"For a car to be a top pick at Consumer Reports, it has to have done extremely well in our testing. It has to have average or better reliability, as we found from our owners' survey," said David Champion, from Consumer Reports. "And if it has been crash-tested by the government or the insurance industry, it has to have done well there, too. But one more thing that we require on a top pick that it has to have electronic stability control either standard or easily available."
The Nissan Altima is this year's top pick for family sedan. It outscored the Honda Accord, which has held the top honor since 2003.
"The Altima gives really good fuel economy. It has a very comfortable, roomy interior. And it just does everything really well," said Champion.
The Subaru Forester is the top pick for a small SUV, replacing the Toyota RAV4, which at the magazine's press time had been pulled from sale due to a recall.
"The Subaru Forester is a really nice small SUV. It's very easy to drive, has a very comfortable ride," said Champion. "The handling is very good, and it also gets very good fuel economy. It scores about the same as the RAV4."
The Chevrolet Traverse is the top pick for midsized SUV's. It replaces the Toyota Highlander, whose sales had also been suspended. Consumer Reports also rates which cars offer the best values.
"When we're looking at value, we're trying to find what the cheapest cars are that are going to give you the best performance, the best fuel economy, and the best reliability for the price," said Champion.
This year, the $16,000 Honda Fit tied the Toyota Prius as Consumer Reports' best value car.