In its annual Top Picks list, Consumer Reports has crowned four new vehicles—the Buick Regal, Chevrolet Impala, Subaru Legacy, and Toyota Highlander—with the top honor in each of their respective categories. Domestic automakers picked up two new spots.
Consumer Reports’ Top Picks are the best all-around models in their categories; they are chosen from 270 vehicles the organization has recently tested. Top Pick models must meet CR’s stringent criteria in three areas: performance, reliability, and safety. They must rank at or near the top of their category on overall road test scores; they must have earned an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on problems Consumer Reports’ subscribers reported on 1.1 million vehicles in the latest survey; and they must perform adequately if included in crash or rollover tests by the government or the insurance industry.
Consumer Reports’ 2015 Top Picks By Category:
BEST OVERALL: Tesla Model S ($89,650) For all of the impressive new vehicles released in 2014, none was able to eclipse the innovation of the Tesla, making it the best overall pick for the second year in a row. It’s a technological tour de force, a high-performance electric vehicle with usable real-world range, wrapped in a luxury package.
MIDSIZED SEDAN: Subaru Legacy ($24,837) Years ago, people bought Subarus to be practical and pragmatic. Now, it’s simply a great car with mainstream appeal and impact. The Legacy provides a quiet, comfortable, and roomy package that also has the best ride among its peers. Its 26 mpg might seem lackluster, but that’s with the reassurance of all-wheel drive.
COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza (sedan, $21,345) The Impreza’s interior packaging is outstanding and recent improvements have made it quieter inside. And, Subaru has finally embraced the need for a contemporary infotainment system. It drinks more fuel than its peers, with an overall 27 mpg, but offers the benefit of all-wheel drive.
GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius ($29,230) The purity of the Prius’ functional excellence dictate that—although almost at the end of its model cycle—it remains the best green car pick for the 12th year in a row. Nothing can touch the sweet spot of its affordability, stellar fuel economy, smart-packaging, and blue-chip reliability.
LUXURY CAR: Audi A6 ($56,295) The A6 pampers drivers with extravagant surroundings, a functional, elegant interior, and a plush ride while remaining faithful to its core value of crisp handling on a curvy road. Fuel economy is commendable at 22 mpg when combined with the security of all-wheel drive.
SPORTS SEDAN: Buick Regal ($34,485) Surprisingly agile, the Regal defies Buick’s brand stereotype and the value-for-the money equation is strong. Because it’s an Opel underneath, it has that Teutonic ride control that provides a Europhile driving experience. The 259-hp, 2.0 liter turbo is sharply integrated with a six-speed automatic and available all-wheel drive.
SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester ($26,814) With the Forester, Subaru has nailed the recipe of combining practicality, safety, fuel economy, and interior accommodations. It offers outstanding value and visibility is terrific. A vehicle Consumer Reports recommends for families with better crash-test results than most of the field.
MIDSIZED SUV: Toyota Highlander ($38,941) The redesigned Highlander has all the versatility and functionality of a minivan, but wrapped in a more macho package – a swagger wagon for the sensible crowd.
MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey ($38,055) The redesigned Odyssey, a living room on wheels with flexible seating for up to eight, rides and handles better than some family sedans and is enjoyable to drive, taking corners with confidence. An all-wheel-drive version is missing from the lineup, and reliability could be better, but, it’s still one of the best values on the market.
LARGE CAR: Chevrolet Impala ($39,110) Large and roomy, the Impala has comfortable seats and rides like a true luxury car. The suspension is supple yet responsive, without the body roll that plagues many big cars. The controls are big, intuitive, and easily understood. However, only the V6 version meets Consumer Reports reliability standards.
Complete details on Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for 2015, car brand report cards, best and worst lists and other key findings are available in the Annual Auto Issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands March 5thth or visit Consumer Reports’ 2015 Autos Spotlight page on ConsumerReports.org.