Hybrids lead Consumer Reports' top 10 new vehicle picks

Toyota hybrid vehicles for sale at a dealership in Chicago, Feb. 6, 2024.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Hybrid vehicles led the 2024 top vehicle rankings released Tuesday by influential product testing organization Consumer Reports.

Such “electrified” vehicles, including plug-in hybrid models, represented six of the top 10 picks by the nonprofit consumer organization. The non-hybrid models rounding out the list were the all-electric Tesla Model Y crossover and three gas-powered vehicles with no hybrid variants.

It marks the second consecutive year that seven electrified or fully electric vehicles have been included in Consumer Reports’ top picks, as automakers release numerous models of the vehicles to meet consumer demand as well as tightening federal fuel economy regulations.

Toyota Motor had the most top picks of any automaker, at four, followed by Subaru at two. Tesla, Ford Motor, Mazda and BMW each had one vehicle on the list.

Toyota’s four vehicles in the top 10 rankings were all hybrid or plug-in hybrid vehicles.

“The markets are changing. There’s a lot more powertrain choices today than there have really ever been,” Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at Consumer Reports, told CNBC. “When we’re looking at the top vehicles, the top picks, a lot of them turn out to be electrified choices, because they just tend to do the things that people really want from a car.”

Both hybrids and plug-in hybrids have a traditional engine combined with EV technologies. A traditional hybrid such as the Toyota Prius has electrified parts, including a small battery, to provide better fuel economy to assist the engine. Plug-in hybrids typically have a larger battery to provide for all-electric driving for a certain number of miles until an engine is needed to power the vehicle or electric motors.

Fisher said plug-in hybrid vehicles, which bridge the gap between a regular hybrid and an EV, are a “dark horse” for the U.S. automotive industry that many consumers are just beginning to understand.

This year’s Consumer Reports rankings feature three plug-in hybrid vehicles, the most ever for the annual list.

“In terms of surprising and what we’ve learned this year, it’s really been about plug-in hybrids,” Fisher said. “They’re not well understood, but depending on what your situation is, it can be kind of the best of both worlds of electric vehicle and gas.”

Consumer Reports selects top models at a variety of price points and classifications based on its testing of new vehicles. The organization tests about 50 new vehicles each year.

Here’s the full list:

  • Small car: Mazda 3
  • Midsize car: Toyota Camry Hybrid
  • Hybrid/Plug-in hybrid car: Toyota Prius/Prius Prime plug-in hybrid
  • Subcompact SUV: Subaru Crosstrek
  • Compact SUV: Subaru Forester
  • Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid
  • Luxury SUV: BMW X5/X5 PHEV
  • Small pickup: Ford Maverick/Maverick Hybrid
  • Plug-in hybrid SUV: Toyota RAV4 Prime plug-in hybrid
  • Electric vehicle: Tesla Model Y

The Tesla Model Y dominated in the U.S. and beyond last year. It appears to displace Tesla’s entry-level Model 3 sedan in the top 10 rankings after that model made the list last year.

According to data from Kelley Blue Book, a subsidiary of Cox Automotive, 1.1 million battery-electric vehicles were sold in the U.S. last year. Nearly 655,000 of those vehicles were Tesla EVs, including 394,497 of the Tesla Model Y, sales partly driven by discounts and tax credits domestically.

While battery-electric vehicle sales are still growing, hybrid electrics remain an appealing favorite for many car buyers in the U.S., in part because charging infrastructure is not yet as prevalent or reliable as it is in nations with broader adoption of fully electric cars, such as Norway.

The top picks are factored into Consumer Reports’ annual auto brand report cards, based on its internal testing as well as reliability, safety and overall customer satisfaction according to owner surveys.

BMW topped the overall brand list, followed by Subaru, Porsche, Honda and Lexus to round out the top five brands. At the bottom of the rankings were Rivian, GMC, Jaguar, Land Rover and Jeep.

Here’s the full Consumer Reports report card for each brand and their overall score:

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Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2024/02/27/tesla-model-y-toyota-hybrids-make-consumer-reports-top-10-ranking.html

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