The folks at Consumerreports.org have earned a lot of respect from car buyers over the years. U.S. automakers especially are praising their standards since American cars have taken two of the top three scores ever in recent rankings. Here are seven cars that topped different categories from the venerable consumer agency.
1. Top MPG for Small Sedans: Honda Civic Hybrid
It’s not the sexiest accolade, and the numbers have been beaten by Honda (NYSE:HMC) itself with its 2014 Accord Hybrid, yet the 2013 Civic Hybrid has claim to best fuel economy among 2013 small sedans. For many drivers, it isn’t about style or performance; it’s about getting to work and back — or taking the kids to school — on a small amount of fuel. The Civic and the Accord by Honda get the job done at a reasonable price.2. Highest Scoring American Sports Car: Corvette Z06
At the other end of the spectrum is the American sports car. With price tags topping six figures when opting for the performance package (who wouldn’t?), the fantastic 505 hp V8 and style of a 2013 Corvette Z06 (NYSE:GM) do not come cheap. It easily took the prize in the Consumer Reports as the top U.S. sports car in the company’s last rankings. The Z06 also topped the list for fastest 0-60 time among cars tested, clocking in at 4.3 seconds. Apparently, they didn’t get their hands on a Porsche (POAHF.PK) 918 Spyder, which can reportedly pull off the feat in 2.8 seconds.
There has been an innumerable amount of buzz surrounding the rise of Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), but no news was quite as explosive as the Model S scoring 99 out of 100 on the Consumer Reports test. It gets its own category because it is the highest-rated car of all time with respect to these rankings. Why did the electric car not get a perfect score? The Model S’s range foiled the company’s quest for perfection. Testers could “only” cover around 200 miles in the 85 kWh battery model they had at their disposal.
A Porsche will always top lists for performance and general excitement, but this Boxster scored biggest on safety features. Specifically, the base-model 2013 Boxster — the only Porsche that starts below $50,000 — could stop fastest when going 60 mph. The Boxster pulled off the dry-braking feat in 112 feet, just topping the Mercedes SLK250 and the Porsche Panamera on the list.
5. Most Fun to Drive, Muscle Cars: Ford Mustang
Does science have a place in car rankings? When it came to the Consumer Reports “Most Fun to Drive Muscle Cars,” science took a back seat to child-like thrills and excitement. In the muscle car department, it was Ford’s (NYSE:F) iconic Mustang — in this case. the 2013 model. The GT Premium Coupe sports the 5.0 L V8 with 420 hp on 390 lb-ft torque that might invoke the most all-out joy. It’s not economical by any stretch, but that’s the point. It’s the most fun to drive.
Have U.S. automakers forgotten the comfort factor? The Chrysler (FIATY.PK) 300 didn’t, according to Consumer Reports’ rankings of most comfortable U.S.-made ride. Reviewers described it as “a stately ride” full of luxury and muscle, while noting its value as exceptional in the category. It’s simply more comfortable taking a spin in the 300 S (pictured) than any other competitor. The car looks like a million bucks, but starts at $33,145.
Chevy roared into the news this week, as Consumer Reports put the 2014 Impala at the top of its full-size sedan list for the world. Chevy’s 2014 Impala scored 95 out of 100, giving it the third best score of all time. It beat German, Japanese, and American competitors, giving a U.S.-made car the top spot on the list for the first time in two decades. Testers told Fox Business, “The Impala’s performance is one more indicator of an emerging domestic renaissance.” U.S. automakers would second that motion.
Every category has its downside. For the best sports car, fuel economy will be lacking. For the most efficient car, style sometimes takes a back seat. However, car buyers who know exactly what they’re looking for can benefit immensely from the Consumer Reports ratings. As for the Corvette Z06 or the Mustang, always handle with care.