Consumer Reports Top Vehicle Picks of 2008

It's the time of year that savvy auto buyers look forward to. Consumer Reports has named its automotive Top Picks for 2008, and there were a few surprises. Four new or redesigned models made its top 10 lists, and this was the first time that a South Korean automaker made the Top 10 -- two of Hyundai's models were picked best overall in their categories.
Next Slide: Domestic Makes the Grade

Domestic Makes the Grade

This year's Consumer Reports list also marked the first time since 2005 that a U.S. model, in this case the Chevrolet Silverado, made the list. Historically, Consumers ReportsÔøΩ annual top 10 list has been a mix of Asian, European and American models, but for the past two years, the top 10 list has been exclusively the province of Japanese models.

Next Slide: New Models Make the List

New Models Make the List

The four new/redesigned models that won their categories were the Hyundai Elantra SE for best small car; the Hyundai Santa Fe for best mid-sized SUV; the Lexus LS 460L for best luxury car and the Chevy Silverado as the best pickup truck.Consumer Reports chose the most "well-rounded" vehicle in each segment, taking into account road test results, reliability, and safety requirements.
Next Slide: See the Winners

Small Car: Hyundai Elantra SE

MSRP: $13,625 - $16,325
An economical compact car, the Elantra strikes a nice balance between eye-catching exterior design, interior roominess and a generous array of safety features that come standard. It's powered by a 138-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, and comes in both the GLS and SE trim levels. CR liked its fuel economy, comfortable ride, and quiet, spacious interior -- not to mention its standard-equipment electronic stability control.

Mid-Sized SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe

MSRP: $21,150 - $29,800
The Hyundai Santa Fe is a synergy of SUV-like spaciousness and sedan-like ride. It's available as a seven-seater, it comes in three trims levels -- the GLS, SE, and Limited -- and buyers can choose either the 185-hp 2.7-liter V6 engine or the 242-hp 3.3-liter V6. It"s been redesigned for '08, and CR rated it high for its "quiet and roomy interior, excellent fit and finish, a refined power train, a relatively good ride, and an optional third-row seat."

Pickup Truck: Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab

MSRP: $17,500 - $38,860
The Silverado 1500 was redesigned for '08, which CR said "considerably improved" the vehicle, and that the Silverado attained "nice balance between work attributes and livability, including a generous payload rating, a comfortable ride, improved interior quality and steering feel, and easy access." The 1500 offers four engines and is available in a wide range of sizes.

Luxury Car: Lexus LS 460L

MSRP: $62,000 - $72,000
The Lexus LS 460L seemed virtually perfect, earning a score of 99 out of 100 in CR's road test -- making it CR's highest-rated vehicle. The LS is powered by a 460-hp 4.6-liter V8 mated to a computer-controlled eight-speed automatic transmission. CR praised its plush interior comfort and roominess, the quietude of the cabin, its brisk acceleration and its copious, user-friendly electronic amenities and controls.

Family Car: Honda Accord

MSRP: $20,360 - $28,310
Redesigned for '08, the Honda Accord has long been a stellar performer, so this is hardly a new honor for the model. It can be ordered as a two-door coupe or four-door sedan, and offers a choice between a 2.4-liter 190-hp four-cylinder engine or the 3.5-liter 268-hp V6. CR effused about the AccordÔøΩs roominess, ride comfort, nimble handling, refined power train, standard-equipment electronic stability control and impressive crash-test results.

Upscale Sedan: Infiniti G35

MSRP: $31,850 - $32,650
The G35 has been winning kudos for some time, so this was also no surprise. CR praised the G35 for its sportiness, luxury amenities, "exuberant" power train, agile handling, and its upscale, well-crafted interior. It's actually available in three models: Base, G35 Journey and G35 Sport 6MT, and is powered by a 3.5-liter 306-hp V6. Interior options include an Infiniti iPodÔøΩ Interface and 9.3 Gb Music Hard Drive.

Fun to Drive: Mazda MX-5 Miata

MSRP: $20,585 - $26,760
A zippy convertible roadster, the MX-5 uses a 2.0-liter, inline four cylinder engine and comes in two power levels: 166 hp for the manual transmission and 158 hp for the automatic. CR test drivers gave it high marks for its "balanced handling, quick and precise steering, and crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission." CR also noted that the MX-5 "virtually tied the Porsche Boxster in CRÔøΩs test scoring, but it's roughly half the price."

Small SUV: Toyota RAV4

MSRP: $21,250 - $26,820
The Toyota RAV4 was one of the pioneering vehicles in this small-SUV segment, but Toyota has increased its size in recent years to make it more roomy and flexible. It seats five and offers a optional third-row seat. It comes in Base, Sport and Limited versions and offers a choice between a 2.4-liter, 166 hp inline-4 and a 3.5-liter 269 hp V6. CR called it "impressive and versatile" and liked its "spirited" performance and quick acceleration.

Minivan: Toyota Sienna

MSRP: $24,340 - $37,665
Roomy and comfy, the Toyota Sienna is CRÔøΩs top pick in this category for the second year in a row. It comes in several trim lines, and offers two optional second-row seating configurations for maximum flexibility. The266-hp 3.5-liter V6 delivers the power youÔøΩll need for a big vehicle like this. CR noted that the SiennaÔøΩs ÔøΩspacious, quiet, and refined interior is on par with some luxury sedansÔøΩ and that itÔøΩs the only mini that offers all-wheel-drive.

Green Car: Toyota Prius

MSRP: $21,100 - $23,370
This is its fifth year in a row the Prius has topped CRÔøΩs ÔøΩgreen-carÔøΩ category. Its 44 mpg overall remains the best gas mileage that CR has ever measured in a five-passenger car. The Prius boasts a futuristic look, and draws it power from a 1.5 liter four-cylinder gas engine and powerful electric motor to deliver a 110 combined horsepower. In addition to its world-beating fuel economy, CR also liked its interior roominess and overall reliability.
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