What makes a car the best? For some drivers, the one that goes the fastest or looks the coolest wins the prize. However, the majority of vehicle owners can’t be so superficial.
That’s where the folks at Consumer Reports can help. When the nonprofit testing organization names its 10 best of the year, the vehicles are at the top of the class in four areas:
- Owner satisfaction
A really fast car that fails to start every morning can’t be great in these tests; neither can one that looks great but drives like it predates power steering. Here are the 10 vehicles Consumer Reports named the best of 2018, ranked by overall score.
10. Ford F-150
- Overall score: 72
Consumer Reports continues to cheer Ford F-150’s switch to aluminum, saying the positive impact on fuel economy was worth the risk. However, the constant tech and engine upgrades truly set America’s best-selling vehicle apart.
Though Toyota Tundra came close, no other pickup truck could top F-150’s overall package of performance, reliability, and customer satisfaction.
Next: GM’s breakout electric car didn’t skimp on performance.
9. Chevrolet Bolt EV
- Overall score: 77
Though Tesla’s gotten most of the headlines in recent years, it was old GM that outraced the pack with Chevrolet Bolt EV, the first long-range electric car at an affordable ($37,495) sticker price. The thing is, Bolt’s charm goes way beyond being first on the market.
Right away, you’ll notice its spacious interior and strong performance, but Consumer Reports also gave it high marks in reliability, safety, and owner satisfaction. Only the Toyota Prius Prime, a plug-in hybrid, came near the Bolt EV’s score.
Next: The king of practical compact cars continues its reign.
8. Toyota Corolla
- Overall score: 78
Few people need an introduction to the Toyota Corolla, one of the most reliable cars of this decade. Once again, Consumer Reports highlighted this car’s practicality, from its standard safety features to its impressive highway fuel economy (43 mpg).
Corolla topped a field of 21 compact cars to lock down the best score in its class and make the overall top 10.
Next: In a competitive minivan segment, the Sienna’s all-wheel-drive option gave it the edge.
7. Toyota Sienna
- Overall score: 79
In a strong field of minivans that includes the Chrysler Pacifica, the Toyota Sienna topped the pack with strong scores in reliability, safety, and owner satisfaction. Meanwhile, the Sienna had one thing no other minivan could offer: all-wheel drive.
Even with the Pacifica and Honda Odyssey topping the Sienna in road tests, Toyota’s minivan delivered the overall best package, according to Consumer Reports.
Next: While other luxury SUVs stumbled, this BMW model excelled.
6. BMW X3
- Overall score: 81
While the growing list of luxury SUVs includes many unreliable models, BMW X3 rates high on dependability and owner satisfaction. Meanwhile, Consumer Reports gushed over X3’s handling, fit and finish, and “superb” driver and front-passenger seats.
Mix in its strong infotainment suite and you can see why the X3 scored a 92 out of 100 in its road test.
Next: This Subaru crossover made its fourth straight appearance on the Consumer Reports ‘Best of’ list.
5. Subaru Forester
- Overall score: 84
You will find the Subaru Forester among Consumer Reports’ 10 best of 2017, and this compact SUV also made the winner’s circle from 2014-16. Its all-wheel-drive system tops that of competitors, fuel economy is solid, and Forester also offers plenty of interior space.
Together, it was enough to land this model an overall score of 84 and the top spot in the industry’s most competitive segment.
Next: Impressive standard safety features and rock-solid reliability made this large SUV a winner in 2018.
4. Toyota Highlander
- Overall score: 85
When Consumer Reports editors describe a vehicle as “a rational choice,” it’s meant to be a high compliment. The 2018 Toyota Highlander got that praise and much more as it topped the large SUV class.
On the reliability front, the Highlander has been close to flawless, and its now-standard safety suite provides comfort for families who don’t want a minivan. Combined with its strong road-test scores and affordable price point, this three-row SUV stood way above the pack.
Next: With luxury sedans, only a model that ‘does everything right’ wins the prize from Consumer Reports.
3. Audi A4
- Overall score: 85
When you have BMW, Lexus, and Mercedes-Benz as competition, you need an absolute standout car to beat the pack. Consumer Reports said Audi A4 is that compact luxury model for 2018, calling it a car that “does almost everything right.”
The A4’s tech suite, safety packages, and performance are all top-notch, and it scored high in reliability, too.
Next: GM scored another win with its large sedan.
2. Chevrolet Impala
- Overall score: 86
Big sedans might not be the rage these days, but that hasn’t stopped GM from producing a stellar Chevrolet Impala year after year. Consumer Reports once again raved about its driving experience, handling, and safety features.
In a segment where Kia Cadenza and Toyota Avalon offer strong competition, the Impala’s road test score of 91 proved to be decisive.
Next: After all these years, is anyone surprised that this car took the top spot?
1. Toyota Camry
- Overall score: 87
It’s been the most reliable midsize sedan and America’s best-selling car (i.e., non-truck) for decades, and Toyota Camry continues to shine for the 2018 model year.
On top of the usual praise for Camry’s fuel economy and safety features, Consumer Reports noted this model’s “styling flair” and improved handling. Now that it’s added those things to its resume, there might be no stopping this car.
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