8 Highest-Ranking Sedans From the Last Two Decades

Here’s a sign of the changing times: for the first time since Consumer Reports started tracking the best sedans, a domestic model has filled the top slot. The 2014 Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Impala, with a score of 95 points, has secured the number one position. More impressively, the Impala’s predecessor scored a mere 63 points in last year’s rankings, a number that doesn’t even qualify the car to be recommended.

Notably, from 2013 back to 1994 when CR began rating the best sedans, there is neither hide nor hair of another domestic car. The list is instead full of BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes, Lexus, and other luxury cars, but there’s not a Cadillac nor a Ford (NYSE:F) to be seen. For argument’s sake, CR does list the top domestic sedan, where Cadillacs and Ford are far better represented.

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However, with the Impala breaking new ground for domestic manufacturers, the stakes have been raised and it’s quite possible that the improved and far more competitive products coming from the U.S.—the new Ford Fusion, for instance—will see greater representation moving forward. That being said, here are the top cars that have been ranked first going back to the mid-90s.

1. Chevrolet Impala

Chevy Impala

With its score of 95 points out of 100, the 2013 Chevrolet Impala has scored the top slot, beating out the incumbent Japanese and German competitors, as well as its domestic rival, the Ford Fusion. Chevrolet has made it clear that it’s shying away from the fleet-filler formula for the Impala, and opting for a more consumer-oriented vehicle.

2. Lexus LS 460

2012 Lexus LS 460

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Even prior to its 2013 overhaul that saw the Lexus (NYSE:TM) LS adopt a far more sporty and aggressive demeanor, the LS 460 occupied the number one space for five consecutive years. Lexus touted a fantastic reliability record, coupled with luxurious trimmings that helped the car rise over all the others—since 2008.

3. Infiniti M35

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The Infiniti (NSANY.PK) M35 swept the chart the first year that it was released, in 2006. The car stayed there for 2007 as well, and so far has been the only Infiniti entry on Consumer Reports‘ rankings list.

4. Lexus LS 430

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Before the Lexus LS 460 became the LS 430, which hit the list in 2004 and held on for two years, the LS 460 also represented Lexus’ return to the sedan rankings after a ten-year hiatus. The earlier rendition of the LS—the LS 400—was the first sedan placed as number one in Consumer Reports‘ history of the rankings.

5. BMW 530i

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Rejoining the list in 2002 after its first appearance in 1996, the BMW 530i held on for 2002 and 2003. BMW’s flagship 5 Series sedan set the bar for luxury sedans, making the nearest American competitor—the Cadillac Deville DHS of the same year—seem even more cumbersome than it was.

6. Volkswagen Passat GLS

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Volkswagen’s (VLKAY.PK) Passat GLS with its 2.8 liter V6 rank gave the VW badge its only taste of Consumer Reports‘ top sedan list in 2001. Domestically, the Report lists the Lincoln LS V6 as its top domestic sedan, showing a wider disparity between the comparisons.

7. Audi A6 Quattro

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In 2000, the Audi A6 ruled the chart before its replacement by the VW. The two are very similar cars—think of the Audi as the Passat in a tuxedo, if you will—and they even shared the same 2.8 liter V6 power plant.

8. Mercedes Benz E320

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Between 1997 and 2000, the Mercedes-Benz E320 ruled the roost for sedans, according to Consumer Reports. The E-Class sedan also took the spot in 1995, giving the midsize Mercedes sedan four years in the top slot.

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