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Best and worst new cars

Various lists to help filter down your new car choices

Last updated: February 2014

Not all cars are created equal, and we have the data to prove it. Of course, numbers can tell a variety of tales and we understand every consumer has different priorities. To that end, we have compiled a series of best and worst car lists to highlight performance in a wide variety of categories. The lists below can be an excellent tool for filtering down your purchase considerations or for stocking up on vehicular trivia.

Overall test scores are based on more than 50 individual Consumer Reports tests and evaluations, and are presented on a 100-point scale.

Best cars in our tests
Each vehicle is put through a battery of tests at our track to determine its performance and some models stand out while others do not. Our best and worst cars list highlights the overall top scorers in our Ratings and those at the bottom of the list.

Best & worst values
We think that real value is not necessarily how much you spend but what you get for your money. Vehicles that are reliable, perform well, and don't cost much to own represent the best values. Overall, small cars and sedans provide the best bang for the buck.

Ownership costs
Getting a good deal when buying your car is important. But it's just as critical to look down the road at how much a vehicle will cost you to own.

Best new cars for under $25,000
You don’t need to spend a fortune to get a good, reliable, safe vehicle and as this list shows, many models can be bought for under $25,000.

Highest scoring American vehicles
There are many ways to view the Consumer Reports Ratings to find the highest-rated vehicle in a given category or price range. But we get many questions from journalists and our readers regarding the best current American-branded vehicles. To answer that query, we sorted vehicles into 13 key categories.

Best & worst fuel economy
With high gas prices and a tight economy, drivers need to find relief at the pump. If you’re buying a new car a fuel-efficient model can save you hundreds of dollars per year over a gas guzzler.

Best city/highway mpg
Depending on how you drive and what your typical commute looks like, you may want to compare how a vehicle's fuel economy fares in city versus highway driving.

Best & worst acceleration
How fast a vehicle will accelerate is not something that should be of concern only to driving enthusiasts. Being able to merge safely with fast-moving traffic is important regardless of how or what you drive.

Best safety performance
A vehicle with good braking and emergency handling can help you avoid an accident. Typically smaller, sportier vehicles perform well in these tests, and larger trucks tend to be slower to maneuver.

Best & worst visibility
Being able to see out and around a vehicle from the driver’s seat can directly impact your safety and those around you. Vehicles with big blind spots make it harder for driver’s to see other vehicles approaching or even children or pets behind the vehicle. When a driver can’t see, it can be a recipe for disaster. Backup cameras and sensors can be helpful aids for those vehicles with poor visibility.

Hits and misses from our testing
The car market is regaining traction. And in testing about 80 vehicles in the past year, we've gotten a good look at what's new and notable.

Most fun to drive
Fun to drive is a subjective measure—an elusive quality that can mean different things to different people. From our experience, a car can have a very powerful engine and accelerate quickly, but without handling agility, it's not much fun. For us, fun is a combination of factors such as handling response, sound, and the nature of the power delivery that lead to grin-inducing satisfaction.

Best for comfort
If you spend a lot of time in your vehicle, you know that comfort is a high priority. You want the ride to be pleasant and not torture for your body. A seat that causes discomfort or even a bumpy, noisy ride can make the drive very unpleasant. Here, we spotlight the most comfortable cars experienced in our testing.

Best all-wheel drive cars
When winter’s wrath hits hard, a car with all-wheel drive is your best bet to help navigate the roads safely. You can find AWD in a variety of vehicle categories.  See which one is right for you.

Best off-road
At our Auto Test Center, we have the ability to systematically evaluate the off-road capability of SUVs and 4WD pick up trucks. Ascending our "Rock Hill," a 23-degree slope of boulders set in cement, very quickly reveals differences in axle articulation, suspension travel, traction, approach and departure angles and more. It also presents a repeatable surface that does not change after successive runs.

Best & worst three-row vehicles
The main appeal of three-row vehicles is their ability to carry up to eight people and cargo as well. They’re great for carpooling and carrying all types of gear. The list includes minivans and SUVs, although larger SUVs provide both better access and more cargo space, minivans have a better third row seat for children, as well as adults.

Best for tall or short drivers
Cars are not one size fits all.  Some are especially versatile and rate very highly by both tall and short testers, but several models serve neither tall nor short drivers well.  It's important to find a car that fits your body and in comfortable.

   

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