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10 most improved car redesigns

Liza Barth
August 27, 2013


With each redesigned model that we purchase to test at our Auto Test Center, we’re eager to find out how significantly it ups its game. The most successful recent redesign is the Chevrolet Impala, a sedan that gained 32 points compared to its predecessor. It literally went from zero to hero, or from being a non-recommended outdated and outclassed car to one of the very best on the market. And the Impala isn’t alone.

We have seen many cars make notable gains through a redesign, just as we have seen some true disappointments.

Here, we celebrate those recent vehicles that have made a dramatic leap. Below are the most improved car redesigns, ranked by improvement in the overall test score, a combination of the results from more than 50 tests. The first figure listed is the old score, with the second number representing the current score. All 10 vehicles featured here made at least an 8-point improvement.

Audi A6 (79 to 93)

The latest redesign of the A6 helped the vehicle jump from good to impressive in our Ratings. The A6 is agile, quiet, and quick with impeccable interior fit and finish, commendable fuel economy and a variety of high-tech features.

BMW 328i (77 to 86)

The BMW 3 Series has always been the quintessential sport sedan with agile, sporty handling and a smooth, quick, and refined powertrain. The redesign helped improve fuel economy to 28 mpg overall, and the rear seats picked up some breathing room.

Buick LaCrosse (70 to 78)

The latest LaCrosse is a sophisticated and thoroughly modern sedan. Quiet, roomy and luxurious, it offers responsive handling and a steady ride, qualities not normally associated with past Buicks.

Chevrolet Impala (63 to 95)

Jumping up from a score of 63 in our tests to an impressive 95, the Impala went from being dated and inferior rental car option to contemporary, roomy, comfortable, and enjoyable to drive. In other words, one of the very best cars on the road today.

Ford Escape (64 to 75)

The latest redesign of the Escape helped propel it to the top tier of our small SUV Ratings, joining the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. The Escape is fun-to-drive, agile and quiet, plus it has an impressively supple and composed ride. But it isn’t cheap.

Honda Accord (80 to 90)

The four-cylinder Accord jumped up 10 points in our Ratings to take over the top spot among mainstream midsized sedans. The car is roomy, nice to drive, well equipped, and very fuel-efficient at 30 mpg overall.

Hyundai Accent hatchback (52 to 72)

The 2012 redesign helped escalate the Accent to near the top of our subcompact Ratings. The hatchback has responsive handling, relatively roomy accommodations, decent refinement levels, and good fuel economy—32 mpg overall with the manual transmission.

Kia Rio hatchback (53 to 63)

The most recent update to the Rio brought more power, interior space, and improved handling, which helped it join the better cars in this segment. Plus, it has plenty of equipment for the price.

Land Rover LR4 (60 to 73)

The LR4 was an effective freshening of the LR3. The larger and more powerful V8 engine provides effortless acceleration and better fuel economy than before. Braking performance controls, and interior quality improved, as well.

Mazda6 (73 to 85)

Making a big leap, the redesigned 2014 Mazda6 made a number of noteworthy improvements that helped boost its test score. The 6 has class-leading fuel economy at 32 mpg and is a sporty alternative to conventional midsized sedans.

Check out our model pages for more insights on how these vehicles perform in all our tests. Also, check out our list of top cars in our tests.

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