NEW YORK — Tesla Motors has earned the ardor of investors and the highest US safety ratings. It can also add the honor of having the best-reviewed car of the year by automobile critics at Consumer Reports.
Tesla’s battery-powered Model S beat the Audi A6, Toyota Prius, and BMW 328i in Consumer Reports’ annual ranking, becoming the first US car to receive a ‘‘best overall’’ pick, the independent product testing magazine said Tuesday. The reviewers singled out the Model S for its ‘‘blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling, compliant ride, and versatile cabin.’’
‘‘It’s truly a groundbreaking car,’’ Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of auto testing who oversaw this year’s review of 260 vehicles, said an interview. ‘‘You get into it, and it really stands out. It’s the very best car I’ve ever driven.’’
The Model S, which went on sale in 2012, got the highest score ever recorded in Consumer Reports’ automotive testing last spring. But at the time, the magazine didn’t have enough data from subscribers to rank its reliability.
Spokesman Doug Love said Tuesday the magazine now has enough data to give the Model S a ‘‘good’’ reliability rating.
The top ranking for the youngest US automaker should raise the profile even further for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla, which has said it expects Model S deliveries to increase about 56 percent to 35,000 cars this year.
Elon Musk co-founded the all-electric car maker in 2003, staking a personal fortune he amassed building Internet map venture Zip2 Corp. and an online payment system that would eventually become PayPal.
Tesla rose 13.94 percent to $248 Tuesday, helped also when Morgan Stanley more than doubled its price target. Its market value is now about half that of General Motors’.
Consumer Reports tests and evaluates cars for how well they drive, interior finish quality, safety, and reliability. The model rankings influence car buyers and are published in the Yonkers, N.Y.-based magazine’s annual auto issue.
Volkswagen’s Audi A6 was the Consumer Reports choice for best luxury sedan, while Bayerische Motoren Werke’s 328i was named the top sports sedan.
The Dodge Ram 1500 was selected as the best pickup truck, the first time a Chrysler vehicle has led one of the magazine’s 10 ‘‘top pick’’ categories since the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, Consumer Reports said.
Such Japanese carmakers as Toyota, Subaru, and Honda had earned 70 percent of the magazine’s best car spots since 1997. This year, that was down to half.
The Toyota Prius, a gasoline-electric hybrid, was named best ‘‘green car’’ for the 11th consecutive year.
As recently as a few years ago, a handful of Japanese brands swept the magazine’s top picks, said Rik Paul, automotive editor for Consumer Reports, said. That’s no longer the case, he said.
The Model S is priced from $62,400 to about $90,000; Consumer Reports said the version it tested had a list price of $89,650.
Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.