Archive for Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Gas grill options heating up this season

May 30, 2007


If you're in the market for a new gas grill, consider how big a unit you'll need and how much you're willing to spend. In recent tests, Consumer Reports classified grills by cost, size and features:

¢ Basic. These are small or midsized models with fewer frills. Most lack premium, coated-cast-iron grates, longer-warranty burners, a rotisserie, or a smoker tray. Costs range from $100 for a bare-bones grill to $250 for a model that includes a side burner and stainless-steel trim.

¢ Midpriced. Costing from $250 to $500, these include some costlier features including better grates, longer-warranty burners, electronic ignition and a smoker tray - and more stainless steel.

¢ High-end. This is best if you want a midsized or large grill that's loaded with features, including all-stainless construction, more burners producing greater heat and a fully rolling cart. Grills costing $1,000 or more often come with heavy grates made of stainless steel or porcelain-coated heavy cast iron.

Three grills emerged from CR's tests as best for most uses. All are midsized models between 340 and 500 square inches of cooking space.

The Blue Ember by Fiesta FG50069-U401 scored the highest among these models. Among its notable features are electronic ignition, a rotisserie burner, a built-in smoker box and generous shelf space. At just $450 (from Home Depot), it combines low price with excellent overall performance to earn distinction as a CR Best Buy.

Another CR Best Buy, the Char-Broil Commercial Series 463268007 ($300, from Lowe's) has abundant shelf space, a side burner, electronic ignition and a lifetime burner warranty. At $400 (from Sears), the Kenmore 16233 is a fine cooker and includes a rotisserie burner and electronic ignition.

If you want all or mostly stainless-steel construction in a midsized grill, consider the Vermont Castings Signature Series VCS3507P ($700). An excellent performer overall, it has longer-warranty main burners, but lacks a side burner.

If you need something larger - say, 500 square inches of cooking space - the Kenmore 16237 ($800, from Sears) is a very good performer. It has five main burners with a 10-year warranty, a rotisserie burner, a side burner and all or mostly stainless construction.

If you don't need to feed a large crowd, the portable Weber Q 200 396001 ($180) excels at grilling and cooks food evenly. While it's great for tailgating as-is, you can buy a cart and adapter for a large tank separately.

- Visit the Consumer Reports Web site at


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