In Consumer Reports' recent Ratings of more than 100 gas grills, models from Weber's Spirit line were among the highest scoring.
In Consumer Reports' tests, the top-rated, mid-sized Weber Spirit SP-320, $600, and small-sized Weber Spirit E-220, $450, preheated quickly and evenly, and were superb at high- and low-temperature evenness. And both have electronic igniters and long burner warranties, which are among Consumer Reports' desirable features for gas grills.
In the large grills category, top performers included the KitchenAid 720-0709C, $800, and the Master Forge 3218LTN, $650. The KitchenAid, available at Sam's Club, was quick to preheat and capable once it did, while the Master Forge, available at Lowe's, offered fine performance, mostly stainless-steel styling, a folding prep table and lots of storage at a relatively low price.
FIVE FEATURES THAT COUNT
More grills now have convenient features such as electronic igniters, fuel gauges, illuminated control knobs for nighttime grilling and fold-down shelves for food prep. Here are five gas-grill features to consider when buying:
1. Electronic igniters are usually easier and more reliable than a rotary or push-button starter.
2. Rounded edges are safer than sharp ones, especially if kids are afoot. To test a grill's sturdiness, nudge it in several places and press down on the side shelf to see if it will support a heavy pot.
3. Burner warranties of 10 years or longer are a plus since burners are the most frequently replaced part.
4. Stainless steel or coated cast-iron grates tend to be better for searing, though stainless is more durable.
5. The cooking surface should be big enough to fit enough food to feed a griller's usual crowd. Larger grills usually have bigger cooking areas, but not always. Keep in mind, Consumer Reports doesn't count warming racks and searing burners in its measurements, but manufacturers might.
GREAT GRILLING GADGETS
Consumer Reports also tried out grill gadgets -- including veggie, fish and rib cookers and pizza stones. Here's what testers found: