• Jun 29th 2010 at 11:01AM
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2010 Nissan Altima and 2011 Hyundai Sonata – Click either image above for high-res image gallery

The minds at Consumer Reports have just wrapped up testing on a handful of family sedans. The publication lined up the Chevrolet Impala, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Altima and Suzuki Kizashi for a four-door throw down, and by the time the dust settled, Nissan and Hyundai reigned supreme. Both the four-cylinder Altima and Sonata racked up 'Excellent' ratings from the Consumer Reports testers, but only the Altima managed to walk away with the coveted 'Recommended' badge – the Sonata is too new for CR to weigh in on the Big Hyun's reliability.

Likewise, the Kizashi secured an 'Excellent' rating, though missed out on the honor of being 'Recommended' for the same reason. The same can't be said for the Chevrolet Impala. The Bowtie only managed a 'Good' rating, though it fared poorly enough in testing to be 'Not Recommended.' According to Consumer Reports, the big Chevrolet's disappointing fuel economy, clumsy four-speed transmission and lackluster fit-and-finish simply mean that it's due for a new model in a big way. Hop the jump for the full press release blast.

[Source: Consumer Reports]
Photos by Michael Harley / Copyright ©2009, ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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Consumer Reports: Redesigned Hyundai Sonata Now Rivals Nissan Altima

Altima and Sonata now at top of class for family sedans

YONKERS, N.Y., June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The redesigned Hyundai Sonata is now one of Consumer Reports' top-rated family sedans, posting an "Excellent" score, and scoring just behind the four-cylinder Nissan Altima.

The Sonata has agile handling, a steady ride, good accommodations, easy-to-use controls, and impressive performance and fuel economy for the class.

Two freshened versions of the Nissan Altima posted "Excellent" overall scores topping Consumer Reports' tests of four family sedans for the August 2010 issue. Along with the Altima and the Sonata, the new Suzuki Kizashi and the Chevrolet Impala were part of the test group. The Kizashi posted an "Excellent" overall score and the Impala a "Good" score.

"The Sonata has been transformed from a humdrum car into a really nice stylish car with impressive fuel economy, all at a competitive price," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

The Altima's 2010 freshening includes standard electronic stability control, which make the sedan's handling more secure at its limits.

While both versions of the Altima are Recommended, the Kizashi and the Sonata are not Recommended because they are too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability data. The Impala scored too low in CR's testing to be Recommended. CR only Recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR's Annual Auto Survey of its more than seven million print and Web subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

Prices ranged from $21,800 for the Sonata GLS to $30,335 for the V6-powered 3.5 SR Altima.

Full tests and ratings for all five sedans appear in the August issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale June 29. The reports are also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org. Updated daily, ConsumerReports.org is the go-to site for the latest auto reviews, product news, blogs on breaking news and car buying information.

The Nissan Altima has been among the best family sedans rated by Consumer Reports for some time, and a freshening makes it better. A pleasant ride, handling balance and a quiet cabin add to its appeal. The Nissan Altima 2.5 S ($23,970 Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price as tested), is powered by a 175-hp, 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine that is responsive and gets an impressive 26 mpg overall in CR's own fuel economy tests. The continuously variable transmission facilitates instant responses and adds to the fuel economy. Braking is Excellent. The interior is neatly finished. The 60/40-split rear seatbacks fold down to accommodate more cargo.

The redesigned Sonata is a major leap ahead of its predecessor. The ride is supple, yet composed, and handling is agile and responsive. Like many contemporary cars, the new Sonata has coupelike body styling, but unlike most, it has good rear-seat room, and its visibility remains decent. The Hyundai Sonata GLS ($21,800 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 198-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivers smooth and responsive performance and gets an outstanding 27 mpg overall. The six-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly and responsively. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished. Folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks supplements the already large trunk.

The new Suzuki Kizashi is a capable car, but not quite the bargain sports sedan that it is marketed as. It's small for a family sedan, with a snug cabin and a tight rear seat. The ride is fairly stiff and handling is fairly nimble, but not overly sporty. The Suzuki Kizashi SE ($22,489 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 180-hp, 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine that delivered just average performance and gets a respectable 25 mpg overall. The continuously variable transmission is smooth. Braking is Very Good. The interior is well-finished but not quite posh. The trunk is on the small side, but folding the 60/40-split rear seatbacks expands the capacity.

