Preparing to purchase a new car this year? You’re not alone. Experts are projecting that 2015 could be a record-breaking year for auto sales. And where there’s increased demand, there’s increased supply. It just so happens that there are also a slew of new and redesigned models ripe for the picking. The only issue as a consumer is trying to figure out which is right for you.
That’s where Consumer Reports comes in.
The trustworthy, steadfast guardian of all things consumer-related, Consumer Reports has released its annual list of top automotive picks. This year, the list is headlined by a few surprises: the top overall pick and the inclusion of three American models, which marks the first time that many models from the States have made the list since 1998. These vehicles are ranked according to their reliability, performance, and safety and assigned to their specific market segment.
What does Consumer Reports recommend? Read on to see its top picks for 2015.
Midsize sedan: Subaru Legacy
In the midsize sedan category, Consumer Reports picked the Subaru Legacy. Giving the car an overall score of 89 out of 100, it applauded the vehicle for its quiet, comfortable, and roomy interior, as well as all-wheel drive and safety features. “Years ago, quirky folks bought Subarus to be practical and pragmatic,” Consumer Reports writes. “Now it’s simply a great car with mainstream appeal and impact.”
Large car: Chevrolet Impala
General Motors has really stepped up its game, particularly following an awful start to 2014. The new Chevy Impala is evidence of that, and Consumer Reports has taken notice. For a long time the Impala was relegated to little more than rental car status, but things are taking a turn for the better, as Chevy is putting some considerable effort into making it a top pick again. The Impala is comfortable, powerful, and relatively affordable, earning it a Top Pick designation.
Luxury car: Audi A6
We do not envy Consumer Reports for having to select only one of the possible dozen or so contenders from the luxury segment, but it made a fine choice. The Audi A6 is 2015’s winner thanks to a ride that Consumer Reports calls “quick” and “nimble.” You get all the bells and whistles that you would expect with a luxury vehicle, as well as performance and handling that are second to none.
Green car: Toyota Prius
It’s going to be a Herculean task to disassociate the term “green car” from Toyota in the minds of consumers, and a big reason why is the Prius. Though it’s been on the market for a decade and a half, people are still finding new reasons to fall in love with Toyota’s quintessential hybrid car. Fantastic fuel economy and undeniable reliability are at the top of the list for reasons to buy, and Consumer Reports calls it “the perfect economical transportation solution.”
Sports sedan: Buick Regal
Even more evidence that GM is finding its form again, Buick’s Regal sports sedan takes the cake in its segment this year. Buick has had its work cut out for it, rebuilding a brand that has become more or less an afterthought in an increasingly crowded auto market. But the Regal is a true standout, and Consumer Reports acclaims its agility, reliability, and safety. “The value-for-money equation is strong,” CR says. “Close your eyes, and you’ll think you’re driving an Audi.”
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Yes, minivans are still on the market! Not only that, but they’re better than ever, and the one model that beats out the rest is the Honda Odyssey. The vehicle itself has recently been redesigned — an updated drivetrain, along with new features and technology, make it a very attractive choice for families. Consumer Reports says it’s a great value, though the publication does wish that an all-wheel drive option were available. Honda, are you listening?
Small SUV: Subaru Forester
Subaru strikes again, this time winning the small SUV Top Pick with the legendary Forester. Scoring an 86 out of 100 on CR’s test score scale, the Forester really excels when it comes to safety, fuel economy, and everyday practicality. Consumer Reports really liked the included features — all-wheel drive, a moonroof, and even heated seats — all for around $26,000. “This is the vehicle we recommend to our families,” the publication writes.
Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander
In the midsize SUV segment, they simply don’t come any finer than the Toyota Highlander, at least according to Consumer Reports. Rated excellent for its safety and reliability, the Highlander tops all others in its field thanks to a revamped suspension and drivetrain, as well as a feature-heavy and roomy interior. The main thing that sets the Highlander apart? Sensibility. If versatility and everyday functionality are what you need, the Highlander can’t be glossed over.
Compact car: Subaru Impreza
Subaru simply can’t be stopped. The company wins yet another segment — compact cars — thanks to a myriad of improvements to the Impreza that have made this vehicle feel closer to a luxury sedan than a compact commuter car. The car has been made to deliver a quieter drive than before, and all-wheel drive is a great perk for bad weather. There are some drawbacks, but the good definitely outweighs the bad with this Subaru. Considering its price of just over $21,000, it’s a considerable value, as well.
Best overall: Tesla Model S
The overall Top Pick from Consumer Reports for 2015 is the Tesla Model S. Many others have heaped their praise on this car, and Consumer Reports is jumping on the bandwagon. “Of all of the impressive new vehicles released in 2014, none was able to eclipse the innovation, magnificence, and sheer technological arrogance of the Tesla,” CR writes. “That’s why it’s our best overall pick for the second consecutive year.” The Model S is loaded with technology, is amazingly luxurious, and, of course, is as economical on fuel as they come — so it is hard to beat. Everyone else will just have to try again next year.