This list shows you the best and worst cars in our road tests, across popular car categories. Road-test scores are based on ride, handling, braking, acceleration, fuel economy, quietness, interior room, and ease of use, among other considerations.
Consumer Reports anonymously buys all the cars it formally tests, about 60 per year. That way, we can maintain our independence and test cars with the trim and options people actually buy rather than the special versions that manufacturers want to showcase. Our staff drives each vehicle for thousands of miles to get the full experience so that it can best serve you, the consumer.
Formal testing is done at our track in Connecticut and on surrounding public roads. The evaluation consists of more than 50 individual tests. Some are objective instrumented track tests using state-of-the-art electronic gear that yield empirical findings. Others are subjective evaluations, tests conducted by our experienced engineering staff.
Click through to the model pages for the Overall Scores, which factor in road tests, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety.
See our complete new-vehicle ratings. Learn about how Consumer Reports tests cars.
Best Subcompact Car: Honda Fit
The Honda Fit subcompact hatchback has always been an appealing urban runabout. Thanks to its clever multiconfigurable seating, the Fit delivers versatility similar to a that of small SUV. It gets great fuel economy at 33 mpg overall. But that comes with excessive noise when the continuously variable transmission keeps the engine at high revs. Handling is responsive, but the Fit has a stiff ride. On top of that, the cabin is loud, making the Fit unfit for long drives. Opting for the EX brings a sunroof and paddle shifters; the EX-L includes heated leather seats. The button-free touch-screen radio on EX and higher trims is a constant frustration, and the seats and driving position aren’t very comfortable.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Mitsubishi Mirage ES
Read the complete Honda Fit and Mitsubishi Mirage road tests.
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Best Compact Cars: Volkswagen Golf
The Golf is a notch above other compacts in terms of sophistication, interior ambience, and driving experience, and it's priced accordingly. Performance from the smooth, strong 170-hp, 1.8-liter turbo four-cylinder feels effortless, and we got 28 mpg overall in our tests with the six-speed automatic. Handling is very responsive, making the Golf fun to drive. The ride is comfortable, the rear seat is relatively roomy, and the quiet cabin contributes to the Golf’s solid and upscale feel. The Alltrack, an AWD model with a raised ride height, is new for 2017. A high-performance all-wheel-drive Golf R and an electric eGolf complete the line. Recent additions include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Fiat 500L*
Read the complete Volkswagen Golf and Fiat 500L road tests.
Best Midsized Car: Subaru Legacy
The Legacy is one of the roomier, quieter, and more refined midsized sedans, attributes that help it become one of our top-scoring models in the class. Its ride is more comfortable than some luxury cars, and handling is sound and secure. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder is no rocket, but it gets the job done and returns 26 mpg overall. A stronger, quieter 3.6-liter six-cylinder transforms the car, giving it strong performance. The unobtrusive CVT behaves much like a conventional automatic. The infotainment system includes an easy-to-use touch screen with internet radio and Bluetooth. A rear camera is standard. Advanced safety gear such as blind-spot monitoring and the EyeSight safety suite, including automatic emergency braking, is optional.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Nissan Altima 2.5 SV
Read the complete Subaru Legacy and Nissan Altima road tests.
Best Large Car: Chevrolet Impala
Our top-scoring large sedan, the Impala is roomy, comfortable, quiet, and enjoyable to drive. It even rides like a luxury sedan, feeling cushy and controlled. Engine choices include a punchy 3.6-liter V6 and an adequate 2.5-liter four-cylinder, both paired with a six-speed automatic. In our tests, the V6 returned 22 mpg overall and had good acceleration. Braking is capable, and handling is secure and responsive. The full-featured cabin stays very quiet and features a sumptuous backseat. Controls are intuitive and easy to use, but rear visibility is restricted. Advanced electronic safety features are readily available. Recent updates include the addition of Apple CarPlay capability and wireless cell-phone charging.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Ford Taurus Limited (V6)
Read the complete Chevrolet Impala and Ford Taurus road tests.
Luxury Compact Car: Audi A4
The A4 is our highest-ranked sports sedan, thanks in part to its satisfying driving experience. Power comes from a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, mated to a standard seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. The engine is smooth and punchy, and the transmission is slick. We got a commendable 27 mpg overall. Handling is nimble and precise, the ride is supple, and the A4 feels tight-as-a-drum solid, with a very quiet cabin. The fully digital instrument panel shows pertinent information in front of the driver in a clear, comprehensive way, and the center screen is compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Interior fit and finish is excellent and the front seats are comfortable, although the rear seat is tight. The A4 has good crash-test results and offers advanced safety features.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Lexus IS 300 (AWD)
Read the complete Audi A4 and Lexus IS road tests.
Luxury Midsized/Large Car: Tesla Model S
Receiving a midyear freshening, this sporty four-door luxury car seats five (or seven with the optional rear-facing jump seats) and just happens to be electric. With its optional 90-kWh battery—the largest available—it has a claimed range of 294 miles. The 85-kWh P85D that we tested had a 220-mile range and can be fully charged in about 5 hours on a dedicated Tesla connector. Performance is exceptional, with thrilling acceleration, pinpoint handling, and a firm yet comfortable ride. A huge iPad-like center screen controls many functions but can be distracting. Drawbacks include tight access, restricted visibility, and range limitations, especially in cold weather. All-wheel drive and active safety features are also available.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Maserati Ghibli S Q4
Read the complete Tesla Model S and Maserati Ghibli road tests.
Best Sporty Car: BMW M235i*
This small coupe is exhilarating to drive, with razor-sharp handling and a sporty feel that is missing in other recent BMWs. For 2017, the 228i is renamed the 230i and comes with a 248-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder; the uplevel M235i we tested, now named M240i, has a terrific 320-hp, 3.0-liter turbo six-cylinder that responds instantly to every prod of the throttle. A 365-hp M2 version with even sportier handling is available. The six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic transmissions are slick and super-responsive. The excellent front seats are very supportive, but the rears are very cramped. Interior appointments are first-rate, and the iDrive control system is logical once mastered. All-wheel drive and a convertible are available.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Fiat 500 Abarth
Read the complete BMW M235i and Fiat 500 road tests.
Best Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica
The Pacifica is much better than the Chrysler Town & Country minivan it replaced. The new van is offered in seven- and eight-passenger configurations and retains the handy fold-into-the-floor second-row seats. But these seats have limited thigh support. The 3.6-liter V6, paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission, provides ample power and gets an impressive 21 mpg overall. Handling is responsive, the ride is comfortable, and the cabin is quiet. A plug-in hybrid version is available with a claimed electric range of 30 miles. The latest version of the UConnect touch-screen system is intuitive and easy to master. High-end versions of the Pacifica feature individual screens, with built-in games, for the rear passengers.
Lowest Road-Test Score: Kia Sedona EX
Read the complete Chrysler Pacifica and Kia Sedona road tests.
*Powertrain has changed since last test.
Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.
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