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2010 Consumer Reports Top Pick Cars – Click above for high-res image gallery

Each year, the automotive editors of Consumer Reports select their Top Pick Cars, representing vehicles that are the best in their individual segments. These cars are deemed to have "average or better" predicted reliability and have scored high marks in government safety testing. In past years, automakers like Honda and Toyota have dominated this list, but since more and more manufacturers are ramping up their quality within each competitive segment, the 2010 list proves to be the most diverse CR Top Picks group in over a decade.

So, which cars garner the most praise from CR? The Nissan Altima has officially dethroned the Honda Accord from the top family sedan spot, the Volkswagen GTI takes honors as the best sporty car, the trusty Subaru Forester takes the cake in the small SUV category, the quirky Mazda5 wins for best family hauler, and both the Chevrolet Traverse and Silverado stand tall as the best family SUV and pickup truck. These six newcomers join the Hyundai Elantra SE, Infiniti G37, Toyota Prius and Lexus LS460L to round out the entire list of Top Pick Cars.

Unlike most automotive media outlets (Autoblog included), Consumer Reports actually buys its own test cars before putting them through rigirous evaluations of handling, braking, comfort, safety and more, and each test car is roughly 6,000 miles older by the time all of the tests have been completed. Follow the jump to read the official press release from CR, and scroll through our attached gallery to see high-res shots of all the 2010 Top Pick Cars.

  • Sporty Car Top Pick: Volkswagen GTI
  • Sporty Car Top Pick: Volkswagen GTI
  • Family Sedan Top Pick: Nissan Altima
  • Family Sedan Top Pick: Nissan Altima
  • Family Hauler Top Pick: Mazda5
  • Family Hauler Top Pick: Mazda5
  • Small SUV Top Pick: Subaru Forester
  • Small SUV Top Pick: Subaru Forester
  • Family SUV Top Pick: Chevrolet Traverse
  • Family SUV Top Pick: Chevrolet Traverse
  • Pickup Truck Top Pick: Chevrolet Silverado
  • Pickup Truck Top Pick: Chevrolet Silverado
  • Small Sedan Top Pick: Hyundai Elantra
  • Small Sedan Top Pick: Hyundai Elantra
  • Sport Sedan Top Pick: Infiniti G37
  • Sport Sedan Top Pick: Infiniti G37
  • Green Car Top Pick: Toyota Prius
  • Green Car Top Pick: Toyota Prius
  • Best Car Overall Top Pick: Lexus LS460l
  • Best Car Overall Top Pick: Lexus LS460l

[Source: Consumer Reports - sub. req.]
Show full PR text
Consumer Reports Names Six New Top Pick Cars for 2010

Mazda5, Cheverolet Traverse and Volkswagen GTI among the new additions

YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 23 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Reports names six new models to its annual Top Picks car list for 2010. Comprised of nine different car brands, this year's list is the most diverse group of Top Picks in over a decade.

Findings from Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue, including the new Top Picks, were announced today at a Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) press conference in Washington, D.C.

The Mazda5, Nissan Altima, Subaru Forester, Volkswagen GTI, and Chevrolet Traverse and Silverado join the Hyundai Elantra SE, Infiniti G37, Toyota Prius and Lexus LS460L as Consumer Reports' selections for best models of the year based on performance, reliability, and safety.

"The diversity of this year's Top Picks reflect how competitive the industry has become," said Rik Paul, Consumer Reports' automotive editor. "Today's car buyers have more choices than ever when looking for good all-around cars."

Consumer Reports' Top Picks are the best all-around models in their categories and must meet stringent road test, reliability, and safety requirements. Each Top Pick scores at or near the top of its category among the more than 280 vehicles Consumer Reports recently evaluated at its Auto Test Center; has average or better predicted reliability (based on the problems subscribers reported on more than 1.4 million vehicles in Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Survey), and performed adequately in overall safety if tested by the government or insurance industry. In addition, each model must offer electronic stability control (ESC), a proven lifesaving safety feature as standard equipment or as a readily available option. All of this year's Top Picks provide standard ESC and curtain air bags.

In recent years, Toyota and Honda models have had their share of spots among Consumer Reports Top Picks list. But the automotive landscape continues to grow more competitive. This year, the Nissan Altima managed to dethrone the Honda Accord as the Top Pick for Family Sedan--making it the first time since 1998 that a Honda model was not selected.

The Toyota Prius retains its position as the Top Pick for Green for the seventh consecutive year, while the Lexus LS460L returns as Consumer Reports pick for Best Overall vehicle. At the time of publication, sales of the Toyota Highlander and RAV4 had been halted and currently Consumer Reports has suspended its recommendation for both vehicles removing them from contention in the Small and Family SUV category.

