Recent sales figures show that U.S. buyers don’t seem to be having any real problem getting out to dealer lots and plunking down big cash on new rides.
Sales figures for the first quarter of the year have the auto industry tracking for another record year, although some softness in March may temper that prediction a bit.
With gas prices low, large vehicles, such as trucks and SUVs, are still appealing to buyers. However, not everyone is in the market or has the budget for a fully loaded, $45k behemoth. Many buyers are searching for value for their hard-earned dollars.
Determining and avoiding the lemons in the new vehicle orchard can be a tough task. However, Consumer Reports believes it has the answers and has put out its “Bottom Picks” list to help buyers find the vehicles to think long and hard about before signing on the dotted line.
The magazine makes its choices for the “lowest-rated” list based on a variety of factors — road-test score, projected reliability, owner satisfaction and safety. Like you, Consumer Reports buys all the cars it tests from dealerships just like regular customers.
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The magazine compiled its list for 2016, but noted some the vehicles are slated to get upgrades in the near future so waiting for the next model year may be advisable.
Below is the list of the magazine’s list the less impressive vehicles:
- Lowest-rated subcompact: Mitsubishi Mirage. Cheap to buy and good gas mileage, but it’s “tiny, tinny” and the three-cylinder engine vibrates.
- Lowest-rated compact: Fiat 500L. Worst reliability of any new car and a “dismal” road-test score.
- Lowest-rated midsize sedan: Chrysler 200. “Mediocre,” with clumsy handling and poor on the road.
- Lowest-rated compact luxury car: Mercedes-Benz CLA250. Stiff ride, noisy, cramped.
- Lowest-rated midsize luxury car: Lincoln MKS. — Outdated and outclassed.
- Lowest-rated family SUV: Dodge Journey. V-6 engine had poor gas mileage.
- Lowest-rated luxury compact SUV: Land Rover Discovery Sport. Too little or too much acceleration, and a balky transmission.
- Lowest-rated large luxury SUV: Cadillac Escalade. Stiff ride, not that roomy and the Cue infotainment system is “confounding.”
- Lowest-rated minivan: Chrysler Town & Country. Poor gas mileage and didn’t fare well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s small overlap crash tests.
- Lowest-rated green car: Mitsubishi i-MiEV. A “half-step up from a golf cart,” slow and clumsy.
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If there is a low-end of the scale, of course, there is a top. The magazine offered up its Top Picks of 2016 as well. They are as follows:
- Best subcompact car: Honda Fit. Thrifty on fuel with nimble handling that “never gives off a ‘compromise car’ vibe.
- Best compact car: Subaru Impreza. Plenty of interior space, intuitive controls, great crash-test results and there’s a hatchback version available: a smart practical car.
- Best midsized car: Toyota Camry. Great visibility, a quiet cabin, comfortable ride and even a hybrid version. A “near –perfect” sedan editors noted.
- Best small SUV: Subaru Forester. May be “the official car of New England,” but good enough to be the small SUV of Everywhere: roomy, rides comfortably and a fuel economy leader in the segment.
- Best luxury SUV: Lexus RX. Origami styling and its “Predator” grille only add to the overall package that coddles “well-heeled customers with reliable calmness.”
- Best sports car under $40K: Mazda Miata. Precise handling and a “zoomy” engine make it a perfect car for the enthusiast and weekend racer: unless you’re a tall enthusiast, then it’s a bit cramped.
- Best large car: Chevrolet Impala. Dynamic and comfortable with a “cushy” ride with responsive handling combine with intuitive controls and plenty of space to put this offering on top.
- Best midsized SUV: Kia Sorento. While a bit smaller than its competition, a smooth 290-hp V6 getting good fuel economy tied to an impressive suspension is supported by “gorgeous” interior.
- Best pickup truck: Ford F-150. Top-notch crash-test results and the best predicted reliability put this beast atop a very competitive field.
- Best minivan: Toyota Siena. Super-reliable transportation with all of the modern features an active, connected family would want.
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“When shopping for a new car, the choices can be overwhelming, with each model looking much more appealing than the clunker you’re eager to trade in,” the magazine notes. “But new cars are most definitely not created equal, as our tests and surveys routinely show.”