Consumer Reports gets top vehicle picks mostly rightWed, 26 Feb 2014 00:00:00 -0800
Despite the publication's uncomfortably broad definition of reliability -- it spans everything from "the engine fell out" to "the touchscreen display shows fingerprints too easily" -- automakers still clamor to get on the Consumer Reports recommended vehicle list. This year's winners cover a broad spectrum of vehicles, and for the most part, we're in agreement with the magazine's editors, with one significant exception at the top of the list.
Best overall vehicle went to the Tesla Model S. We'll give Tesla credit for redefining electric cars, making them even more appealing to buyers, and taking the company into the luxury big leagues. At the same time, we're not sure how the Model S can be named a Best anything if you don't live near the required charging infrastructure or want to drive beyond the vehicle's still-limited range.
Base Price: $89,650
CR's pick for best small SUV goes to the Subaru Forester. After getting a much needed redesign, the Forester climbed to the top of its category. In addition to being one of the roomiest and most user-friendly SUVs on the market, the Forester delivers class-leading 26 mpg overall and 35 mpg on the highway. We've been impressed with the car as well.
Base Price: $26,814
Best midsized sedan goes to the wildly popular Honda Accord, four-cylinder edition. Here at Autoweek, we absolutely love our long-term Honda Accord, so it comes as no surprise that it takes home the best midsized sedan award. The Accord offers up to 30 mpg overall and an impressive 40 mpg on the highway.
Base Price: $23,270
The compact car category award goes to the Subaru Impreza. Subaru's all-wheel-drive Impreza delivers both affordability and an array of options. The Impreza comes in both sedan and hatchback variety with commendable fuel economy considering the AWD system.
Base Price: sedan, $21,345; hatchback $22,345
And the winner of the best midsized SUV goes to the Hyundai Sante Fe. The Santa Fe was redesigned for 2013, sporting a V6 engine under the hood making 290 hp and an overall fuel economy of 20 mpg. The seven-passenger SUV offers tons of features for little cash, as well as a backup camera, which comes standard. The third-row seating is limited to kids under 4 feet, though.
Base Price: $36,290
Green cars remain popular, and this year's CR favorite is the Toyota Prius. The Prius combines affordability, practicality and ridiculous fuel economy; 44 mpg overall to be exact. Although buyers will be saving at the pump, the Prius didn't do too hot in an Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash test, and we've found recent versions offer all the driving enjoyment of an empty cardboard box.
Base Price: $26,750
Ram grabs the spot for the best pickup truck for 2014 with its 1500. The Ram 1500 packs a 5.7-liter V8 under the hood and an all new eight-speed automatic transmission delivering brute power while returning a relatively good overall fuel economy of 15 mpg.
Base Price: $42,810
Consumer Reports gives the best luxury car spot to the German engineered Audi A6. The supercharged V6 engine and smooth eight-speed automatic transmission deliver power and precise handling. The A6 is available with all-wheel drive delivering 22 mpg as well as the TDI version, returning 29 mpg. The A6 has been a midsize favorite here too, and it deserves all the accolades it gets.
Base Price: $56,295
The Germans leave with two awards as BMW takes the best sports sedan spot with the 328i. BMW's 3-series' 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder offers decent pep and good fuel economy, though in our opinion, it's a poor substitute for the brand's magical straight-six 335i.
Base Price: $43,195
The Honda Odyssey claims the title of the ultimate minivan, according to Consumer Reports. This family-friendly vehicle seats up to eight passengers with the second- and third-row seats having the ability to be configured in order to accommodate passengers or oddly shaped cargo. The V6 engine delivers more than enough power returning decent fuel economy. We're big Odyssey fans too, but note that a loaded version of this van can get uncomfortably close to $50,000.
Base Price: $36,830
By Natalie Sejnost