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Release Date: 05/15/2013

Consumer Reports Gas Grill Tests: Weber’s Spirit Line Tops Latest Ratings

Five features to look for when buying a grill; Plus, great grilling accessories that add sizzle to any cook out

CR June 2013 CoverYONKERS, NY — In Consumer Reports’ new Ratings of more than 100 gas grills, models from Weber’s Spirit line were among the highest scoring in its latest tests.  The full report on gas grills, which includes comprehensive buying advice and reviews of great gadgets for grilling fish, veggies, and more, is featured in the June 2013 issue of Consumer Reports and online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

Models from Weber’s recently revamped Spirit line received high scores 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, Consumer Reports’ top performers included the KitchenAid 720-0709C, $800, and the Master Forge 3218LTN, $600. 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.

“You don’t always get what you pay for if you choose the most expensive grill on the market,” said Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, Deputy Home Editor for Consumer Reports. “Some budget-friendly models delivered impressive performance and came with the bonus of electronic igniters and long warranties for burners – something to look for if you’re hoping to stick with your grill for the long haul.”

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.

  • Master Forge grill wok 25375, $17 (Lowe’s). Keeps smaller batches of vegetables or small fish such as shrimp or scallops from going overboard due to its deeper sides and bowl-like shape, but a large amount of food might cook unevenly if it’s piled up.

  • Brinkmann flexible grilling basket 812-9012, $16 (Home Depot). Cooks large quantities of thin fish fillets such as sole or tilapia, or vegetables cut flat such as eggplant or zucchini because of its 24x16-inch surface area, but all food must be the same thickness or thinner items may fall out when the basket is flipped over. Its large size also made it awkward to flip, open to remove food, and wash.

  • Weber original rib and roast holder, $20. Cooks full racks of ribs upright on large grills. Testers cooked a roast, turning it once, and it came out just as well as one cooked on a grill spit. But testers couldn’t close medium-sized grill lids when they placed this big holder front-to-back to hold full racks of ribs because it stuck out.

  • Weber Style pizza stone 6430, $50. Cooks one large pizza or several personal-sized ones. A handle allows users to easily move the stone from the grill or rotate during cooking to adapt to hotter spots and a holder elevates the stone so it’s not as likely to crack if placed on a wet surface, for example when removed from the grill. However, the metal holder, like the stone, will be burning hot when moved from the grill, so Consumer Reports recommends using oven mitts and caution.

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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