"The competition is quite fierce, and often the difference between a Top Pick and a runner-up can be slim. We believe all of our Top Picks this year to be exceptional vehicles that excel in a number of areas," Paul added.

Consumer Reports' testing procedures are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or Web site. More than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. Roughly 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up on each test car during the testing process. CR buys all its test cars anonymously from dealers. Other reviewers base their evaluations on press cars that are hand-picked by the automakers.

Here, by category, are the 2010 Top Picks.

SMALL SEDAN: Hyundai Elantra SE

The Elantra SE ($18,695) made the Top Picks list for the third time this year. It is a solid, all-around car that's relatively comfortable, quiet, and roomy, and provides good fuel economy and plenty of features for the money. The SE comes with standard ESC, a critical safety feature that's absent on other small cars (including the lower-end Elantras).

FAMILY SEDAN: Nissan Altima

The Altima ($23,970 to $30,335) has been a Consumer Reports top-rated family sedan for a couple of years, but lacked easily available ESC. A 2010 freshening made it better and improved gas mileage and for the first time provides standard ESC in all trim lines. It offers an appealing balance of comfort and performance, while getting some of the best fuel economy in its class: 26 mpg overall in four-cylinder models and 24 mpg with a V6. The cabin is roomy, well finished, and quiet. And the secure handling, comfortable ride, and spirited acceleration make the car enjoyable to drive.

SPORTY CAR: Volkswagen GTI

Freshened for 2010, the GTI ($27,504) is the sport version of the Volkswagen Golf (formerly called the Rabbit). The GTI is exhilarating to drive and easy to live with. It delivers the agile handling, spirited acceleration, and responsive steering of a true sports car, along with a decent ride, a well-finished interior, and the cargo-carrying practicality of a hatchback. Good fuel economy of 27 mpg overall is another plus, although premium fuel is required.

SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester

The Forester ($20,972 to $28,860) provides one of the most car-like driving experiences of any SUV. It combines agile handling with the most comfortable ride in its class. Passengers are treated to a spacious cabin, with a roomy rear seat and excellent visibility. The 2.5X provides an impressive 22 mpg overall with an automatic, 24 mpg with a manual. And the turbocharged 2.5XT delivers effortless acceleration and 20 mpg, but it takes premium fuel. The 2.5X has had excellent reliability, while the 2.5XT's is average.


The LS ($76,572) scored an outstanding 99 out of 100 in Consumer Reports road tests, making it the highest-rated vehicle. It provides a comfortable ride and luxurious driving environment, including a roomy, well-crafted and exceptionally quiet interior. It offers a plethora of electronic amenities, including an optional self-parking system. Yet, its controls are easy to use. Its efficient 380-hp V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission deliver smooth, brisk acceleration and a relatively good 21 mpg overall. All-wheel drive and a hybrid version are available.

FAMILY SUV: Chevrolet Traverse

The Traverse ($39,920) stands out as an impressive overall package with a quiet, spacious cabin that can comfortably seat up to eight adults and leave room for cargo. It provides a pleasant ride, communicative steering, and responsive handling. The tested model returned 16 mpg overall, which is respectable for its size. Rear visibility isn't great, but small convex side mirrors and an optional rear-view camera help.

SPORT SEDAN: Infiniti G37

The G sedan ($37,225) tops this category for the fourth straight year. It is one of the highest-rated sedans tested, with a score of 95 out of 100. It provides agile handling, blistering acceleration, a refined powertrain, a fairly comfortable ride, and a high-quality, luxurious interior. The G37 is as inviting to drive on a twisty road as it is on the highway. But compromises include a snug cabin and small trunk. Rear-wheel drive is standard; all-wheel drive is optional. Coupe and convertible versions are also available.


The Mazda5 microvan ($23,805) offers lots of practicality in a compact, affordable package. With three rows of seats and sliding rear side doors, it combines the convenience of a minivan with the maneuverability and stingy fuel economy--24 mpg overall--of a wagon. The interior is airy, with good fit and finish. It's fun to drive, with a nimble feel and a comfortable ride. The addition of standard ESC for 2010 improved its emergency handling. If you need more room, consider the Honda Odyssey minivan.

GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius

The Prius ($26,950) received a redesign for 2010 and leads this category for the seventh straight year. It's still the most fuel-efficient car in Consumer Reports' ratings, with 44 mpg overall. The Prius is a pleasant car to drive, with a roomy interior, a steady ride, hatchback versatility, and excellent reliability and crash-test results. The 2010 redesign also gave it a more solid feel and a dedicated EV mode that allows it to run longer on electric power at low speeds, an advantage in slow, congested traffic.

