be more or less fine. We recorded average temperatures of 35.83°F at the top, 35.24°F in the middle, and 37.75°F down at the bottom. While 35°F is a little cold for fresh food storage, at least the fridge doesn't run too warm. We tracked an average temperature fluctuation of just ±0.41°F over time.
The freezer is somewhat less stable: The upper shelf averaged -2.22°F, but the lower section clocked in at 1.53°F. There’s not a lot you can do to bridge the gap, but turning the freezer’s control knob down should at least get the whole compartment below 0°F.
Of course, the colder a freezer is, the less stable it usually becomes: Upper shelf temperatures fluctuated by about ±1.16°F over time—not enough to bring it above 0°F and accelerate freezer burn. The lower shelf only shifted by ±0.33°F.
Design & Usability
Fixed here, flexible there
You can buy this fridge in three finishes: The WRT318FZDW comes in white, and the WRT318FZDM sells in stainless (for an extra $100). We tested the WRT318FZDB. It has a glossy black coating, which looks textured, but has doors that are completely smooth to the touch. We think it's stylish, but this may not be to everyone’s taste, especially since the handles have a matte finish that contrasts with the glossy doors.
Inside, this Whirlpool features both fixed and adjustable storage. The main fridge compartment features full-width glass shelves that can be positioned at a number of heights. The Flex-slide Bin glides smoothly from left to right to accommodate your latest shopping trip, and a flip-forward shelf on the door can be tilted up to let you store tall items—like bottles of wine—with ease.
The rest of the door storage is fixed in place, but Whirlpool does offer a set of shelves of different heights and widths, so storage here shouldn’t be too much of an issue. There’s even one shelf that can fit two gallon jugs at once—perfect for milk and juice.
Up in the freezer, things are very basic: One glass shelf breaks up the main compartment, with two more shelves on the door serving as supplemental storage. There’s no light, and no ice maker, but this model is ready for Whirlpool’s EZ Connect ice maker kit, typically available for about $99.
Performance & Features
When it comes to food preservation, this fridge is a mixed bag. The temperatures were pretty darn stable and more or less on target... which is a good thing, because the thermostat controls only offer three settings. The recommended option kept things at a brisk 35-36°F on average. That's a hair cooler than we prefer, but sufficient for a sub-$600 fridge.
Considering how cold the fridge got, we were also impressed by the Whirlpool's excellent energy efficiency. You could see serious savings on your electric bill if you're replacing an old fridge that's in your garage.
Up in the freezer, we noticed a pretty wide temperature gap from the top to the bottom. There’s not much you can do about this, but we recommend turning the freezer’s control knob down to the coldest setting to avoid freezer burn.
On the flip side, the crispers were awful, losing enough moisture over 72 hours to dry out produce.
For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.
Without question, this Whirlpool’s crisper drawers are its greatest weaknesses. Over the course of three days, our test materials lost an average of 0.31 grams of moisture each hour. That’s about three times worse than average, and could lead to faster spoilage of produce.
A basic warranty for a basic fridge: Whirlpool covers one year of parts and labor in case anything breaks. Coverage extends only to faulty parts, not ones accidentally damaged by the consumer.
For a inexpensive top freezer, this Whirlpool was actually pretty speedy when it came to chilling. Our room-temperature sensors were brought down to 32°F in just 1 hour 24 minutes. We’ve seen faster, but most top freezers take about 10 more minutes.
Style On A Budget
Efficient, attractive, and cheap
For less than $600, the Whirlpool WRT318FZDB brings a whole lot to the kitchen or the garage. From its attractive design and glass shelves, to its remarkable efficiency and stable temperatures, you’d be forgiven for expecting this fridge to cost more. Compared to a lot of the 18-cu.-ft. competition—which lack the looks and performance, yet cost the same—this Whirlpool is a definite winner.
And as we mentioned, if black appliances aren't your thing, the white WRT318FZDW is available for the same price, or there's the stainless steel WRT318FZDM for $100 more.
Storage Space & Energy Efficiency
At an advertised 18-cu.-ft., this Whirlpool isn’t big, but it does make the most of its space. In the main fridge section, the combination of shelves, drawers, and door storage combine to give you 10.84 usable cubic feet of storage.
The simple freezer compartment offers 4.12 usable cubic feet spread across its two shelves and door storage. That's quite impressive for a fridge in this class.
Even more impressive is this fridge’s energy efficiency. It only takes 0.04 kWh to cool each usable cubic foot, making this one of the most efficient fridges we've ever tested. Assuming typical electricity costs and use patterns, that works out to roughly $21.92 a year—less than the price of a nice dinner.