CONSUMER REPORTS NAMES NEW TOP PICK CARS FOR 2010
- SMALL SEDAN: Hyundai Elantra SE. The Elantra SE ($18,695) made the Top Picks list for the third time this year. It is a solid, all-around car that's relatively comfortable, quiet, and roomy, and provides good fuel economy and plenty of features for the money. The SE comes with standard ESC, a critical safety feature that's absent on other small cars (including the lower-end Elantras).
FAMILY SEDAN: Nissan Altima. The Altima ($23,970 to $30,335) has been a Consumer Reports top-rated family sedan for a couple of years, but lacked easily available ESC. A 2010 freshening made it better and improved gas mileage and for the first time provides standard ESC in all trim lines.
It offers an appealing balance of comfort and performance, while getting some of the best fuel economy in its class: 26 mpg overall in four-cylinder models and 24 mpg with a V6. The cabin is roomy, well finished, and quiet. And the secure handling, comfortable ride, and spirited acceleration make the car enjoyable to drive.
SPORTY CAR: Volkswagen GTI. Freshened for 2010, the GTI ($27,504) is the sport version of the Volkswagen Golf (formerly called the Rabbit). The GTI is exhilarating to drive and easy to live with. It delivers the agile handling, spirited acceleration, and responsive steering of a true sports car, along with a decent ride, a well-finished interior, and the cargocarrying practicality of a hatchback. Good fuel economy of 27 mpg overall is another plus, although premium fuel is required.
SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester. The Forester ($20,972 to $28,860) provides one of the most carlike driving experiences of any SUV. It combines agile handling with the most comfortable ride in its class. Passengers are treated to a spacious cabin, with a roomy rear seat and excellent visibility.
The 2.5X provides an impressive 22 mpg overall with an automatic, 24 mpg with a manual. And the turbocharged 2.5XT delivers effortless acceleration and 20 mpg, but it takes premium fuel. The 2.5X has had excellent reliability, while the 2.5XT's is average.
BEST CAR OVERALL: Lexus LS 460L. The LS ($76,572) scored an outstanding 99 out of 100 in Consumer Reports road tests, making it the highest-rated vehicle. It provides a comfortable ride and luxurious driving environment, including a roomy, well-crafted and exceptionally quiet interior.
It offers a plethora of electronic amenities, including an optional self-parking system. Yet, its controls are easy to use. Its efficient 380-hp V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission deliver smooth, brisk acceleration and a relatively good 21 mpg overall. All-wheel drive and a hybrid version are available.
FAMILY SUV: Chevrolet Traverse. The Traverse ($39,920) stands out as an impressive overall package with a quiet, spacious cabin that can comfortably seat up to eight adults and leave room for cargo.
It provides a pleasant ride, communicative steering, and responsive handling. The tested model returned 16 mpg overall, which is respectable for its size. Rear visibility isn't great, but small convex side mirrors and an optional rear-view camera help.
SPORT SEDAN: Infiniti G37. The G sedan ($37,225) tops this category for the fourth straight year. It is one of the highest-rated sedans tested, with a score of 95 out of 100.
It provides agile handling, blistering acceleration, a refined powertrain, a fairly comfortable ride, and a high-quality, luxurious interior. The G37 is as inviting to drive on a twisty road as it is on the highway. But compromises include a snug cabin and small trunk. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional. Coupe and convertible versions are also available.
FAMILY HAULER: Mazda5. The Mazda5 microvan ($23,805) offers lots of practicality in a compact, affordable package. With three rows of seats and sliding rear side doors, it combines the convenience of a minivan with the maneuverability and stingy fuel economy-24 mpg overall-of a wagon.
The interior is airy, with good fit and finish. It's fun to drive, with a nimble feel and a comfortable ride. The addition of standard ESC for 2010 improved its emergency handling. If you need more room, consider the Honda Odyssey minivan.
GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius. The Prius ($26,950) received a redesign for 2010 and leads this category for the seventh straight year. It's still the most fuel-efficient car in Consumer Reports' ratings, with 44 mpg overall. The Prius is a pleasant car to drive, with a roomy interior, a steady ride, hatchback versatility, and excellent reliability and crash-test results.
The 2010 redesign also gave it a more solid feel and a dedicated EV mode that allows it to run longer on electric power at low speeds, an advantage in slow, congested traffic.
PICKUP TRUCK: Chevrolet Silverado. The Silverado 1500 ($37,235) returns to the top of the list after a year off. The crew-cab 4WD model is a well-rounded pickup with a roomy cabin, generous payload capacity, decent ride quality, available full-time 4WD, and, on higher-end models, very good interior fit and finish. The GMC Sierra is a twin of the Silverado. Reliability has been average.
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About Mike Quincy:
Mike Quincy is responsible for ensuring that all automotive data and information is up-to-date for Consumer Reports, ConsumerReports.org, and Consumer Reports Special Publications. Mr. Quincy also edits the monthly automotive technical reports for Consumer Reports premium auto content and writes content for the Consumer Reports Cars blog.
He has been extensively interviewed in the media, and has appeared in national and cable broadcasts including The Today Show, CNN, MSNBC, and FOX News. Mr. Quincy is regularly quoted in national and local newspapers and Web sites and has appeared on numerous national and local radio broadcasts.
He originally joined Consumer Reports in 1993 and wrote automotive, home electronics, and exercise equipment stories for the magazine, contributed to all New- and Used Car Buying Guides, and was an on-line source for automotive content for ConsumerReports.org.
In 2000, Mr. Quincy left Consumer Reports to join the now-defunct carOrder.com. He then served at Trilogy Software, working on interactive content with the marketing team developing Web content and marketing materials for Ford.
Since 2001, Mr. Quincy has been back at Consumer Reports, and now works exclusively at the Auto Test headquarters in East Haddam, Connecticut.
He and his wife Michelle and sons Evan and Dale live in Marlborough, Connecticut.