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, 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 been around long enough to draw a reasonable, including around 150 reviews at Home Depot, where it earns a 4.3 star score. 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 -- a common problem with dual fuel ranges, and even some all-gas models.
If you have a bigger budget, consider the KitchenAid KDRS407VSS (Est. $4,230). 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 Consumer Reports' testing, 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. While feedback isn't extensive, we found almost no complaints, most say it works perfectly across all tasks -- even challenging ones like broiling steak (in spite of what Consumer Reports found) -- and is highly durable. It's also available in a several colors in addition to stainless steel, including blue, red, black and white.
The Samsung NY58J9850WS (Est. $3,100) offers the ultimate in versatility in a slide-in range. It's the top choice at Consumer Reports 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, those 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.
This is another model that uses Samsung's Flex Duo technology. We covered this technology in more depth in our discussion of the Samsung NE59J7850WS (Est. $1,560), our Best Reviewed electric double oven. To recap, you can configure the oven as either a single 5.8 cubic foot cavity, or use a ceramic divider to split the cavity into two (mostly) independent smaller ovens of 2.4 cubic feet (top) and 3.3 cubic feet (bottom). This oven also uses the same split door design as the NE59J7850WS (not all Flex Duo ovens do), which allows you to just open the door for the top oven, or for the entire cavity. The trade-off for this flexibility is a little bit of a learning curve to get the best performance when used in the dual-oven mode.
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.