These are the top 10 best new cars, trucks, SUVs of 2020, according to Consumer Reports
The quality gap between mainstream and luxury vehicles has shrunk so much that one of the most closely followed auto industry reviewers no longer breaks them into separate categories.
Consumer Reports on Thursday revealed its 2020 Top Picks, its annual list of the best vehicles you can buy. And for the first time, the product-testing website named 10 winners across four price ranges, rather than splitting them into luxury and non-luxury models or dedicating awards to specific body styles.
That's because mainstream vehicle interiors have become more sumptuous, ride handling has improved, advanced safety systems have become common and reliability has spiked.
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"We’re seeing this big merge of luxury-branded vehicles with just normal vehicles. They’re overlapping incredibly," said Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. "You can get a lot of luxury, quiet, comfort, all that, with the normal non-luxury-branded vehicles, and the luxury-branded vehicles are marching down-market, too with some of their offerings."
Luxury vehicles, he said, are more of a status symbol than ever, as evidenced by mainstream brands like Subaru, Mazda and Kia making the Top 10 on the Consumer Reports Car Brand Report Card for 2020. They beat luxury brands like Land Rover, Acura and Cadillac.
"You don't have to pay a lot of money" to get a great vehicle, Fisher said.
Of the 10 Top Picks, Toyota and its luxury brand, Lexus, snagged five wins, demonstrating the brand's even mix of reliability, safety and general satisfaction. Subaru, which scored two Top Picks, was the only other automaker with more than one win. (See the full list below.)
IIHS Top Safety Picks:These 23 cars, SUVs are the safest new vehicles of 2020
The Tesla Model 3 also earned Consumer Reports' Top Pick designation for the first time.
Of the 33 automotive brands tested, Porsche took the top spot, while Hyundai luxury brand Genesis came in second and Subaru third. Fiat landed at the bottom of the list, and Mitsubishi was second to last. (The full list is below.)
A big change Consumer Reports made this year was that vehicles must offer automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection as standard technology if they want to be considered for a Top Pick. In 2020, about 61% of models offer it as standard, compared with 38% in 2019, according to Consumer Reports.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also recently made a similar move, requiring the technology as standard to receive its Top Safety Pick Plus designation.
Both organizations said pedestrian detection systems are critical to help combat the nation's pedestrian safety crisis.
2020 Consumer Reports Top Picks
Toyota Corolla. Testers cited the compact car's ride handling, efficiency and technology.
Subaru Forester: This small boxy SUV won praise for its "practical design, high owner satisfaction and impressive fuel economy."
Subaru Legacy: Recently redesigned, this midsize sedan has "a strikingly smooth ride," standard four-wheel-drive and a roomy interior.
Toyota Prius: This hybrid and its plug-in hybrid sibling, known as the Prius Prime, earned plaudits for exemplary fuel efficiency and excellent reliability.
Kia Telluride: This three-row SUV, which made its debut in 2019, earns another honor after already receiving the North American Utility of the Year and the MotorTrend SUV of the Year awards. It offers "a compelling blend of comfort, features, space and capability for the money."
Honda Ridgeline: This midsize pickup trails competitors like the Toyota Tacoma and Chevrolet Colorado in sales, but it's a good buy for anyone looking for strong fuel economy, flexibility and good handling, according to Consumer Reports.
Toyota Avalon: This large sedan body style may be falling out of favor, but this vehicle achieved a "near-perfect score for ride comfort" and has the highest reliability of any sedan in the publication's ratings.
Lexus RX: Considered to be the first midsize luxury crossover when it debuted in the late 1990s, this vehicle is still going strong. It offers "smooth power delivery, plentiful amenities and proven reliability."
Tesla Model 3: This electric sedan is on this list for the first time due to its "thrilling driving experience" and "high-tech vibe," though Consumer Reports expressed concern that the vehicle's optional Autopilot system can lull drivers into a false sense of security.
Toyota Supra: Revived after about two decades off the market, this sports car was made in partnership with BMW. Its strong engine, solid fuel economy and exceptional handling stood out.
2020 Consumer Reports Brand Report Card
- Porsche (86)
- Genesis (84)
- Subaru (81)
- Mazda (79)
- Lexus (77)
- Audi (77)
- Hyundai (75)
- BMW (75)
- Kia (74)
- Mini (74)
- Tesla (73)
- Toyota (73)
- Lincoln (73)
- Infiniti (73)
- Honda (72)
- Volkswagen (70)
- Nissan (70)
- Chrysler (69)
- Buick (69)
- Mercedes-Benz (68)
- Dodge (68)
- Volvo (67)
- Ford (66)
- Acura (66)
- Chevrolet (61)
- GMC (59)
- Alfa Romeo (59)
- Jaguar (57)
- Cadillac (57)
- Land Rover (50)
- Jeep (49)
- Mitsubishi (46)
- Fiat (43)
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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En español | The best new cars on the road today offer a multitude of high-tech safety features to help protect drivers and their passengers, according to Consumer Reports magazine.
