We all know the feeling - you open the refrigerator door and stand there, slack-jawed as the cold air comes pouring out. You can't seem to find what you are looking for among all those densely packed shelves. The worst culprit are those little bins for produce in the bottom of the fridge. You pile stuff in those bins and then it gets buried. Since produce goes bad fast, you end up throwing stuff away constantly because you didn't see it in time and/or forgot you had it.
This fridge is designed to minimize this problem as much as possible. Instead of those stupid little crisper bins at the bottom, there is an entirely separate drawer between the fridge and the freezer. It isn't overly deep but it is the full length and depth of the fridge, with little dividers you can set up however you want. In effect, this special drawer lets you display your produce inside the refrigerator much like it would be shown in the supermarket. It is all beautifully lit and easy to find. So you can see all of your produce at a glance, with nothing piled on top of anything else. Better yet, the bottom shelf of the main compartment is all glass, so you can actually see down into this fancy drawer even when it's closed, reminding you that you need to use up those peas even if you don't open the separate drawer. It seems to have a fair bit more space than the crisper bins on a traditional refrigerator and is far better organized and accessible than the traditional design.
So if you are sick of throwing away rotten veggies, this is definitely the fridge for you.
So what are the trade-offs for this fancy drawer? Well one is the price, you can get an equivalent fridge without the drawer for a few hundred dollars less. But there are some other, subtle trade-offs as well. Probably the biggest one is that the French doors are not as tall as they would be otherwise, and that means the space in the door compartments for things like salad dressing and condiments isn't as substantial as it otherwise would be. You can still store 2 gallons of milk on the door if you want to, but door storage, particularly for tall stuff, is fairly limited.
The other disadvantage of this setup is that there is one control setting for the big drawer - either set it to hold produce or set it to hold meat/deli items. So why is this important? Meat can be stored at lower temps than the rest of the stuff in your fridge - meat will be perfectly happy at 32F (0C), while most everything else in your fridge will freeze. So you can make your meat last slightly longer if you can put it in a separate meat compartment where the fridge can safely keep the temperature a tad lower without worrying about freezing stuff solid. But on this fridge, if you set the big, fancy drawer for meat, you then have to put your produce in a small drawer inside the middle of the fridge, which isn't really big enough. It is too bad that you couldn't split the drawer in two and have half of it for veggies and half for meats. You can physically set it up and use it that way, but you will have to leave the setting on produce if you store veggies anywhere in the drawer. Your meat will still be just fine at 35-36F down there, but that's a small trade-off to this design.
The rest of the fridge is just fine. Like all French door fridges, the main space is very open and easy to organize, with the food you use most at eye level. Like all French door fridges with ice/water in the door, you lose quite a bit of space to the ice-maker and water dispenser in the door, but there is still a lot of usable space remaining, and it can be flexibly set-up to accomodate whatever you need. We moved from a side-by-side and the difference in usable space is amazing. Even though it isn't much bigger than the old fridge, it feels just enormous by comparison.
So far the ice-maker seems to work fine and does a nice job creating nice, evenly crushed ice as well as cubes. It doesn't make a huge amount of noise making the ice either. The water is filtered just like our last fridge, but this one runs far smoother and with better water pressure than the 4 year old GE fridge we replaced. The water also comes out nicely chilled automatically, no matter how many cups you pull from it. It also tells you how many ounces or cups it is pouring as it goes, so you can see how much water you are getting.
A few more little nits: Unlike the nice LED lighting in the fridge, the freezer is absurdly lit - with a light inside the cavity even though the entire tray pulls way out. In effect, the light lights a part of the fridge where the food isn't. Who thought that was a good idea? I am not sure why there isn't an LED light against the back of the drawer or at least facing out where it could do some good, but this is a pretty clear design failure. And what is up with the traditional appliance bulb down there? They couldn't spring for the LED lighting in the bottom? That seems kind of cheap given what this fridge costs. The freezer drawer is fine otherwise, with split drawers above and then split bins below. Overall, I think you do lose a little space in the freezer compartment to the big drawer in the middle, but the space that remains is still quite respectable. Having bins for freezer food makes a lot more sense than for produce, where things don't go bad nearly as fast if you forget about them.
The final small flaw with this fridge is the noise it makes. It is noticably louder than the fridge we replaced (a 4 year old GE). The fan whirs almost constantly and it is loud enough to be noticeable whenever the kitchen is quiet. It doesn't have an annoying tone or anything and it isn't enough to really bother me, but if you care about having absolute silence in the kitchen, you definitely will not have it with this fridge.
As for reliability - too soon to tell, but KitchenAid has a good record for reliability in the Consumer magazine, so we hope this one lasts a lot longer than the last one. Our GE fridge gave us nothing but problems so hopefully this is going to be a trade up in reliability.