PICKUP TRUCK: Chevrolet Silverado

The Silverado 1500 ($37,235) returns to the top of the list after a year off. The crew-cab 4WD model is a well-rounded pickup with a roomy cabin, generous payload capacity, decent ride quality, available full-time 4WD, and, on higher-end models, very good interior fit and finish. The GMC Sierra is a twin of the Silverado. Reliability has been average.

Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue goes on sale March 2 wherever magazines are sold. Free highlights from the issue will be available at www.ConsumerReports.org. Subscribers will be able to access all the stories and ratings from the issue.

With more than 7 million print and online subscribers, Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To become a subscriber, consumers can call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Gah! The Forrester is no more an SUV than I am an astrophysicist. It's a tall AWD wagon.

      Call me whatever you like, but to me an SUV needs to have a low-range gearbox. I don't care if it's unibody (such as the Jeep Cherokee Sport) or body-on-frame (Nissan XTerra), but it needs to have a low range to be an SUV, otherwise it's a crossover or a tall wagon like the Outback or Volvo XC70.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Jon Linkov was on ABC’s Good Morning LIES ON CAMERA. I QUOTE LEXUS LS460L goes through avoidance maneuver very well. SEE VIDEO -- CONSUMER REPORTS A FRAUD: Consumer Reports top rated Lexus LS 460L posts the second poorest speed in Consumer Reports avoidance avoidance maneuver. I QUOTE CONSUMER REPORTS TEST DESCRIPTION ************** A vehicle with good braking and emergency handling can help you avoid an accident. Here are the highs and lows in our dry braking test (from 60 mph) and AVAIDANCE MANUEVER WHICH HELPS US JUDGE HOW CAPABLE A VEHICLE IS WHEN A DRIVER IS TRYING TO STER AROUND AN OBSTICLE; THE HIGHER ITS SPEED, THE BETTER ***************
      After highly recommending the dangerous Toyota Corolla which may be recalled for light and vague steering (Consumer Reports words), Consumer Reports Dare to TOP RATE the Lexus LS460 which posted the lowest speeds in CRs AVOIDANCE MANUEVER

      TEST RESULTS: Lincoln Town Car (dated 30 year old design) 47.5MPH Lexus LS460 L 48.5 Mercury Grand Marquis 50MPH (dated 30 year old design), Toyota Avalon 50MPH Kia Amanita.

      Consumer Reports DARE rate the LEXUS LS460L a top score of 99 out of a 100. Did I mention, this is the same magazine that highly rated the Corolla? Safety takes a back seat to selling magazines at Consumer Reports.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports continues to show how useless they are with every passing car test or list. I'm so glad I canceled by subscription to this rag 4 years ago.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree. The problem is 90% of people assume CR knows what they're talking about. It's terribly upsetting.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I bought a Passat back when it was CR recommended. While the car was great to drive it was the most unreliable piece of crap ever. Started falling apart right after the then 2 yr, 24K bumper to bumper warranty. Add to this the fact that the parts are ridiculously priced and I would never buy another VW again.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm going to give a thumbs up to the goofy Mazda5.
      CR liked it in the past but was hesitant because it didn't offer ESC.
      That and the addition of a few upgrades and the availability of the newer 5-spd auto makes it a nicer package.

      Like the RX-8, it's not for everybody, but kudos to Mazda for offering it, and improving it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Rigirous", guys? Come on... :(
      • 5 Years Ago
      *smacks head*

      Who's getting paid off at Consumer Reports for this stuff?

      1. How can anything Toyota end up on this list, especially a Prius?
      2. The Altima...really...over the Accord? Come on now...I'll be the first to admit the Altima has come a long way from its original release (where Nissan flooded the market so much with them, that a 50% depreciation after the first year was not uncommon), but the Altima is no Accord.
      3. Having had an Elantra or 2 in my day (in the 2000's, even), I'll attest to the fact that it's not nearly as bad as everyone thinks, and that it's actually quite a fun little car. People discounting Hyundai haven't been paying attention the past few years.
      4. Best overall car, the LS460L. There are so many other cars that could fit this bill, and for less money, too. God help you if you ever try to use the auto parking feature...my god, that thing is a nightmare.
      5. SUV - The Traverse? I don't think I've even seen one of these on the road. There are better options out there.
      6. The G37 the best sports sedan? My god, they're not even holding resale value (when I was researching leases, the residual values on these cars were absolutely horrid..even Infiniti didn't think this car was going to hold its value). Where's Audi & BMW?

