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Consumer Reports Picks Its Top 10 Vehicles for 2023

Electrics and hybrids lead the list

spinner image the ford maverick hybrid x l t driving through a city
The Ford Motor Company

Here come the electrics! Or at least the partial electrics, according to Consumer Reports’ ranking of the top vehicles of 2023. For the first time, seven of the top 10 models are either fully electric or electric hybrids.​

Hybrids are traditional gas-powered vehicles that also use battery-powered electric motors to improve fuel efficiency. Some automatically recharge the battery while driving; others — such as plug-in hybrids ­— can be charged at home and run for short distances on electric-only power (usually about 30 miles). 

“Hybrids drive very nicely, and they are quiet, and they are reliable,” says Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of auto testing, noting that many are more reliable than their gas-only counterparts.

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Fully electric vehicles, including the Tesla Model 3, also made the list. However, Consumer Reports’ picks were chosen before Tesla announced a Feb. 16 recall of more than 360,000 of its vehicles with Full Self-Driving Beta features, due to the increased risk of accidents. Some of Tesla’s software may cause vehicles to travel straight through an intersection while in a turn-only lane, not come to a complete stop at a stop sign or drive into an intersection during a yellow traffic light without caution, according to a recall statement published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Every year, the nonprofit testing and review organization announces its choices for the best vehicles, as well as a brand report card. Top car, SUV and truck picks are based on four factors: road tests conducted by Consumer Reports (CR) staff members, predicted reliability (based on owner complaints and history), overall owner satisfaction (from surveys), and active safety systems and crash test results.

Safety is a big factor in CR’s evaluation, and the organization continues to add levels of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), such as automatic emergency braking and collision avoidance highway systems, into overall scores. Without some of these safety systems, cars will not qualify for CR’s best-of category. For the top picks below, we’ve also included safety ratings from the NHTSA, when available.

“The majority of cars today have systems that can automate steering and braking to some degree,” Fisher says.

As manufacturers add ADAS technology, CR plans to update its testing to evaluate it. For example, CR plans to deduct points if a vehicle with a semi-self-driving system doesn’t monitor driver attentiveness. GM vehicles with the semi-self-driving Super Cruise system monitor drivers to make sure they pay attention to the road even when the car is driving.

Fisher says the review and testing organization bases much of its ranking on overall driver experience, which in the case of fully electric vehicles means taking into account the company’s available charging network. That’s why Tesla’s Model 3 made the cut this year even though some other EVs, such as the Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6, tested better than Tesla’s models. Simply put, Tesla has a more extensive public charging network.

Also critical to CR’s annual assessments is reliability, and this year, two models were repeat winners from last year’s top 10: the Subaru Forester and Kia Telluride.

Here is Consumer Reports’ Top 10, plus the organization’s pick for best brands:​

Less than $25K

Toyota Corolla Hybrid

spinner image twenty twenty three toyota corolla hybrids
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Price range: $22,800-$26,640

MPG: 48​

NHTSA safety rating: 5 stars

A mainstream mainstay, Toyota’s Corolla is not only a crowd-pleaser, it’s a bargain. It includes many safety features once available only on higher-end models: adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning and smart high beams (so you don’t blind oncoming drivers), to name a few. Not part of the standard package, blind spot warning can be added as an option. ​

Toyota Corolla Cross

spinner image twenty twenty two toyota corolla cross
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Price range: $23,060-$28,465​

MPG: 28 ​

NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

A practical subcompact SUV, the Toyota Corolla Cross is relatively roomy for this class of vehicle, particularly in the back seat. Drivers will find the Corolla Cross’ controls simple to master and have the option of choosing between front- or all-wheel-drive versions. CR noted the Cross’ “tepid” acceleration; however, like the original Corolla, the crossover scores well in terms of reliability. If you’re looking for better fuel economy, you might want to wait for the hybrid version of the Corolla Cross expected this year.​

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Models costing $25K to $35K​

Subaru Forester

spinner image twenty twenty two subaru forester driving through an autumn forest
Subaru of America, Inc.

