Japanese automaker secured top among best car value list
Each Top Pick scores at or near the top of its category among more than 300 vehicles Consumer Reports recently tested at its Auto Test Center; has average or better predicted reliability (based on the problems subscribers reported on more than 1.4 million vehicles in Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey), and performed adequately in overall safety if tested by the government or insurance industry. In addition, each model must offer electronic stability control (ESC), a proven lifesaving safety feature, as standard equipment or as a readily available option. Consumer Reports helps you make informed purchase decisions with:
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Japanese brands once again dominate the list of the most highly rated cars in Consumer Reports' annual new car issue, released Thursday, while most products of struggling Chrysler LLC came in for harsh words. But the magazine did name the Chevrolet Avalanche as best pickup truck, replacing last year's winner - the Chevrolet Silverado. It also said the newest models from General Motors and Ford showed improvement in performance and reliability. And it called the just-redesigned Dodge Ram pickup "competitive."
“While Japanese automakers continue to set the standard for the industry in terms of real-world performance and reliability, many domestic, European, and Korean manufacturers are narrowing the gap by building better and more reliable cars,” said David Champion, senior director of automotive testing, Consumer Reports. “While some automakers are still dragged down by old product investments, we expect the race for the front of the class to become even more competitive which may lead to some excellent values for consumers in the near future.”
According to the Automaker Report Cards published in Consumer Reports', Annual Auto Issue, 4 of the top 5 brands are Japanese, with no US car makers making the list — even though there was a 4-way tie for 5th place. Ouch.
Consumer Reports' Top 5 All-Around Car Brands
- (tie) Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Volkswagen, and BMW
Consumer Reports has named its Top Picks for 2009, which includes two new models—the Toyota Highlander and the Chevrolet Avalanche, as top choices for midsized SUVs and pickups. The Highlander ($26,000 to $41,000) is a very refined and versatile vehicle. It provides a comfortable and quiet ride, a nicely finished interior, three rows of seats, and decent fuel economy for its class. The Highlander Hybrid’s fuel economy, 24 mpg overall, is among the best of any SUV in Consumer Report’s Ratings. First-year reliability has been excellent.
Consumer Reports names the Toyota Prius Touring as the best overall value among 300 cars according to the 2009 Annual Auto Issue.
The Prius Touring provides the best overall value because of its comparatively low owner-cost estimate of $26,250 over five years—and a relatively high road-test score of 80 points out of 100. The Prius doesn’t have the least expensive sticker price in its class, but its excellent fuel economy of 42 mpg overall and solid resale value help give it a low owner cost.
The Prius Touring received a cost-per-point of $325. Rounding out the top five models with the best overall value were the Mini Cooper ($330,) Volkswagen Rabbit ($330), Honda Civic EX ($340), and Honda Fit ($350). Five small cars, the Mazda Miata, and the Toyota Camry Hybrid follow with results ranging from $340 to $365 cost per test-score point. One of those cars, the redesigned Honda Fit had the best owner-cost estimate on CR’s best value list, only $24,000 over five years.
Despite the arrival of more gas/electric hybrids, the Toyota Prius remains Top Pick in the “green” car category for the sixth straight year. The Prius’s 44 overall mpg is the best Consumer Reports measured in any five-passenger car. Despite the arrival of more gas/electric hybrids, the Prius ($22,000 to $24,000) leads this category for the sixth straight year. The base model’s 44 overall mpg is the best Consumer Reports has measured in any five-passenger car. The interior is roomy and versatile, and reliability remains excellent. A redesigned Prius will arrive in early summer.
The Sienna ($26,000 to $38,000) offers a spacious, versatile, and comfortable way to carry up to eight people. Consumer Reports found that the quiet, well-finished interior rivals that of some luxury sedans. Electronic stability control is standard. This is the only minivan available with all-wheel drive.
