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Great gas grills for $400 or less

You don't have to pay top dollar to get a top-notch grill

Published: May 21, 2014 01:30 PM

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Member’s Mark Patio Grill GR2001402-MM

How much would you pay for a new gas grill? Americans spend $360 on average, according to the Hearth, Patio, and Barbecue Association. Consumer Reports has tested dozens of grills at every price range. Here’s a glimpse of six that offer fast, even preheating, impressive grilling, and cost $400 or less. Not all made our list of top picks, but they still deserve a look.
Most grills sold are medium size and can fit about 16 to 30 burgers on the main cooking area. Small grills have room for fewer than 15 burgers, and we’ve included a portable grill on this list of not-so-pricey grills. If you’re looking for a large grill, the kind that can fit 30 or more burgers on its main cooking area, you won’t find a $400 model in our Ratings that’s impressive. Spend $600 and now we’re talking.

Medium size grills

Char-Broil Gourmet Tru-Infrared 463251714, $400. This CR Best Buy made our recommended list, as it was superb on high and low heat, evenness, and indirect cooking. It costs $200 less than the top-rated grill and offers a better temperature range. This Char-Broil is sold at Home Depot and there’s a lifetime warranty on the burners, the part replaced most often.

Heads up: This grill is on sale at Home Depot for $349 starting May 22 through June 1, and the retailer offers free assembly on grills $200 and up.

Char-Broil Tru-Infrared Performance Series 46343413, $260. Though it didn’t make the list of top picks—it came close. The Char-Broil offers fast, even preheating, was superb on high heat, and impressive on low heat and indirect cooking, but the temperature range was so-so. You’ll find it at Walmart, and for $260 you get an electronic igniter, three burners, and side burner for that kettle of corn. The burner warranty is five years.

Char-Broil Commercial 463241113, $300. It’s sold at Lowe’s and was impressive overall, delivering fast, even preheating, impressive high heat, and excellent low heat. This grill has four main burners, a side burner, electronic igniter and long burner warranty.

Weber Q 2200

Small grills

Broilmate 165154, $200. Among the three small grills that made the recommended list, the Broilmate has the largest cooking area, is the only one to offer superb temperature range, and costs $250 less than the top-rated Weber Spirit E-220. Two main burners, coated cast-iron grates, and an electronic igniter are part of the deal, but it lacks a long burner warranty and four casters that would make it easier to move.
Member’s Mark Patio Grill GR2001402-MM, $200. No, it didn’t make the top picks, thanks to a mediocre temperature range and mediocre indirect cooking. But it has two burners and preheating was fast and even, high heat was superb, and low heat was impressive. An electronic igniter and coated cast-iron grates help to make this grill from Sam’s Club worth considering.

Portable grill

Weber Q 2200 54060001, $250. None of the portable grills tested made our recommended list but this Weber has a lot going for it. For starters, an electronic igniter fires it up. There’s an impressive amount of cooking space and quick, even  preheating. One burner, yes one, delivered very good low and high-heat performance But like other portable grills we tested, the temperature range is just so-so and indirect cooking doesn't work with a single burner.

When you’re shopping check the grill’s sturdiness by gently nudging it at several points. Grip the handles; your hand could get burned if it’s too close to a hot lid. And keep in mind that while Americans pays $360 on average for a gas grill, they haul it to the curb after three years. Price isn't the best indicator of a grill's performance but cheap and flimsy parts, especially when they come with short warranties, are a tip-off that the grill may not be around for many summers to come.
—Kimberly Janeway

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