The publication evaluates and tests automobiles to choose its “Top Picks” annually. Each model in this year's Top 10 “comes standard with advanced safety features,” the magazine notes.
Those safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking; pedestrian detection typically incorporating an auto-braking feature; and blind-spot warning that lets a driver know if another vehicle would be difficult to spot in the mirrors or even with a quick turn of the head.
"They have to be standard on all models. Not left off the base model, not left off the manual (transmission) model, not left off the sporty model,” which some buyers might choose because they think (usually incorrectly) that they can react better than built-in safety devices, says Jennifer Stockburger, an engineer and director of operations at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, a 327-acre facility at Colchester in rural Connecticut.
Stockburger describes these protections as “saved my bacon” features.
No large sedans make the Top 10
To warrant inclusion among the magazine's top options, a vehicle must have scored well in Consumer Reports safety tests, including accident avoidance. It must also have earned a passing grade if it's been crash-tested by the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which provides a rating that goes up to five stars, or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a trade group.
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Tesla Model 3 Named Consumer Reports Top Pick For 2020
Tesla is back in Consumer Reports good graces. The nonprofit organization released its “Top Picks” of the year on Thursday, and Tesla’s Model 3 was chosen as one of best vehicles of the year and one of three vehicles in the $45,000 to $55,000 category, alongside the Lexus RX and the Toyota Supra.
CR lauded the Model 3’s “thrilling driving experience,” including “impressive handling and quick precise steering [that] help it feel like a sports car.” They did ding it slightly for having a “stiff ride” overall but said that that’s more than made up for by its long EV battery range and emission-free eco-friendly qualities.
Consumer Reports had famously said the Tesla Model S was perhaps the best car they’d ever tested before dropping the car to the bottom in the magazine’s reliability reports. The Model S regained a good rating late last year.
“The Model 3 proves that EVs can challenge conventional upscale sedans by offering invigorating performance with a high-tech vibe. It boasts rapid acceleration that’s delivered in near silence, with instant passing power available at any speed and enough thrust to push the driver back into the seat,” according to the annual report.
One other downside, however, is the Model 3’s controls. Tesla puts most of the controls for the vehicle for environment and entertainment in a single large screen. Consumer Reports calls that “distracting.”
Something that might change that opinion is Tesla’s continually-improving voice controls, which now allow you to turn on a specific seat’s heater, or open a specific window, just with a voice command. Voice control is simple and minimally distracting, and is probably a preferred method to using a screen or an old-fashioned physical knob or dial.
My automotive reporting lies in the intersection between adventure and mobility and the ways in which vehicles serve as the ultimate lifestyle enablers. I spent the last three years advancing my off-road prowess, obsessing over towing capacity, mounting roof racks and packing cargo space. I also have equal love for both electric and diesel power. I’ve worked in the automotive industry for over a decade in both editorial and communication roles.
Updated: Oct 4, 2021Sours: https://www.forbes.com/wheels/news/tesla-model-3-named-consumer-reports-top-pick-for-2020/
Japanese Car Brands Continue To Dominate Consumer Reports Rankings
Luxury doesn’t always mean reliable.
That’s the lesson from Consumer Reports’ latest brand rankings.
Mazda, one of the smaller mainstream brands, topped the organization’s latest measure of auto brands that excel in quality, safety and reliability. Mainstream brands accounted for six of the top 10 nameplates in the Consumer Reports’ rankings.
Luxury brands including Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover and Alfa Romeo all landed toward the back or end of the pack. The organization ranked 32 brands for its annual cars report.
“It really shows you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to get a desirable vehicle that’s reliable and has all of the technology and safety that you want,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of automotive testing.
Subaru, ranked No. 3, Honda, 5, Toyota, 7, Chrysler, 8, and Buick, 9, all prove that point and present good choices for shoppers looking for different vehicle characteristics, Fisher said.
“If someone cares most about safety and reliability, the answer is Toyota. If you want that, but also something more fun to drive, there is Mazda. Subaru is practical, reliable and offers all-wheel-drive on every model,” Fisher said.
Features, Tech Fell Some Premium Brands
Many expensive luxury brands are running into trouble packing vehicles with newly designed equipment, technology and features. New technology is prone to bugs, Fisher said. Still, BMW and Porsche finished second and fourth.
While two domestic brands—Chrysler and Buick—cracked the top 10 list, most of the other American brands didn’t fare as well. Cadillac was 22, Chevrolet, 24, Ford, 25, GMC, 26, Lincoln, 28, and Jeep, 29.
