The Consumer Reports annual auto issue landed in my mailbox on Saturday. Like last year, I spent the afternoon leafing through it. Unlike past years, I think I managed to avoid the new-car itch. Here are their top-rated vehicles in ten categories (with last year’s top cars in parentheses):

  • Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab (no pick in 2007)
  • Fun-to-drive: Mazda MX-5 Miata (2007: Mazda MX-5 Miata)
  • Small sedan: Hyundai Elantra SE (2007: Honda Civic)
  • Family sedan: Honda Accord (2007: Honda Accord)
  • Upscale sedan: Infiniti G35 (2007: Infiniti G35)
  • Luxury sedan: Lexus LS 460L (2007: Infiniti M35)
  • Small SUV: Toyota RAV4 (2007: Toyota RAV4)
  • Midsized SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe (2007: Toyota Highlander Hybrid)
  • Minivan: Toyota Sienna (2007: Toyota Sienna)
  • Green car: Toyota Prius (2007: Toyota Prius)

The car with the best fuel economy was the Toyota Prius at 44mpg. Many vehicles — all SUVs — tied for the worst gas mileage at 13mpg. The least satisfying vehicle was again the Chevrolet Uplander — only 34% of owners would buy it again. The Toyota Prius had the greatest customer satisfaction with 92% support, which is the same as 2007. (In Sellwood, the community five miles north of here, every other car is a Prius!) The least expensive car overall was the Toyota Yaris with manual transmission, which would cost just $23,250 for the first five years.

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

  • An examination of the actual cost to own a vehicle. (Keep away from Land Rovers!)
  • A look at reliability trends across various makes (Volkswagens are unreliable, Toyotas give few problems).
  • A survey of 8,000 new-car buyers that reveals extended warranties are usually a poor deal.
  • 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 four dense pages of used car recommendations. My 2000 Ford Focus? It’s on the list of “used cars to avoid”. No kidding. Tell me about it. (Ironically, I think it was recommended by Consumer Reports when it came out.) There’s also a long feature article answering the question, “Who makes the best cars?” (Honda and Toyota make the best cars. Chrysler and Suzuki make the worst.)

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.

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