CONSUMER REPORTS NAMES SEVEN NEW TOP PICKS FOR 2017
Chevrolet Cruze first domestic to earn top compact car category in over a decade; Redesigned Honda Ridgeline debuts as Top Pick for compact truck
YONKERS, NY — Consumer Reports, the world’s largest and most trusted independent, nonprofit consumer organization, today announced that seven new vehicles made their 2017 Annual Top Picks list—the Toyota Yaris iA, Chevrolet Cruze, Kia Optima, Toyota Highlander, Audi Q7, Toyota Prius and Honda Ridgeline—in each of their respective categories. The findings were unveiled at the National Press Club, before the Washington Automotive Press Association.
The redesigned Cruze earned top marks in the highly-competitive Compact Car category. The Cruze’s Overall Score bested the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla‒two historically entrenched stalwarts. With the Impala carrying over its top score for Large Sedan from 2016, the Cruze’s addition marks the first time Chevrolet has held two of the Top Pick sedans since CR began naming them in 1992.
“The Cruze is impressive. With such a smooth ride and quiet interior, it feels like a much larger car, and reliability has been solid right out of the gate,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of automotive testing.
Another impressive redesign, the Honda Ridgeline debuted as CR’s Top Pick for Compact Pickup Truck. The Ridgeline demonstrates that trucks can be both refined and versatile. CR’s engineers found the Ridgeline drives more akin to a sedan than its roughneck rivals. It also handles far better than any compact or full-sized pickup, and achieves a 20-mpg overall, shaming all non-diesel trucks for fuel economy.
In order to be a Consumer Reports Top Pick, a model has to have an exemplary Overall Score in its vehicle category. This single number consolidates the findings from four key pillars: road-test performance, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety. A car that bests the competition by these measures is truly extraordinary. Consumer Reports’ 2017 Top Picks list, Car Brand Report Card and more are available in the Annual Auto Issue, and online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/april.
CR’s 2017 Top Picks By Category:
SUBCOMPACT CAR: Toyota Yaris iA ($17,570) Developed by Mazda, launched by Scion, and now marketed as a Toyota, the Yaris iA proves that subcompact cars can delight. A different model from the Toyota Yaris hatchback, the frisky iA sedan stands out in a segment filled with insubstantial models.
COMPACT HYBRID: Toyota Prius ($27,323) The car that pioneered the hybrid movement and defined fuel efficiency for four model generations still stands tall as an innovative green machine. Its fuel economy in CR’s test was a staggering 52-mpg overall—the highest the organization has ever recorded in a car that doesn’t plug in. The Prius also touts excellent reliability, a remarkable accomplishment given the inherent complexity of its hybrid powertrain.
LUXURY SUV: Audi Q7 ($68,695) The seven-passenger Q7 is the highest-rated SUV CR has recently tested. Sumptuous and pampering, it feels more like a luxury sedan than an SUV. Despite its generous size, the Q7 has genuine agility, with road-hugging chops, a settled ride, and excellent brakes.
SPORTS CAR: Mazda MX-5 Miata ($29,905) For the second straight year, the MX-5 Miata retains its spot for CR’s Top Pick. Its alchemical formula has been honed since 1990, with the core ingredients consistently being a pliant four-cylinder engine, rear-wheel drive, sharp handling, and light weight.
SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester ($27,145) The Subaru Forester sets the standard for small SUVs, combining relatively roomy packaging, fuel efficiency, solid reliability, and easy access. Large windows and a boxy shape maximize room for passengers and gear in sharp contrast to style trends exhibited by competitors that compromise practicality. Performance is decent from the standard 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine, and fuel economy is excellent at 26 mpg overall.
MIDSIZED SUV: Toyota Highlander ($41,169). In this competitive segment, midsized SUVs have to do it all well, and none do it better than the Toyota Highlander. Throw in good performance, fuel economy, and long-term reliability, and Highlander’s appeal is clear. The 2017 update sees 25 more horsepower for the V6 engine, two additional gears and advanced safety equipment made standard. In other words, this gem of an SUV has all the right moves.
COMPACT PICKUP TRUCK: Honda Ridgeline ($36,480) Innovation abounds in this suburbia-targeted pickup, proving that trucks can be both refined and versatile. The Ridgeline isn’t up for big-time towing or off-road adventures, but this smartly designed truck more than makes up for that with other benefits. The lockable in-bed trunk and dual-mode tailgate add to its flexibility. Many truck buyers dream of a large, rugged behemoth, but the Ridgeline excels at the factors most noncommercial drivers with weekend warrior aspirations will appreciate.
COMPACT CAR: Chevrolet Cruze ($23,145) This hushed, smooth-riding sedan is roomy enough to be a budget-friendly alternative to a midsized car. The polished 153-hp turbocharged four-cylinder engine is lively yet frugal. It achieved a good 30-mpg overall—and an impressive 47-mpg on the highway.
MIDSIZED SEDAN: Kia Optima ($25,860) This Kia Optima rocks the midsized sedan segment as a smart alternative to the me-too mainstream. It checks all of the right boxes for family-sedan buyers, with responsive handling, a steady ride and pleasant powertrain, short stopping distances, easy-to-use controls, and a roomy backseat. The Optima is a vehicle that delivers all of these virtues in a stylish, value-laden package that’s filled with features usually found on pricier cars.
