Consumer Reports released its top picks for 2007, which lists the organization’s favorite cars in several categories. Here is their methodology:
Our Top Picks are recommended vehicles that have met our stringent requirements in three key areas: Testing. Of the more than 250 vehicles weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve recently tested, each Top Pick has scored at or near the top of its category. Reliability. Each has proven average or better in reliability, which is based on more than 1.3 million responses to our Annual Car Reliability Survey. Safety. Top Picks also performed at least adequately in overall crash protection if tested by the government or the insurance industry…
Here is the list of Consumer Reports’ choices.
Fun to Drive: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Small SUV: Toyota RAV4
Small Sedan: Honda Civic (I drive a 2004 Civic)
Family Sedan: Honda Accord
Minivan: Toyota Sienna
Luxury Sedan: Infiniti M35
Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Budget Cars: Honda Fit
Green Car: Toyota Prius
Upscale Sedan: Infiniti G35
This list has much in common with Car and Driver’s 10 Best in 2007 list, but there are some notable differences. Consumer Reports includes not one American car, while Car and Driver includes the Corvette and Chrysler 300, as well as representation from BMW, Volkswagen, and Porsche.
Why such a wide discrepency between the two lists? Here’s Car and Driver’s methodology:
First, how well the car performs its intended functions. We expect sports cars to be fast and exhilarating, while we presume a family sedan will be practical. Second, we show a preference for the more engaging cars in each category; be it better driving manners, a double-take-inducing look, or a powerful engine. Finally, we are suckers for a good deal, so an inexpensive car that’s fast, fun, and practical will certainly rise to the top of our list.
It’s interesting the Car and Driver mention getting a “good deal,” while Consumer Reports doesn’t. However, the latter seems to feature more generally affordable vehicles, like the Honda Civic and Accord. Do these lists reveal a bias against or towards manufacturers headquartered in the United States (“American” cars)?
Here is how I judge quality. I mentally tally cars I see disabled in the breakdown lane (shoulder) while I travel every day on the highway. If all cars are created equal, the proportion of brands broken down should equal the proportion sold. There are of course other variables. For example, perhaps some cars are more likely to be owned longer and thus the average condition is worse. Regardless, my informal survey makes me feel comfortable about my Honda Civic. The only one I’ve ever seen towed is mine, but that wasn’t due to the quality of the car.