      This list is a joke, and America should take heed and ignore it like the plague, in almost all respects.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Should Consumer Reports customers been turned off had they read CRs review on the Corolla. On the contrary, CR states the following about the Corolla: Overall Rating 72=Very Good, CR’s owner (cult) satisfaction=74=Very Good The review states: “Corolla is a good small sedan” “Handling is sound and secure” “pleasant and refined Corolla” “Corolla is one of the best riding small cars” “The steering is a bit light and rather vague on center” “Corolla was secure at its handling limits thanks to its optional ESC, but it posted just a modest speed in our avoidance maneuver”
      To say CR didn’t adequately describe the Corolla’s vague steering is a huge understatement. I have been after the biased Consumer Reports for years now for recommending (and top rating) the poorest handling vehicles on the road (Toyota/Lexus brand). Consumer Reports, a supposed authority on vehicle testing and reviews sold their customers down the River to play into the perception game. Selling magazines is job #1 @ CR. Who in their right minds would recommend a vehicle to a friend or family member that has really vague steering??? Just read some of the online complaints. The Corolla wanders and many drivers overcompensate (dangerously) when trying to correct. Furthermore, I personally drove both a 2009 Corolla and a 2010 Focus (CR vehicle rating only 65). The Focus was a fairly well composed vehicle with a good on center feel, adequate feedback and fine tracking abilities; Again, Consumer Reports has no business recommending vehicles like the Corolla to their customers even if it is the biased CR’s GEM Toyota brand. CR derives the overall vehicle test score out of thin air. The test plan allows and encourages data manipulation amongst the staffers because the data behind the final score is not shown (results and weight of each individual test). Was the Focus rated 9 points below the Corolla because it was noisy? CRs final test score in the Focus/Corolla comparison also suggest CR is not applying common sense in deriving the number. CR’s testers get away with manipulation because high level management at CR has been complacent for many years.. The testing, scoring and report format has not changed in and is hardly adequate. Toyota had to tell CR their vehicles were not safe before CR stopped recommending them. Toyota’s safety woes have been public knowledge for years now. I find CRs reporting of the Toyota’s woes a little arrogant? This is a magazine that ignored all of Toyota’s safety issues for years to comply with the perception of their customer base and now that the cat is out of the bag, they are citing Toyota for poor quality and mistakes. Is this what CRs forefathers had in mind? Why isn’t CR apologizing to their customer base for preposterous recommendations? Why isn’t somebody at a high level taking charge and reorganizing? In the end I hope CR suffers financially for the out of control, hap hazard, poor quality work being done by their auto department?
      As far as the Prius goes, a newscaster on CNN was able to reproduce the brake issue over and over on her Prius on camera. All she had to do is apply the brakes while going over a bumpy road @ 35mph. CR should get her to ru
      • 5 Years Ago
      Good ol' Consumer Reports...chooses the Altima, with it's smoke and mirrors CVT transmission as the best car.

      I had a go kart 50 years ago, with a belt drive and centrifugal clutch...same principle.

      :shakes his head:

      Oh, yeah...I know...the modern CVT transmission "places the car constantly in it's best power range, for improved performance and mileage".

      So did the go kart rig.

      But the problem is that Nissan decides what range that is, and they seldom get it right...their idea is to build in economy, not maximize performance...and since the driver can't make any real adjustments to it, he's screwed...he has to take what they allow.

      I have no use for CVT, and I probably wouldn't, if it was perfect, which it certainly is not. To me, CVT is just another Japanese view of how to build an appliance, and a waste of time, for me.

        • 5 Years Ago
        FYI, you can shift when you want with the Altima CVT.
        • 5 Years Ago

        So...you can shift it yourself, and have all the disadvantages of a manual transmission, with none of the advantages...or you can let it shift itself...which gives you the enjoyment of a transmission made of melted marshmallow fluff. Sorry, the CVT is a way to maximize mileage...it doesn't address performance at all, except by bypassing the CVT effect rather crudely...and the CVT ratios still stink.

      • 5 Years Ago
      CR is a joke. For years they rubber stamped their approval on anything made by Honda or Toyota. Objective, not. There are many other sources out there to research vehicles, and particularly sources that gather real owner's data on their experience with a particular vehicle.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I recommend a tried and true, well-tested method of choosing the best car for you...

      Test drives. Lots of them.

      • 5 Years Ago
      Altima? Mazda5? Silverado? Elantra? I don't think so.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Archcommus, name a better car in each category.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Good for you ... that just shows everyone else where your brain is.
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