The dated Chevrolet Impala is overdue for a redesign. Although it's a large sedan, the cabin is less roomy than that of its smaller and less expensive Chevrolet Malibu sibling. Handling is clumsy, and powertrain refinement falls short. The Chevrolet Impala LT ($29,270 MSRP as tested), is powered by a 211-hp 3.5-liter V6 engine that gets just average performance and 20 mpg overall. Most modern transmissions have five or six speeds, but the Impala retains a four-speed automatic that shifts smoothly but is reluctant to downshift. Braking is Very Good. Fit and finish is second-rate. The trunk is large and folding the 60/40-split seatbacks expands its space.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      why the hell use an Impala instead of the Malibu?
        • 5 Years Ago

        The '10 Fusion was just tested for the Sept (4, V6, Hybrid) and Dec (V6 AWD) issues. The best of them, the Hybrid, got 5 points below the Sonata. A better question is why WOULD they test the Fusion again?

        Again, this is not an MT or C&D-type comparison test. They keep an ongoing list of scores and test new cars as they come out or are updated enough to change scores. The results are then put online ASAP, but pressers are put out only when a group is finished. So we'll probably see a group with the '11 Optima, Accord, Regal and Sonata Turbo late this year. Don't be asking why the Legacy or Camry wasn't tested with it when that issue comes out, please.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Possibly because the Impala has about as much useful "people" space as the Sonata and Altima**, and because CR already reviewed the current Malibu fairly recently.

        It's perfectly fair to compare it, and it compares poorly. I want to root for the old girl, being a stone's throw from where's its assembled, but it really is well past it's sell-by date. It does sell mind you, but largely because it's cheap.

        ** Yes, that's true. The Impala isn't all that roomy or comfortable, not compared to, say, the 300, Avalon, Taurus or even midsizers like the Camry, Malibu, Altima or Accord . It's big, but the short wheelbase and low rear seat don't help matters.
        • 5 Years Ago
        They didn't test it just because they've tested the current generation Malibu before against other cars in last year's test:
        It'd be pretty silly to retest just to see whether you can still recommend it when nothing's changed-the cars don't really go head to head exactly, this isn't a drag race.

        At any rate, the Impala is fairly roomy but a lot of the extra space isn't really usable. The leg space is a prime example, with the driver's side getting that parking brake that makes your legs feel more cramped than in a Camry. The only real plus to the vehicle is the fact that you can carry 6 people in the convertible bench seat version, but supposedly the seats are even less comfortable than the already not so great seats in the non-bench version. Having driven the bench version I can attest to it's spine crushing seats myself. Frankly I think the Good rating is being overly generous for a car that's probably at the very bottom of the pile for family cars-I'd probably pick the Malibu, Fusion, Taurus, Camry, Accord, Altima, Maxima, Avalon, Sonata, and maybe even a couple Chrysler vehicles over it. And never in my life have I ever seen another car where the build materials all appeared to have been chosen by the accounting department to try and knock another $5 off the cost of the car. Everything from the ultra cheap plastic trim on the doors to a trunk and lid that looked like other cars' trunk lids after they'd been stripped for parts reminded me of why GM went bankrupt. From what I can tell the previous generation Impala actually had somewhat better materials and build quality-with the dials and switches having feeling a lot less shoddy (just check the hot/cold sliders for the ultimate in cheap feeling). If it weren't for the fact that some people can get the Impala for a good 8K off MSRP it probably wouldn't sell at all.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I agree, the Impala seems to be in a different class.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Quote: "why the hell use an Impala instead of the Malibu?"

        Because the Malibu is competitive with the Altima and Sonata.

        How could CR do it monthly hatchet job on GM if they tested comparable cars?

        And... I have to admit that Hyundai sure has come a long way.

        Good to see them with a genuinely competitive car in this segment based on advanced design instead of just a very reliable value leader as in years past.

