Consumer Reports “Best of” List Shows Influence of Alternative Choices
Every year Consumer Reports tallies up the complaints and gripes from its millions of readers and adds in its own staff test conclusions with the result—a list of the 10 Best Cars covering a like number of categories. The list this year reflects the diversity of vehicles available on the market and has a surprising number of alternative fuel and transportation options available. We may not agree with all of the choices, but we have to admit it covers a lot of ground and like the variety (and like Subarus, which helps).
What do you think?
Their order doesn’t signify anything, other than they think the Tesla Model is the greatest thing since sliced bread. We’ve provided links to our own tests and stories on the featured vehicles.
- Tesla Model S – a full electric takes Consumer Reports top spot, the best of the best. This just reiterates what the magazine said when it first tested the Model S. They love it; they really love it. What’s not to like? For a mere $100,000 you can get a full electric luxury car with more than 250 miles of range and free superchargers sprouting all over the world. And now you can get one with all-wheel drive. It’s only money!
- Subaru Impreza – the first of three (!) Subarus on Consumer Reports is the compact all-wheel drive sedan or hatchback. The car features a continuously variable (CVT) transmission that
helps deliver real-world fuel economy in the high 20s. Everything works and it’s a fun-to-drive small car. Models can deliver up to 37 mpg on the highway, which puts it in the Clean Fleet Report AWD 30 MPG Club.
- Subaru Legacy – The Legacy is the Impreza’s big brother. It comes with standard all-wheel drive (as do all Subarus except the BRZ, which was a joint project with Toyota), four- and six-cylinder engines and a couple different configurations. Maybe CR’s New England bias is showing with three AWDs on the top of the list (and a couple more to come). But the Legacy has moved up in appointments in recent models and also can deliver more than 30 mpg on the highway, which puts it in our AWD 30 MPG Club.
- Chevy Impala – an old nameplate brought back on a new vehicle that reflects some of the best that GM has to offer, and something special for the Clean Fleet Report crowd—a model that can run on compressed natural gas (CNG) as well as gasoline. The bi-fuel version is just out, doubling the number of CNG passenger cars on the market. If you’re near a public station and are looking for a full-size car that doesn’t use petroleum, this is your car. We found the gas version of the Impala pretty impressive, too. Check out our review here.
Audi A6 – Let’s get this out of the way first. We love the A6. Great midsize room, wonderful road handling from the base model on up. Touches of luxury, but with a German sense of practicality and usefulness. Add in a diesel engine in the TDI version and you’ve got an easy 38 mpg on the highway. We could get used to that.
- Toyota Prius – The granddaddy of the alternatives to the plain-old-gasoline engine sedan makes the list, as it has for years. Toyota’s hybrid drivetrain offers more than 50 miles per gallon in city driving and only slightly less on the highway. It is fairly spacious inside and has a hatchback that expands its carrying capacity. A no brainer for almost any list. Of course Prius also now comes in several variants, including the small “c,” larger “V” and a plug-in the bumps with fuel economy by offering a limited EV-only range.
- Buick Regal – The midsize Regal is carving out a pretty good reputation for Buick by offering a touch of luxury, a tight suspension and, for Clean Fleet Report readers, a mild hybrid that will deliver up to 36 mpg on the highway.
- Honda Odyssey – Honda’s minivan doesn’t have a hybrid (diesel and hybrid minivans seem to have failed to capture any product planners’ imagination), but it does offer the best-in-class fuel economy of 28 mpg on the highway. Of course, you can also add a load of seven people in the minivan making its functionality its real
highlight. We concurred with CR on this one based on our own test.
- Subaru Forester – The third AWD Subaru on the list is the most station-wagon-like vehicle in the Subaru lineup. Like the other two, with the 2.5-liter four and a CVT, you can pull in more than 30 mpg on the highway (32 to be exact). And haul a lot more ski gear than either the Impreza or Legacy.
- Toyota Highlander – The Highlander compact SUV has established itself as one of the go-to car-based SUVs on the market. The hybrid version will push you up into the high 20s (27 city/28 highway) mpg while still taking along eight people.
So there you have yet another 10 Best Cars list. This one is skewed toward cars that this magazine thinks offer the best reliability while not falling short on performance. We can’t really fault any list that includes an electric, three hybrids and a diesel. No if Subaru get its Crosstrek XV hybrid on the list or finally bring over its diesel engine from Europe, we would have a list that Clean Fleet Report could truly embrace. In the interim, it’s worth cross-checking your personal choices with this list if you have any doubts about what the car will be like to live with in the long haul.
Related Stories You Might Enjoy:
Road Test: 2014 Toyota Prius
Road Test: 2014 Honda Odyssey
Road Test: 2014 Subaru Forester
Road Test: Toyota Highlander Hybrid