Automobile ratings Consumer Reports

September 3, 2023
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Best cars and SUVs from our tests

These are the cars that ignite the gasoline in our veins. That we trust. Respect. And love. They also happen to score high in our reliability Ratings and shine in automotive crash tests. So if you corner a Consumer Reports auto expert at a party and ask, “What car should I buy?” these cars will be the answer.

What it takes to be a top pick

Performance: Each model must rank at or near the top of its class in our overall road-test score.

Reliability: A Top Pick must have an average or better predicted reliability Rating, based on problems reported by subscribers who rated 1.1 million vehicles in Consumer Reports’ latest Annual Auto Survey.

Safety: Top Picks must perform effectively if included in crash or rollover tests conducted by the government or insurance industry.

Where are the trucks?

Sharp-eyed readers may notice that there’s no Top Pick in the pickup-truck category. That is because the 2015 Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Colorado are too new to have reliability and testing data, and the Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra and Ram 1500 are not reliable enough. With such a thin field, we decided to pass until next year’s Ratings are in.

Got your own opinion on our 10 Top Picks?

Best overall: Tesla Model S

Photo: Tesla

For all of the impressive new vehicles released in 2014, none was able to eclipse the innovation, magnificence, and sheer technological arrogance of the Tesla. That’s why it’s our best overall pick for the second consecutive year. Through the course of their life cycles, cars become obsolete quickly as newer models appear with updated gizmos. But with Tesla’s over-the-air software updates, a Model S that came off the line in 2013 has many of the same new features as one built today. Despite the Tesla’s teething problems at launch, our subscriber reports showed average reliability. The Model S is a technological tour de force, a high-performance electric vehicle with usable real-world range, wrapped in a luxury package.

Test score: 99
Reliability: Average (3 out of 5)
Overall MPGe*:
Price as tested: $89, 650

*Miles-per-gallon equivalent

Compact car: Subaru Impreza

Photo: Subaru

The Impreza’s interior packaging is outstanding, especially when you put friends (whom you want to remain your friends) in the backseat. Recent ­improvements have made it quieter inside. The ride is more comfortable than in some pricier cars. It drinks more fuel than its peers, but you’re getting all-wheel drive as a benefit. We don’t like the slackness and drone of most continuously variable transmissions, but with recent ­improvements Subaru has managed to mask those quirks. Subaru also has finally embraced the need for a contemporary ­infotainment system. The Impreza is among the pricier compact sedans, but it’s a strong value. A great starter car.

Very good (4 out of 5)
Overall MPG:
, 345

Midsized sedan: Subaru Legacy

Most sedans are excellent appliances—they do their job, but few people wake up excited to drive them. The Legacy exceeds those drab, rental-car expectations, providing a quiet, comfortable, and roomy package that also has the best ride among its peers. Its 26 mpg might seem lackluster, but that’s with the reassurance of all-wheel drive. Years ago, quirky folks bought Subarus to be practical and pragmatic. Now it’s simply a great car with mainstream appeal and impact. If you need a wagon for its cargo space, the Legacy’s Outback sibling is an excellent choice, as well.

Read our complete Subaru Legacy and Outback road tests.

Very good (4 out of 5)
Overall MPG:
$24, 837

Large car: Chevrolet Impala

Photo: Chevrolet

For decades, the Impala nameplate was synonymous with the image of a bad rental car. Make no mistake, this Impala humbles the Toyota Avalon and even the Lexus ES 350. Large and roomy, the Impala has comfortable seats and rides like a true luxury car. The suspension is supple yet responsive, without the body roll that plagues many big cars. For the older demographic this car hopes to attract, the controls are big, intuitive, and easily understood. The only drawback is limited visibility due to its high rear deck and deep parcel shelf. You can get one nicely equipped for $35, 000, with affordable optional forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems. A caveat: Only the V6 version meets our reliability standards.

Average (3 out of 5)
Overall MPG:
$39, 110

Luxury car: Audi A6

Photo: Audi

Quick, nimble, and effortless, the A6 pampers you with extravagant surroundings and a plush ride. But at its heart, this Audi remains a driver-focused machine faithful to its core value of crisp handling on a curvy road. The seats are bolstered for hard cornering yet are comfortable on that 6-hour whisper-quiet cruise to wine country—with a trunk that will store your year’s supply of Riesling. The interior’s styling and layout display functional elegance without showy glitz—a fit-and-finish leitmotif that makes fans of Design Within Reach all squishy inside. All functions are within a finger reach of an infotainment system that becomes logical with some practice. Fuel economy is commendable when combined with the security of the Quattro all-wheel drive. Hit five out of six Powerball numbers? Then take your reward.

Average (3 out of 5)
Overall MPG:

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