Toyota & Honda domination...!!!
Best Cars 2007 - Consumer Reports : Yahoo! Finance
Best Cars 2007 - Consumer Reports
by Peter Valdes-Dapena
Thursday, March 8, 2007provided byCNNMoney.com
To be a 'Top Pick', a vehicle must score at or near the top of its category in Consumer Reports' testing, must have at least average reliability and must perform well in government and Insurance Institute crash tests.
BUDGET CAR, SUBCOMPACT
Cost: $14,000 to $16,000
Consumer Reports calls the Fit the "best overall in a new class of fuel-efficient cars."
Fuel economy, as measured in Consumer Reports' controlled tests, was 32 mpg with an automatic transmission and 34 mpg with a manual.
"Not only is it fun to drive, but its compact dimensions pack an impressive amount of interior room and versatility," the magazine said.
The Fit got top scores in "Reliability," "Crash protection" and "Satisfaction." Its road test score was good, but not the best.
This has become a crowded market segment with a number of good entries, said David Champion, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports.
"The Nissan Versa we thought was very good," he said. "The Kia Rio and Hyundai Accent were very good."
SEDAN, LESS THAN $20,000
Cost: $17,000 to $23,000
Cosumer Reports praises the Civic for its "relatively roomy interior, comfortable ride, smooth powertrain and good handling."
It also helps that the Civic has good reliability, crash test results and fuel economy.
In Consumer Reports' tests, it got 31 mpg with a manual transmission and 28 with an automatic. The hybrid version got 37 mpg.
SEDAN, $20,000 TO $30,000
Cost: $20,000 to $33,000
Like the Civic, the Accord is availaible in a hybrid version, which offers only slightly better fuel economy, however.
In Consumer Reports' testing, the Accord Hybrid got 25 mpg, while a V6 Accord got 23 mpg and the 4-cylinder version got 24.
"The Accord provides an excellent balance of comfort, roominess, ride and handling," the magazine says.
SEDAN, $30,000 TO $40,000
Cost: $35,000 to $39,000
The G35 is available in rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive.
The G35 "really blows the BMW 3-series away at its own game," said David Champion, head of auto testing for Consumer Reports. "It's extremely fast - 306 horsepower, zero-to-60 in 5.4 seconds - really agile handling, great steering, reasonable amount of room inside and really easy to live with on a day-to-day basis."
Its reliability has also been excellent, Champion said, although the record for parent company Nissan has been spotty.
Cost: $42,000 to $45,000
The M35 earned the highest score of any sedan in Consumer Reports' testing, according to the magazine.
"Well equipped and comfortable, it's just as capable on a twisty two-lane road as it is cruising down the highway."
Like the smaller G35 - also a Top Pick - it's available with either rear- or all-wheel-drive. The V8-power M45 costs about $55,000.
In the same class, the BMW 530i and Audi A6 are also worth considering, the magazine said.
SUV, LESS THAN $30,000
Cost: $23,000 to $27,000
The Rav4 was redesigned for 2006, adding more room and an optional third row of seats. An optional V6 engine gives smooth performance and good power while provided just 1 mpg lower fuel economy in Consumer Reports' testing.
The Rav4 also got top marks for reliability and crash protection.
The newly redesigned Honda CR-V is another good choice, the magazine said.
SUV, MORE THAN $30,000
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Cost: 35,000 to $40,000
Although the Highlander Hybrid is a Top Pick, even Consumer Reports wouldn't advise you to buy it now. That's because the redesigned 2008 version will be available very soon.
The 2007 Highlander offers a comfortable, quiet ride and excellent quality, according to Consumer Reports. The new version will have a movable second row, to allow for more space in the third row, according to Toyota.
The Hybrid offers all the benefits of the non-hybrid Highlander with better acceleration but only slightly better fuel economy (22 mpg) in Consumer Reports' testing. The redesigned will be the same, in terms of the drivetrain, as the current version.
Cost: $26,000 to $28,000
When Consumer Reports first started releasing "Top Picks" in 1997, the minivan chosen was the Dodge Caravan/Plymouth Voyager.
The Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey have traded the top spot ever since. With the addition of a more powerful engine, the Sienna takes it back after two years of going to the Odyssey.
"It's a little bit quieter, a little bit more refined, little bit more comfortable than the Odyssey," said David Champion, head of Consumer Reports' auto testing.
Champion also said that, for his personal use, he would go for the Honda.
"I'm a bit more of a driver," he said. "I prefer the Odyssey. It's got a bit more of a sports car performance in a minivan."
The Prius got 44 mpg overall in Consumer Reports' testing, the best the magazine has ever measured for a 5-passenger vehicle.
The interior is also roomy enough, for both occupants and luggage, to make the Prius a viable alternative to an ordinary family sedan.
A rearview camera is available and, the magazine says, "highly recommended."
FUN TO DRIVE
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Cost: $21,000 to $27,000
The Miata offers balanced handling, pinpoint-precise steering and a crisp six-speed manual transmission.
Its cloth top can be raised and lowered with one hand without leaving the seat. A new power-folding hard-top is available for 2007.
Reliability is fair, but that's good enough to earn a recommendation.
The Miata competes against the Pontiac Solstice and the closely-related Saturn Sky. So far, the Solstice has been outselling the Miata.
"I think [the Solstice] is going to do very well for the first couple of years," said David Champion, head of Consumer Reports' auto testing, "but I think, over the long term, this is the better sports car."
Where are the American cars?
This year's Consumer Reports Top Picks are all vehicles produced by Japanese companies. This is actually the second year in a row that that's been the case. In the 10 years that Consumer Reports has produced annual "Top Picks" lists, it's the fifth time there have been no American cars among them.
The biggest problem is that fewer American cars even make it into consideration. To be a "Top Pick," a vehicle must first earn Consumer Reports' general recommendation. That doesn't mean it's the best, but it's at least proven to be reliable, safe, it handles well and is reasonably easy to live with.
Of 23 Toyotas tested by Consumer Reports since 2000, 20 are recommended. Of 37 General Motors cars tested, only 13 are recommended. For Ford, it's eight out of 17 and, for Chrysler, four out of 20.
Besides reliability, American cars can fall down in other areas. Ford, for example, tends to do well in ride and handling, but poorly in braking performance and fuel economy, according to Consumer Reports. While GM has improved greatly in the "fit and finish" of its cars, there still tend to be problems with emergency handling and fuel economy, Consumer Reports says.
Chrysler has the second-lowest score of any automaker in Consumer Reports testing. Bad visibility, cheap interiors and noisy engines are cited as specific problems.
Things are getting better, though. New models and recently redesigned cars from Ford and GM are much more reliable and getting better test scores. The Ford Focus and Buick Lucerne, while not top-rated, are cited as two very good cars that signal a potential turnaround for Detroit products.
And in case you think Consumer Reports always likes Japanese car companies, there is one company with lower average scores than Chrysler: Suzuki.
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