Expect to spend between $200 and $500 for a grill that can handle most of your cooking needs. Spending more may get you more stainless styling and a few additional convenience features, but not necessarily better performance.
While most grills flare up momentarily when loaded with fatty foods, the key is whether they keep burning. Tested models that flared up more than others include Napoleon Ultra Chef UP405RBPSS, Ducane Standard Series 1605SHLPE, Jenn-Air 720-0163 (Lowe's), Ducane Standard Series 1305SHLPE, George Foreman GBQ440, Kirkland Signature (Costco) [Item 963157] 720-0193, Frigidaire Gallery GL30LKEC, Kenmore (Sears) 16329, Viking T Series VGBQ300-2RTL, Coleman Back Home Select 6000 994-7A726, and BBQ Grillware 720-0001 (Lowe's).
Guide to the Ratings
Overall score is based on performance, features, and convenience. We tested evenness of heating over the grill's surface at high and low settings using thermocouples, then combined the scores. Results were verified by searing 15 burgers on the worst and best grills' high settings for 112 minutes. Grilling measures each model's ability to cook chicken and fish on a low setting. Convenience evaluates construction and materials, useful accessory burners and shelves, rack space, and ease of use, as well as propensity for flare-ups. Price is approximate retail.
Best for most; high-scoring midsized grills; all are CR Best Buys:
1 Vermont Castings VM400XBP (Home Depot), $400
8 Thermos Stainless 461262006 (Target), $300
9 BBQ Grillware GSF-2616 (Lowe's), $200
Top performance makes the Vermont Castings VM400XBP (Home Depot) a fine choice. Consider the Thermos Stainless 461262006 (Target) for its mostly stainless construction, fourth burner, and generous cooking area and shelf space, and the BBQ Grillware GSF-2616 (Lowe's) for its fine searing, long-warranty burners, and low price.
If you often cook for a crowd; both are CR Best Buys:
28 Great Outdoors Pinnacle TG-560, $500
32 Brinkmann Pro Series
4400 810-4400-0 (Wal-Mart), $300 Both deliver lots of cooking and shelf space for the money. The Great Outdoors Pinnacle TG-560 has mostly stainless construction, a fifth burner, and an infrared burner for better searing. The Brinkmann Pro Series 4400 810-4400-0 (Wal-Mart) trades stainless-steel styling and some performance for a much lower price that includes free assembly.
For smaller groups and tailgating:
43 Weber Q 396001, $180
The portable Weber Q 396001 offers better performance without sacrificing cooking space than many other small grills. You can take the grill off the cart for tailgating. Price is $265 with cart and adapter.
Within types, in performance order. ** Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks. Brand & model Price Overall score Key number Small type: similar model(s) P F G VG E MEDIUM-SIZED MODELS 1 ** Vermont Castings VM400XBP $400 84 (Home Depot) CR Best Buy 2 Broilmaster P3[BL] 1000 83 3 Kenmore (Sears) 16324 450 82 4 Vermont Castings VM450SSP 630 82 (Home Depot) 5 Weber Genesis Silver B 450 79 6221411 (Home Depot) [D] Genesis …