Our Napoleon Freestyle 425 review puts this compact but full-size grill to the test to find out how it matches up against some of its pricier competitors. You can check out our guide to the best gas grills around to find out how it compares to others.
Main burners: 4
Side burners: 0
Main burner BTU: 38,000
Primary cooking space: 427.5 sq. in.
Dimensions: 60.5 x 52 x 25 in. (lid open)#
Weight: 114 lbs
Burner material: Stainless steel
Burner warranty: 5 years + 50% off until 10th year
Product warranty: 10 years (limited)
The Napoleon Freestyle 425 is finished in a stylish graphite grey porcelain enamel, which makes this look like a really quality product, despite its budget price tag. The grill has four burners and a very decent-sized cooking area - enough to hold up to 27 burgers. It has two good-sized side tables for food prep and holding dishes, plus three hooks to hang your barbecue tools on. The tables fold down to make it easier to store the grill when you’re finished with it.
The stand features soft-close doors and rugged wheels for moving it around the yard. The doors enclose the gas bottle, hiding away ugly hoses and battered gas bottles!
To put the Napoleon Freestyle 425 to the test, we started at the very beginning. We assembled the grill from scratch, taking note of how long it took, and how easy we found the instructions to follow. Once we got to the cooking part of the test, we grilled steaks, burgers, sausages, and vegetables - and we also roasted a whole chicken. We didn’t have the rotisserie attachment (which is sold separately) but used the indirect grill method instead.
Read on to find out how the Napoleon Freestyle 425 stood up in our tests…
Naomi MacKay is Top Ten Reviews' Customer Advisor for Grills. She tested the Napoleon Freestyle 425 for a week to assess the range of its cooking capabilities, accessories, ease of use, and maintenance.
Naomi has been a freelance writer and editor for 20 years, having previously made the move from local newspapers and consumer technology magazines into the gardening press as Assistant Editor at Garden Answers magazine, and writes garden columns for a number of publications.
Napoleon Freestyle 425: Design
We love the graphite grey livery of the Napoleon Freestyle 425. It looks really smart, and the porcelain enamel gives it a real quality finish. As an added bonus it’s not so prone to greasy fingermarks as the black and stainless steel finishes on other gas grills. The edges are rounded, so you don’t need to worry about bumping into it, and it is easy to move around, thanks to the rugged wheels on the base.
It’s quite compact, which makes it lighter than some of the bigger premium models, without feeling flimsy. The cookbox and lid are quite heavy and feel as if they're built to last. There’s a 10-year warranty, so Napoleon is obviously confident that it will stand the test of time.
Napoleon Freestyle 425: Features
The Napoleon Freestyle 425 has four stainless steel burners, each controlled separately, which allows for both direct and indirect cooing. The warming rack is large, and offers an extra cooking space for things that cook quickly. The cooking area itself is roomy - offering space for 26 burgers - so no one will go hungry when cooking on this grill!
The cast iron porcelainized enamel cooking grids feature Napoleon’s iconic wavy sear marks, and the temperature gauge has a retro look to it. The aluminium firebox aims to create a convective oven effect. On the right hand side, the folding table is also home to three hooks to keep your tools to hand.
Unlike the large Weber grills, there aren’t many additional accessories to buy to enable different cooking methods, but it is possible to purchase a rotisserie and - a feature we really like the idea of - a cast-iron charcoal tray. This aims to offer that real barbecue flavour - we’re sure this will go down well with die-hard charcoal grillers who want the convenience of gas but miss that ‘barbecued’ smokey flavour.
Napoleon Freestyle F425 : Performance
The only real problem we had was getting the ignition system to work. We had trouble getting the burners to stay lit on our first couple of goes, but after that we never had a problem, so maybe we just had to get used to it.
The grill got hot really quickly - we did notice the temperature dropped very quickly when we lifted the lid, but it rose quickly when the grill was down again. We noticed a cooler spot along the front of the grill - which might be a problem if you are trying to grill all 27 of those burgers at the same time!
Otherwise, it cooked everything well - it burns quite fiercely, so it may take a little practice to get the temperatures just right. However, we had a nice sear on our steaks and we cooked a whole chicken on indirect heat, which took around 1 hour and 20 mins.
Napoleon Freestyle 425 : Care and maintenance
The tables fold down for easy storage. Once built it was pretty light and easy to maneuver for a full-size barbecue. The width drops from 55 inches to 33 when you fold the tables down - not an inconsiderable difference if you need to roll it into a confined place in a garage or a small storage area. If you need to keep it outside, Napoleon does sell a specific cover for this model - we found a few offers online that included a free cover with your grill purchase.
