On Tuesday Consumer Reports released its automotive Top Picks list. The 2014 list, which highlights the best all-around vehicles from 10 categories, included some perennial winners as well as a few surprises.
Tesla’s Model S all-electric luxury sedan was selected as the best overall vehicle based on its exceptional performance and handling, innovative features and 225-mile range on a single charge.
Chrysler Group LLC’s Ram truck division made a rare appearance in the winner’s circle. The Ram 1500 was chosen as the Top pickup truck and received high praise for its refined interior, smooth ride and “whisper-quiet” interior. The 2014 Ram 1500 is the first Chrysler vehicle to make CR’s annual list since the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the current Top Picks list is the absence of Japanese autos. They accounted for 70 percent of the vehicles to make the list in 1997, but only 50 percent of the 2014 list. However, two Japanese brands – Honda and Subaru – each claimed the Top Pick title for two categories.
Consumer Reports’ automotive editor Rik Paul says, “The competition in the marketplace has grown fierce. There was a time when a handful of brands dominated our Top Picks list, but in recent years, we’ve seen a more diverse group make the cut.”
The Honda Accord 4-cylinder was named the Top midsize sedan. CR praised the Accord’s roomy interior, competitive pricing, impressive fuel efficiency, and responsive handling, but the publisher pointed out that some of its rivals offer a smoother ride. The Honda Odyssey also took top honors in the minivan category. With a sticker price of $36,830, the model features a roomy interior with ample cargo space, and seating for up to eight adults. CR hailed the 2014 Odyssey as “the most complete family vehicle available.”
The Subaru Impreza AWD was chosen as the Top compact car an impressive fourth time. The Impreza is available in two versions; the sedan, with a sticker price of $21,345, and the hatchback, priced at $22,345. Contributing to its selection as a Top Pick were the Impreza’s affordability, good fuel economy and “an impressively compliant, absorbent ride.”
The 2014 Subaru Forester dethroning last year’s winner, the Honda CR-V, as the editor’s Top Pick in the Small SUV category. The Forester was selected for its “space-efficient design” and best in class fuel efficiency.
The Toyota Prius was selected as the Top Pick in the Green Car category for the 11th consecutive year. According to CR, the Prius offers the perfect “combination of affordability, practicality and fuel efficiency.” During their evaluation, CR’s editors said the Prius got an impressive 44 mpg, which is the best fuel efficiency they have seen from a five-passenger non-plug-in hybrid model.
Consumer Reports called the Audi A6 “a joy to drive”, and selected it as their Top Pick for the Luxury Car category for the second consecutive year. CR editors were especially impressed by the smooth performance of the A6’s supercharged V-6 engine and eight-speed automatic transmission. They also praised the A6’s respectable fuel efficiency numbers, and its “impeccably finished, first-class cabin brimming with the latest in high-tech features.”
The 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe seven-passenger SUV took top honors in the Midsize SUV category. Despite its mediocre 20 mpg overall fuel efficiency, the editors said the Santa Fe offers a “comfortable ride, a quiet interior, a limo-like rear seat, and generous cargo area — yet doesn’t feel too bulky to drive or park.”
For the second consecutive year, Consumer Reports selected the BMW 328i as its Top Pick in the Sports Sedan category. The editors said the 328i “delivers excellent handling and a high fun-to-drive factor.”