Looking for a new car? Start here. Our Top Picks are as close as it gets to “no-brainers” in the auto market. They’re impressive all-around vehicles, chosen from more than 280 we’ve recently tested, that have excelled in our testing, are reliable, and have performed well in independent crash tests. What’s not to like?
For 2013, we have new winners in seven categories. Honda was a no-show last year, but it has picked up three slots on this year’s list with the redesigned Accord and the CR-V and Odyssey. Two European automakers return to the list; the BMW 328i and the Audi A6 are those carmakers’ first entries in our winners’ circle in 10 and 13 years, respectively. Also new are the Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ sports-car twins. And the Hyundai Elantra has returned after a one-year hiatus. No pickup was chosen because GM’s and Chrysler’s full-sized models have been revamped and we haven’t yet tested them. To see the best & worst 2013 cars and best new-car car values, go to Consumer Reports’ annual auto issue hub.
Top Picks must meet our criteria in three areas:
- Road test. Each must rank at or near the top of its category in overall test score.
- Reliability. Each must have earned an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on the problems Consumer Reports subscribers reported on 1.2 million vehicles in our latest Annual Auto Survey.
- Safety. Top Picks must perform adequately if tested in crash or rollover tests conducted by the government or insurance industry.
Each model’s overall road-test score, predicted-reliability Rating, overall fuel economy, detailed pricing, and much more is available on their model pages. Prices reflect the sticker prices when we bought our tested cars.
The Accord was redesigned for 2013, and Honda nailed it, sending this sedan to the top of its class. This new model is roomy, nice to drive, well equipped, and very fuel efficient. With its four-cylinder engine, the Accord squeezes out 30 mpg overall and 40 on the highway, which is as good as the tiny Honda Fit. Higher-trim models have safety features seldom found in this category. And the Accord’s price is very reasonable: $23,270 to $30,860.
If you take your driving fun seriously, these almost identical twins were built for you. Co-developed by Subaru and Toyota, which builds Scion vehicles, both are exhilarating to drive, with super-sharp handling, excellent braking, and ample acceleration. Other draws: impressive gas mileage and reasonable sticker prices. Yes, they are purebred, rear-wheel-drive sports cars, with a jittery ride, noisy cabins, and small rear seats. So Camry lovers might want to cruise on by. FR-S $25,025; BRZ $27,117.
You don’t have to settle for a subcompact when looking for an under-$20,000 car. The well-rounded Elantra delivers a lot for the money, and it’s one of our top-rated compact sedans. It’s roomier and more refined than a typical subcompact yet gets competitive fuel economy. The Elantra also provides nimble handling; a fairly comfortable ride; a smooth, responsive powertrain; and a well-finished interior. And did we mention its affordable price? $18,445.
Sure, today’s electric cars are getting the equivalent of 100 or more mpg. But no current plug-in car can match the Prius hatchback for its blend of fuel efficiency, practicality, and affordability. Its 44 overall mpg is still the best we’ve measured in any five-passenger, non-plug-in vehicle. And its roomy interior, comfortable ride, and hatchback versatility make it easy to live with. We also give a thumbs-up to the 41-mpg Prius V wagon, but skip the slow, noisy Prius C econobox. $26,750.