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KitchenAid Electric Freestanding Range Architect Series II KERS303BSS review: Not for the Type A cook

Can slow and steady win the race? Not in this case.

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Megan Wollerton
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Megan Wollerton

Senior Writer/Editor

Megan Wollerton has covered technology for CNET since 2013. Before that, she wrote for NBC's Dvice.com (now SyFy). Megan has a master's degree from the University of Louisville and a bachelor's degree from Connecticut College, both in international relations. She is a board member of the Louisville chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. When Megan isn't writing, she's planning far-flung adventures.

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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.

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5.8

KitchenAid Electric Freestanding Range Architect Series II KERS303BSS

The Good

KitchenAid's $1,349 KERS303BSS electric range has well-designed burner knobs and a spacious, 6.2-cubic-foot oven capacity.

The Bad

It cooked significantly slower than its competition during testing, and the dual-convection features are confusing.

The Bottom Line

This is a decent range, but you can find similar models -- with more predictable cook times -- for much less.

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.

At home with the KitchenAid KERS303BSS range (pictures)

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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.

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Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

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The display panel. Colin West McDonald/CNET

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.

Testing the KitchenAid KERS303BSS stovetop and oven (charts)

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We also looked at this range's cooktop and oven performance and compared its results to the $1,549 Electrolux EI30EF35JS and the $949 Whirlpool WFE540H0AS. First, we put 112 ounces of water in a 5-quart pot and tracked how long it took to boil on a large burner. The KitchenAid landed squarely in the middle of this comparison set.

For the KitchenAid and Whirlpool models, we also put 44.8 ounces of water in a 2-quart pot to see how long it would take to boil on a small burner. The Whirlpool cooktop took 10 minutes and 12 seconds, while the KitchenAid model clocked in at 10 minutes and 18 seconds. These boil times are close enough to rule out any clear "winner." All of the models successfully boiled water within an acceptable amount of time.

We also cooked rice, bringing the water to a boil and then reducing it to a simmer -- measuring its temperature along the way. The KitchenAid performed the worst here, maintaining a higher overall temperature for longer than the other two models. While it wasn't as responsive, it still managed to reduce to a simmer and successfully make plain white rice without scorching.

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These convection biscuits aren't especially even. Colin West McDonald/CNET

We cooked a single rack of biscuits on traditional bake mode at 450 degrees for 9 minutes and a double rack of biscuits on convection bake mode at 425 degrees for 9 minutes. In both modes, the KitchenAid oven maintained its temperature the best, staying closer to 450 (traditional mode) or 425 degrees (convection mode) than the Electrolux or Whirlpool models. The traditional biscuits were fairly uniform, but the convection biscuits were disappointing. Looking at the biscuit photo above, you can clearly see that the heat element strongly favors the front and right side of the oven.

The chicken test was particularly telling. It took nearly two hours for the KitchenAid oven to roast a whole, butterflied chicken to 165 degrees. The other two ovens averaged closer to 70 to 80 minutes, both maintaining higher overall temperatures. Since the KitchenAid chicken cooked the longest, it was also the driest of the group. And why would you want to wait for 30 or more minutes longer when other ranges can roast a chicken in less time with better results?

Next, we lined up 12 slices of bread on a baking sheet to test the oven's open-door broil functionality. The bread toasted in less than a minute. The toast was darker toward the rear center and much lighter around the periphery -- similar to the Whirlpool oven. The Electrolux oven has a larger broil element, so its bread was more uniformly toasted (although still not perfectly even).

For $1,349, I would have expected the KitchenAid oven to perform like the $1,549 Electrolux range. Still, broil mode works pretty well. That's especially true if you're making something that can be centered directly under the broiler like a single steak -- larger quantities spread out across the length of the oven may suffer slightly.

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Waffle fries cooked using the EasyConvect feature. Colin West McDonald/CNET

I also made frozen waffle fries and brownies in the oven to test the Easy Convect feature that auto-corrects for convection cooking. So, I input the suggested cooking temperatures and times directly from the bag of fries and box of brownie mix, then Easy Convect automatically adjusted the temperatures down 25 degrees both times. The fries were done, but not as crispy as they could be. The brownies weren't done at all.

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The brownies were not nearly done after following the recipe-suggested cooking time. Colin West McDonald/CNET

That's the overall theme for this oven -- decent, but slow. This is a laid-back oven that gets to things when it wants to, with no concern for the Type A personalities among us. You'll likely find more value in the $949 Whirlpool range. It has similar features, but its performance is more in line with expectations.

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5.8

KitchenAid Electric Freestanding Range Architect Series II KERS303BSS

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Usability 6Performance 5