Just because a car generates a lot of buzz or is a bestseller doesn’t mean that it’s a good choice for you.
These five models may be on a lot of buyers’ shopping lists, but Consumer Reports suggests you steer clear.
They didn’t perform well in the magazine’s testing or they suffer from subpar reliability. Either way, there are better choices.
Honda Civic. For years, the Civic has been an iconic small car. But Honda took too many shortcuts in its latest redesign. The Civic is still one of the more reliable and fuel-efficient cars in its class. But the current model suffers from a choppy ride, noisy cabin, vague steering, and mediocre interior quality. The Subaru Impreza, Hyundai Elantra, and Mazda3 are better cars with similar or better fuel economy.
Jeep Liberty. You might be drawn to this SUV’s rugged looks. But that style comes with an equally rugged and unrefined driving experience. The Liberty can tackle tough off-road terrain. But on pavement its ride is unsettled and handling is clumsy. The interior is cramped and cheap feeling. And the engine is noisy and thirsty, getting only 16 miles per gallon overall. You’ll give up some off-road prowess, but the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester are much nicer SUVs overall, with notably better gas mileage.
Toyota Prius C. It’s all the buzz: a less expensive Prius with great gas mileage. What more can you ask for? Plenty. Yes, this new subcompact gets a stingy 37 miles per gallon in city driving and 43overall, in Consumer Reports’ own fuel economy tests, 1 mile per gallon shy of the larger Prius hatchback. But all-around quality really drops. Related to the lackluster Toyota Yaris, the Prius C suffers from a stiff ride, noisy cabin, slow acceleration, and cheap-looking interior trim. Though it can’t match the C’s stellar gas mileage, the Honda Fit scored much higher in Consumer Reports’ tests and costs thousands less.
Ford Edge (V-6).The stylish lines of this crossover SUV might catch your eye, but maybe you should keep on looking. In the magazine’s testing of the V-6 all-wheel-drive version, testers found a jittery ride, pronounced road noise, and distracting controls, especially with the complicated and nonintuitive MyFord Touch,which operates the car’s climate controls, hands-free communication, navigation and entertainment systems. And in Consumer Reports’ annual survey of subscribers, it had much-worse-than average reliability. There is also a turbo four-cylinder engine that works well and gets better fuel economy, but it can’t be paired with all-wheel drive. For about the same price, better alternatives include the Toyota Highlander, Nissan Murano, and Mazda CX-9.
Dodge Grand Caravan. This is one of the best-selling minivans on the market. It’s versatile, comfortable, quiet, and well equipped. But according to Consumer Reports’ annual reliability survey, it’s also the most problematic minivan, suffering from numerous reports of squeaks and rattles, loose interior trim, and power equipment and sliding-door troubles. Consumer Reports recommends the front-wheel-drive Toyota Sienna, which has had better reliability and gets 20 miles per gallon.
Consumer Reports writes columns, reviews, and ratings on cars, appliances, electronics, and other consumer goods. Previous stories can be found at www.consumerreports.org.