        Hyundai has passed Honda and Toyota by a wide margin lately.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Probably because they've tested the Malibu and needed to test the old guy in the field.
        • 5 Years Ago
        • 5 Years Ago
        I should also mention that the Altima was retested for the same reason: ESC wasn't available (except with a rare, expensive tech pkg) last time it was tested. That was why the Accord was a Top Pick last year even though the Altima scored higher. Emergency handling is also a big ratings factor, meaning it'd be a disservice to GM not to retest the car.

        Fact is, the Altima retest was completed in advance of the April Auto Issue and had been posted online in advance of that, in late Feb. or early Mar. They just hadn't published it in the magazine yet or issued a presser, pending the test of the other three so they'd have a group.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Agree, and where is an entry from Ford? The Fusion is compedative, maybe not as roomy as some but it's decent. It's also generally rated pretty highly-- reliable, good MPG, good road manners, fresh style and technology, etc.

        Virtually the same goes for the Taurus, because 28 HWY isn't bad with 263 HP in such a large car. I believe that's better than the Impala or 300 3.5.
      • 5 Years Ago
      ahhhh the altime is ugly and boring sonata is nice but i dont like its nose now the suzuki getting an excellent rating is well deserved give credit where its due regardless of name i like that its a beautiful car i really like i dont need too much room hehe...if it was up to me kizashi gets top honors you get a lot for the money....
      • 5 Years Ago
      wait till sonata turbo hits the shore. Hyundai is not fooling around.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Altima has basically looked the same since 2002.
      • 5 Years Ago
      It's great to see that Nissan's quality and reliability are being recognized. Usually its just more plaise for the sleep inducing CamCord... GO NISSAN!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hyundai did an EXCELLENT job with thie Sonata. The style alone allows it to command the $22,000 price which is easily on top of the Altima, Camry and Mitsubishi equivalent.
        I'm waiting to test the Sonata Turbo.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Likewise, the Kizashi secured an 'Excellent' rating, though missed out on the honor of being 'Recommended' for the same reason..."

        Am rooting for the understated and underdog Suzuki Kizashi. Hopefully, along with improving currently the US dealer network, a better engine option (w/ VWAG's help) and down the road a longer track record...the Kizashi and Suzuki as a whole would rise above among the rest.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Nissan's are great but MAN... update that freaking Altima. SOOOO boring looking now.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The profile comparison is amazing, one is fun and sporty, the other, bland and boring. Although, bland and boring has sold well for a long time.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah just look at the Camry!
      • 5 Years Ago
      Some things never change. The words 'poor, 'lackluster', 'disapointing' being used to describe a GM car. Go figure.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The Altima sure looks like an older entry-level vehicle compared to the Sonata in that photo. An updated Altima can't get here soon enough.

      Not sure why CR had such an issue with the Impala's MPG. I get these cars a lot as rentals and usually average at least 30 MPG. They may have lousy rear seat space for the size, but they cruise on the highways much better than the Japanese cars.
      • 5 Years Ago
      The NF Sonata was on sale for 3 model years: 2006-2008. The NFA refresh was on sale for 2: 2009-2010. That adds up to 5 years.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd put the Kisashi interior up against the Altima's anytime and I think their color matching is better than the Nissan effort. Altima can't compete with Sonata IMO when it comes to overall design execution and that includes both interior and exterior. To be fair, the Altima is getting quite long in the tooth, although the Impala that was part of the comparison is arguably the oldest of the bunch.

      I would have liked to have seen the Fusion instead of the Impala in this comparison. I think that would have been a better shoot out. I guess they put Kisashi in the mix because it's new and while it is the best effort yet from Suzuki, it's not on par when it comes to size comparison.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Consumer reports= the last place to trust. I know the Impala is not the sporty looking maybe even sporty drivng car that the Altima and Sonata may be, but I own one and we take road trips in it and usually average around 33 MPG. I know that there isn't anyone who can say that the Altima or the Sonata ride better or more quietly than an Impala. It may be past its styling prime but is an excellent car none the less.
      • 5 Years Ago
      side by side, the hyundai makes the nissan look so old.

      i still don't like the sonata's character line though. it starts too low in the front. should've started from the top of the wheel arch
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