Napoleon advises that you season your cast iron cooking grids to prevent corrosion and that you use mild dish soap and water to clean them after use - do not put them in the dishwasher- however tempting that is!
The brand advises using a brass wire brush to clean the insides and underneath the lid of the cooking box, and to scrape the sear plates using a plastic putty knife. Plastic putty knives or scrapers should be used on all porcelain parts to avoid chips and scratches.
The drip pan slides out from under the grill for easy cleaning - Napoleon advises this is done after every fourth or fifth cook. The control panel should be clean with soapy water only - and no abrasives or abrasive cloth should be used.
Flogas’ Reena Mistry recommends that users don’t forget one important thing after cleaning: “End your cleaning spree by covering up your equipment. Doing so will keep it in the best possible condition until you want to use it again. While it may seem like a fiddly job and is often overlooked, this will help to protect your barbecue from all the elements Mother Nature may throw at it."
Napoleon Freestyle 425 : Price
Coming in at a similar price is the Weber Spirit II E-310 3-Burner Liquid Propane Grill, the Napoleon Freestyle 425 has the same compact feel, and has only three burners but a slightly larger cooking area. It also offers a smoker box for that ‘barbecued’ flavor.
If you’re on a budget, the Cuisinart CGG-7400 Propane 54-Inch Full-Size Four-Burner Gas Grill is a couple of hundred bucks cheaper, with similar features. But with only a three-year warranty, the Napoleon with its 10-year warranty certainly appears to be better value in the long run.
Napoleon Freestyle 425 : User reviews
We found the grill simple to assemble and cook on, and one reviewer agreed: “The Napoleon Freestyle 425 gives me the confidence to grill for family and friends because it’s hassle-free and reliable.’’
However, one user was not impressed with the 425’s ability to retain heat: “It doesn’t stay hot, very hard to get a good char on food especially if using more than one third of the grill surface.’’
Napoleon Freestyle 425 : What the experts say
We asked Ross Bearman, the founder of BBQ gifting company Ross & Ross Gifts, for his opinion about the Napoleon Freestyle 425.
He said "The Napoleon Freestyle 425 offers plenty of choice, with the option of direct and indirect grilling, enabling the cook to rustle up everything from steak and burgers to succulent whole chickens and joints of meat. If you particularly enjoy cooking whole chicken on the grill, the rotisserie option is worth investing in to get perfectly cooked birds with a crisp skin every time."
Should you buy the Napoleon Freestyle 425 ?
With a 10-year warranty, a quality build, great looks, a large cooking area and four burners, the Napoleon Freestyle 425 is great value for money, coming in at a third of the price of some premium models. It may lack some of the bells and whistles of the premium models - and the lack of a side burner may be a turnoff for some - but if you want to cook for a large family or lots of friends, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-value grill.
How does the Napoleon Freestyle 425 compare to competitors?
The Char-Broil Performance 475 4-Burner Gas Grill comes in at a very slightly lower price, has a similarly-sized cooking area, and the added bonus of a side burner - so if you often heat up beans or corn, or want to fry up some onions on a regular basis, this might be attractive to you. However, it can’t compete with Napoleon's 10-year warranty - it is limited to a five-year warranty on the burner, and one year for all other parts.
At almost $200 cheaper than the Napoleon is the Dyna-Glo 4-Burner Gas Grill. Again, it offers plenty of power and cooking space but is let down by a limited warranty and replacement parts hard to find. You may regret not spending the extra couple of hundred bucks in a year or two…
If you're really on a budget, even cheaper is the RevoAce 4-Burner Gas Grill. It even has a side burner, but, though reasonably well-built, it feels a tad wobbly, and there are reports of issues with ignition. Again, at this price, you won’t be expecting Napoleon's 10-year warranty…
How we tested the Napoleon Freestyle 425
At Top Ten Reviews, we're passionate about providing consumers with the best possible purchasing advice. As such, we extensively test products, from the unboxing and assembling to performance, storage, and maintenance.
For each gas grill, we timed and assessed the ease of assembly. Then, our reviewers conducted precise cooking tests, from cooking chicken breasts, steaks, burgers, a whole chicken and vegetables. During these tests, reviewers assess the range of temperatures the grill can reach, the cooking times, how even and regular the temperature is, and any accessories that come with the grill. Once cooking tests are done, we speak to experts and seek advice about the best way to clean, store and maintain the grill.