The Chevrolet Cruze becomes the Top Pick for a new compact car, knocking off the Subaru Impreza that held the spot for the past few years. It joins the Chevrolet Impala, which remains the non-profit organization's most recommended selection for a large car.
Consumer Reports, because of its notorious independence, is one of the most highly regarded sources of advice when it comes to new cars. The organization buys all the cars it uses for testing, rather than borrowing them from automakers, as one way of making sure that its results are similar to those that would be found by the average motorist.
But cars from the Detroit 3, including General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, have had a tougher time than the import brands making the recommended lists despite steady improvements in design and quality. This year, however, the list shows some variety.
It's not dominated by Japanese brands. Rather, the list includes a vehicle from South Korea's Kia and Germany's Audi.
Cruze not only was tops in the compact category, but it beat out such Japanese-brand mainstays as Honda Civic, a redesigned model that has been a hit among buyers and Toyota Corolla.
"The Cruze is impressive. With such a smooth ride and quiet interior, it feels like a much larger car, and reliability has been solid right out of the gate," says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports' director of automotive testing, in a statement.
The testers also gave high marks to Honda's redesigned Ridgeline pickup, which they said drives more like a car than a truck and had decent gas mileage of 20 miles per gallon overall.
The list wasn't just based on reliability, the ratings for which Consumer Reports is best known. It also factored in road-test performance, owner satisfaction, and safety.
SUBCOMPACT CAR: Toyota Yaris iA, $17,570 US
COMPACT HYBRID: Toyota Prius, $27,323 US
LUXURY SUV: Audi Q7, $68,695 US
SPORTS CAR: Mazda MX-5 Miata, $29,905 US
SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester, $27,145 US
MIDSIZED SUV: Toyota Highlander, $41,169 US
COMPACT PICKUP TRUCK: Honda Ridgeline, $36,480 US
COMPACT CAR: Chevrolet Cruze, $23,145 US
MIDSIZED SEDAN: Kia Optima, $25,860 US
LARGE SEDAN: Chevrolet Impala, $39,110 US