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Some Surprises in Consumer Reports’ Top 10 Cars for 2008

This article was written by in Consumer. 19 comments.


Consumer Reports published their latest top picks for the best cars of 2008, and some of the selections may surprise faithful followers of the magazine. Here’s the list.

Green car: Toyota Prius. This was the same selection as last year, so there’s no surprise here. A co-worker who owns a Honda Fit, who’s happy with the mileage he gets but is unsatisfied with just about everything else, eyes the Prius when we see one.

Small sedan: Hyundai Elantra SE. The Elantra may be the first surprise on the list. This car usually loses to the Honda Civic (which I own). Apparently, electronic stability control in the lower-priced models made the difference in the magazine’s selection.

Family sedan: Honda Accord. The Accord took this prize last year, as well.

Upscale sedan: Infiniti G35 Sedan. The G35 is another repeat winner.

Luxury sedan: Lexus LS 460L. Last year, the winner for luxury sedan was the Infiniti M35. For $77,000, the 460L was the best performing car tested by Consumer Reports.

Mazda MiataFun to drive: Mazda MX-5 Miata. The MX-5 Miata was last year’s winner for the “fun to drive” category. It’s about half the price of the Porsche Boxter but provides the same experience.

Small SUV: Toyota RAV4. My girlfriend is eying this car for her next purchase (when necessary). It was last year’s winner in the same category.

Midsized SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid was last year’s pick, but it lost out to the improved Santa Fe.

Minivan: Toyota Sienna. This is last year’s winner, but this year, Consumer Reports also recommends the Honda Odyssey.

Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab. What’s this? An “American” car on a list from Consumer Reports? Well, they do qualify their choice: “The redesigned Toyota Tundra outscored the Silverado in our tests, but first-year reliability of the 4WD, V8 version was below average.”

Members of Consumer Reports can compare the new ratings they have compiled for 2008 cars.

Top Picks 2008 [Consumer Reports]

Updated August 9, 2011 and originally published March 1, 2008. If you enjoyed this article, subscribe to the RSS feed or receive daily emails. Follow @ConsumerismComm on Twitter and visit our Facebook page for more updates.

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About the author

Luke Landes, also known as Flexo, is the founder of Consumerism Commentary. He has been blogging and writing for the internet since 1995 and has been building online communities since 1991. Find out more about him and follow Luke Landes on Twitter. View all articles by .

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar lisalisa

I am commenting on the Toyota Rav4: I have a 2002 model that I bought new using the Consumer Reports recommendation. I have had more engine problems with this vehicle. Buyers Beware! I have just had to have a new transmission and ECU replaced at only 81,000 miles which is ridiculous!! My old Honda lasted to 147,000 miles before it needed a transmission. I will not be buying another Toyota.

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avatar BuyBobbyacupajo

I have no idea how you drive & maintain your vehicles, but they can make a major difference how the engine and transmission hold up.

Twenty two months ago I bought a 92 Camry (with 287K on it at the time) as a runner. It is very mechanically sound as the original transmission is smooth and strong and the previous owner had just rebuilt the motor (at 280K), so I am confident that it will last for many more years. Other than normal maintenance, such as oil changes, adding a lifetime air filter, replacing a 6yr old battery, and rotating the tires, this baby just keeps on going!

My experience sounds way more typical than yours, so it’s sounds like you just got one of the few lemons that Toyota ever produces. I wish you luck finding a better value in a automobile manufacturer.

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avatar BuyBobbyacupajo

As far as the Accords go, we have a 2001 LX-4cyl, and other than replacing the timing belt this past fall (fairly common with Honda’s), it’s never been in the shop for anything other than the typical oil changes, or tire rotations (replaced original set of tires @ 50K).

The only thing I would have changed from this purchase would have been to go with a V6 for better power when passing people on the freeway. The ’01 4cyl only produced about 150HP, while the newest versions put out about 170, with the V6 around 260.

All in all, a very good value in a sedan.

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avatar lisalisa

I have faithfully maintained Rav4 through the dealership that I bought it from, going by the manuals mileage maintenance. The rav is kept in a garage and is not off roaded or driven for long mileage. This was also explained to Toyota but I guess that they even stand by their lemons.

