Mar 062013

What are the best cars of 2013? The April issue of Consumer Reports tells all, with reviews of 281 models. Watch the CR video, below, or just read the winners by category.

Budget car –  Hyundai Elantra ($18,445). One of CR’s top-rated compact sedans, the well- rounded Elantra delivers a lot for the money. It’s roomier and more refined than a typical subcompact yet gets competitive fuel economy. The Elantra also provides nimble handling, a fairly comfortable ride, a smooth, responsive powertrain, and a well-finished interior at an affordable price.

Hybrid car – Toyota Prius ($26,750). The Prius still rules for its blend of fuel efficiency, practicality, and affordability. Its 44 overall mpg is still the best CR has measured in any five- passenger hybrid that is not a plug-in. CR also recommends the Toyota Prius V, a slightly larger version of the classic Prius.

Compact car: Subaru Impreza (Sedan, $21,345; hatchback $22,345).  Both sedan and hatchback versions are -sensible cars, with responsive, nimble handling and a  ride that rivals some luxury sedans. Fuel economy is impressive for an AWD car, at 27 mpg overall, thanks in part to an efficient CVT transmission And the roomy interior, spacious rear seat, simple controls, and refreshingly good visibility make it easy to live with.

Midsize sedan – Honda Accord ($23,270 to $30,860). This redesign is roomy, well equipped and very fuel efficient with a four-cylinder engine that squeezes out 30 mpg overall and 40 on the highway, which is as good as the much smaller tiny Honda Fit. Higher-trim models have advanced safety features seldom found in this category; all models come with a standard back-up camera.

Small SUV: Honda CR-V ($26,455). A stand-out for a smooth, responsive powertrain, good fuel economy, a compliant ride, excellent braking, a roomy rear seat, very functional interior, standard backup camera, and outstanding reliability. It’s also one of the more competitively priced choices in the class.

Midsize SUV: Toyota Highlander ($38,578 to $47,255). Recommended for those who want the practicality of an SUV with the refinement of a good sedan. It offers a quiet, well-finished cabin, , secure handling, and a smooth powertrain. The Highlander also is top-rated for consistent above-average reliability.

Minivan: Honda Odyssey ($36,830). Improved reliability, comfortable ride and a roomy, quiet, and versatile cabin, help this family hauler earn the top spot.  The V6 engine performs well and delivers a competitive 19 mpg. A backup camera  is now standard on all 2013 Honda models.

Luxury car: Audi A6 ($42,200-$50,400).  Agile, quick, and a joy to drive, surrounding drivers and passengers with a sumptuous, impeccably finished cabin that’s brimming with the latest high-tech features. The supercharged V6 engine is mated with a  super-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission for traditional German sport sedan performance, and it returns respectable gas mileage, even with all-wheel drive.

Sports sedan: BMW 3 Series ($36,850-$68.750) Beemer’s 3 Series is a perennial top-rated model, for good reason. CR gives top ratings to the 3281, with a four-cylinder turbocharged engine rated at 28 mpg overallWith its recent redesign, the 328i has become roomier, more luxurious and more fuel efficient while retaining most of its sporty, fun-to-drive characters. Ride comfort and fit and finish are impressive. And its 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers quick acceleration, while posting the best gas mileage in its class.

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