Consumer Reports’ Latest Gas Grills Tests Find Five CR Best Buy Models For $500 or Less
Manufacturers move away from stainless to maintain pricing; Advice on how to choose
Consumer Reports found that while some manufacturers are using vibrant colors in their designs, others are adding features, like the top-rated large Fiesta Blue Ember iQue FGQ65079-U403
Although gas grills have been more popular in the market over the past 14 years, sales of charcoal grills are making a comeback, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Nearly 41 percent of the 16.7 million grills shipped in the U.S. last year were charcoal. To find out whether gas or charcoal serves up more appetizing food, Consumer Reports ran taste tests on a gas and a charcoal model. Tasters said that gas-grilled foods had a cleaner taste, and that while charcoal-grilled food had added flavor, the charcoal cooking didn’t necessarily enhance the taste.
Five CR Best Buys
Consumer Reports found that lower-cost grills can deliver performance that matches or beats that of big-budget models. Cooking and safety tests of 40 grills produced five CR Best Buys:
- The Fiesta Blue Ember FG50069-U409,
$450, available at Home Depot, surpassed the $1400Napoleon Prestige II PT450RBI for overall performance. The Fiesta Blue Ember also comes with a rotisserie.
- The Char-Broil Red 463250509, available at Home Depot for
$450, scored Excellent for evenness, and Very Good for low-temperature grilling, convenience and features. It provides lots of shelf space, and has a lifetime warranty on its three burners.
- For even less money, the
Kenmore16641 ($350), is a good value considering the price, and also comes with a 10-year burner warranty.
- The Char-Broil Commercial Series 463268008, available at Lowe’s is also a good value at
$300, and comes with a lifetime burner warranty. It scored Very Good for evenness and Excellent for low-temperature grilling.
- The Char-Broil Commercial Quantum 463247209, available at Lowe’s,
$500, is a quality large grill that is mostly stainless.
How to Choose
Given the state of the economy, sales might be more abundant this year. Look for
Size up the cooking area: While manufacturers might account for warming racks when measuring size, Consumer Reports categorizes grills in three sizes based on cooking area: small/portable, which typically have one to two burners (cooking area 340 square inches or smaller); medium grills, which have two to four burners (340 to 490 square inches); and large (more than 490 square inches), which have three to six burners. Remember, cooking in batches is a simple solution if you have a small grill but are having a large gathering.
Don’t be dazzled by Btu: A grill that has a higher Btu/hr (British thermal units per hour) rating won’t necessarily deliver faster heating or higher grilling temperatures. The figure merely indicates how much gas a grill uses and usually tracks with the number of burners it has and the size of the grill.
Focus on features: Sometimes grills in a company’s line are the same except for a feature or two. Side burners, rotisseries and minifridges are nice extras, but may not be worth the money. Check to see whether the manufacturer sells accessories separately, like rotisserie motors and spits, which can add about
Inspect the units: A simple inspection of a grill before purchase can prevent any safety issues. A gentle nudge of the model from several angles will ensure the grill is sturdy, while the grill handles should be far away from the hot lid. Also check for sharp corners and edges on the cart, firebox, lid, and shelves. For stainless steel parts, take a magnet to the store with you. Lower grades of stainless steel are magnetic. Higher grades aren’t and should fight corrosion better.
Consumer Reports notes that smart shopping and proper maintenance will give the grill the longest life possible. The full report and list of Ratings on grills is in the
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SOURCE Consumer Reports