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The four gas grill features you shouldn't skip

Consumer Reports News: June 10, 2013 05:08 PM

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Today's gas grills are loaded with eye-catching features designed to get you to open your wallet. But the warming racks and searing burners can make it seem like you're getting more cooking space than you actually do. Manufacturers tally them in their calculations of cooking space. We don't. So make sure the grill's main cooking area can fit the food you usually grill. And of all the extras, there are four that matter more than others.

Electronic igniter. It's usually easier and more reliable than a rotary or push-button starter.

Good grates. Stainless steel or coated cast-iron tend to be better for searing and maintaining even grilling temps, though stainless is more durable.

Fuel gauge. Sure, a fuel gauge tells you how much propane is left in the tank, but better yet, it keeps tempers from flaring when you don't run out during a family barbecue.

Long burner warranties. Burners are the most frequently replaced grill part so warranties of 10 years or longer will come in handy later on.

Need a grill to go with those features? We tested over 100 to find the best for every budget. Our gas grill Ratings include the Weber Summit E-670, $2,500. It has a large cooking area, room for 30 or more burgers, and all four of the recommended features. But you're also paying for a lighted cooking area for grilling after dusk, smoker burner, searing burner, and more. While it didn't make our recommended list, this Weber offers impressive performance overall. Among midsized grills, with room for 16 to 30 burgers, the Char-Broil Gourmet Tru-Infrared 463251713, $400, from Home Depot is a CR Best Buy. It has three of the recommended features, but lacks a fuel gauge, and delivers superb high- and low heat grilling and excelled at indirect cooking.

Kimberly Janeway

   

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