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.