Consumer Reports has named its top 10 cars for 2018, and there are a few surprises among the usual category crushers.
Perennial favorite Toyota nabbed four spots on the influential publication’s annual list, while newcomer Genesis — Hyundai’s luxury arm — ranked as the highest-rated brand, and GM’s Chevy Bolt knocked the Toyota Prius off the top spot for electric vehicles.
The automotive report card is considered the holy grail in reviews, since it incorporates feedback from owners as well as independent analysis from the Consumer Reports auto team.
Genesis, the South Korean luxury brand, reins supreme because of its "good reliability" but also comfort and technology that is "easy to use," said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ Director of Automotive Testing. "A lot of luxury cars have technology and features that are too complex, too cumbersome or even distracting. That's not the case with Genesis."
Toyota has been a perennial favorite among Consumer Reports’ reviewers, in part because of its consistently strong ratings for quality and reliability among the magazine’s readers — and General Motors was the only brand to give chase to the Japanese giant this year, with Chevy landing two of the spots on the Top Ten Cars for 2018.
One product, in particular, was a standout, according to Jake 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.
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.
But Toyota still overwhelmed the competition: Its four wins included the Corolla as top Compact Car, which CR described as “practical (and) fuel-efficient,” with “all the virtues that small-car shoppers seek.”
The bigger Camry, meanwhile, bested all entries in the leading Midsize Car category. Often described as “plain vanilla” 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.”
Toyota also led the industry in the fast-growing Midsized SUV segment, with the three-row Highlander — which CR said “stands out with its good performance, fuel economy, and reliability.”
Toyota's Sienna was named best in the Minivan category, as well. That might take some observers by surprise considering it 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.
Four other brands managed that snagged a win in the Consumer Reports Top Ten list were:
- The Subaru Forester as the Top Compact SUV: CR called it "smartly practical."
- Ford’s F-150 as Best Full-Sized Pickup Truck: America’s best-selling vehicle was named “an impressive and innovative workhorse.”
- Audi’s A4 as Best Luxury Compact Car: The small sedan was said to “shine by being sporty, luxurious and polished in a competitive category."
- The BMW X3 as Top Luxury Compact SUV: According to the magazine, it “combines driving enjoyment, comfort, slick technology and utility.”