Price range: $26,395-$36,495​

MPG: 28

NHTSA safety rating: 5 stars ​

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A perennial winner, the Subaru Forester has been a top 10 CR pick for a decade. CR highlights the small SUV’s “generous cargo area” and “unusually good access, with tall, wide-opening doors and hip-height seats,” important considerations for older drivers. The vehicle’s continuously variable transmission yields a smooth ride, and Subaru includes an excellent suite of updated safety features.​

Toyota Camry Hybrid

spinner image a twenty twenty three toyota camry hybrid
Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Price range: $28,355-$33,795​

MPG: 47 ​ ​

NHTSA safety rating: 5 stars

In spite of their popularity, not everyone buys an SUV. The Camry midsize sedan is a hybrid that proves the point. Though the Camry is available in a variety of configurations, CR says the hybrid version is the one to buy. It’s got great fuel economy, easy-to-master dashboard controls and “athletic handling.” It has respectable safety systems, including adaptive cruise control and lane departure warning.​

Ford Maverick Hybrid

spinner image twenty twenty two ford maverick hybrid x l t
The Ford Motor Company

Price range: $22,595-$28,355​

MPG: 37 ​ ​

NHTSA safety rating: 4 stars

Living up to its name, the Ford Maverick is “something of a game changer,” according to CR’s Fisher. This compact pickup is fuel-efficient and has a low entry price, particularly for a hybrid vehicle with front-wheel drive. Buyers looking for a vehicle to match their active outdoor lifestyle will no doubt make use of the Maverick’s 4.5-foot bed while appreciating the fact that it doesn’t drive like, well, a truck.​

Nissan Leaf

spinner image twenty twenty three nissan leaf driving through a neighborhood
Nissan

Price range: $28,040-$36,040​

Battery range: 149 miles or 212 miles for the Leaf Plus ​

NHTSA safety rating: 5 stars

Many EVs boast driving ranges of 200 miles or more, but CR chose the Nissan Leaf, whose base model has a rather modest 149-mile range, as one of its top 10 for several reasons, principal of which was reliability. “They have been building electrics for over a decade,” Fisher points out, and it shows. “It has very few issues, and it’s quite affordable.” If you want more range, there’s the Leaf Plus with a larger 60 kWh battery for 212 miles of range and better (although not great) acceleration. More important, blind spot warning, lane departure warning and rear-cross traffic warning are all standard equipment.​

Models costing $35K to $45K​

Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid

spinner image twenty twenty three hyundai santa fe hybrid driving up a mountain dirt road
Hyundai

Price range: $35,910-$41,570​

MPG: 30​

NHTSA safety rating: 5 stars

Hyundai offers many of its vehicles in multiple versions: gas, hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. In this case, the hybrid version of the two-row Santa Fe SUV is the winner. Not only does it include important safety systems such as blind spot warning and lane departure warning, it also delivers more pep. The hybrid has a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, although the plug-in hybrid has more electric power and adds 35 horsepower.​

Kia Telluride

spinner image a twenty twenty three kia telluride parked on a cliff overlooking mountains
Kia

Price range: $35,890-$52,985​

MPG: 21​ ​

NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

There continues to be high demand for three-row SUVs, and the Kia Telluride is a just-the-right-size model. It has made CR’s list every year since the SUV debuted in 2020. For larger families or those with lots of friends, the Telluride has a “cavernous cabin” and “generous elbow room,” according to CR’s testers. Readers will note, however, that the Telluride is not terribly fuel-efficient, due to its V6 engine. On the other hand, that engine with an 8-speed transmission delivers plenty of needed power even when the SUV is fully loaded.​

Models $45K and more ​

Lexus NX 350h

spinner image a twenty twenty three lexus n x three fifty h driving on a desert road
Lexus, a Division of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Price range: $41,955-$57,805​

MPG: 38

NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

The benchmark for cosseted comfort, the NX 350h is a small SUV that delivers excellent fuel efficiency, handling and performance. CR noted “the powertrain remains smooth and eager as the speeds rise,” and it delivers “quick steering and a well-isolated ride.” Lexus remains a good choice for those looking for a quiet cabin and a little bit of pampering, plus all the requisite safety features.​

Tesla Model 3

spinner image a tesla model three driving through the mountains
Tesla

Price range: $43,490-$53,990​

Battery range: 358​

NHTSA safety rating: Not yet rated

CR announced its top 10 models before the electric car company recalled the Tesla Model 3 and other vehicles using its so-called Full Self-Driving experimental driver-assistance system. Before that announcement, CR noted that Tesla makes it easier to go electric and that the Model 3 delivers all the road-hugging grip and fast-off-the-mark acceleration EVs are famous for. “There are other EVs that test better,” Fisher says, but Tesla has the most widespread charging network available, “so it’s just a different experience taking a Tesla on a long trip.” However, CR noted that many owners find the Model 3’s off-center dashboard and controls frustrating. ​

CR’s best brands

If you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for in CR’s top 10, the nonprofit also does an annual brand report card ranking the best overall automotive producers. This year, the top brand is BMW, which achieved exceptional overall owner satisfaction. Though the CR report card does not take into account the price of vehicles, there was still plenty of love for one mainstream brand: Subaru came in a close second behind BMW.​

Rounding out the top five brands were Mini (owned by BMW), luxury brand Lexus and Honda.​​

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