The Consumer Reports annual auto issue landed in my mailbox on Friday. I spent the afternoon leafing through it, at first looking for tips to share with you, but gradually being seduced by the Mazda MX-5 Miata convertible on the cover. “I want one,” I thought. But I forced myself to focus.

Until now, I’ve been wary of posting information from Consumer Reports — they’re overly litigious, much more concerned with profit than with consumer education, in my opinion (translation: I’m afraid if I post their findings here they’ll sue me) — but I’m going to start offering a taste of the magazine’s conclusions now-and-then. For example, here are their top-rated vehicles in ten categories:

  • Budget car: Honda Fit ($14,000 – $16,000)
  • Fun-to-drive: Mazda MX-5 Miata ($21,000 – $27,000)
  • Small sedan: Honda Civic ($17,000 – $23,000)
  • Family sedan: Honda Accord ($20,000 – $33,000)
  • Upscale sedan: Infiniti G35 ($35,000 – $39,000)
  • Luxury sedan: Infiniti M35 ($42,000 – $45,000)
  • Small SUV: Toyota RAV4 ($23,000 – $27,000)
  • Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid ($35,000 – $40,000)
  • Minivan: Toyota Sienna ($26,000 – $38,000)
  • Green car: Toyota Prius ($23,000)

The car with the best fuel economy was the Toyota Prius at 44mpg. The Dodge Durango Limited had the worst fuel economy at 12mpg. The least satisfying vehicle was the Chevrolet Uplander — only 36% of owners would buy it again. The Toyota Prius had the greatest customer satisfaction with 92% support. (In Sellwood, the community five miles north of here, every other car is a Prius!)

As expected, the car-buying issue features certain standard reports:

  • Car-buying tips, including tips for buying on the web.
  • Extensive coverage of safety equipment, including a preview of features on the horizon: night vision, blind-spot detection, rollover mitigation, and more.
  • And, of course, there are 12 page of vehicle ratings, 32 pages of vehicle profiles, and 11 pages of vehicle reliability reports.

Readers of this site would probably get the most value from the two dense pages of used car recommendations. There’s also a long feature article answering the question, “Which companies make the best cars?”

Don’t forget that Get Rich Slowly features car-buying tips from time-to-time. Notable articles include:

I also recommend two older AskMetafilter threads:

The Consumer Reports car issue is an excellent resource. If you think you might purchase a vehicle soon, I recommend it. But I think it’s a little dangerous to pick up just for the sake of browsing. As I was reading it this weekend, I felt the “new car itch” creeping upon me again. I forced myself to go back and re-read what I wrote the last time this happened. If only I didn’t hate my Ford Focus so much…

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