Consumer Reports ranks Asian autos as the best on the road
Consumer Reports has just released its best and worst automotive picks for 2012, and while there are a few surprises in terms of who’s putting forward the best automobiles, it’s pretty much the same players as last year. Out of the top 10 category picks, only two of CR’s choices were from domestic manufacturers, and the Koreans and Japanese continue to build some of the best cars on the road these days. There were no Europeans in the top 10.
Toyota took five of the top 10 spots, and the company with the highest test score for quality, performance, reliability, and comfort was Subaru, followed closely by Mazda and Toyota. Conspicuously absent from the top 10 was Honda, although its models are still well above average, according to CR.
Some other observations from CR:
Pure battery-powered cars, such as the Nissan Leaf and General Motors Volt, are slowly getting a toehold, and do represent an economical and clean way to get from A to B, but this mode of transport is still very much in its infancy.
Hybrid cars are very much in the mainstream and most of the major carmakers have something on the market right now. Interestingly, according to CR, the top two cars for predicted reliability are both hybrids: the Lexus CT200h and Honda CR-Z. The industry leader here continues to be Toyota.
The new breed of driver-machine interface controls such as Ford’s MyTouch are, in the words of CR, “complicated, poorly executed”, and “very distracting for drivers”. Thumbs down.
Small-displacement diesels are getting better all the time and are not that much different to drive than conventional gas vehicles, but offer superior fuel economy.
The biggest gripe drivers have about other drivers targets those who insist on talking on cellphones or texting while driving. These activities are illegal in many places, but still widespread. Right behind them are nonhandicapped people who park in handicapped zones, and tailgaters.
Anyway, here is CR’s top 10 list.
Family sedan: Toyota Camry Hybrid CR testers like its impressive fuel economy, comfortable ride, and comparatively good acceleration.
Sporty Car: Ford Mustang A perennial favourite, this American classic offers respectable fuel economy, good fit and finish, and agile handling.
Small SUV: Toyota RAV4 Says CR: “the RAV4 continues to set the pace among small SUVs.” Not to mention among the best fuel-economy figures in this category.
Affordable Small Sedan: Hyundai Sonata With the Nissan Altima temporarily out of the picture, the Sonata takes it for equipment level, roominess, thrift, and decent rear-seat legroom.
Sport sedan: Infiniti G This is the sixth straight time this one has taken top honours in this category. CR loved its “agile handling and blistering acceleration”, and the availability of both front- and all-wheel drive.
Green Car: Toyota Prius Duh. The favourite of Vancouver taxi drivers, the Prius is still the mileage king and offers versatility and comfort, not to mention good crash-test results.
Family Hauler: Toyota Sienna CR notes that it’s the V-6 version of this minivan that they chose and they like the fact that it has optional all-wheel drive.
Small Car: Subaru Impreza Kind of curious not to see the Civic or Hyundai Elantra in this spot, but the Impreza got the nod because of its “simple controls” and “refreshingly good visibility”.
Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Avalanche As far as CR is concerned, the Avalanche “provides the best combination of utility and versatility of any pickup we’ve tested”.
Family SUV: Toyota Highlander Now available with a four-cylinder engine, this people carrier has above-average reliability and consistently ranks near the top of its class.
As well as its top 10 list, CR also has a list of recommended models that, while they didn’t make it to the top of the heap, are still worth checking out. In no particular order, they include the Volkswagen Golf TDI, Honda Fit, Mazda5, Toyota Venza, and Kia Soul.
And no best-of list would be complete without a worst-of compilation. For example, CR rated the Jaguar XF and XJ the two worst cars on the road for reliability, with the Audi Q5 V6, Chevy Silverado 2500, and GMC Sierra 2500 pickups rounding out the top five undependable cars. The most expensive car to maintain over a five-year period was the Audi A3 2.0T, with the Mazda6 Grand Touring V6 right behind it. Also in the thick of things here were the BMW 750Li, Mercedes C300, and Chevy Corvette ZO6. CR factored in things like depreciation, loan interest, the cost of fuel, insurance, and maintenance and repair costs for these pocketbook emptiers.
The best all-around vehicle, in CR’s opinion, was the Lexus LS 460L, with the BMW 135i, Infiniti G37, Toyota Camry Hybrid XLE, and Audi A6 not far behind.
The worst? Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, Jeep Liberty, Smart ForTwo, and Toyota FJ Cruiser, in that order.