Fisher attributes much of their reliability problems to the same syndrome that plagues many luxury automakers. These brands have unveiled a flurry of redesigned models in recent years that have kinks that they still need to iron out.
“These extensive redesigns where you have new platforms and new powertrains, those are the things that reliability issues are often associated with,” Fisher said.
By comparison, Chrysler and Buick have older models where engineers have gradually eliminated the design flaws, he said.
Tesla Ranks 15th of 32. Fans Still Love Tesla
Tesla ranked in the middle at No. 15 (tied with Genesis and Mini). Reliability issues with the Model S, Model Y, and Model X hurt the electric vehicle maker. Tesla’s fourth vehicle, the Model 3, is its biggest seller. But Consumer Reports noted that the brand enjoys “remarkably high scores for owner satisfaction and in CR’s road tests.”
A bevy of new models also hurt the reliability of vehicles coming out of South Korea, with sibling brands Hyundai, Kia and Genesis all sliding in the rankings.
Hyundai is launching a series of newly designed rear-wheel-drive vehicles in its Genesis luxury brand, emulating the European brands Genesis is targeting, instead of employing the front-wheel-drive platforms it uses for the Hyundai and Kia brands.
“These are going to be the vehicles that perform very well driving, but it’s going to take a few years to get the kind of reliability that will put them into the upper tier of product rankings,” Fisher said.
European Brands Mostly Below Average
European brands—including the luxury nameplates—mostly came in worse than average. Italian automaker Alfa Romeo captured last place. German automaker Volkswagen was 18.
Many of these brands score poorly year after year, Fisher said. But consumers still buy them because they offer excellent driving dynamics, a plush interior, lots of technology, make an image statement or provide some other characteristic that shoppers seek, Fisher said. Reliability is not the sole decider in vehicle purchases, he said.
But that creates problems for brands like Fiat, which has models that score poorly in driving dynamics and reliability, leaving almost no reason why a consumer would shop the brand, Fisher said. Fiat wasn’t ranked in this year’s report, but its Fiat 500X garnered one of the worst overall scores of any vehicle tested. The brand sold barely 4,000 vehicles in the U.S. last year, less than half the number it sold in 2019, according to Motor Intelligence.
Common Findings by Consumer Reports, J.D. Power
The Consumer Reports finding mirrored a study of long term dependability from automotive market research firm J.D. Power.
That Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) of reliability of vehicles from the 2018 model year found that owners of Asian brand vehicles experienced on average 115 problems per 100 vehicles, the fewest of any grouping. That compared to 126 problems for domestic brands and 131 for European brands. The industry average was 121, according to J.D. Power.
CR’s 10 Top Picks: 4 from Toyota, Lexus
Consumer Reports also highlighted the 10 models it likes best, organized by price segments. Eight of CR’s 10 Top Picks are Japanese nameplates, including four from Toyota and its Lexus luxury brand. Subaru had two models. Tesla was the only domestic automaker.
Its top choices in the under $25,000 segment are the Toyota Corolla sedan and Mazda CX-30 subcompact crossover. It liked the Subaru Forester SUV, Toyota Prius Hybrid and Toyota Camry in the $25,000 to $35,000 segment.
Consumer Reports picked the Subaru Outback SUV-like station wagon, the Kia Telluride three-row SUV and Honda Ridgeline midsize pickup truck in the $35,000 to $45,000 category. It gave the nod to the Lexus RX SUV and the Tesla Model 3 electric sports sedan in the $45,000 to $55,000 segment.
Consumer Reports considered only new vehicles that it has tested at its 327-acre test track in Connecticut for its brand rankings. CR says it conducts more than 50 tests on every vehicle, evaluating braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. It then compiles an overall score based on multiple factors. The rankings consider predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction based on Consumer Reports’ member surveys, the test results, key safety features and crash-test results, if available.
Ram wasn’t ranked despite selling nearly a half-million pickups in 2020. To be included in the brand rankings, an automaker needs to have at least two tested vehicles; CR has tested the Ram 1500 but not the larger 2500 or 3500 that are seldom used as family cars. Fiat only has one model left in the US, the 500X crossover, and had it been ranked as a brand, it would have been last.
CR also is adding a new Green Choice endorsement in its individual model recommendations. It will use a green leaf icon to designate cars and trucks in its ratings that are in the lowest 20% grouping for producing greenhouse gases and smog-forming emissions, according to EPA data.
“For a long time we’ve included fuel efficiency in our road-test score for vehicles, but until now we haven’t looked at what’s coming out of the tailpipe,” Fisher said. “Green Choice will make the vehicles with the lowest greenhouse gas and smog-forming emissions readily apparent to consumers.”
