The eating season is here and that means cooking, lots and lots of cooking. To prepare a big holiday meal it helps to have a cooktop that can quickly bring a big pot of water to a boil for potatoes or a burner that can maintain a constant low heat when you're making a chocolate dessert. Enter the Maytag MEC7430WS, the new electric smoothtop that just took first place in our 30-inch cooktop tests.
Precise simmering and super-fast heating put the Maytag MEC7430WS a point ahead of our previous champ, the Kenmore 44273, $1,150 in our cooktop tests. The Maytag's two high-power elements were slightly faster at boiling water than the Kenmore and nearly as fast as some induction cooktops, but at $800 the Maytag costs hundreds less. It also has two low-power elements, stainless steel trim, and control knobs that Maytag claims are easy to clean. What you give up: Expandable elements that let you switch from a large, high-power element to a smaller, lower-power element within it.
If you want to spend even less, we named two cooktops that cost under than $700 CR Best Buys, the Kenmore 42733 and the Whirlpool G7CE3034XP. Both excelled at low heat cooking although the Kenmore had the edge in our high heat tests.
—Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman