Reviewers say gas cooktops excel at temperature control, and many consumers like the ability to adjust the gas flame by sight. However, experts say gas cooktops aren't as good as their electric counterparts at maintaining consistent cooking temperatures, particularly at high and low heat settings. Most gas cooktops are 36 inches wide, but many 30-inch models are also available. Some manufacturers also make professional-style cooktops that measure up to 48 inches wide.
We found good reviews for several different brands of gas cooktops, chief among them the Thermador SGSX365FS (*Est. $1,900). It does very well in professional tests, and reviewers praise the cooktop's continuous cast-iron grates, which allow them to slide a pot from burner to burner without lifting it. Its five sealed burners -- ranging in power from 9,100 to 18,000 Btu -- have a distinctive star shape, which Thermador claims provides better heat distribution without cold spots. Reviewers also praise the 200-Btu ExtraLow setting, which cycles on and off to maintain a precise temperature for simmering. Other features include single-point ignition (which delivers a spark only to the burner being lit, rather than to all burners at once) and automatic re-ignition, which turns the flame back on if it is accidentally blown out. The cooktop is backed by a one-year warranty.
In professional testing, the Thermador SGSX365FS cooktop excels at boiling water and maintaining consistent temperatures, especially for low-heat tasks such as melting chocolate and simmering sauces. The dozen or so user reviews we found on Google Shopping support these results. Owners are enthusiastic about this cooktop's power and precision. Several users particularly like the performance of the signature star burners, which they say put out very even heat. The most common complaint about this cooktop is that it can be difficult to clean, especially since precautions are needed to avoid scratching the stainless surface.
The Electrolux EW36GC55GS (*Est. $1,300) also fares well in both professional tests and user reviews. Like the Thermador cooktop, this Electrolux gas cooktop measures 36 inches across and has five sealed burners; the large center burner is adjustable from 18,000 Btu for quick boiling to 450 Btu for delicate simmering. It also has three continuous cast-iron grates and deep wells below the burners to contain spills. Its five control knobs are located on the top front of the cooktop. The Electrolux EW36GC55GS has a stainless-steel surface, but the same cooktop is also available in white and black. All three models have a one-year warranty.
This Electrolux unit does not perform quite as well as the Thermador cooktop in professional tests. It achieves excellent results on low heat, but its speed at bringing water to a boil is only middling. However, the user reviews we found at AJMadison.com are mostly enthusiastic, praising this cooktop's looks, performance and versatility. Owners especially like the control knobs, which they say offer good temperature control. One user notes, "It is also the safest around [children] because the knobs are on the top and must be pressed down to turn the flame on." The only negative review we found for this cooktop is from a user who complains that the control knobs "keep melting and deforming from the radiated heat while cooking." No other user mentions this problem, however.
We didn't see reviews for many gas cooktops costing less than $1,000, but the Maytag MGC4436BDW (*Est. $480) gets good comments from users. Unlike most 36-inch gas cooktops, this basic model is available only in white or black, and it lacks the continuous grates found on most high-end cooktops. However, it does have automatic re-ignition and five sealed burners, ranging in power from 9,500 to 14,000 Btu. The control knobs are mounted front and center on top of the cooktop. Maytag's warranty covers parts and labor for one year.
The Maytag MGC4436BDW has not been included in any professional tests, but it gets uniformly positive reviews from about a dozen owners at HomeDepot.com. They say this range is a great value: nice-looking, easy to install and well laid out for convenience. One user notes that the wide spacing of burners makes it possible to use all five burners at once, and another finds the center burner handy for keeping one item warm while others finish cooking. A couple of users do say the controls take a while to master, however. Nonetheless, all users agree that they would recommend this product to a friend.