Thanks to a larger and more powerful four-cylinder engine and other upgrades for 2009, the RAV4 ($23,000 to $30,000) narrowly outscored the Subaru Forester to remain our Top Pick for the third straight year. It provides agile handling, a roomy and quiet interior, a comfortable ride, and an optional third-row seat. The four-cylinder version gets the best fuel economy of any automatic, nonhybrid SUV CR has tested.
Lexus LS 460:
With a road test score of 99 out of 100, the Lexus LS 460 ($64,000 to $77,000) is Consumer Reports’ highest-scoring vehicle. It provides a luxurious, uncompromising driving environment, with a supremely comfortable ride and a roomy, well-finished, and exceptionally quiet interior. The LS is brimming with electronic amenities, yet the controls are easy to use. Its 380-hp, 4.6-liter V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission deliver smooth, quick acceleration and relatively good fuel economy.
For the third consecutive year, Honda has earned class leader status for building the best all-around vehicles for American drivers.
The Honda Accord ($21,000 to $31,000) is a roomy, well-rounded sedan that’s easy to live with and enjoyable to drive. It offers a comfortable ride, agile handling, and efficient, refined four- and six-cylinder powertrains. Electronic stability control is standard, and crash-test results are impressive.
The newly-redesigned Honda Fit outpointed competitors including the Toyota Yaris and Nissan Versa in Consumer Reports’ tests of six subcompacts and small sedans for the March issue. The Fit remains CR’s highest-rated subcompact.
The Honda Fit became a hot-selling vehicle when gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon. A redesigned and slightly larger Fit arrived last fall, and it improves on the space-efficient formula that made the last one such a hit with buyers.
Compared to the rest of the group, the Honda Fit Sport 5-speed was the quickest to 60 miles-per-hour (an asphalt-melting 9.2 seconds) and sipped the least amount of fuel during testing (a not too shabby 33 miles-per-gallon overall).
“The Fit seems roomier on the inside than you might expect, with an interior that is unusually versatile and flexible—and cargo capacity rivaling that of a small SUV,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. “Lightness and agility make the Fit fun to drive, the powertrain is smooth and willing, and fuel economy is enviable.”
Mazda MX-5 Miata
The Miata ($22,000 to $29,000) is a true sports car at a reasonable price. With quick, precise steering, a crisp-shifting manual transmission, and balanced handling, it virtually tied the Porsche Boxster in test scoring, but it costs about half the price.
The Toyota Prius base model, Mazda3 hatchback, and four-cylinder versions of the Toyota RAV4, Hyundai Sonata, and Honda Accord also had low cost-per-point estimates of under $400 under Best New-Car Value List.
Consumer Reports identifies the most reliable used vehicles in its “Best of the Best” list, which highlights the most well-rounded vehicles and lists other contenders in order of the overall reliability scores for model years 1999 to 2008. The list features nine categories – small cars, family cars, upscale cars, luxury cars, sports and sporty cars, minivans, small SUVs, midsized and large SUVs, and pickup trucks. Toyota and Honda dominated the majority of the categories, demonstrating consistent reliability and performance, but some recent domestic models are also worthy choices. Below are Consumer Reports’ picks in five categories:
- Small Cars: Honda Civic, Toyota Echo, Scion xB, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, Mazda 3, Mazda Protegé, Subaru Impreza
- Family Cars: Honda Accord, Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Toyota Camry (except ’08 V6), Subaru Outback (6-cyl.), Nissan Altima
- Minivans: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey
- Small SUVs: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander
- Midsized and large SUVs: Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Lexus RX, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota 4Runner, Infiniti FX35, Acura MDX, Infiniti QX4, Lexus GX, Hyundai Santa Fe, Subaru Tribeca, Nissan Xterra (’05-’08), Toyota Sequoia
However the magazine said in announcing its 2009 new car issue, which goes on sale March 3, that "a Japanese nameplate is no guarantee that every car in a model range will be a reliable and good performer." For example, it said, the Honda Element and Toyota Yaris did poorly in its evaluations, while the Ford Flex and F-150, Chevrolet Malibu and Cadillac CTS "rank near the top of their classes."
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