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avatar stranraer

Don’t be surprised that the Hyundai Elantra made the top rating. I have a 1997 bought used that I have been very happy with and I know someone with a 2002 model that has served them quite well. I get 32 mpg on the highway, much better than the 28 mpg from my 2005 Ford Focus. I have had only one major repair in 2 years which cost under $300.

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avatar Atul

Consumer Reports has flawed methods. They only survey subscribers who tend to follow the magazine’s advice in the first place. They tend to think that their preferences are right, and if you read their workding closely, you’ll see biases baked in when one vehicle has the same issue as another where one is domestic and the other Japanese. Our family has had many GM products that lasted 125K + without any major issues. the one exception was a 1981 Buick Park Avenue which needed a new engine, but that’s really old. Out of the two Toyotas that we’ve owned, one was flawless, (1987 Corolla), and the other needed two exhaust systems and a rebuilt engine within 8 years, (1987 Camry).

For a great rundown on the issues with Consumer Reports, see this site…

http://truedelta.com/pieces/shortcomings.php?session_code=

I’m not affiliated with the site, but I respect the guy’s website and methods.

Atul

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avatar Scott

Ok I’m not sure why everyone seems to think toyotas and hondas last forever. I owned nothing but domestic and never experienced any break downs. I had a oldsmobile cutlass that was ten years old and had 197k on it, with original engine and trans….you couldnt even feel the motor running, on the other hand my friend had a honda accord with less mileage and was a few years newer and the whole inside vibrated and rattled which i noticed is VERY common on civics and corollas. My second car was a 01 chevrolet malibu which hit 110k and yet again no break downs or problems, my friends 2003 nissan pathfinder has needed two repairs in one year well over 2k. My third car a 05 ford taurus has 60k on it and AGAIN not one problem, runs great and gets about 20 city mpg and 29 hwy mpg. I wouldn’t trade it in for a corolla or civic getting 30 city mpg cause I want a ‘nice’ 4 door sedan with a comfortable ride….plus I wanna feel safe. I don’t care how many airbags those cars have if you get t-boned by a suv or van your injuries will be far more severe than if you were in a chevrolet impala, mercury sable, pontiac grand prix/g8, etc.

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avatar mrpushrod

Toyota has other obstacles to overcome. Till now, Toyota has been building the worst handling vehicles sold in America. For example: both the Lexus LS460 and Toyota Avalon sedans posted the slowest speeds in Consumer reports accident avoidance tests. This did not stop Consumer reports from giving them the highest test scores out of any comparable vehicles. I quote Consumer Reports Corolla review: THE STEERING IS A BIT LIGHT AND RATHER VAGUE. This is a possible recall now because the Corolla handles like a cruise ship. Consumer Reports put safety in the back seat in order to cater to the demographics of their customers and sell more magazines. They highly recommended all of these dangerous vehicles. Currently, Consumer Reports does not disclose the data (individual weight applied to each of the tests in the test suite) it uses to calculate the final test score of a vehicle. This allows their auto testers to pick and choose the winners (highest test scores) according to what their customer base wants to hear. Did the stitching in the leather interior affect the score more than safe handling? Only the biased testers at CR know. Furthermore, the CR reliability study is not random like reputable institutions such as J. D. Powers. Their survey is sent only to their (cult like) members that purchase the biased CR magazine. Data derived by CRs surveys is always tainted toward the big three (Toyota, Honda, Nissan). This is obvious when data is compared to national random surveys. This ordeal has been a wakeup call for the arrogant auto staff @ Consumer Reports who recommended Toyotas even a few days after Toyota recalled them. Fortunately for Ford and GM all eyes are on Consumer Reports and Toyota. They let the public down by ignoring safety for years to prosper financially. I bet Consumer Reports will go with the flow and start critiquing Toyota. Toyota will have to start producing completive safe handling agile vehicles in the future because the perception game is finally over.

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avatar mrpushrod

NEWS FLASH — CONSUMER REPORTS A FRAUD – Consumer Reports IGNORES SAFTEY IN THEIR GEM BRAND TOYOTA: The biased magazine Consumer Reports was well aware of the safety issues in the Toyota Corolla. I quote Consumer Reports Corolla review: “THE STEERING IS A BIT LIGHT AND RATHER VAGUE”. Consumer Reports is a biased magazine that caters to the demographics of their customers in order to sell more magazines. The Corolla finished in sixth place from the top out of 14 vehicles. Consumer Reports cares more about their bottom line than the safety of their customers.

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