Electrolux 30" Freestanding Range with IQ-Touch Controls (EI30EF35JS) review: This freestanding Electrolux range lacks ambition
There's no shortage of fancy-looking stainless-steel ranges to choose from, and for $1,549, the team at Electrolux hopes you choose theirs. With rear-mounted "IQ-Touch" controls; a smooth, customizable electric cooktop; and a 5.3-cubic-foot convection oven, Electrolux's EI30EF35JS looks and sounds the part of an appealing and modern kitchen appliance.
However, after spending some time testing the thing out, I'm not convinced that it does nearly enough to distinguish itself from its competitors -- many of whom offer comparable features and design at significantly lower price points. If you catch it on sale, the Electrolux might be worthy of consideration, but even then, I'm not sure that it's a range I'd recommend.
Stainless-steel ovens are in high demand, and the design team at Electrolux got the memo. Like so many others, the EI30EF35JS sports an attractive, glossy-looking stainless-steel body with black glass trim. For the most part, it's a good-looking machine, but it's not one that does much to stand out amid a crowded field of competitors, all of whom also got the memo about stainless steel.
The smoothtop cooking surface is equally attractive and large enough to cook multiple dishes at once comfortably. Three of the five burners are size-adjustable -- at the touch of a button, they'll grow by two or three inches in diameter, with the wattage ramping up accordingly.
There's also a burner specifically designed for simmering dishes without overcooking, another that offers a Fast Boil mode capable of bringing water to a rolling boil in under five minutes, and a dedicated 100-watt miniburner designed to keep dishes warm.
As for the oven, it offers 5.3 cubic feet of capacity, which is a tad on the average size, but easily still big enough for a holiday turkey or roast. The cobalt-blue cavity, an Electrolux staple, features seven rack positions and comes with two standard steel racks and one ball-bearing-based glide rack, a nice extra for getting those heavy or awkward dishes in and out of the oven a little easier.
This leads to the rear-mounted IQ-Touch controls that you'll use to control all of it. "IQ-Touch" sounds good as features go (I'm guessing the design team got a memo about "smarts" as well). In practice, however, this feature seems a bit hollow. I hesitate to even call it a feature. As the Electrolux website puts it, "the IQ-Touch control panel displays all of your options, at all times." That's really just a fancy way of saying "all of the buttons are there."
Still, touch controls are nice, right? Well, sort of. They definitely lend an extra layer of modernity to the product design, but they aren't always as practical as you want. For the burners, you can press a button for high or for medium, but to get to a medium-high setting, you'll need to select medium, then press the plus sign button five times to bump up from 5.0 to 7.5 on a 10-scale. That's a pain -- especially on a rear-mounted control unit, where you'll sometimes be reaching over top of boiling pots and sizzling frying pans.
Buttons just aren't always the right tool for the job. We're talking about selecting a specific temperature across a gradient scale -- wouldn't it be easier just to turn a dial, like you do on most ranges? Maybe, but Electrolux puts form over function, with four buttons for each burner that you'll have to press multiple times before you're at the settings you want.
Multiply these four buttons by the four main burners, add in the buttons for the keep-warm burner and for adjusting the burner sizes, and the result is that you've suddenly got almost 20 buttons for the cooktop alone. It's a patently cluttered display -- and we haven't even started talking about the oven controls yet.
As for those oven controls, they're packed together in the middle of the display, with cooking modes on the left, the number pad on the right, and extra features right in the middle. In terms of cooking modes, you'll find all of the usual suspects (baking, broiling, roasting), along with the convection settings. There's also a "Slow Cook" mode for low and slow, crock-pot-style cooking of meats and poultry, as well as a "My Favorite" button that you can program to call up your most commonly used settings.
