Consumer Reports Names Most Reliable Used Models, More
March 02, 2009
NOTE: SINCE MOST CUSTOMERS RESEARCH CARS ON THE WEB PRIOR TO SEEING DEALERS AND CONSUMER REPORTS IS SO WIDELY KNOWN AND TRUSTED BY CONSUMERS, THIS INFO CAN BE AN IMPORTANT SELLING TOOL FOR NEW CARS AND USED CARS. CUSTOMERS MAY WELL COME LOOKING FOR THESE CARS…DP
NEW YORK — Though the quality of any used vehicle depends on how it treated and maintained by its previous owner, certain models are more likely to “stand up over time” than others, according to Consumer Reports.
With that in mind, the publication identified what it considers to be the most reliable used models from 1999 to 2008 for for its upcoming 2009 Annual Auto Issue.
Leading the way were Asian brands, particularly Toyota and Honda.
“Overall, the most reliable vehicles come from Asian nameplates. Though domestic cars are getting better, they still trail the Japanese models,” officials indicated.
“European models are also improving, but the older ones tend to be among the most problematic,” they added.
The following is the breakdown of Consumer Reports’ picks for most reliable used cars across nine categories.
—Small Cars: Honda Civic, Toyota Echo, Scion xB, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Matrix, Pontiac Vibe, Mazda 3, Mazda Protege, Subaru Impreza
—Upscale Cars: Lexus ES, Lexus IS, Toyota Avalon, Acura TSX, Lincoln MKZ, Lincoln Zephyr (FWD), Infiniti G20, Acura TL, Infiniti I30, Infiniti I35, Infiniti G35 (sedan), Volvo S60, Buick Lucerne (V8), Nissan Maxima
—Luxury Cars: Infiniti M35, Lexus LS, Lexus GS (6-cyl., RWD), Acura RL
—Sports Cars: Mazda Miata, Lexus SC, Honda S2000, Toyota Camry Solara, Acura RSX, Toyota Celica, Scion tC, BMW Z3, BMW Z4 BMW M3, Acura Integra, Porsche Boxster, Subaru Impreza WRX/STi, Ford Mustang (V6), Nissan 350Z
—Pickup Trucks: Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma (’05-08), Toyota Tundra, Subaru Baja, Nissan Frontier (’05-08)
—Family Cars: Honda Accord, Toyota Prius, Ford Fusion, Mercury Milan, Toyota Camry (except ’08 V6), Subaru Outback (6-cyl.), Nissan Altima
—Minivans: Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey
—Small SUVs: Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Subaru Forester, Mitsubishi Outlander
—Midsize and large SUVs: Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Lexus RX, Toyota Land Cruiser, Toyota 4Runner, Infiniti FX35, Acura MDX, Infiniti QX4, Lexus GX, Hyundai Santa Fe, Subaru Tribeca, Nissan Xterra (’05 – ’08), Toyota Sequoia
Additionally, the Annual Auto Issue includes a “Models to Look For” list, sorted by price.
The list highlights a variety of used models, all of which have above-average reliability and are priced from less than $4,000 up to $30,000 or more.
In particular, the list includes 19 vehicles with a price tag of $6,000 or less, including the 1999 Acura CL and 2003 Buick Century.
Next, the issue also noted the Used Cars to Avoid and Worst of the Worst lists, which points out the models with multiple years of much-worse-than-average reliability, officials pointed out.
Moving on, Consumer Reports’ editorial team also suggested that many three-year-old units tend to have fewer problems than new models. And many of these reliable used models are Hondas or Toyotas.
“These vehicles tend to be a good value because the steepest part of the depreciation curve is past and many newer safety features can often be found on these vehicles,” editors explained.
The following are several other trends spotted by Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey:
— Problem rates for cars have gone down across the board, so late-model used units should hold up better than their predecessors as they age.
—Among five-year-old and newer cars, Ford, Hyundai and Nissan have roughly the same reliability scores.
—European models, which have historically been the least reliable, are pulling even with the domestics on newer models.
—Models with high problem rates are not necessarily the oldest
Moving on, the publication discussed which problems are most often reported. According to editors, the check-engine light, windows as well as squeaks/rattles are the most common issues.
Troubles that were common among almost-new to three-year-old models include body integrity (squeaks and rattles), body hardware and power equipment.
Three-year-old units had, on average, about 43 problems per 100 vehicles.
When vehicles get to the five-year mark, brake problems become more prevalent. The average five-year-old units had about 62 problems per 100 vehicles. Meanwhile, 10-year-old units came in at 124 problems per 100 vehicles.
Consumer Reports Names Top Picks
In other news, Consumer Reports unveiled its Top Picks for 2009 in the Annual Auto Issue, recognizing the best all-around new models across 10 categories.
Each of these picks scored at or near the top of the class in the publication’s Auto Test Center, in addition to averaging or showing better predicted reliability and performing adequately or better in overall safety (if tested by the government or insurance industry).
Also, each of these models must offer electronic stability control as standard equipment or as an available option.
The following is the complete list of 2009 Top Picks, with editorial commentary included:
—Small Sedan: Hyundai Elantra SE.
