Best Cars, SUVs, and Trucks of 2020: Consumer Reports
Jerry Reynolds | February 26, 2020
I know some of you think Consumer Reports hung the moon when it comes to evaluating products. I personally don’t know how their reviews and info is outside the world of cars. However, I often find myself at odds with its automotive opinions.
One issue for me is part of the criteria of the Top 10 vehicle picks is “predicted reliability.” I’m not sure how that works unless someone has a crystal ball.
I also find them to be wishy-washy as hell. For instance, almost a year ago to the day, CR dropped the Tesla Model 3 from its recommended list after just three weeks earlier stating it had the highest customer satisfaction of any car. Now, one year later, the Model 3 is back in the Top 10. I wrote about this a year ago:
In the spirit of fairness from your friendly content provider, other than the Tesla Model 3 (which I am just not ready to endorse yet), the rest of CR’s Top 10 is pretty much in line with cars I recommend all the time. I would have probably put Sonata, Camry, or Accord ahead of the Subaru Legacy, but I have nothing against the Legacy at all, I am quite a Subaru fan.
All that aside for those of you who are fans, here is Consumer Reports’ list of 10 Top Pick cars, SUVs, and trucks for 2020. It’s the first the organization segmented selections according to price-point rather than model type. CR also says it placed greater emphasis than before on advanced safety technology.
“Consumers are searching for the best car in their price range, and that's how we are presenting our findings," said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ Senior Director of Automotive Testing. “You don’t need to buy from a luxury brand to get a luxurious vehicle. Our goal is to help people identify the best vehicle for their needs, at an affordable price–and with all the latest safety features.”
Consumer Reports found that car buyers do not need to choose between cost, quality, and safety. While the average price of a new car in 2020 is more than $37,500, four of the top vehicles on Consumer Reports list — the Subaru Forester, Subaru Legacy, Toyota Prius/Prime and the Toyota Corolla — retail at under $35,000.
Toyota continues to stand out among its peers. For the third consecutive year, the Japanese manufacturer boasts four cars in the top ten, with a record 17th appearance for the reliable and eco-friendly Toyota Prius.
Also contributing to the list of the year’s top cars are the Kia Telluride, Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Avalon, Toyota Supra, Lexus RX and Tesla Model 3.
Consumer Reports selected the Top Picks from hundreds of current models in its ratings. These cars have some of the highest Overall Scores in their categories, factoring in road tests, predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety. Models are required to come standard with forward collision warning (FCW) and automatic emergency braking (AEB) with pedestrian detection–two proven safety features.
This is the first year that CR has required the added safety feature of pedestrian detection, which works with AEB to sense when people are in a car’s pathway and automatically brake, if needed. CR says it believes all these advanced safety features have the potential to save lives–and shouldn’t cost extra as part of an options package.
"We’re not willing to compromise when it comes to the safety of cars — which is why we’re pushing automakers to make life-saving technologies like forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection standard on all models in order to earn a coveted spot as a Top Pick,” said Marta Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “After all, we believe basic safety is a right for all of us — not a luxury reserved for those who can afford it.”
CR’s Top Picks by Price Category:
Under $25K category:
Toyota Corolla (Small Car): CR calls the Corolla roomy for a compact sedan, efficient (33 mpg overall in CR’s testing). It comes with extensive, and standard, advanced safety tech. CR says the new Corolla has improved driving dynamics, tackling corners more skillfully than its predecessor thanks to well-weighted steering and limited body lean. For those reasons, CR says the Corolla soaks up bumps with the best in the class.
$25K - $35K category:
Subaru Forester (Small SUV): The Subaru Forester features a combination of practical design, high owner satisfaction, and impressive fuel economy, according to Consumer Reports’ research. CR says it rides well, impressively absorbing road imperfections. It also says the Forester’s doxy design delivers benefits, such as easy access through large doors, hip-height seats, and big windows that provide great visibility.
Subaru Legacy (Midsized Sedan): The redesigned Legacy sits at the top, or near the top, in most every CR ratings category, distinguishing itself with a strikingly smooth ride and standard all-wheel drive. CR researchers say the Legacy feels like a solid, substantial car. With front seats that offer a wide range of adjustments and an interior with plenty of headroom, the Legacy accommodates drivers and front- and rear-seat passengers of many body types. The wide trunk opening makes loading and unloading quite easy.
Toyota Prius/Prius Prime (Hybrid/Plug-in Hybrid): The Prius has been one of CR’s Top Picks 17 times—more than any other model. The vehicle delivered 52 mpg overall in CR’s tests, making it a standard-bearer for hybrid efficiency. The Prius Prime plug-in version provides even better mileage for drivers who can charge often to make use of its 22.5-mile range on electric-only power. Despite their complex powertrains, these Prius models have an enviable track record for reliability.
35K - $45K category:
Kia Telluride (Midsized, Three-Row SUV): An undeniable standout, the Telluride scored among the highest of any vehicle CR has recently tested in its road test, and yet this is an aggressively-priced model that offers a compelling blend of comfort, features, space, and capability for the money. CR says what makes the Telluride so impressive is how it manages to do the big and small things well, from its nicely matched V6 engine and automatic transmission to its elegantly simple controls.
Honda Ridgeline (Compact Pickup Truck): The innovative Ridgeline reimagines what a modern pickup truck can be, combining a unique carlike driving experience with clever, useful features. CR says the Ridgeline has a ride that rivals a great sedan's, handling that outshines other trucks and a quiet, coddling cabin. Its V6 engine delivers strong, smooth acceleration and it returns better fuel economy than most trucks. Its fold-or-swing tailgate makes bed access a cinch, and a large lockable underbed storage bin adds unique versatility.
Toyota Avalon (Large Sedan): The Avalon achieved a near-perfect score for ride comfort and has the best predicted reliability of any large sedan in CR’s ratings. Its V6 engine paired with a slick shifting eight-speed transmission provides lush power. CR calls the hybrid version an even more attractive version with fuel efficiency you’d typically see in a much smaller car. Like most Toyotas, the Avalon also comes standard with a host of advanced safety systems.
$45K - $55K category:
Lexus RX (Midsized SUV): The Lexus RX pioneered the midsized luxury crossover in the late 1990s and continues to set the standard. The winning formula remains the same for Lexus: a Goldilocks size, smooth power delivery, plentiful amenities and proven reliability. CR considers the RX a tremendous value for luxury seekers. It comes in different versions, including an extremely efficient 450h hybrid and a three-row RXL.
Tesla Model 3 (Electric Car): The Model 3 offers a “thrilling” driving experience with a high-tech vibe according to CR. It boasts rapid acceleration delivered in near silence, instant passing power and enough thrust to push the driver into the seat. CR says the car’s impressive handling and quick precise steering help it feel like a sports car. Its high-end road performance is diminished slightly by its stiff ride, but its long range and green credentials offset those drawbacks. CR’s concern with the Model 3, however, is that Autopilot, an optional system on the vehicle, does not require the driver to stay engaged, creating safety concerns.
Toyota Supra (Sports Car): The Supra made a return to the US after a two-decade long absence, distinguishing itself as an entertaining “thrill” ride. CR notes that the Supra boasts impressive acceleration from its 6-cylinder turbocharged engine. Great fuel-economy, sharp steering and responsive handling all contribute to the vehicle’s rich performance, making it a treat to drive.
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