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Consumer Reports helps consumers choose the best grills

Posted Wednesday, May 10, 2006

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June Issue Also Features Ratings for Top Lawn Tractors and Hedge Trimmers

Yonkers, NY – Grilling is one of the most treasured outdoor activities to do every summer. With temperatures getting warmer and many homeowners preparing for their first barbeque of the season, the June 2006 issue of Consumer Reports features expert advice and ratings on choosing the best gas grills.

Tips for Choosing Gas Grills

  • Select a gas grill large enough to accommodate the number of people at your table and with features that suit your cooking style.
  • Keep in mind that higher Btu does not translate to faster heating or better cooking performance, even at higher temperatures.
  • Bring a magnet with you to the store to test the stainless steel on the gas grill. (Cheaper stainless is usually magnetic, so if your magnet sticks, it could be a warning flag of material that is more likely to corrode over time.)
  • For searing meat more effectively, opt for heavier, stiffer grates made of thick stainless steel or porcelain-coated, heavy cast iron.
  • Since burners are the most frequently replaced grill parts, choose those made of brass.
  • Give the grill a gentle bump from several angles to see if it tips; the more stable the grill, the safer.
  • Note the type of handle on the grill; metal handles usually get hotter than wooden or plastic ones.
  • The more distance the drainage design puts between the fire and collected grease, the less the chance of sustained flare-ups when cooking fatty foods.
  • Opt for free assembly if you are worried about cutting yourself when assembling. But note that an assembled grill is bulkier than one in a box and delivery costs can accrue.
  • Always remember to check for gas leaks by periodically spraying a soap and water solution over the connections and along the hose. Soap bubbles can indicate a worn part that needs to be changed.
More tips on how to select a gas grill are available free online at for a period of two months.


Top Gas Grills

Overall, CR testers found consumers don’t need to spend more than $500 to get the best grill; in fact, all of the Best Buys cost between $200 and $500. The Vermont Castings VM400XBP and Char-Boil Advantage Series 463453305 were both cited as mid-sized Best Buys for their evenness, low-temp grilling (ability to cook chicken and fish on the low setting without burning) and overall features and convenience (including construction and materials, accessory burners, shelves, rack space and ease of use). The Great Outdoors Pinnacle TG-560 and Brinkmann Pro Series 4400 810-4400-0 were cited as Best Buys for large grills—enough room for 30 burgers or more.

The June 2006 issue of Consumer Reports also features ratings for the top lawn tractors and hedge trimmers.


Lawn tractors are ideally for lawns that are a half-acre or more. Most tractors cut a swath of at least 42 inches wide, but some models can do 50 inches and wider. Prices for lawn tractors range from $1,000 to $3,000, but can range from $3,000 to $6,000 for zero-turn-radius mowers. Weeks of mowing at the 175,000 square feet Consumer Reports testing site in Florida found:
  • Zero-turn radius mowers offer tight turns, but are expensive and can be hard to steer on hills.
  • Don’t base your purchase decision on a higher-horsepower. Many lower-horsepowered models outperformed the higher-horsepowered ones.
  • The CR Best Buys for the most versatile mowing were the John Deere 125 and the John Deere 102.
  • The CR Best Buy for large, open spaces is the Craftsman 27690. Even though wide-mowing tractors tend to cut less evenly, the Craftsman mows well for its width and offers comfortable seating.
  • The CR Best Buys for lawns with lots of obstacles are the John Deere X304, Cub Cadet RZT50 and Crasftman 27772, which all offer tight turning.

According to CR testers, gasoline-powered models are still the fastest at buzzing through thick, dense shrubs. But plug-in trimmers this year were found to perform nearly as well, cost far less and offer more safety features.

The Stihl HomeScaper Series HS45 was rated high for gas-powered. But the only CR Best Buy went to the Craftsman 799757, a corded electric model. It was cited for cutting power and smoothness. Cordless models did not rate very high.The June 2006 issue of Consumer Reports goes on sale May 9, 2006 wherever magazines are sold. All of the ratings will also be available online at

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Consumer Reports helps consumers choose the best grills
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