I'm not gonna lie. I wanted to review this grill because I love its bright color.
If red isn't your thing, the $599 Weber Spirit II E-310 gas Amazon and at Home Depot for $499). It's expensive, considering it has just three main burners and no side burner, but I cooked up some good ribs, burgers and whole chickens during my testing. (Good, not great.)is also available in black, white and blue (The Spirit II is available on
In addition to its decent performance, the Spirit II has a couple of special features -- a propane tank scale and an optional integration with the $100 Weber iGrill 3 temperature probe. If the tank scale and iGrill 3 accessory matter to you, the Spirit II might be worth your money.
We also tested the $649 Broil King Baron S520, the $699 Char-Broil Commercial Double Header and the $299 Char-Broil Performance XL this time around. The Baron S520 is a five-burner grill that can hold a ton of food, but its powerful BTUs might intimidate a beginner. The Char-Broil Double Header is a solid grill for entertaining, since it's technically two separate, two-burner grills in one, but those small compartments do limit is ability to cook a lot of the same food on the same grill at once.
The Char-Broil Performance XL was the real winner here. It offers great grill performance, five main burners and a bonus side burner -- all for much less money.
Note: The original Weber Spirit is still available for sale at Lowe's for $449 -- it looks a lot like the Spirit II, but it doesn't have the iGrill 3 docking station or the open cart layout (which offers more storage space). The first-gen Spirit grill is also only available in black or stainless steel.
But the main difference between them, according to Weber, is the Spirit II's new GS4 High Performance Grilling System, which is also available on the $850we reviewed last year. The GS4 system includes a new ignition system that's "ensured to ignite every time." It worked eight times out of ten, but it didn't always ignite after my first attempt.
GS4 also features updated, tapered burners designed to optimize heat distribution (this worked fine), something called "Flavorizer Bars" that are supposed to help reduce flare-ups (they did not) and a new "grease management system" that's supposed to make everything easier to clean (it was roughly as easy to clean as the other grills we've tested).
Since the Spirit II is also sold for $499 at many retail locations, I'd suggest getting it over the Spirit if you're sold on Weber.
Getting to know the Spirit II
Wanna know how the Spirit II compares to other gas grills? There's a chart for that:
Comparing gas grills
||Weber Spirit II E-310||Char-Broil Performance XL||Broil King Baron S520||Char-Broil Commercial Double Header|
|Color finish||Red, blue, black, white||Stainless||Stainless||Stainless|
|Number of burners||3||5||5||4 (2 per compartment)|
|Main burners BTUs||30,000||45,000||50,000||36,000|
|Number of side burners||0||1||0||1|
|Side burner BTUs||N/A||10,000||N/A||13,000|
|Dimensions (height, width, depth)||44.5 x 52 x 27 inches||45.1 x 57.1 x 25.4 inches||45.5 x 63.5 x 24 inches||48 x 66.3 x 24 inches|
|Weight||114 pounds||113 pounds||170 pounds||205 pounds|
|Temperature gauge||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes (1 per compartment)|
|Propane tank scale||Yes||No||No||No|
As you can see, the Spirit II is an expensive grill. Yes, it's technically less expensive than the Broil King Baron S520 and the Char-Broil Commercial Double Header, but it has only three burners compared to the Baron's five burners and the Double Header's four (two per main grill compartment).
That means the Baron excels at cooking large quantities, whereas the Double Header has two separate, main grill compartments for optimal multitasking during entertaining. Stick a chicken on one side on indirect medium heat and flip burgers on the other side using high heat. The Double Header also has a side burner if you want to heat up some BBQ sauce on the side while you make your main course. The Spirit II is limited to one main three-burner compartment; with 30,000 BTUs of total grilling power -- 10,000 BTUs per burner.
It also doesn't have a spot to hide the propane tank like the Spirit II's competitors. That isn't necessarily a deal-breaker, but it looks less streamlined since you can easily see the tank versus hiding it behind a couple of doors. At least in the case of the Spirit II, it's for a good cause. This model has a fuel tank scale. Mount the propane tank to the scale and little indicators on the side tell you how full it is.
The scale isn't fancy; little red lines let you know the level of your propane tank. It's definitely helpful if you don't want to deal with the hassle of hauling the tank to the store knowing there's a chance you still have some propane left over. I also like that the grill has indicators that let you know where exactly to adjust the burner knobs for high, medium and low heat.
The Spirit II has something confusingly called "Flavorizer Bars." Its user manual explains that these bars are "angled just right to catch drippings that smoke and sizzle, adding that irresistible smoky flavor we all know and love to your food." They're also supposed to help route drippings away from the burners toward the "grease management system." I'll talk about this more in the performance section below, but I'm not convinced the Favorizer Bars did anything to help my grill's cooking performance -- or to mitigate flare-ups.
This model is compatible with Weber's $100 iGrill 3 app-enabled temperature probe. Since the iGrill 3 costs an extra hundred bucks and is optional, I didn't test it with the Spirit II. In theory, you connect it to the grill and can check in on the temperature of your food from your phone. The other grills we tested don't offer any smart accessories, which sets the Weber apart.