LARGE SEDAN: Chevrolet Impala ($39,110) The Chevrolet Impala continues to reign as the leading large sedan for its third consecutive year. With enough cabin space to fit five comfortably, the roomy, supportive seats put the driver in perfect position to access the intuitive controls. Sedan shoppers browsing upmarket choices would be wise to give this smart, competitively priced alternative serious consideration.
Complete details on Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for 2017, Car Brand Report Card, Best and Worst Lists and other key findings are available in the Annual Auto Issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands March 7th or visit Consumer Reports’ 2017 Autos Spotlight page http://www.ConsumerReports.org/april.
Consumer Reports’ testing procedures are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or Web site. More than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. Roughly 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up on each test car during the testing process. CR buys all its test cars anonymously from dealers. Other reviewers base their evaluations on press cars that are hand-picked by the automakers.
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AUDI LEADS PACK OF LUXURY BRANDS IN CONSUMER REPORTS 2017 ANNUAL BRAND REPORT CARD
Porsche, BMW, Lexus, Subaru round out the top five
YONKERS, NY — Luxury cars from brands like Audi, Porsche, BMW and Lexus are some of the best autos on the road, according to the 2017 Brand Report Card from Consumer Reports, the world’s largest and most trusted independent, nonprofit consumer organization.
For the second year in a row, Audi (81) earned the highest overall brand score in Consumer Reports’ annual indicator of which brands make the best cars. Porsche (78), BMW (77), Lexus (77), and Subaru (74) rounded out the top five in CR’s rankings. Though the top five brands are unchanged from last year, there was some shuffling in the standings. Porsche and BMW each rose by two spots, while Lexus fell back one spot and Subaru moved down by three.
Consumer Reports’ analysis also revealed that consumers don’t have to spend luxury car money to get a quality vehicle. Kia finished just outside the lead pack in sixth place and Mazda came in seventh. CR currently recommends 100 percent of the Mazda models and 71 percent of the Kia models it has tested.
“Our annual analysis reveals that building one or two great vehicles is achievable, but making a whole lineup of excellent ones is much more difficult,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing.
In total, 31 brands were included in the 2017 Brand Report Card. To determine which brands consistently deliver cars that serve consumers well, CR tabulated the Overall Score, which is a combination of road test score, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety results for each tested model of a brand. Then CR’s auto experts averaged those scores at the brand level as an indicator of which brands make the best cars. Brands with just one tested model were omitted.
CR’s rankings are based only on vehicles that are currently for sale on the market and that the organization has tested at its 327-acre Automotive Test Center in Connecticut. Just as with the organization’s comprehensive auto Ratings, CR’s Brand Report Card is intended to spur lagging automakers to put out safer, better-performing vehicles while equipping consumers with unbiased information to make better choices—leading to a better marketplace.
Scores for all 31 brands included in the Consumer Reports 2017 Brand Report Card are available in the Annual Auto issue or by visiting the Consumer Reports 2017 Autos Spotlight at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/april.
Two domestic brands are in the top 10 this year. Tesla made its debut in CRs rankings in eighth place, though its position is based on just two tested models. Buick’s strong reliability score was enough to balance its middling road test score and secure tenth place, just ahead of Toyota
Other domestic brands didn’t fare as well as Tesla and Buick. Lincoln, Chevrolet, and Ford finished mid-pack and were largely bogged down by their inconsistent reliability scores. In a bright spot, however, 18th-ranked Cadillac was among the biggest risers, moving up six places compared with last year.
Chrysler gained seven places and finished just below Cadillac. The brand has one of the higher average scores in CR’s road tests, but it’s based on just two models, the 300 and Pacifica. Neither of them earned a high enough Overall Score to be Recommended due to their below-average reliability. All other Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) brands finished close to the bottom of the rankings, with Fiat coming in last.
“Chrysler is on the right track with the capable and sophisticated new Pacifica minivan, which is a real standout. If the company can spread that quality throughout its fleet, and improve its uneven reliability, its ranking in our annual analysis could continue to rise,” Fisher said.
Honda was the only other Asian brand to finish in the top 10, in the number nine spot. Toyota (11) fell out of the top 10 this year due in part to disappointing reliability from the redesigned Tacoma. CR is currently Recommending 86 percent of the Honda models it has tested, and 78 percent of the Toyotas. Meanwhile, Hyundai landed close behind in the 12th position and Nissan was ranked 22nd.
This year, CR does not have Brand Report Cards for Alfa Romeo, Genesis, Maserati, Ram, and Smart because the organization has fewer than two currently tested models from those makes. Ratings on individual models from those brands are available in Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue and at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/april.
The complete 2017 Brand Report Card is available in the Annual Auto Issue of Consumer Reports and online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/april February 28, 2017. Updated daily, CR.org is the go-to website for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information. Connect with us for live coverage of the Autos Spotlight, on Facebook.com/ConsumerReports and on Twitter: @ConsumerReports and @CRCars. Full coverage of the 2017 Autos Spotlight is available at http://www.ConsumerReports.org/april.