LG LRE3021ST Electric Range review: Less to this LG range than meets the eye
At $800 (which converts to about £515 or AU$985), the LRE3021 is as cheap a range as LG offers. From refrigerators to robot vacuums , the Korean conglomerate is mainly concerned with creating envy-worthy appliances at the mid to high end than it is with competing at the low end.
In that sense, this range seems positioned to try and tempt some of that low end business into upgrading and splurging on something a touch pricier. For the extra cash, you're getting a spacious 6.3-cubic-foot oven, "IntuiTouch" controls, and a fashionable stainless steel finish. You aren't, however, getting a convection fan, or any other sort of upgraded cooking capability. That makes this range a tough sell, as you'll find ovens with better features at this price range if you shop around.
The LRE3021 plays right into what's popular with modern oven design. You get a shiny, stainless steel finish, a striking cobalt blue interior, a smooth cooktop, and faux futurism from the controls. They're the sort of things you might expect a focus group to list if someone asked them what makes an oven look high-end, and LG made sure to include each one.
The problem with trying to please everyone, though, is that you lose any sort of unique appeal. Sure enough, the LRE3021 feels derivative of the countless other ranges that look and cook just like it. The fact that it's the exact same design as LG's own LRE3023, albeit with fewer features, only reinforces the notion.
The LRE3021 even borrows the display of its pricier big brothers. Take a close look at the screen, and you'll see dimmed out icons for features it doesn't even have, like convection roasting and Wi-Fi. It makes the LRE3021 feel like a stripped-down version of a nicer oven, and one that's built with spare parts.
That said, there are definitely a few strong design elements at play here. The 6.3-cubic-foot oven capacity is quite big, offering plenty of room for holiday feasts. I also appreciate the hidden bake element at the bottom, an increasingly popular design feature that hides the bottom heating element beneath a flat, recessed panel. This keeps messes from dripping directly onto the heating element and smoking up your kitchen, and lets you run makeshift steam cycles by pouring a little water into the bottom of the oven.
Up on the cooktop, you get four burners, including one dual burner that you can set for small pots or large ones. That dual burner is also the most powerful, packing a whopping 3,200 watts for speedier boil times.
You'll operate those four burners using LG's "IntuiTouch" controls, and this is where I let out a sad little sigh before continuing to type. You see, I'm a big fan of knobs when it comes to turning burners on and off. They're perfect for the job, offering control that's quick, easy, and precise. Replacing them with buttons is, frankly, a big, dumb step backwards.
To turn a burner on, you press the on/off button, then either the plus button for high or the minus button for low. What if you want medium, though? You need to start at high or low, then work your way to the middle with additional button presses, moving in fractional increments with each button press until you hit 5.0 on a 10-point scale. If you start at high and work your way down, it takes a total of 11 button presses to get to 5.0. Start at low and work your way up, and it takes 17. Seventeen!
Baking is a bit more merciful. You'll simply hit the bake button, then punch in the temperature you want on the keypad and press start. Still, that's five button presses, a process I'd gladly switch out for a single turn of a knob.
In addition to that bake button, you also get a dedicated broil setting, an option for keeping things warm, and a proof setting, too. Each setting has a default temperature, but if you want something different, it's off to the keypad with you. Also, unlike pricier competitors from Electrolux and Whirlpool , there's no fast preheat setting.
The most notable omission, though, is the lack of any settings for convection baking. You'll find such settings on equally priced competitors from GE and Whirlpool, but not the LRE3021. Convection baking uses a fan to circulate hot air throughout the oven and bake things more evenly. Without it, you won't get consistent results from multirack baking, along with other minor disadvantages.
Along with baking biscuits, we roasted chickens, broiled burgers and cooked a couple of lunches using the LRE3021. Button-based annoyances aside, I was happy with the results, as were my fellow taste-testers. Everything came out cooked just right, with no major qualms from anyone.
Beyond subjective taste tests, an objective look at the data confirms the point. In every test, the LRE3021 did a nice job holding a consistent average temperature, which isn't a result we always see when we test ovens. The inside of an oven is often a more chaotic environment than you might imagine, with hot spots, cool spots, and surprising temperature swings during otherwise ordinary cook cycles. LG's oven does a good job of holding steady.
That helps prop the oven up somewhat, as I think it's safe to say it'd be a dependable performer in your kitchen. Still, without any advanced cooking functionality, that sort of consistency only takes you so far.
All in all, the LRE3021 isn't a bad range. I was happy with the way it cooked, and I appreciated the large capacity and hidden bake element inside the oven. At $800 though, I wish it offered a little more. At that price, I think it's fair to expect convection settings, or some other equally legitimate cooking upgrade. Instead, you get a downgrade from knobs to buttons.
If convection settings aren't important to you, there are other standard ovens that I think offer better value than this one. The GE Artistry Series Range costs less, offers looks that are more stylish and distinctive, and gives the option of electric and gas cooktops at the same price. I'd rather go with a simple oven like that than a pricier, equally simple oven that tries to pass itself off as fancier than it really is.