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Six cars that CR says are worse than their predecessors – Click above for high-res image gallery

There's nothing like being told you aren't as good as you used to be. "You've changed, man. You've really changed."

In its annual automotive issue, Consumer Reports awards scores to each new car available on the market, and though you'd think that a new model would score higher than the one it replaces, that isn't always the case. In fact, CR points out six 2011 model year vehicles that received substantially lower scores under its methodology than their predecessors.

At the top of CR's list is the 2011 Volkswagen Jetta – a car that has come in for a raft of criticism from the media since its redesign launched in mid-2010 (criticism that has been summarily ignored if the Jetta's rising sales figures are anything to go by). Rounding off the rest of the list are the Honda Odyssey, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Sienna, Mercedes-Benz E350 and BMW X5.

Consumer Reports does raise an important point, though: Earning a lower score doesn't automatically mean the car should be written off completely. In its story, CR states:

Some models, such as the Honda Odyssey, Mercedes-Benz E350, and Toyota Sienna, are still very good vehicles that we recommend. But they don't quite measure up to the standards set by their previous generation models. Others, such as the current BMW X5, Toyota 4Runner, and Volkswagen Jetta sedan, are clear disappointments.

Clear disappointments? Ouch. Head over to Consumer Reports for the full story.


2011 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, front 3/4

  • 2011 Volkswagen Jetta
  • 2011 Volkswagen Jetta, rear 3/4

  • 2011 Honda Odyssey
  • 2011 Honda Odyssey, front 3/4

  • 2011 Honda Odyssey
  • 2011 Honda Odyssey, rear 3/4

  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Sedan
  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Sedan, front 3/4

  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Sedan
  • 2011 Mercedes-Benz E350 Sedan, rear 3/4

  • 2011 Toyota 4Runner
  • 2011 Toyota 4Runner, front 3/4

  • 2011 Toyota 4Runner
  • 2011 Toyota 4Runner, rear 3/4

  • 2011 Toyota Sienna
  • 2011 Toyota Sienna, front 3/4

  • 2011 Toyota Sienna
  • 2011 Toyota Sienna, rear 3/4

  • 2011 BMW X5
  • 2011 BMW X5, front 3/4

  • 2011 BMW X5
  • 2011 BMW X5, rear 3/4


[Source: Consumer Reports]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 75 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      It comes down to personal taste, and what a person can afford. I do find that the VW Jetta doesn't look as interesting as it's predecessor regarding the design.
      • 3 Years Ago
      We love our 2011 Jetta. It maintains the great handling of our previous 2001 Jetta, as well as the general comfortable ergonomics of the cabin. We don't mind the harder dash and goose neck hinges in the trunk, as the rest of the materials still have a quality feel (and the trunk lid does have a liner). As an owner of several VW's (2001 Jetta, 2009 Eos), I can say our new Jetta doesn't depart (all that much) from the standard VW formula.
      • 3 Years Ago
      CR has made a mistake by comparing cars from different years with different specifications.

      The Mercedes-Benz E350 comes in two "flavors": with their "Sport Package" and without the "Sport Package." In addition to some appearance items, the "Sport Package" includes firmer suspension settings and more performance-oriented, lower profile tires on different size wheels. The firmer suspension settings and lower tire sidewalls will cause a car with the "Sport Package" to ride more harshly.

      CR does not say whether the E350 models they tested have the "Sport Package” or not. They do give the wheel and tire specifications:

      2007: Michelin Pilot HX MXM4, size 245/45R17 95H.
      This is not a wheel/tire specification consistent with a sport package.

      2010: Pirelli PZero Nero All Season,
      FRONT: size 245/40R18 97V,
      REAR: size 265/35R18 97V.

      According to Cars.com entry for the 2010 M-B E350 model, this combination of tire sizes required the "Sport Package."

      Of course, the tire brand and tire model also matter. Tirerack.com considers the Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 tire to be a "Grand Touring All-Season" tire. They define this category as, "You want all-season versatility (including light snow traction) and responsive handling along with noise and ride comfort." They add, "Grand Touring All-Season tires ... place more emphasis on handling and high-speed capabilities than Standard Touring tires."

      Tirerack.com considers the Pirelli PZero Nero All Season tire to be an "Ultra High Performance All-Season" tire. They define this category as, "You want all-season versatility (including light snow traction) and are willing to trade some dry and wet traction and handling to get it." Traction also counts in assessing handling, so I doubt that Pirelli PZero Nero All Season tire could have better handling than the Michelin Pilot HX MXM4. This tire seems to be a questionable choice for a "Sport Package"!

      The only thing CR disliked about the handling of the 2010 E-class was the light steering. They thought this reduced road feel. I think that they were feeling the reduced traction of the Pirellis.

      I recently bought new tires for my C-class Mercedes. Both old and new tires were Michelins. The new tires were a single, small step in the direction of handling (specifically, initial steering response) at the expense of cushioning of small bumps. The results were very subtle but nonetheless noticeable. If I were a car tester comparing two such otherwise identical cars, I would write that the car with the new tires rode more poorly. (This difference has not changed, now that the tires are not so new.)

      At a minimum, CR should have qualified their comparison.
      • 3 Years Ago
      At #1 or #2 I would put the Acura TL. The product went from the best looking in the segment to the worst.
      • 3 Years Ago
      add the accord to that list. But I totally agree with CR.

      Auto makers should be ashamed
      • 3 Years Ago
      I agree big time with the 4 runner, its so much cheaper feeling and way uglier. Jetta's interior is a disappointment, ide rather pay a bit more and get the nice VW interior we're all used to then get the cheaper one we have, course if it's selling better suppose it's not as big a deal to most as to me. Sienna I like more then the last, but the Odyssey is way uglier.
      • 3 Years Ago
      As the owner of a 2010 Jetta TDI, I agree that the new Jetta looks like crap. Looks like the tried to copy the front end of a 1989 Nissan. VW's Jetta styling seems to get a little worse every year.
      • 3 Years Ago
      How about every BMW currently on sale.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Comparing the new Jetta to the old one is about as fair as comparing the New Focus to the old Focus or better yet, comparing this year's Cruze to last year's Elantra!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I think I agree with this list =
      • 3 Years Ago
      I rented a new Jetta base, base (2.5... aux pleather) from Enterprise a few weeks ago. I had never driver a VW product prior to being in the new Jetta. I must say, even though so many people complain about their product, I personally enjoyed my week with the car.
      • 3 Years Ago
      If you get inside one, the interior quality and materials of the current E-Class is easily superior to the previous generation.
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