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Honda Named Best-of-Best by Consumer Reports

If you put your faith in Consumer Reports, you’ll be heading over to Honda for your next vehicle. The automaker named the Japanese marque valedictorian in its Annual Auto Issue.

“Overall, the best cars sold in the U.S. are still made by Honda,” the magazine declared, adding that the Japanese maker “earned the top score because it builds cars that are well-rounded, have excellent reliability and perform very well.”

Honda scored 78 out of 100 possible points on the annual Automaker Report Cards, closely followed by Toyota, at 75, and Subaru, at 72. There was a four-way tie for fourth, at 71 points, among BMW, Mazda, Nissan, and Volkswagen.

Significantly, Honda’s entire line-up landed on CR’s annual Recommended list – the only automaker to do so. That said, the magazine noted that not every Honda landed in the lead in its segment. The Nissan Altima squeaked ahead of the Accord, while Toyota’s RAV4 ute and Sienna minivan topped Honda’s CR-V and Odyssey, respectively.

Long an industry quality benchmark Toyota has taken some serious heat from Consumer Reports, lately. And though the automaker was still number two, overall, this year, CR continued to find fault with some of its key products.

“Three popular Toyota models – the redesigned Camry V6 sedan, four-wheel-drive V8 Tundra pickup, and the Lexus GS with all-wheel drive – all had below-average reliability,” noted the magazine, in a prepared release.

There were some surprises on CR's Top Picks list for 2008, as well, with four new models joining the esteemed rank, including the first-ever Korean product., and the first U.S. model since 2005. The Hyundai Elantra SE and Hyundai Santa Fe were named top choices for small sedans and midsized SUVs, respectively; while the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado was named top choice for pickup truck. The fourth new Top Pick was the Lexus LS 460L, chosen best luxury sedan.

Two of Detroit’s Big Three showed notable gains on the annual CR report card. 93 percent of Ford products had average or better reliability, the magazine noted, and 64 percent of the Ford products tested wound up on the Recommended list, up from 54 percent, last year.

General Motors’ test score rose to 61, a four-point jump. But while many of its newer models, such as the Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook and Cadillac CTS did well in testing, a number of older GM models were “sub-par.”

But CR reserved some of its sharpest criticism for Chrysler, many of whose products it described as “unimpressive,” citing, “Noisy, underpowered engines, poor interior craftsmanship, cramped seating, and limited visibility.” The ailing U.S. maker scored just 14 in the test, down by 21 percent from last year.

Japanese brands accounted for half of the Recommended list, but Detroit weighed in with another quarter.

“Some manufacturers are very consistent in producing good performing reliable vehicles,” said David Champion, senior director of automotive testing, Consumer Reports. “But even in the lower ranks of the report cards, some manufacturers have some gems.”
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