In its 2015 Annual Auto Issue just out, Consumer Reports announces its top 10 picks of the year. The magazine writes: “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.” To be chosen as a Top Pick, each model must rank at or near the top of its class in its overall road-test score, have an average or better than average reliability rating based on input from CS subscribers, (who rated 1.1 million vehicles in the magazine’s most recent annual auto survey), and have performed “effectively” in government or insurance industry crash or rollover tests. Road test scores are derived from more than 50 tests, CS writes.
The magazine lists its Top 10 Picks by category. We are listing them in the order of their test scores. They include:
BEST OVERALL: Tesla Model S, which gets a near-perfect test score of 99, a reliability score of 3 out of 5, an amazing MPGe of 84, and costs $89,650. (MPGe means miles per gallon equivalent.) This is the second year in a row that CS gives the Tesla its best overall pick rating. CS calls the Tesla “a technological tour de force, a high-performance electric vehicle with usable real-world range, wrapped in a luxury package.”
LARGE CAR: Chevrolet Impala V6, which rides “like a true luxury car” and has a test score of 91, a 3 out of 5 for reliability, gets an overall 22 MPG, and is priced at $39,110. CS writes that this car is marketed towards older people, and has big, intuitive controls. “The only drawback is limited visibility due to its high rear deck and deep parcel shelf,” CS writes, noting, however, that it is available with optional forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems.
LUXURY CAR: Audi A6, which gets a test score of 90, a reliability score of 3 out of 5, an overall MPG of 22, and costs $56,295. CS recommends it for it plush ride and “extravagant surroundings,” with crisp handling on curving roads. The ride is “whisper-quiet,” and the car has Quattro all-wheel drive, CS writes.
MIDSIZE SEDAN: Subaru Legacy, which gets an 89 test score, a 4 our of 5 for reliability, 26 miles per gallon overall (MPG), and is priced at $24,837. CS writes that this car has the best ride among its peers and is more exciting to drive than those others.
SMALL SUV: Subaru Forrester, which CS says is built like a tank, with better crash-test results than most vehicles. CS recommends this car for families, and writes that it has practicality, fuel economy, value, and interior features (like a moonroof and heated seats), in addition to safety. It has a test score of 86, a top reliability score, gets 26 MPG overall, and is priced at $26,814.
COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza, which it calls a “great starter car,” priced at $21,345, and garnering a 79 test score, a 4 out of 5 in reliability, and an overall 27 MPG. The design has been improved for a quieter ride, which is more comfortable than some more expensive cars, CS writes. It trades off some gas guzzling for the benefit all-wheel-drive, CS writes.
GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius, for its combination of affordability, excellent fuel economy, “smart packaging,” and “blue-chip reliability.” It has been a Top Pick for 12 years in a row, CS writes. The 2015 Prius got a test score of 75, a top reliability score, gets 44 MPG, and is priced at $29,230.
MIDSIZED SUV: Toyota Highlander, which gets a test score of 84, a top reliability score, an overall MPG of 20, and is priced at $38,941. CS writes that this has been redesigned with “a new all-wheel-drive setup double-wishbone rear suspension that make it handle more like a car and less like a whale.” It features a center “cubby” that can accommodate a large handbag, and is “the real swagger wagon for the sensible crowd,” CS writes.
MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey, which gets a test score of 84, a 3 out of 5 reliability score, an overall MPG of 21, and is priced at $38,055. CS writes that this car is actually enjoyable to drive and handles better than some family sedans. It scores well in crash tests and “is the best vehicle Honda makes,” “still one of the best values on the market,” CS writes.
SPORTS SEDAN: Buick Regal, which gets a test score of 83, a 4 out of 5 for reliability, an overall MPG of 24, and costs $34,485. This American-made car is surprisingly agile, CS writes, and drives like a very good Audi. Although this car is not as luxurious as German sports sedans, it is available with a stick shift “to bolster yours sport sedan credentials.”
In a related online article, Consumer Reports earlier announced its 2015 “People’s Pick,” in which the magazine’s Facebook followers voted for what they think is the best car on the market. “The guidelines were simple: Choose a vehicle that is currently available in the United States that you’d want to live with as a daily driver,” ConsumerReports.org writes.
The Facebook followers chose the Subaru Outback as the winner. Those votes composed 25% of the total, with the Subaru Forester coming in second with 24% of the votes.
ConsumerReports.org writes about the Subaru Outback:
The redesigned Subaru Outback hits a sweet spot, with refined manners, benchmark safety scores, available advanced safety equipment, easy-to-use infotainment system, and ample passenger and cargo space. Factor in standard all-wheel drive and respectable fuel economy, and you have an SUV alternative that the people feel is a true winner.
Coming in third in the Consumer Reports Facebook followers poll was the Toyota Highlander, with 23% of the vote. The Honda CR-V, which garnered 17% of the votes, got an honorable mention, as did the Tesla Model S, which netted 10% of the votes. ConsumerReports.org writes that the 2015 Honda CR-V has a “raft of new electronic safety features,” among other things. The magazine’s website quotes Facebook commenter Robert Pike as saying about his Tesla Model S that he could not be happier with his car: “It is quiet, it’s safe, it’s sexy, and if you plan your trips right, you can save a big bundle on fuel costs.”