Monday, March 03, 2008

Consumer Reports New Top Picks for 2008

Consumer Reports New Top Picks For 2008: Hyundai Elantra SE, Hyundai Santa Fe...

First time a South Korean automaker represented in Top Picks

YONKERS, NY - Consumer Reports has named four new models to its Top Picks list for 2008-the Hyundai Elantra SE and Hyundai Santa Fe as top choices for small sedans and midsized SUVs, respectively; the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado as the top choice for pickup truck; and the Lexus LS 460L as the best luxury sedan.

The announcement was made today during a Washington Automotive Press Association (WAPA) press conference. Details can be found in CR's Annual April Auto Issue, on sale Tuesday, March 4.

This marks the first time that a South Korean automaker - Hyundai - is represented, and the first time since 2005 that a U.S. model - the Chevrolet Silverado - has made the list. Historically, Consumer Reports Top Picks have been a blend of Japanese, European, and domestic models, but for the last two years the Top Picks have all been from Japanese manufacturers.

The Toyota Prius remains the Top Pick in the "green" car category for the fifth year in a row. The Prius demonstrated an excellent 44 mpg overall in Consumer Reports' real-world fuel economy tests, the best of any five-passenger vehicles tested by CR.

Consumer Reports' Top Picks are the most well-rounded models in their categories and must meet stringent road test, reliability, and safety requirements. Each Top Pick scores at or near the top of its category among more than 260 vehicles CR recently tested at its Auto Test Center; has average or better predicted reliability (based on the problems subscribers reported on in CR's Annual Car Reliability Survey of almost 1.3 million vehicles), and performed adequately in overall safety if tested by the government or insurance industry.

Starting this year, they also must provide a critical safety feature, electronic stability control (ESC), either as standard equipment or as a readily available option. That's why the Honda Accord, for example, is the Top Pick in family sedans over the Nissan Altima. The Altima scored slightly higher in CR's testing, but offers ESC only as a pricey option on the V6 and standard on the hybrid model.

"All the vehicles in Consumer Reports' Top Picks list are standouts for performance, versatility, reliability, and safety," said David Champion, senior director of automotive testing, Consumer Reports. "CR's Top Picks list is a great place for consumers to start when they're looking for a new car."

Consumer Reports' testing procedures are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or Web site. More than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of braking, handling, Comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. Around 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up on each test car during the testing process.

Here, by category, are the issue's best performers. Changes from last year's Top Picks list are noted:

* SMALL SEDAN: Hyundai Elantra SE. The Hyundai Elantra SE ($18,000) is a well-rounded small car thatprovides good fuel economy, a comfortable ride, and an interior that's quiet, roomy, and well-equipped. TheSE also has standard electronic stability control, a proven safety feature that's absent on many other smallcars. The Honda Civic EX and Mazda3 scored almost as well and are more fun to drive, but lack ESC onmore affordable versions. (Last year's Top Pick for Small Sedan was the Honda Civic.)

* MIDSIZED SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe. Redesigned for 2007, the much-improved Santa Fe ($22,000 to $31,000) edged out the Honda Pilot in CR's tests. It provides a quiet and roomy interior, excellent fit and finish, a refined powertrain, a relatively good ride, and an optional third-row seat. Standard ESC helps provide secure handling. (Last year's Top Pick for Midsized SUV was the Toyota Highlander Hybrid.)

CR's Annual April Auto Issue is on sale from March 4 through June 4. The Consumer Reports Auto Issue is available wherever magazines are sold. Free highlights from the April Auto Issue will be available

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645.

Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at

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