Consumer Reports Top Ten Picks of the Year

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Every April, Consumer Reports publishes its Annual Auto Issue. This is the most widely read issue of Consumer Reports by far. There is information not only on new cars and trucks, but also on cars that have been in operation for years. VehicleVoice survey research and AutoPacific survey and focus group research concludes that Consumer Reports can have a significant impact on what cars and trucks an American driver may select. When asked what information sources a person uses when deciding what car to look at, Consumer Reports is often the first source mentioned.

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Consumer Reports has gone beyond simply reporting the results of the surveys of its subscribers. Now they weigh in editorially and even select a Top Ten. But those vehicles are those discussed in Consumer Reports’ press releases. When you delve deeper into the April 2006 issue itself, there are many more vehicles worthy of attention. But, first for the Top Ten, as determined by Consumer Reports:

Best Sedan Less Than $20,000: Honda Civic

Best Sedan $20,000 to $30,000: Honda Accord

Best Sedan $30,000 to $40,000: Acura TL

Best Luxury Sedan: Infiniti M35

Best SUV Less Than $30,000: Subaru Forester

Best SUV More Than $30,000: Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Best Pickup Truck: Honda Ridgeline

Best Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Best Green Car: Toyota Prius

Most Fun to Drive: Subaru Impreza WRX-STi

Yes, you are right. There are no American cars or trucks in the list. There are no European cars in the list. There are no Korean cars in the list. Japanese brands swept the 2006 Consumer Reports Top Ten. And of those Japanese brands, Honda (including Acura) got five of the Top Ten positions. This is the first time that Japanese brand vehicles have swept these awards.

There is consolation, of course, that the Hondas are at least assembled in the USA.

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As you flip through the Consumer Reports issue there are many more gems:

Consumer Reports Most Satisfying Vehicles

Among the most satisfying vehicles (scoring 89% or higher) are the Toyota Prius (95%), Chevrolet Corvette (93%), Infiniti M35/M45 (92%), Ford Mustang V8 (89%), Lexus GS300/GS430 (89%), Lexus LS430 (89%), Honda Ridgeline (89%)

Consumer Reports Least Satisfying Vehicles

The woefully satisfying cars and trucks are some expected culprits: Mitsubishi Lancer (26%), Nissan Sentra (42%), Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series – essentially the same truck (43% each), Mitsubishi Outlander (43%), Suzuki XL-7 (44%), Saturn Ion (45%), Dodge Stratus (45%), Chrysler Sebring (45%), Ford Taurus (46%), Chevrolet Equinox (47%), Suzuki Aerio (48%), all Chrysler Minivans (49%), Pontiac Grand Prix (49%), Kia Optima (49%), all General Motors Minivans (50%) and Chrysler Sebring Convertible (50%).

Once Again, Most Satisfying AutoPacific VSA Winners Trip in Reliability Results

If you go further into Consumer Reports’ grimble you will find that Infiniti QX56, Nissan Armada, and Nissan Titan are included in the list of least reliable vehicles. Note that none of these three are included in their least satisfying listings. These three vehicles do extremely well in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards research. They clearly satisfy their buyers, but they are flawed by irritating quality and design glitches. AutoPacific’s research shows that brakes are a particular problem with these big Nissan trucks built in Canton, Mississippi.

More Ways to Slice the Results

If CR’s Top Ten is not enough, then you can wade into their Quick Recommendation section where they give a plethora of kudos. It really does turn out to be pretty much of a mishmash when they are all done:

Best Small Car for All-Around Competence and Safety: Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla

If you are looking for a fun-to-drive Small Car with agile handling: Ford Focus, Mazda3, Subaru Impreza, Mini Cooper

Best Sedan for All-Around Ability: Honda Accord

If fuel economy is important: Toyota Prius, Honda Civic Hybrid

Most interior room: Toyota Avalon, Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego, Nissan Maxima

For those who want sporty driving, agility and fun: Acura TSX, Audi A4, Subaru Legacy, Cadillac CTS

Best sedan combination of luxury and sport: Infiniti M35, Acura TL, BMW 530i, Cadillac STS

Best sedan for quiet and luxurious ride: Lexus LS430, Lexus ES330

Best Small SUV for Comfort Versatility and Snow Traction: Subaru Forester, Honda CRV, Pontiac Vibe, Toyota Matrix

If off-roading is important: Jeep Liberty

Best Mid-Sized and Large SUV for Comfort, Versatility and Snow Traction: Toyota Highlander, Lexus RX350, Honda Pilot

If off-road capability is important: Toyota 4Runner, Lexus GX470, Toyota Land Cruiser

If towing is important: Nissan Pathfinder, Toyota Sequoia, Chevrolet Suburban, GMC Yukon XL

Most agile and fun to drive SUVs: Subaru Forester, BMW X5, Nissan Murano, Infiniti FX35, BMW X3

Minivans: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna

Pickup Trucks Best for All-Around Use: Honda Ridgeline, Nissan Frontier

If more cargo hauling and towing is required: Toyota Tundra, Chevrolet Ridgeline

Sporty Cars: BMW M3, Mini Cooper, Ford Mustang GT

Four-door practicality in a sports car: Subaru Impreza WRX, Mazda RX-8

Convertibles: Fun for Two: Nissan 350Z, Honda S2000, Mini Cooper Roadster

For those who need a roomy rear seat: Toyota Solara, Chrysler PT Cruiser Roadster

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