It is that time of year when Consumer Reports drops its best and worst lists and we’ll take a few minutes of your time to talk about the consumer magazine’s 10 Top Picks for 2019.
Some of the entries in the following list may turn out to be surprising but you should know they’re the result of rigorous testing, the assessment of safety features and crash test results, as well as the analysis of reliability and consumer satisfaction data from Consumer Reports’ Auto Survey.
All of that is combined into an Overall Score, which Consumer Reports says it’s “the most comprehensive view of vehicle quality available.” CR experts have tested nearly 50 new cars to arrive at these 10 top picks. Interestingly, the magazine only chose vehicles that feature automatic emergency braking (AEB) as standard since it believes automakers have no excuse for not offering it in 2019.
Without further ado, here are the vehicles CR believes set the industry standard for safety, technology, fuel economy, and performance.
Subcompact Car: Toyota Yaris ($17,570 as tested)
It may be badged a Toyota but the Yaris sedan is actually a Mazda2 sedan. Which is great for Toyota because the quality is impressive and the driving experience is “joyful” for this affordable price. The handling is responsive and the ride is considered good for the class. The smooth four-cylinder engine and quick-shifting six-speed automatic transmission get good marks as well, as does the new-for-2019 XLE trim level that adds upscale touches.
Subcompact SUV: Hyundai Kona ($25,025 as tested)
A newcomer into a highly-contested segment, the Hyundai Kona is a fun crossover that offers great handling thanks to limited body lean and quick steering. Despite its compact footprint, it’s also practical and versatile thanks to a tall tailgate and split-folding rear seats. Consumer Reports also appreciated the usability of the infotainment system compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, as well as the extensive standard safety equipment.
Hybrid/Electric Car: Toyota Prius ($27,323 as tested)
The Toyota Prius is present in the Top Picks list for a record 16th time. Why? It delivers a stunning combined fuel economy of 52 mpg (4.5 l/100 km), a great record for reliability and owner satisfaction, and a new-for-2019 all-wheel-drive option. On top of that, the Prius offers decent room and versatility, as well as a generous suite of safety tech.
Compact SUV: Subaru Forester ($29,341 as tested)
Subaru does seem to know a thing or two about making great SUVs — it has two of them in this list. The redesigned Forester comes with a roomier and quieter interior that also brings a more premium feel. It could use some more power but the compact SUV tops the class when it comes to fuel economy and strikes a good balance between comfort and handling. The standard safety kit is above average.
Midsize car: Toyota Camry Hybrid ($28,949 as tested)
A Camry ranking at the top of its segment has long ceased to amaze people and Consumer Reports says the hybrid version is the one to have. With a combined fuel economy rating of 47 mpg (5 l/100 km) in CR testing and a hybrid-electric powertrain that “doesn’t compromise the driving experience,” you can’t go wrong with a Camry Hybrid.
Plus, it’s quicker from 0 to 60 mph than the regular four-cylinder model, and the battery doesn’t take up trunk space. The Camry Hybrid also got good marks for its “comfortable ride and capable handling,” as well as the Apple CarPlay-capable infotainment system and generous standard safety kit.
Midsize SUV: Subaru Ascent ($43,867 as tested)
This should come as no surprise if you’ve been watching reviews of Subaru’s biggest SUV to date. Consumer Reports says the three-row SUV’s strong points include “smooth power delivery, comfy ride, and functional interior.” The Subaru Ascent also offers an “energetic” turbocharged four-cylinder engine, standard AWD, “excellent ride” that trumps some luxury cars, and a fine cabin that offers comfortable seats, an easy to use infotainment system, and a handy third-row seat.
Large Car: Toyota Avalon Hybrid ($38,643 as tested)
See a pattern here? This is the third hybrid Toyota that makes the cut. The redesigned Avalon brings great value compared to luxury sedans and the hybrid version offers better fuel efficiency (42 mpg/5.6 l/100 km combined in CR testing), as well as more roof and comfort. The interior feels upscale and offers plenty of space for all passengers and comfortable seats. Add to that the “nimble handling and plush ride” and it’s hard to fault the Avalon Hybrid.
Compact Luxury Car: Audi A4 ($48,890 as tested)
The A4 might not be the most glamorous model in its segment but it does everything right: it offers precise handling, the latest tech, and a high-quality and quiet interior. The suspension is described as balanced, offering “secure handling and a taut ride” at the same time.
While the front seats are comfortable and supportive, the rear seats are a bit tight — although that’s typical for the class. The Audi A4 also received praise for the “superb response” of the turbo-four engine, slick-shifting automatic transmission, and the optional Virtual Cockpit.
Luxury SUV: BMW X5 ($68,730 as tested)
The all-new X5 is “one of the best SUVs that CR has ever tested.” That’s high praise coming from Consumer Reports. The publication noted the big luxury SUV strikes the perfect balance between comfort and handling. The turbo straight-six engine linked to a quick-shifting eight-speed auto gives the X5 “swift acceleration” and impressive fuel economy. As you would expect, the interior is judged as having “impeccable fit and finish,” lots of high-quality materials, and the industry’s best infotainment system.
Full-Sized Truck: Ford F-150 ($52,535 as tested)
People expect the F-150 to top its segment and Ford’s best-selling model does just that — despite tough competition from redesigned rivals such as the Chevy Silverado 1500, GMC Sierra 1500, and Ram 1500. The depth of the F-150 lineup is impressive, covering everything from basic work trucks to luxury models and offering five engines (including two turbocharged V6s).
Consumer Reports says the 2.7-liter V6 turbo version offers “brisk acceleration, effortless towing ability, and impressive fuel economy.” There’s a Ford F-150 for everyone, including for digital-minded customers.