Consumer Reports Honors Best All-Around Models, More
YONKERS, N.Y. — Consumer Reports discussed its latest Automaker Report Cards on Tuesday, recognizing the manufacturers that make what it considers to be the best all-around vehicles.
Sharing this year's top honor are Honda and Subaru.
This marked the fourth straight year Honda has claimed the No. 1 spot, as it scored a 77 out of 100 to tie with Subaru.
To determine an automaker's points total, Consumer Reports takes the average of the OEM models' overall road test scores along with the average predicted-reliability ratings in the magazine's Annual Auto Survey.
Automakers must have five or more of their models tested to be given a report card.
Finishing just behind Honda and Subaru was Toyota, which received a 74. However, the publication emphasized that it has temporarily halted recommending the eight Toyota models that were recalled.
Placing fourth was Hyundai with a score of 73, followed by Nissan and Volkswagen, each of which scored 72.
Conversely, Chrysler received the lowest score, which was lower than its rating in 2009. That said, the automaker did have a recommended vehicle (Ram pickup), unlike last year.
"Honda continues to make many of the best all-around vehicles. Overall, its Honda and Acura models, are the most reliable vehicles in CR's predicted-reliability ratings," Consumer Reports officials noted.
"The most recent models from Honda, however, have not shown the same dedication to interior quality and fuel economy that earlier models did," they added. "Despite its outstanding reliability, CR doesn't recommend the new Insight because of subpar emergency handling and a compromised rear seat."
As far as Subaru, the publication commented: "The redesigned 2010 Legacy sedan and Outback wagon raised Subaru's overall test score from 78 points to 81. That helped contribute to its tie with Honda in CR's rankings.
"However, Consumer Reports no longer recommends the Subaru Impreza WRX because its subscribers reported a relatively high number of problems, including transmission troubles, in the latest survey," analysts shared. "Last year, CR recommended every Subaru model."
Looking at domestics, while acknowledging that 2009 was "especially rough," Consumer Reports pointed out some good news for the Big 3 in that some of Ford's vehicles are on par with Honda and Toyota when it comes to reliability.
And although not all of its models were top performers, the publication recommended three-quarters of the automaker's lineup.
"But in CR's testing, Ford vehicles were not always among the best performers," editors explained. "Although the Flex and Fusion scored highly, most models from Ford, Mercury and Lincoln rate only mid-pack.
"Still, the freshened Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan are excellent overall packages that provide good performance and fuel economy," they added. "Consumer Reports recommends 75 percent of the Ford models that were tested, up from 70 percent last year."
As far as General Motors, the publication noted that its new models are at the top of the class, even though overall reliability "still lags behind most of the competition."
However, the Buick Enclave and LaCrosse, Cadillac CTS, Chevrolet Corvette, Equinox, Malibu and Traverse, in addition to the GMC Acadia were some of the GM models that performed well in the publication's tests.
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports noted that "Chrysler's grades fell to the bottom of the class, and it is the only automaker to drop from last year in all measures."
Officials added: "Most models from the manufacturer have noisy, inefficient, unrefined powertrains, subpar interiors, and poor visibility. The Ram 1500 pickup is the only Chrysler model on Consumer Reports' Recommended list."
The complete report can be found in the publication's 2010 Annual Auto Issue, which will be available March 2.
Best New-Car Values
Moving on to another part of its Annual Auto Issue, Consumer Reports also announced its best and worst new-car values, which were given to vehicles across eight categories.
Topping the list of best values were the Honda Fit and Toyota Prius, each of which scored 2.08. The magazine explained that scores reflect the relation to the value of the average vehicle, which has a designated score of 1.00.
So, in other words, a vehicle with a score of 2.00 is considered to have twice the value of the average vehicle.
Consumer Reports considers performance, utility, reliability and five-year ownership costs when evaluating which cars provide the most value.
Essentially, it's not just cost that determines overall value, editors explained. For instance, the Prius has a heftier price tag ($26,750) than the Fit ($16,020) along with a greater cost per mile. That said, the Prius received an 80 during the publication's road tests, compared to the Fit's score of 68.
"A low price doesn't always equal a good value," explained Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports. "Our best value list can help consumers choose a car that will give them the best bang for the buck."
The complete list of best and worst values, broken down by segment, is as follows:
—Small Cars: Honda Fit
—Family Cars: Toyota Prius IV
—Wagons/Minivans: Hyundai Elantra Touring
—Small SUVs: Subaru Forester 2.5x
—Mid-sized SUVs: Hyundai Santa Fe Limited
—Upscale Sedans: Acura TSX (4-cyl.)
—Luxury Sedans: Infiniti M35 (RWD)
—Sporty Cars: Mini Cooper Limited
—Small Cars: Chevrolet Aveo5 1LT
—Family Cars: Dodge Avenger R/T (3.5, V6)
—Wagons/Minivans: Dodge Grand Caravan SXT (3.8)
—Small SUVs: Dodge Nitro SLT (3.7)
—Mid-sized SUVs: Wrangler Unlimited Sahara
—Upscale Sedans: Dodge Charger R/T (V8)
—Luxury Sedans: Mercedes-Benz S550
—Sporty Cars: Chrysler Sebring Convertible Limited
Consumer Reports Augments Top Picks List
Next up, the publication noted that it has added six new models to its annual Top Picks list for 2010.
Named to the list were: Mazda5, Nissan Altima, Subaru Forester, Volkswagen GTI, Chevrolet Traverse and Silverado.
Already on the list were the Hyundai Elantra SE, Infiniti G37, Toyota Prius and Lexus LS460L.
Models on the list are chosen based on performance, reliability and safety, and are awarded for being the best all-around models in their particular categories.
There were also road-test, reliability and safety requirements with which Top Picks had to comply. Specifically, the publication stated that all of these models:
—Scored at or near the top of its category among during the Auto Test Center evaluations.
—Received predicted reliability scores that were average or better.
—Had adequate performances in overall safety if tested by the government or insurance industry.
—Each vehicle also has to provide electronic stability control either as standard equipment or a readily available option.
"The diversity of this year's Top Picks reflect how competitive the industry has become," Paul shared. "Today's car buyers have more choices than ever when looking for good all-around cars."
He added: "The competition is quite fierce, and often the difference between a Top Pick and a runner-up can be slim. We believe all of our Top Picks this year to be exceptional vehicles that excel in a number of areas."
The following is the complete list of Top Picks broken down by segment:
—Small Sedan: Hyundai Elantra SE.
—Family Sedan: Nissan Altima.
—Sporty Car: Volkswagen GTI.
—Small SUV: Subaru Forester.
—Best Car Overall: Lexus LS 460L.
—Family SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
—Sport Sedan: Infiniti G37.
—Family Hauler: Mazda5.
—Green Car: Toyota Prius.
—Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Silverado.