The much publicized recall of Toyota vehicles opened the door for several new vehicles this year. All the cars rated went through rigorous testing.
Vehicles at Consumer Reports' test track go through more than 50 tests and evaluations and are driven thousands of miles. Then once a year, the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue unveils its top picks.
"For a car to be a top pick at Consumer Reports, it has to have done extremely well in our testing. It has to have average or better reliability, as we found from our owners' survey," David Champion from Consumer Reports said. "And if it has been crash-tested by the government or the insurance industry, it has to have done well there, too. But one more thing that we require on a top pick is that it has to have electronic stability control either standard or easily available."
"The Altima gives really good fuel economy. It has a very comfortable, roomy interior. And it just does everything really well," Champion said.
The Subaru Forester is the top pick for a small SUV, replacing the Toyota RAV4, which at the magazine's press time had been pulled from sale due to a recall.
"The Subaru Forester is a really nice small SUV. It's very easy to drive, has a very comfortable ride. The handling is very good. And it also gets very good fuel economy. And it scores about the same as the RAV4," Champion said.
The Chevrolet Traverse is the top pick for midsized SUVs. It replaces the Toyota Highlander, whose sales had also been suspended.
Consumer Reports also rates which cars offer the best values.
"When we're looking at value, we're trying to find what the cheapest cars are that are going to give you the best performance, the best fuel economy, and the best reliability for the price," Champion said.
This year, the $16,000 Honda Fit tied the Toyota Prius as Consumer Reports' best value car.
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(All Consumer Reports Material Copyright 2010. Consumers Union of U.S. Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)