Toyota, a brand long known for its long-term reliability, overwhelmingly dominates the 10-best list from Consumer Reports magazine, nabbing four of the spots on the influential publication’s annual list of the best vehicles on the market.
But CR’s annual auto issue had a number of surprises, including the appearance of the Chevrolet Bolt battery-car among the industry’s best models. Equally unexpected was the debut of Genesis as the top-ranked luxury brand overall, the South Korean marque toppling Audi as the highest-ranked luxury brand.
“Not many car brands have what it takes to deliver consistent quality across several models and through multiple new launches or redesigns,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of Automotive Testing.
Genesis is the recently launched spin-off of Korea’s largest mainstream automaker Hyundai and, Fisher noted, it did have a bit of an easier challenge than Audi. While the German automaker has a broad range of car and truck models in its U.S. line-up, Genesis currently offers just three, the large G90, the G80 and a spinoff of the smaller sedan called the G80 Sport. Nonetheless, it is significant, he stressed, when every model a company offers wins a coveted “CR Recommended” endorsement.
Audi still landed in the number two rank among the 34 brands covered in the latest Consumer Reports study which is based on a mix of its own testing and feedback from readers on the vehicles they own. As has been the case for years, luxury brands led the rankings, capturing the first five spots – Genesis and BMW followed, in order, by BMW, Lexus and Porsche.
(Genesis setting up stand-alone dealer network. Click Here for the story.)
But the Kia brand came in as number six among all brands, making it the highest-ranked mainstream marque. That might seem surprising to those who recall the smaller Korean carmaker as a brand focused on economy cars, but it has substantially upgraded its product mix with new models like the Stinger GT helping Kia win a number of awards lately. It was, for example, ranked as the top brand overall in the J.D. Power Initial Quality Survey for two years in a row.
At the other extreme was bottom-ranked Fiat, just below another Fiat Chrysler Automobiles brand, Jeep. And even luxury marques can be found among the more troubled brands, Land Rover third from last in the annual report.
Rounding out the Top 10 brand list was Toyota. While the Japanese giant might not have led there it did capture more individual awards on Consumer Reports’ list of the Top Ten Cars for 2018.
Its four wins included the Corolla, named the top Compact Car. CR described the sedan as “practical (and) fuel-efficient,” with “all the virtues that small-car shoppers seek.”
The bigger Camry, meanwhile, bested all comers as the leading Midsize Car. Often described as a “plain vanilla” appliance by automotive reviewers, Consumer Reports testers point to the dramatic redesign the Camry underwent for 2018, adding “flair,” while enhancing the Camry’s “reputation as a competent, well-rounded family sedan.”
(Click Here for details about an accident involving an autonomous Chevy Bolt.)
Toyota also led the industry in the fast-growing Midsized SUV segment, with the three-row Highlander – which “stands out with its good performance, fuel economy and reliability.” And the marque’s Sienna was named best in the Minivan category, as well. That might take some observers by surprise considering the Toyota offering is now one of the older models in the people-mover segment and going up against the newer and well-reviewed Chrysler Pacifica and Honda Odyssey vans.
General Motors was the only other manufacturer with more than one model on the best-cars list, and one product, in particular, was a standout, according to CR’s Fisher. The Chevrolet Bolt, named best Compact Green Car, offered “further proof” that electric cars are taking aim at mainstream markets as prices fall, range rises and performance improves.
The Bolt last year became the first long-range electric to come in at a price below $30,000 after factoring in the $7,500 federal tax credit. At an EPA-estimated 238 miles, it also more than doubles the distance most first-generation battery cars could travel between charges.
“The Bolt is a good option for someone who might never have considered an EV before,” said Fisher ahead of a news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., where the results of the annual report were to be released on Thursday.
Chevrolet also nabbed honors with its Impala, CR’s choice in the Large Car category. With what the magazine describes as a “spacious, quiet cabin” and “commendable” handling, the Chevy sedan beat out an assortment of domestic and import models, including the likes of the Toyota Avalon.
(To see more about Subaru’s sales goals, Click Here.)
Four other brands managed to snag wins in the annual Consumer Reports Top 10 list:
- The Subaru Forester was described as “practical” and “smartly practical,” and chosen as the top Compact SUV;
- Ford’s F-150, America’s best-selling truck, as well as the nation’s best-selling vehicle overall, was named best Full-Sized Pickup Truck, CR reviewers calling it “an impressive and innovative workhorse;”
- Audi’s A4 was chosen best Luxury Compact Car, the small sedan said to “shine by being sporty, luxurious and polished in a competitive category.” And
- The BMW X3 wrapped up the 10-best list as top Luxury Compact SUV. According to the magazine, it “combines driving enjoyment, comfort, slick technology and utility.”
(A portion of this story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.)