I saw a recent Consumer Reports magazine at work that reviewed gas grills and listed the Char-Broil Red Patio as a "Best Buy", and it's around the price we're looking to pay, but unfortunately it's only available via Home Depot online and it's sold out.
Yesterday we were out and decided to stop by Lowes to check out their grills, but we were underwhelmed. The most attractive option was their basic-looking Grill Master 4-Burner Gas Grill with no official name or model number that we could find (on the store display). I decided to look up reviews for it online, and as expected, nobody has anything good to say.
That brought me to the About.com listings of Top 10 Gas Grills in various price ranges. After reading a few reviews, I started to notice a pattern. First, the grammatical errors and typos seemed consistent throughout every article. Sure enough, the entire grilling section of About.com is apparently written by one guy named Derrick Riches. And second, Derrick clearly thinks that any grill sold for under $1000 is complete and utter crap. Why did he even make lists for the top 10 grills under that price if he can't recommend a single one of them? He even says that some models "should serve you for a couple of years". What does he do to grills to make them die so quickly? Run them 4 hours a day within the spray of salty seawater?
So that site is useless in my search. I don't want the opinion of one guy who is so lofted by the industry that he's out of touch with the everyday consumer's needs. I want to see general reviews of customer satisfaction.
Today we looked at grills at Sears, Home Depot and Walmart. Sears had a Kenmore model that is winning with us. Home Depot has a Char-Broil RED model that also looks nice, if we're willing to push our budget up to $400. Walmart's selection was lower quality than the other stores, but we did write down one model of UniFlame to check out online.
I think we're sold on the importance of thick, cast-iron, porcelain-covered grates. So many of the low-priced grills have cheap grates that are really just thin metal pressed into a shape that looks thick from the top but is hollow underneath.
Maybe we'll figure out what we want someday before the end of summer. :)