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Induction ranges use a technology that makes stovetop cooking safer, more efficient and, unfortunately, more expensive. Many induction models start at $2,000 and increase from there, so it's significant that Kenmore has brought a model to the market for $1,700.
Don't let the price fool you: Kenmore didn't skimp on 95073's performance features. The range trumps more expensive competitors when it comes to boiling a large pot of water in a flash and roasting delicious chicken. The 95073's drawbacks, which include the slow performance of the model's small burner or the oven's tendency to slightly over-bake biscuits, can't undermine the fact that this range's overall performance is on par with the two other induction models we've tested (the $3,700 Samsung Slide-In Induction Chef Collection Range and the $3,200 GE PHS920SFSS Induction Range ) and is more than $1,000 cheaper. The Kenmore Elite 95073 still sits in a pretty high price category for the average consumer, but the range is a good value for the home cook who wants to try induction cooking.
The Kenmore Elite 95073 is pretty bare-bones when it comes to style. Kenmore is a Sears brand that modifies basic appliance templates from other manufacturers (in the case of the Kenmore 95073, Electrolux). This model is a 30-inch freestanding electric range with its burner knobs and oven controls located on a back panel. In comparison, the Samsung and GE induction ranges we reviewed are both slide-in models, a design choice that puts all the oven controls in the front and makes an appliance more expensive. The trim around the Kenmore's door handles and the back panel are stainless steel, and the rest of the oven is finished in black. Five knobs control the four burners and the warming zone on the cooktop. In the looks department, nothing sets this Kenmore apart from other stainless steel ranges.
Instead of circles, Kenmore uses light gray Xs to mark the location of each of the four burners on the cooktop. It gets tricky when you're trying to line up the pot so it is centered over the middle of the X, which the oven's use and care guide recommends for optimal cooking. I'd much prefer circles to mark my burners when it comes to a stovetop.
Along with a traditional label around each burner knob, the Kenmore 95073 has the small digital displays above each burner knob that shows the numerical cooking level of each burner. The digital displays also show helpful indicators like "HE" (hot element) that appears when the ceramic glass surface is still warm after you've turned the burner off. I've used a smooth-top electric oven for the past three years, and I've nearly burned myself because my lone hot-element indicator doesn't tell me exactly which burner is indeed hot. With the Kenmore, anyone can come into the kitchen and know exactly which burner they need to stay away from.
Each burner is equipped with a Power Boost feature that provides a little extra oomph when you need a lot of heat, such as when it's time to boil some water for pasta. This Power Boost only works for 10 minutes, and you can only turn it on at the beginning of your cooking, which limits the usability of this feature.
The Kenmore 95073's oven is an impressive 6.1 cubic feet, which provides plenty of space for multiple-rack baking or roasting large cuts of meat. However, the cooking modes on the Kenmore are slim compared to models like the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS . In the 95073's oven, you can convection roast, convection bake and slow cook, along with the standard bake and broil settings. You can also enable the oven to automatically convert the cooking temperature to a lower temperature that is often recommended for convection cooking. The range also has a warming drawer beneath the oven cavity.
As we've detailed in our Appliance Science column, the induction cooktop uses electromagnetism to cook food: "If you put certain materials into a rapidly alternating magnetic field, the material absorbs the energy and heats up. That's because the field creates electrical currents inside the material, and the resistance of the material converts this electrical energy into heat, which is transferred to the food inside the pan." With the Kenmore 95073, this technology is put to good use in the largest burner but fizzles on the cooktop's smallest burner.
The large burner on the Kenmore 95073 is a powerhouse. The burner can put out as much as 4,100 watts when you use the Power Boost, which is more powerful than the Samsung and GE induction ranges, which max out at 3,300 and 3,700 watts, respectively. The Kenmore 95073's large burner boiled 112 ounces of water in a 5-quart pot in an average time of 5.33 minutes. The only oven that has come close to this time is the GE PHS920SFSS Induction Range , which boiled the same amount of water in an average time of 5.96 minutes.
The smallest burner on the back right of the Kenmore 95073 only packs 1,000 watts on Power Boost, the least powerful burner on the range. As a result, boiling 67.2 ounces of water in a 3-quart pot was a chore. The average boil time for this small burner test was 18.7 minutes, the next-to-slowest small boil time we've seen on induction or electric models (our slowest has been the Frigidaire FPEF3077QF clocked an average 18.72 minutes).
The small burner on the Kenmore 95073 was also disappointing when it came to maintaining heat over a long period of time. For this test, I dumped a can of classic Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup into a 2-quart pan, brought the soup to 165 degrees on medium. When the soup reached that temperature, I switched the burner temperature to low and recorded temperature data for 20 minutes to see just how well a small burner could keep my soup at temperature or at least warm. I also performed this test on the lowest power, 1,200W burner on the Samsung NE59J7630.
Both burners continued to cook the food beyond 165 degrees after I switched the power to low, and the food gradually continued to cool down for the next 20 minutes. However, the soup cooled much quicker on the Kenmore 95073.
My disappointment continued as I started testing the Kenmore 95073's oven performance. A single rack of muffins that I baked in traditional bake mode were browner than the same muffins I baked in the traditional mode of the last oven I tested, the KitchenAid KSGB900ESS . With biscuit testing, I set the oven to convection bake and baked two racks of biscuits with 12 biscuits on each rack. I did three rounds of this test to gauge the Kenmore 95073's heat distribution. The oven tended to bake the biscuits a little browner than I've seen during identical tests in other ovens. We took one round of test biscuits and converted the results to a color scale to get a better view of how evenly this oven baked. Even on convection mode, the biscuit's coloring was uneven between the two pans.
The broiler on the Kenmore 95073 was the slowest one we've seen on an electric oven. It took an average of 17.17 minutes to broil six burgers to 145 degrees each. The other induction ranges fared much better: The Samsung induction model broiled burgers in 14.9 minutes, and the GE induction did the job in 16.31 minutes.
The one bright spot in the Kenmore 95073's oven performance was the convection roast feature. I went with my standby roast chicken recipe, but with one minor change. I didn't preheat the oven to 450 degrees F as the recipe directs because the Kenmore's use and care guide says "preheating is not necessary when roasting foods using the convection roast." Game on, Kenmore.
An hour and 20 minutes later, a group of CNET editors and I tasted what is arguably one of the top-three chickens that has come out of our test kitchen. The chicken was a beautiful roasted brown with crisp skin and succulent meat, no dried-out pieces of chicken to be found. If the Kenmore 95073 delivers roast chicken like that every time, I'd be willing to overlook its other oven flaws.
The Kenmore 95073's simple design and lack of extras help keep the cost of this induction range competitive at $1,700. The focus is on performance, specifically a powerful burner and great convection roast mode. The Kenmore 95073 doesn't have fancy extras like the Samsung Slide-In Induction Chef Collection Range 's Flex Duo insert and stovetop LED lights or the GE PHS920SFSS Induction Range 's touchpad burner controls. But the Kenmore's overall performance is good, and its price given the induction cooktop is even better.