Dacor Renaissance Epicure EF36BNNFSS$2,999.00
The Dacor Renaissance Epicure EF36BNNFSS offers exceptional performance, as long as you don't mind a fridge that feels kind of cheap.
For all of its fancy extra names, the Dacor Renaissance Epicure EF36BNNFSS doesn't seem like much at first glance. The shelves look and feel cheap, the wire-shelved freezer is cramped, there's no through-the-door ice and water dispenser, and—this one's the kicker—for a $2,999 MSRP, the fridge doesn't even come with handles! Not a good start.
That said, this counter-depth model can offer consumers exceptional performance that's well worth the investment. It's also been around a while, and consumers can use that to their advantage: Typical sale prices drop down to about $2,699. Sometimes patience pays off, especially for consumers who want a French door counter-depth with a premium brand name that has as much substance as style.
Design & Usability
Most of the design elements on this high-end fridge definitely look and feel like a mid-range product.
Dacor, a California-based company best known for their cooking products, had Whirlpool manufacture a fridge for them. Like the Ikea fridges we've reviewed, the Whirlpool name doesn't appear anywhere except for some fine print, and there's also a Benton Harbor address on the build plate.
The fridge's heritage is apparent. While Whirlpool has upgraded most of their interiors lately, this Dacor is stuck in the past. On the outside, the traditional stainless steel finish will look good in any kitchen. Handles are sold separately and come in a variety of shapes and sizes—not unheard of when it comes to higher-end appliances.
Customization is limited to the top two shelves, since moving the third one places it too close to the above shelf to be practical. The freezer also feels like something found on a mid-range product, with wire shelves that offer no spill containment and an internal ice maker that takes up a lot of room. Conversely, all door shelves, except for the dairy bin, have rubber inlays that help contain spills and prevent any sliding when opening or shutting the fridge.
Nothing is hard to use; there's just a lot that's inconvenient.
On high-end fridges, through-the-door water and ice dispensers are considered trés gauche. That's why this Dacor hides the water dispenser on the left-hand wall near the front, just a few inches above the crisper drawers. It's a little spout that's activated by pressing a grey padded button. You have no choice but to hold your glass while it's filling, but otherwise it works just fine. Ice is scooped from a tray in the freezer that sits beneath the old-fashioned wire-switch ice maker.
Getting into and out of the freezer generally can be tricky: The counter-depth nature that makes getting ice a cinch also means the door doesn't open very far. The fridge proper, at least, is very easy to access, with sliding shelves that remove the hassle of getting to items in the back. Controls for this model are located at the top of the fridge interior and don't look very sleek or industrial. At the very least, they use actual degrees instead of an arbitrary scale. Despite not having real buttons to press—they're only markings on a plastic covering—the controls are actually quite responsive.
Phenomenal performance provides the clearest justification for the high price tag.
It's not often that we come across a fridge with an average temperature that doesn't match the thermostat... but it makes us glad. This fridge was actually cooler than our target calibration. What's more, there was almost no fluctuation in temperature over time, and it was consistent throughout the whole interior!
Despite their, um, "mid-range" appearance, the vegetable drawers actually did a pretty good job. Moisture retention was just slightly better than average, so produce stored here should be good for a day or two longer than normal before you start to see a decrease in quality.
We didn't hold out much hope for this fridge when we saw it, but it sure proved us wrong.
Most consumers would think twice about spending $2,999 on a fridge with an interior that looked and felt like it came from a mid-range budget model—even if it boasts stainless steel French doors.
With performance as strong as what we saw in the Dacor Renaissance Epicure EF36BNNFSS, though, you'd be smart to look past flimsy vegetable drawers and step up to this Dacor for some of the best overall temperature control we've tested. Sale prices help, with average online retail costs dropping down to about $2,699.