What every best Ranges has:
- Reliable cooktop performance.
- A variety of burner sizes.
- Consistent oven temperatures.
Dual-fuel ranges are the best bet for serious cooks who prefer the accuracy, responsiveness and visual cues of a gas cooktop along with the even and consistent temperatures of an electric oven. They can be pricey -- dual-fuel ranges typically start at $2,000 -- but they're usually loaded with high-end features and quality components.
In this category, the KitchenAid KFDD500ESS (Est. $2,400) looks to have the best blend of performance and value. This freestanding model combines a gas cooktop with dual electric ovens for maximum flexibility. The lower, larger cavity has convection cooking capabilities, and features such as the ability to automatically adjust cooking times in conventional recipes to convection cooking, though in CNET's testing that feature, called EasyConvect Conversion, proved not to be all that easy -- or accurate -- to use. No matter, says CNET's Ashlee Clark Thompson, who adds that these and other small bobbles don't change the fact that "the KitchenAid KFDD500ESS is a strong option for the home cook who multi-tasks at mealtime."
The gas cooktop has five burners -- four circular and one center oval one -- that range in power up to 17,000 BTU. A griddle for use with the center burner is included. The oven boasts a total capacity of 6.7 cubic feet, split between a 2.5-cubic-foot upper cavity and a 4.2-cubic foot lower one. Both ovens work independently for flexibility. "Smells stay contained within each oven -- no need to worry that the bacon you cook in the lower oven will make the sugar cookies in the top taste like pork," Thompson says. In addition to convection, there's a steam rack that lets you add moisture to your cooking.
Performance is a little uneven in testing, but it shouldn't be a deal breaker for most potential buyers. The cooktop can get water to a boil quickly, in about the same time as most gas cooktops. The oven excelled when roasting a chicken was put to the test, but baking biscuits in convection mode yielded lackluster results on the batch cooked on the bottom rack, a not uncommon problem for all ovens. Broiling took longer than Thompson would have liked, and burgers never got the char that broiling often imparts, "but the patties stayed juicy, a nice surprise when you consider that long cook times often result in dried-out meat."
Dual-fuel ranges don't typically get much in the way of user feedback, although the KitchenAid KFDD500ESS has accumulated a few more than we saw when this was our Best Reviewed pick last year. Most are very pleased with their new dual-fuel stove, saying they love its attractive looks and exceptional versatility. One issue that might be a concern for some is that a couple of owners complain that the gas stovetop can't be lit during a power outage.
If you have a bigger budget, consider the KitchenAid KDRS407VSS (Est. $4,500). This is a commercial-grade dual-fuel oven that's styled like a slide-in (with no backsplash), but is freestanding to fit into the space of a conventional 30-inch oven. It's included in ConsumerReports.org's latest tests, and scored well enough to earn a recommendation, with ratings of Excellent for low heat cooktop performance, Very Good for baking and high heat cooktop performance, but just Good ratings for broiling. With a capacity of 4.1-cubic feet, this single convection oven is on the small side, too. The cooktop has four burners, with a maximum output of 20,000 BTU.
Despite the high price, and the lack of much in the way of features -- there's a temperature probe, but no warming or storage drawer and no center burner -- users love this KitchenAid commercial-grade dual-fuel range. We found almost no complaints, most say it works perfectly across all tasks -- even challenging ones like broiling steak (in spite of what ConsumerReports.org found) -- and is highly durable.
The Samsung NY58J9850WS (Est. $3,100) offers the ultimate in versatility in a slide-in range. It's the top choice at ConsumerReports.org in the gas and dual-fuel category, earning a Recommended nod. In testing there, it gets Excellent scores for low temperature cooktop performance and broiling, Very Good scores for high temperature cooktop performance, and baking.
While there are not a lot of owner reviews, owners who do weigh in on the Samsung NY58J9850WS are highly complimentary, saying it roasts, bakes and broils superbly, and they love being able to cook in one oven, warm in the other, or cook two different items at varying temperatures. However, while this is billed as a double oven, at least one reviewer points out that it's actually a single, flexible oven -- it features Samsung's proprietary Flex Duo design -- you use a divider to split it into two. If you use it as a single oven it has a generous, 5.8 cubic foot capacity; as a double oven it's 2.4 and 3.3 cubic feet, respectively. The door can be used as a two-oven door or a single-oven door.
As its price would indicate, the Samsung NY58J9850WS is loaded with features. Those include convection cooking in both ovens (a rarity in double ovens) and a warming drawer. The cooktop has five burners, including an oval center burner for large dishes; a reversible cast iron griddle is included.
If you want to spend a bit less, the GE C2S985SETSS (Est. $2,600) might be worth considering. We only spotted one professional review, and it was rather lackluster, especially when it came to baking performance. However, user reviews are plentiful and highly positive.
The electric oven in this GE dual-fuel range offers a large, 5.4-cubic foot main cavity and a small, 1 cubic-foot baking drawer. The main cavity includes convection cooking, along with features such as a temperature probe and a cook and hold feature that will keep food warm for up to three hours (there's no warming tray or warming elements on this range, however). The lower drawer is for conventional baking only, and is suitable for baking biscuits, rolls, frozen pizza and the like.
The gas cooktop includes four circular burners and an oval center one that's ideal for odd-shaped cookware, such as a griddle -- and one is included. There's also a three-in one tri-ring burner with a maximum output of 20,000 BTU.