Consumer Reports sizes up the best and worst gas grills

Consumer Reports

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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.

(More from Consumer Reports: 8 great grilling gadgets)

Small grills (Fewer than 15 burgers)

Best: Weber Spirit E-220 46310001, $449 (Pictured above)

Worst: Better Homes and Gardens BH14-101-099-04 from Walmart, $358

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.

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Midsized grills (16 to 30 burgers)

Best: Weber Spirit SP-320 46700401, $599

Worst:  Back Yard Grill BY14-101-001-02 from Walmart, $158

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.

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Large grills (30 burgers or more)

Best: Kenmore 16156, $541.49

Worst: Brinkmann Medallion 810-4580-SB from Home Depot, $399

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.

(More from Consumer Reports: Patio furniture: spend less, get more)

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.

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Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. No reproduction, in whole or in part, without written permission.

Doesn't a BBQ with friends and family sound great for this weekend? Here, we have a video on making a savory BBQ sauce with expert John Stage.

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