Consumer Reports recently updated its comprehensive gas grill ratings, just in time for . . . Halloween? If it seems a little late in the season to be thinking about grilling, consider that more and more Americans are cooking outdoors well into fall.

In fact, 63 percent of grill owners report cooking on their grills year round, according to a 2016 survey from the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. Retailers have taken notice, and you may still find a broad selection of models in stores. A spot check at a handful of Home Depot stores across the country revealed that stores still have anywhere from 20 to 30 grills in stock and available for same-day pickup. A spokesperson for Lowe’s says the company now keeps grills in stock throughout the year, which wasn’t the case even five years ago.

More on grills

CR’s Overall Score for grills now includes ratings for owner satisfaction and predicted reliability, so you can use our gas grill ratings to find a new model that not only cooks well but also will perform as promised for many years to come.

In this popular price range of $400 or less, you’ll find grills in every size, from portable to large, including picks from widely sold brands such as Char-Broil, Huntington, Nexgrill, and Weber. Our tests of gas grills have shown that price isn’t a predictor of performance, but it’s often tied to quality of construction (so think twice about a large grill that costs just a few hundred bucks) and certainly evident when it comes to features.

“For $400 or less you won’t see high-end finishing touches like LED task lighting, pull-out drawers, or trays for propane tanks,” says Mark Allwood, the market analyst who oversees grills for Consumer Reports. “But if you’re a first-time buyer, you can get a good grill for a great price—then next time decide if you want to trade up to a model with more features.”

If you’re just starting to shop for a grill, check our gas grill buying guide. Below you’ll see what you can expect in a grill at this price range.

Construction

Love the look of stainless steel? You might not for long at this price. That’s because not all stainless is created equal. To keep prices down, manufacturers tend to use thin-gauge stainless, which can make for a flimsy grill. Forgoing stainless for a well-made painted or porcelain-coated enameled steel might get you a longer-lasting grill.

Inspect the grill. The parts will usually be bolted together, not welded, so make sure connections are snug. The fewer bolts, the better. (Bolts can rust.)

Heft the grates and check what they’re made of. Porcelain-coated cast iron can chip and rust. With stainless steel grates, you won’t have to worry about chipping or scratching. And both are better at searing and maintaining even temperatures than the lightweight wire grates we’ve seen on certain models.

Burners are the most frequently replaced part, according to industry data, and a warranty of a year or less is a tip-off that a grill might not be long for this world. In this price range, warranties usually last one to five years; go with the longest one you can find.

Convenience

It’s nice to have wheels or casters on all four legs. Some carts have two wheels and two feet, so you have to lift one side to move the grill.

Look for an electronic igniter, which relies on batteries to generate a spark and lights more easily than rotary and push-button starters.

Sturdiness

Sturdiness varies among grills that are bolted together. Lift the lid halfway and force it side to side to see how much the frame twists. Ensure that wheels are on tight. CR members can also check the sturdiness score in our comprehensive gas grill ratings

7 Standout Grills for $400 or Less

Nearly half of the models in our gas grill ratings cost $400 or less. Below, CR members can read on for ratings and reviews of seven grills that score Very Good or Excellent overall in our tests, ranging in size from portable cookers all the way up to large grills. To give you a sense of capacity for each model, we include the number of burgers (4-inch-diameter patties) you’ll be able to fit. 

Top Picks

1

Evenness performance
Temperature range

2

Evenness performance
Temperature range
Sturdiness
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