Consumer Reports sizes up the best grills

Paying more doesn’t guarantee you a better gas grill

Published: April 07, 2014 04:45 PM

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Weber Spirit E-220 46310001

Paying more to get more doesn’t necessarily apply when it comes to gas grills. You can pay $2,000 and get a great grill or pay almost the same price for a stinker. The best performing gas grills in Consumer Reports' latest tests tend to be moderately priced. And while you might expect larger grills to have bigger cooking areas, that’s not always true either. In our tests, we measure the cooking area of each grill and that’s how you’ll find them grouped in our gas grill ratings. Here’s a look at some of the best and worst.

Small grills (Fewer than 15 burgers)
Best: Weber Spirit E-220 46310001, $450
Worst: Better Homes and Gardens BH14-101-099-04 from Walmart, $360
The Weber Spirit E-220 46310001 offers fast and even preheating and superb high- and low-heat cooking evenness. Indirect cooking was impressive but the temperature range was mediocre. The Better Homes and Gardens BH14-101-099-04 was the only small grill to score poor in low- and high-heat cooking evenness.
Tip: Check the burners, which are the most frequently replaced part. Premium burners are made of high-quality stainless steel, cast iron, or cast brass and typically carry a 10-year or longer warranty.

Midsized grills (16 to 30 burgers)
Best: Weber Spirit SP-320 46700401, $600
Worst:  Back Yard Grill BY14-101-001-02 from Walmart, $160
The Weber Spirit SP-320 46700401 preheated quickly and evenly, and delivered superb high and low heat evenness and indirect cooking, but its temperature range was so-so. The Back Yard Grill BY14-101-001-02 was one of the few midsized grills that was poor at delivering high- and low-heat evenness.
Tip: The more stable the grill, the better. When shopping gently nudge the grill from several angles to see if it tips. Check the cart, firebox, lid, and shelves for sharp corners and edges. Grip the handle. Your knuckles or fingers shouldn't be too close to the lid or you could be burned.

Brinkmann Medallion 810-4580-SB

Large grills (30 burgers or more)
Best: Kenmore 16156, $700
Worst: Brinkmann Medallion 810-4580-SB from Home Depot, $400
Fast and even preheating, impressive high-temperature evenness and excellent low-heat evenness and temperature range put the Kenmore 16156 on top. Preheating on the  Brinkmann Medallion 810-4580-SB took longer and was less even; high temperature evenness was mediocre, low temperature was even worse, and the temperature range was just fair.
Tip: Btu (British thermal units) tells you how much gas a grill uses and the heat it can create, but our tests have found that more Btu doesn't guarantee faster preheating or better cooking.
Our Ratings of more than 100 grills give you the full story and the “compare models” tool lets you see your top picks side by side, with test results, features, and overall user review scores noted.

—Kimberly Janeway
Follow me on Twitter: @CRJaneway

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