10 Best Cars of 2016 According to Consumer Reports
We all want to buy the best car we can when it’s time to replace our current one, but what constitutes the best can be very different depending on who you’re asking. Whether we like to admit it or not, the vast majority of us will turn to reports, reviews and surveys to get an idea of where to look before we go out and start the serious business of test driving and negotiating.
A really good place to get an idea of what’s the best on offer in a wide range of segments of the market is the annual “Top Picks” list from the respected Consumer Reports. CR defines the “best” in any segment as the car that performs best in its extensive testing regime, as well as standing out for its reliability, safety, and owner satisfaction. There’s no getting away from the fact that there are a whole lot of great cars out there in the market right now. But when the guys at Consumer Reports are asked to definitively name the very best, the 2016 10 Top Picks list is their answer across all the popular categories and they have the irrefutable data to back up their decisions.
The categories covered this year range from compact roadsters right up to full-size pickups, with seven out of the ten being from Japanese manufacturers, two from domestic automakers and the other winner coming from South Korea.
Best Subcompact Car: Honda Fit
Road Test Score – 67
Overall MPG – 33
Price as Tested – $19,025
The Fit isn’t without its faults as it does suffer from a degree of road noise and the ride isn’t the best on long journeys. Aside from that though, the Fit offers great fuel economy, nimble handling, and a truly great interior that defies logic in terms of interior space when you consider how small the car’s overall footprint is.
Best Compact Car: Subaru Impreza
Road Test Score – 76 to 79
Overall MPG – 26 to 27
Price as Tested – $21,345 to $22,345
There’s little to not like about the Impreza, which Consumer Reports describes as a “smart, practical car.” It’s another model that is roomier inside than you’d imagine looking at the exterior, but it’s also got user-friendly controls, an abundance of safety technology, excellent crash-test results, and it has an available hatchback version for those that need to haul bulky items.
Best Midsized Car: Toyota Camry
Road Test Score – 84 to 87
Overall MPG – 26 to 38
Price as Tested – $24,089 to $32,603
The term “evergreen” could have been invented with the Toyota Camry in mind. The Camry isn’t going to win any prizes for excitement or originality, but it does everything it’s supposed to do and it does it very well indeed. It offers a quiet cabin, impressive powertrains, a comfortable ride, good handling that make it as pleasant as it is capable. For those that want even better fuel-economy than the gasoline models deliver, there’s also a reasonably affordable hybrid option.
Best Small SUV: Subaru Forester
Road Test Score – 85
Overall MPG – 26
Price as Tested – $27,145
If you want a vehicle that can handle pretty much everything you could reasonably expect to throw at it over the time you own it, you’ll struggle to beat the Subaru Forester, especially at the price. It’s comfortable, roomy, it handles well and its all-wheel drive system puts rivals like the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4 firmly in their place when it comes to driving in the snow. Add into the mix the excellent safety scores and you have a proper all-rounder. It’s not the best-looking vehicle in its class, but that’s about the only criticism you can level at the Forester.
Best Luxury SUV: Lexus RX
Road Test Score – 77 to 80
Overall MPG – 22 to 29
Price as Tested – $51,630 to $57,565
When you look at some of the rivals the RX has to compete against in the luxury SUV segment, it tells you that Lexus has got things very right with this model. The exterior design of the latest version of the RX really has brought this model out of the shadows and turned from being something of a wallflower to a true design statement that’s impossible to ignore. It doesn’t handle and perform quite as crisply as much of its German competition, but when it comes to comfort, luxury and style it really does deliver.
Best Sports Car Under $40K: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Road Test Score – 80
Overall MPG – 34
Price as Tested – $29,905
The MX-5 Miata has always been the one to beat in its class when it comes to precise handling and smile-on-the-face open top driving at a very affordable price. Mazda hasn’t exactly reinvented the wheel with this fourth-generation of the world’s best-selling roadster, but it has somehow managed to improve upon what was already a winning formula. Its firm suspension could be a little jumpy for some tastes, and it does have a tight cabin that’s not really suited to taller drivers. If you really do enjoy your driving and as long as you can fit in it, you’re sure to love the latest Mazda MX-5 Miata.
Best Large Car: Chevrolet Impala
Road Test Score – 91
Overall MPG – 22
Price as Tested – $39,110
If the Impala name makes you think of little more than anonymous rental cars, you obviously haven’t got up-close and personal with the current model. This really is an outstanding car for the mass market that’s dynamic and comfortable with a cushioned ride and responsive handling, and can even be said to beat some prestige luxury sedans at what they do. You’d expect a large car to have plenty of room inside and you won’t be disappointed as the Impala has ample elbow and legroom for five people. If you haven’t checked the Impala out for a while, it’s now time you did.
Best Midsized SUV: Kia Sorento
Road Test Score – 84
Overall MPG – 21
Price as Tested – $37,915
The Sorento isn’t quite as large as some of its rivals in the midsize SUV segment, but that makes it a great vehicle for the city as well as one that offers all the space and features of bigger models. The smooth 290 horsepower V-6 powerplant is lively and responsive but still delivers competitive levels of fuel economy. The suspension does a superb job of absorbing the worst bumps and ruts without any fuss while still giving you every confidence when entering and exiting corners. A beautiful interior and good safety ratings come together to make the Sorento the complete package in its class.
Best Pickup Truck: Ford F-150
Road Test Score – 78 to 80
Overall MPG – 16 to 17
Price as Tested – $45,750 to $46,755
If you think an aluminum body isn’t brutish enough for a full-size truck, the Ford F-150 begs to differ. By shunning traditional steel body panels, the Blue Oval has made this latest-generation of this legendary pickup lighter, quicker and more economical than ever. Ford’s EcoBoost technology only adds to the appeal of the F-150, with more than 60 percent of buyers choosing the EcoBoost 2.7 and 3.5-liter V-6 engines over normally-aspirated 3.5-liter V-6 and 5.0-liter V-8. The excellent Sync 3 infotainment system has now replaced the less-than intuitive MyFord Touch setup, while superb crash-test results and the best predicted reliability of any domestic pickup make the F-150 far more than just a solid workhorse.
Best Minivan: Toyota Sienna
Road Test Score – 78 to 80
Overall MPG – 19 to 20
Price as Tested – $35,810 to $38,201
It’s hard to believe too many people spend their time dreaming about minivans, but the Sienna offers a super-reliable, super-practical, and spacious way to get a modern family around, with all the active, connected features you could wish for. The interior is as spacious and multifunctional as you would demand from a class-leading minivan, but the smooth ride, lively powertrain and available all-wheel drive make a compelling case for not buying an SUV that’s always going to be less practical than the Sienna. It might not be what dreams are made of, but it will definitely help you and your family avoid a few potential nightmares.