The $1,349 KitchenAid Electric Freestanding Range Architect Series II KERS303BSS is equipped with all of the cooking basics; five stovetop burners, and convection and traditional oven modes. The stainless-steel finish and professional chef-style knobs contribute to a fairly high-end look, while its interface and features are pretty intuitive. It sounds good so far, but there's one other thing: it's slow. Really slow.
Where comparable ovens took less than an hour and a half to roast a whole chicken, the KitchenAid took nearly 2 hours. That's a significant inconvenience with the potential to annoy anyone who prioritizes efficient cooking. Instead, I'd consider the $949 Whirlpool WFE540H0AS -- it has similar features, costs less, and more predictably delivers on recipe instructions and overall cooking expectations.
KitchenAid's KERS303BSS range comes in stainless steel, black, or white. It's freestanding, so you have some installation flexibility. You can simply plug it into an obliging 240-volt outlet, but it will also fit into a 30-inch opening between two cabinets for a more "finished" slide-in look. This range measures 27 3/4 inches deep, 46 7/8 inches tall, and 29 7/8 inches wide.
The radiant heat cooktop is made of ceramic glass and is equipped with five burners -- two in the front and three in the back. Their wattage outputs and diameters vary to accommodate different cookware sizes and types of recipes. The four knobs control the four main burners and the back center burner (used for warming only) can be controlled via the display panel.
The oven has a large 6.2-cubic-foot capacity (on the high side for its price range) and comes with two standard racks, one max capacity rack (for heavier loads), seven rack height positions, and one incandescent oven light. The racks are easy to move to different rack heights. A drawer at the bottom provides additional storage space.
The cooktop is fairly customizable. You can adjust the size of the left-front burner to accommodate a 6,9, or 12-inch pot. The right-front burner has a 3,200-watt power output, allowing for "ultra low" and "ultra high" heat settings. Ceramic glass isn't the easiest thing to clean if you have a spill, but it's flat and creates a nice even surface.
The oven has traditional modes, including Bake, Open-door Broil, Bread Proof, and Keep Warm. It also has standard convection bake, broil, and roast modes. Additionally, it has another convection option called Easy Convect Conversion. Typically, traditional and convection cooking don't follow the exact same cooking instructions. Many ovens auto-adjust temperatures down 25 degrees when you use them in convection mode.
This KitchenAid's standard convection modes don't automatically convert temperatures, but its Easy Convect feature does. Unfortunately, that's only for specific categories: baked goods, pizza, meats, and other (this covers miscellaneous frozen foods, like french fries, chicken nuggets, and fish sticks). I find that kind of confusing and would rather it pick one method and stick with it.
Other display features include a number pad (for setting temperatures, times, and the clock), a control lock (to limit who has access to the oven display), a timer, delay start, cook time, and AquaLift, which is an odorless, 40-minute self-clean cycle. I tried out this feature after all of the food testing was complete, so the oven interior was covered in nice layer of grease. I removed the racks, cleaned out any loose food, and poured two cups of water in the bottom of the oven per the instructions in the manual.
This feature is supposed to act like a steamer and gently loosen caked-on crud. It did manage to find stray crumbs, but they gathered in a dirty pool at the bottom of the oven with what was left of the remaining two cups of water. I wiped the puddle away pretty easily, but the sides of the oven still looked quite dirty.