With all the current bad news about cars, here's some good news. Consumer Reports has just released its 2010 Top Picks of the more than 280 cars tested. This year several new vehicles make the list.
Vehicles at Consumer Reports' test track go through more than 50 tests and evaluations, and are driven thousands of miles. Then once a year, the Consumer Reports Annual Auto issue unveils its Top Picks.
"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 Consumer Reports' David Champion. ""And if it has been crash-tested by the government or in 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.
Champion says, "The Altima gives really good fuel economy. It has a very good comfortable, roomy interior. And it just does everything really well."
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 recall.
Champion says, "The Subaru Forester is a really nice small SUV. It's very easy to drive, has a very comfortable ride. The handling is very good. And it also gets very good fuel economy. And it scores about the same as a RAV4."
The Chevrolet Traverse is the Top Pick for midsized SUVs. It replaces the Toyota Highlander, whose sales had also been suspended.
Consumer Reports also rates which cars offer the best values.
Champion says, "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."
This year, the $16,000 dollar Honda Fit tied the Toyota Prius as Consumer Reports' Best Value car.
Toyota has recalled 133,000 new 2010 Priuses to update the software in the anti-lock brake system.
Priuses now on sale have the update.