In tests, the 30-inch Kenmore 42732 electric smoothtop cooktop outperforms some models that cost twice as much. Although professional reviewers give it good marks for both high- and low-heat cooking, not all owners agree. We found some complaints about faulty controls, including a few from users who say they can overheat (or even melt) when the high-power burner is used. Several owners also complain that the surface can be scratched by abrasive cleaning or cracked if something is dropped on it, as is the case with some other smoothtops. However, most users agree that the smooth ceramic surface is easy to clean.
The Kenmore 42732 has four heating elements, including a dual element that can be used for 6- or 9-inch pots. If cost is not a concern, the LG LCE3081ST (*Est. $1,100) is the best-rated electric cooktop overall. It's much more expensive, but the cooktop performs consistently at both high and low temperatures.
ConsumerReports.org, which bases its ratings on independent testing, offers the most reliable expert review of cooktops. The Kenmore 42733 (a stainless-steel version of the 42732) and 24 other electric smoothtops are ranked according to how well they handle basic kitchen tasks such as boiling water and melting chocolate. We also found several owner-written reviews for the various versions of this cooktop at Sears.com, Epinions.com and Viewpoints.com. Finally, we turned to the 2012 Home Appliance Study by J.D. Power and Associates for information about consumer satisfaction with Kenmore cooktops in general.
ConsumerReports.org rates several gas and electric cooktops, including the Kenmore 42733 (a stainless-steel version of the 42732). Each cooktop has been tested on its speed at boiling water, its ability to melt and hold chocolate without scorching and its ability to hold tomato sauce at a steady simmer. A handful of user reviews are also available.
Review: Cooktops and Wall Ovens, Editors of ConsumerReports.org, As of July 2012
We found about 10 user reviews at Sears.com for the Kenmore 42732 and about 20 more for the same cooktop in other colors. Overall it earns a rating of about 3.9 stars out of 5. Users like its looks, fast heating and easy cleanup, but several say the surface is easily damaged.
Review: Kenmore 30" Electric Cooktop with Radiant Elements, Contributors to Sears.com
We found only a handful of comments for the Kenmore 42732 at Epinions.com. Owners give this cooktop mixed reviews; most agree that it heats quickly, but some say it's slow to respond when lowering the cooking temperature.
Review: Kenmore 42731/42739/42734/42732 30 in. Electric Cooktop, Contributors to Epinions.com
Like Epinions.com, Viewpoints.com is a consumer review site not associated with any specific online retailer. The few reviews we found here for the Kenmore 42732 are mixed; three users like the cooktop's performance and easy cleanup, but two say it is unreliable.
Review: Kenmore Electric Cooktop 42732 Reviews, Contributors to Viewpoints.com
5. J.D. Power & Associates
In this survey, more than 3,800 consumers rate different brands (but not specific models) of ranges, cooktops and ovens. The Kenmore brand ranks in the middle of the pack, with an overall score of 767 points out of a possible 1,000 and average ratings in most categories.
Review: 2012 Laundry Appliance Satisfaction Study and 2012 Kitchen Appliance Satisfaction Study, Editors of J.D. Power and Associates, July 18, 2012