A nationally known editor and writer with long tenure at some of the nation’s largest news organizations, including the Los Angeles Times. He is a noted expert in the car-buying process and has covered many facets of the automotive industry, including autonomous technology, alternative fuel vehicles and safety issues. He is the former editor of Trucks.com. Jerry currently writes for Forbes, Transport Topics and other publications.
Published: Feb 18, 2021Sours: https://www.forbes.com/wheels/news/japanese-car-brands-dominate-consumer-reports-rankings/
Sedans 2020 reports best consumer
Subaru's Forester has made Consumer Reports' Top Picks 13 times since it was first produced in 1997.
En español | If you're planning to buy a new car, take advantage of all the high-tech safety features you can afford.
That's the message from Consumer Reports, which released its 10 favorite cars, SUVs and trucks Thursday from among 240 vehicles that its researchers tested and rated for the 2020 model year. The Yonkers, New York-based nonprofit and magazine has been testing automobiles since its founding in 1936 and has been anointing its Top Picks since 1997.
Many manufacturers, such as Subaru and Toyota, already are equipping their more affordable vehicles with safety systems such as forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, says Jonathan Linkov, Consumer Reports deputy auto editor. Some luxury models still don't incorporate those features.
"These are really great features to avoid an accident,” he says. “The car can react faster than you can."
Technology can stop fender benders
Cameras and other sensors keep an eye on traffic around you, warning you of a vehicle in your blind spot or a car approaching faster than you anticipated. But most important: The systems can brake for you if necessary, keeping you, your car and someone who might have run in front of you intact in a way that wasn't widely available five years ago.
"The system will help identify something before you can pull out,” Linkov says. Vehicle models received extra points for including four specific safety systems at all trim levels, and each of the Top Picks had to have forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection as standard equipment.
Consumer Reports has come out with its annual list of the 10 models that it believes are the best choices in a variety of categories. The publication makes these picks by using both internal tests and survey results. Also, earning a spot requires the model coming standard with a forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection.
Small Car: Under $25,000
The Toyota Corolla remains the easy answer for anyone who is asking for a safe, yet inexpensive sedan. If a person is looking for slightly more performance capability, then there's the Apex model. Plus, there's a rumor of an even more exciting GR variant coming in the future.
Subcompact Crossover: Under $25,000
The Mazda CX-30 only debuted for the 2020 model year, and the model has already earned a spot on the Consumer Reports list of best cars. For 2021, the crossover received the Turbo trim. It starts at $29,900, which is higher than CR's price range for the award, but the variant gets buyers a 2.5-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 250 horsepower.
There are a lot of hybrid vehicles on the market these days, but Consumer Reports still ranks the venerable Toyota Prius as the best one in its price range. For the 2019 model year, Toyota even introduced an all-wheel-drive version for folks who love the vehicle but want a little more traction.
Midsized Sedan: $25,000-$35,000
Yep, it's another Toyota. Midsized sedans might not be as popular as in previous years, but the Camry is still a stellar entry in the segment. The company offers lots of variants, too, like the hybrid, an all-wheel-drive version, and the sporty TRD. A minor refresh for the 2021 model year included improvements to the safety assistance tech.
Small Crossover: $25,000-$35,000
The Subaru Forester has a refresh on the way for the 2022 model year, but Consumer Reports thinks the existing one is good enough to earn a spot on this list. There's also a more rugged Wilderness variant under development for buyers who intend to take the crossover off-road.
Here's a second Subaru. The Outback is a bit bigger than the Forester but still offers two rows of seating. Its styling is more in line with a station wagon with a suspension lift, rather than a traditional crossover. A Wilderness version is coming for the Outback, too.
Midsized Three-Row Crossover: $35,000-$45,000
The Kia Telluride is a much-lauded vehicle with awards that include World Car of the Year and North American Utility of the Year. Consumer Reports likes it, too. For the 2021 model year, there's a slight price increase.
Compact Pickup Truck: $35,000-$45,000
The Honda Ridgeline just received a refresh for the 2021 model year. The changes include a new face with blockier styling that's generally more aggressive. All-wheel drive is now standard for all grades of the pickup.
Midsized Crossover: $45,000-$55,000
A refresh for the 2020 model year gave the Lexus RX a slightly updated appearance, including new headlights. The bigger changes were on the inside where the automaker made a 12.3-inch infotainment screen available. The safety tech improved, too.
Tesla Model 3
Electric Car: $45,000-$55,000
Consumer Reports is impressed with the Tesla Model 3, particularly the EV's acceleration, handling, and massive touchscreen. To make the model even more impressive the automaker just cut its base price by $1,000. A higher capacity battery was also among some recent updates.
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