If you decide to use the convection settings, you'll need to remember to hit the "Conv Convert" button after keying in your recipe's temperature. This will automatically adjust the temperature down to help things cook in the expected timeframe. I can't say that I was terribly impressed with this feature -- many convection ovens will automatically do this conversion without forcing you to press a button. What's more, no matter what temperature you're starting with, all the Conv Convert button does is subtract 25 degrees. That hardly feels like the sort of precise calculation I'd expect from a $1,549 appliance.
|Standard preheat time (400 F)
|Fast preheat time (400 F)
|Standard boil time (212 F)
|Fast boil time (212 F)
One feature that does a better job of standing out is the EI30EF35JS' "Fast Preheat" mode, which claims it'll warm the oven in 25 percent less time than standard preheat setting. I decided to test this out alongside a similar Whirlpool oven with the same feature. On normal settings, the Electrolux preheated from cold to 400 degrees in 12:50, while the Whirlpool model got there in 13:33. Repeating the test on fast mode, the Electrolux's time actually dropped about 33 percent, down to an impressive 8:35. By comparison, the Whirlpool only dropped to 11:00 -- just 19 percent faster.
We also tested out the Electrolux's "Fast Boil" burner and compared it to what we saw from a similar burner on the Whirlpool model. Both were able to bring the boil time to under five minutes, which seems like a nice feature if you're trying to make ramen noodles in a hurry.
Feature talk aside, many consumers will simply want to know how well this thing cooks. We've had ovens blow us away with their cooking capabilities in the past, most notably the Dacor Renaissance Double Wall Oven . Does Electrolux offer anything close to that level of performance?
In a word, no, though to be fair, nothing else has really come close to that particular oven (it also costs about $4,000). The good news is that the Electrolux is a consistent performer, and one that never disappointed us. For baking, it was able to steadily maintain accurate temperatures throughout entire cycles, which leads to properly cooked food in as much time as you expect.
Our chicken tests were a prime example of this. Using convection roast settings, an oven should be able to cook a 5-pound butterflied chicken to temperature in approximately 75 minutes. The average time for the E130EF35JS was 74:46. Compare that to the Whirlpool WFE720H0AS, which took almost 90 minutes, and the KitchenAid KERS303BSS, which took nearly two hours, and the Electrolux looks like the best of the bunch.
Still, timing and tasting are two very different things. The Electrolux chicken, though punctual (and not nearly as dry as the not-so-timely KitchenAid bird) was still nothing close to the mouth-watering masterpieces that the Dacor oven consistently put out. The EI30EF35JS gets the job done, but I can't say that it'll make the food you cook taste better than it would with a cheaper oven.
Speaking of chicken, I tested out that Slow Cook mode by using a recipe for slow-cooked barbecue drumsticks that I transposed for the oven as best I could. I wasn't totally sold on this feature, as it simply maintains a temperature around 250 for as long as you need. Can't all ovens do this already?
I decided to double things up and make two batches: one in the Electrolux on Slow Cook mode, and the other in a competitor's oven manually set to the same time and temperature. Four hours later, the chicken that came out of the Electrolux was cooked correctly, not dried out or burnt as I had feared it might be. Successful test, right?
Kind of. The chicken in that second batch came out nearly identical to the Electrolux chicken, both in terms of taste and appearance. That suggests that you don't need a dedicated "Slow Cook" setting on your oven in order to get slow-cooker-esque results.
Performance-wise, the $1,549 Electrolux EI30EF35JS isn't a bad oven by any stretch, but it isn't significantly better than comparable ovens that cost a lot less -- and that's the problem. If you want a convection oven with a smooth, electric cooktop and a stainless-steel finish, there are models available from manufacturers like GE, Frigidaire, LG, and Samsung, some of which can be found on sale for just north of $700. The Electrolux might be a slightly more consistent performer than some of those ovens, but probably not all of them, and probably not enough so to merit such a significant increase in price.
If you're looking to spend $1,500 or more on an oven, I think you should start to expect some level of unique functionality, the kind that lets you cook in new ways. Creative appliances like the Samsung FlexDuo meet this standard, as do double ovens, induction ranges, and smart ovens. The Electrolux doesn't, but it's priced as if it does -- priced even higher than LG's comparable connected model . With so many other options, you're almost certainly better off shopping around.