How well does a car handle an emergency situation? How well does it accelerate and brake? These are just some of the dozens of tests in which vehicles have to excel - but that's not all. A car has to be reliable. Owners help in this regard, telling Consumer Reports about their experiences with 1.2 million vehicles.
"The European vehicles traditionally don't have very good reliability and that actually held them off the Top Pick list," said Jake Fisher of Consumer Reports.
This year, however, two made the list, including the Audi A6 as the Top Pick Luxury Car.
"It's a very comfortable car," Fisher said. "It's got an amazing interior, nice ride and agile handling."
The BMW 328i is the Top Pick Sports Sedan.
"It's always been a really sporty, fun-to-drive car," Fisher said, "but now with a new two-liter, turbo-charged engine, it's actually very efficient, too."
Honda made a comeback, as well. The newly redesigned Accord is the Top Pick Midsized Sedan, the CR-V is tops in the Small SUV class, while the Odyssey regained the Top Pick Minivan distinction.
For those who prefer sports cars, the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S lead the pack. These nearly identical vehicles, co-developed by Toyota and Subaru, are exhilarating to drive, with sticker prices that are tough to beat.
If you're looking for a car under $20,000, Consumer Reports' Top Pick is the Hyundai Elantra. The all-wheel drive Subaru Impreza's is their pick for compacts. Despite increasing competition, the Toyota Prius remains their top choice for Green Car.