The list is out: Our partners at Consumer Reports Magazine have just released their top picks in new cars for 2013.
The big news this year: For the first time in several years, Ford, GM, and Chrysler don't have a car in the Top 10 list, but two European auto makers do.
European Models Score Well
Being named a Consumer Reports Top Pick vehicle doesn't come easy. In addition to how well a car handles an emergency situation, accelerating and brake testing are also performed.
Those 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, and owners help by telling Consumer Reports about their experiences with 1.2 million vehicles.
The European vehicles traditionally don't have very good reliability, and that often keeps them off the top pick list. But this year two make the list, including the Audi A6 as the Top Pick Luxury Car. It's a very comfortable car. It has an amazing interior, a nice ride, and agile handling.
And the BMW 328i is the Top Pick Sports Sedan. It's always been a really sporty, fun-to-drive car. But now with a new two-liter, turbo-charged engine, it's actually very efficient, too.
Big Honda Comeback
Honda makes a comeback as well. The newly redesigned Honda Accord is the Top Pick Midsized Sedan. The CR-V is tops in the Small SUV class. And the Honda Odyssey has regained the Top Pick Minivan distinction.
But if sports cars are more your speed, the Subaru BRZ and the Scion FR-S lead the pack. The almost-identical vehicles, co-developed by Toyota and Subaru, are exhilarating to drive, with sticker prices that are tough to beat.
Looking for a car for under $20,000? The Hyundai Elantra is Consumer Reports Top Pick Budget Car. The all-wheel-drive Subaru Impreza earned Top Pick for compacts.
The Toyota Highlander stayed on top in mid-sized SUVs. And despite growing competition, the Toyota Prius remains the Top Pick Green Car.
Consumer Reports' 2013 Top Picks By Category:
MIDSIZED SEDAN: Honda Accord ( $23,270 to $30,860). Honda nailed it with this redesign - it's roomy, nice to drive, well equipped and very fuel efficient. With its four-cylinder engine, the Accord squeezes out 30 mpg overall and 40 on the highway, which is as good as the tiny Honda Fit. Higher-trim models have advanced safety features seldom found in this category; all models come with a standard back-up camera.
SPORTS CARS: Scion FR-S ($25,025) and Subaru BRZ ($27,117). Co-developed by Subaru and Toyota, which markets the Scion brand, both are exhilarating to drive, with super-sharp handling, excellent braking, and ample acceleration. While they are dedicated rear-wheel-drive sports cars with jittery rides, noisy cabins and small rear seats, their impressive gas mileage and reasonable sticker prices are welcome nods towards practicality.
BUDGET CAR: Hyundai Elantra ($18,445). One of CR's top-rated compact sedans, the well-rounded Elantra delivers a lot for the money. It's roomier and more refined than a typical subcompact yet gets competitive fuel economy. The Elantra also provides nimble handling, a fairly comfortable ride, a smooth, responsive powertrain, and a well-finished interior at an affordable price.
GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius ($26,750). Today's pure electric cars are getting the equivalent of 100 or more mpg. But no current plug-in car can match the Prius hatchback for its blend of fuel efficiency, practicality, and affordability. Its 44 overall mpg is still the best CR has measured in any five-passenger, non-plug-in-vehicle. The Prius' roomy interior, comfortable ride, hatchback versatility and low running costs make it easy to live with.
COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza (Sedan, $21,345; hatchback $22,345). The 2012 redesign breathed new life into the all-wheel-drive Impreza. Both sedan and hatchback versions are good sensible cars, with nimble handling and a compliant, absorbent ride that rivals some luxury sedans. Fuel economy is impressive for an AWD car. And the roomy interior, spacious rear seat, simple controls, and refreshingly good visibility make it easy to live with.
LUXURY CAR: Audi A6 ($56,295). Redesigned for 2012, the A6 is agile, quick, and a joy to drive, surrounding drivers and passengers with a sumptuous, impeccably finished cabin that's brimming with the latest high-tech features. The A6's potent, supercharged V6 engine, super-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, and comfortable ride add to the business-class feel. It returns respectable gas mileage, even with all-wheel drive.
MIDSIZED SUV: Toyota Highlander ( $38,578 to $47,255). For those who want the practicality of an SUV with the refinement of a good sedan, it provides a quiet, well-finished cabin, as well as a cushy ride, secure handling, and a smooth powertrain. The Highlander has also consistently maintained above-average reliability.
MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey ($36,830). With improved reliability helping it earn the top spot among family haulers, it provides a comfortable ride
roomy, quiet, and versatile cabin. The V6 engine performs well and delivers a competitive 19 mpg. And a backup camera - a great safety feature - is now standard on all models.
SMALL SUV: Honda CR-V ($26,455). Virtues include a smooth, responsive powertrain, good fuel economy, a compliant ride, excellent braking, a roomy rear seat, very functional interior, standard backup camera, and outstanding reliability. It's also one of the more competitively priced choices in the class.
SPORTS SEDAN: BMW 328i ($43,195). With its recent redesign, the 328i has become roomier, more luxurious and more fuel efficient while retaining most of its sporty, fun-to-drive characters. Ride comfort and fit and finish are impressive. And its 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers quick acceleration, while posting the best gas mileage in its class.
Complete details on Consumer Reports' Top Picks for 2013, Car Brand Report Cards, Best and Worst list and other key findings are available in the April issue of Consumer Reports on newsstands March 5, 2013.
As always, don't waste your money.