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Consumer Reports Rates 10 Best Vehicles for 2021

High-tech safety features on standard models was key criteria

2021 Toyota Camry

Toyota

Toyota Camry

En español | The best new cars on the road today offer a multitude of high-tech safety features to help protect drivers and their passengers, according to Consumer Reports magazine.

The publication evaluates and tests automobiles to choose its “Top Picks” annually. Each model in this year's Top 10 “comes standard with advanced safety features,” the magazine notes.

Those safety features include forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking; pedestrian detection typically incorporating an auto-braking feature; and blind-spot warning that lets a driver know if another vehicle would be difficult to spot in the mirrors or even with a quick turn of the head.

"They have to be standard on all models. Not left off the base model, not left off the manual (transmission) model, not left off the sporty model,” which some buyers might choose because they think (usually incorrectly) that they can react better than built-in safety devices, says Jennifer Stockburger, an engineer and director of operations at the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center, a 327-acre facility at Colchester in rural Connecticut.

Stockburger describes these protections as “saved my bacon” features.

No large sedans make the Top 10

To warrant inclusion among the magazine's top options, a vehicle must have scored well in Consumer Reports safety tests, including accident avoidance. It must also have earned a passing grade if it's been crash-tested by the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which provides a rating that goes up to five stars, or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), a trade group.


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The vehicles are sorted according to what Consumer Reports deems popular categories, and the all-around best in each category gets the nod. “It's what people are buying,” notes Stockburger.

Notable this year is that no large sedan made the list. “People aren't buying large sedans; they're buying SUVs,” she says. For the curious, she says last year's top big sedan, the Toyota Avalon, still is best in that group.

The Yonkers, New York–based nonprofit has been testing automobiles since its founding in 1936 and has been anointing its top picks since 1997.

Here is Consumer Reports’ list of top 2021 models, with the listed price range and fuel economy reported by the magazine.


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James R. Healey is a contributing writer who covers auto stories. He was auto writer and weekly columnist at USA Today for 27 years. His work has also appeared in Car and Driver and on Trucks.com.

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