“The Elantra SE is a comfortable, roomy small car that provides good fuel economy, a quiet and nicely finished interior, and plenty of features for the money,” officials commented.
—Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander.
“The Highlander is a very refined and versatile vehicle,” officials noted. “It provides a comfortable and quiet ride, a nicely finished interior, three rows of seats, and decent fuel economy for its class.”
—Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Avalanche.
“The Chevrolet Avalanche full-sized crew cab is one of the most versatile and comfortable pickups that Consumer Reports has tested,” the publication stated. “Its unified bed and cab helps give it a solid feel and a comfortable, quiet ride.”
—Best Overall Vehicle: Lexus LS 460.
“With a road test score of 99 out of 100, the Lexus LS 460 is Consumer Reports’ highest-scoring vehicle,” editors pointed out.
“It provides a luxurious, uncompromising driving environment, with a supremely comfortable ride and a roomy, well-finished, and exceptionally quiet interior,” they added.
—Family Sedan: Honda Accord.
“The Honda Accord ($21,000 to $31,000) is a roomy, well-rounded sedan that’s easy to live with and enjoyable to drive,” officials shared.
“It offers a comfortable ride, agile handling, and efficient, refined four- and six-cylinder powertrains,” they continued. “Electronic stability control is standard, and crash-test results are impressive.”
—Upscale Sedan: Infiniti G37.
“One of the highest-rated sedans tested, the G37 combines sportiness and luxury in a very appealing package,” editors pointed out. “It has a very lively powertrain, agile handling, a comfortable ride, and a nicely appointed interior.”
—Fun to Drive: Mazda MX-5 Miata.
“The Miata is a true sports car at a reasonable price. With quick, precise steering, a crisp-shifting manual transmission, and balanced handling, it virtually tied the Porsche Boxster in test scoring, but it costs about half the price,” officials stated.
—Small SUV: Toyota RAV4.
“Thanks to a larger and more powerful four-cylinder engine and other upgrades for 2009, the RAV4 narrowly outscored the Subaru Forester to remain our Top Pick for the third straight year,” the publication pointed out.
“It provides agile handling, a roomy and quiet interior, a comfortable ride, and an optional third-row seat,” editors added.
—Minivan: Toyota Sienna.
“The Sienna offers a spacious, versatile and comfortable way to carry up to eight people,” editors emphasized. “Consumer Reports found that the quiet, well-finished interior rivals that of some luxury sedans.
—Green Car: Toyota Prius.
“Despite the arrival of more gas/electric hybrids, the Prius leads this category for the sixth straight year,” officials stated. “The base model’s 44 overall mpg is the best Consumer Reports has measured in any five-passenger car.”
Consumer Reports Highlights Best New-Car Values
Moving on, the publication also named the Toyota Prius Touring as the best overall value for new cars.
According to officials, the model was chosen because of its comparatively low owner-cost estimate of $26,250 over five years — and a relatively high road-test score of 80 points out of 100.
While its not the least expensive model in its class, the Prius’ overall fuel economy of 42 miles per gallon and solid resale value help give it a low owner-cost.
“A low price doesn’t necessarily make a car a good value,” said Rik Paul, automotive editor at Consumer Reports. “At a time when people need to make every dollar count, our best value list will help consumers understand the difference.”
To narrow down the list of best values, Consumer Reports looks at its overall road-test scores, five-year owner-cost estimates, and predicted reliability ratings for more than 300 recently tested vehicles.
The publication then divided each vehicle’s five-year ownership cost by its overall road-test score to get the cost of each test-score point — the lower the cost-per-point, the better the value.
The cost estimates are based on depreciation, fuel economy, insurance, interest on financing, maintenance and repair, and sales tax.
The Prius Touring received a cost-per-point of $325, and was followed by the Mini Cooper ($330), Volkswagen Rabbit ($330), Honda Civic EX ($340), and Honda Fit ($350).
In the Annual Auto Issue, the publication noted the best new-car values across nine categories. Below are some of the highlights:
—Best Value Small Cars: Honda Civic EX, Honda Fit (base), Hyundai Elantra SE, Toyota Corolla LE, and the Honda Civic Hybrid
—Best Value Family Cars: Toyota Prius Touring, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Toyota Prius (base), Hyundai Sonata (4-cyl.), and the Honda Accord (4-cyl.)
—Best Value Upscale Cars: Toyota Avalon, Infiniti G37, Acura TL, Lexus IS, Lexus ES
—Best Value Hatchbacks/Wagons: Volkswagen Rabbit, Mazda3 hatchback, Scion xB, Subaru Impreza Outback Sport, and the Toyota Matrix
—Best Value Sports Cars: Mini Cooper, Mazda MX-5 Miata, Scion tC, Volvo C30, Honda S2000
—Best Value Minivans: Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna (FWD), Toyota Sienna
—Best Value Small SUVs: Toyota RAV4 (4-cyl.), Toyota RAV4 (V6), Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi Outlander (4-cyl.), and the Nissan Rogue
—Best Value Midsized SUVs: Hyundai Santa Fe, Toyota Highlander, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Nissan Murano, and the Honda Pilot
—Best Value Pickup Trucks: Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier
For more information, visit http://www.consumerreports.org.