What delights your eyes can also ease your workload, at least when it comes to cooktops and wall ovens. A growing number of both appliances now offer flush surfaces and controls that look seek and wipe clean with less effort, along with stainless-steel styling that makes it easier to mix and match different brands.
More style and convenience for cooktops and wall ovens are especially welcome if you're remodeling your kitchen. According to General Electric, the market leader, more than 30 percent of cooktops and wall ovens are bought as part of a kitchen remodel. The main reasons: greater flexibility than stand-alone, all-in-one ranges, since you can mount a cooktop anywhere on a kitchen counter or island and install a separate wall oven at waist or eye level to avoid bending.
Some of these cooktops and wall ovens enhance that flexibility with top performance at a relatively low price--important since you'll spend at least $1,000 to buy both appliances, compared with as little as $400 or so for a range. What's more, spending top dollar may not buy you top performance in either appliance.
Our Ratings on pages 42 and 43 include 11 electric cooktops and 13 gas versions, along with 10 electric wall ovens. While gas ovens are available, few are sold, mainly because they're smaller and harder to install. Here's what sets some of the latest models apart:
Cooktops: Work-saving style. Easy-to-clean glass cooking surfaces like the ones on electric ranges have helped electric smoothtop cooktops outsell gas versions. Smoothtops also tend to boil water faster and simmer sauces and other delicate foods better than gas models do. But gas cooktops are gaining in …