Consumer Reports

Worst to First: These are 2020's best car companies according to Consumer Reports

Some of the usual suspects make up the top-tier of the Consumer Reports rankings.

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Want to buy a new refrigerator? They have a ranking for that. Consumer Reports also takes a close look at automotive brands rating them based on a combination of feedback from testing and member surveys. Each year they release a list ranking all the brands sold in the U.S.

Here's how Consumer Reports determines their rankings, straight from the horse's mouth:

Brand report cards are built on an average of the Overall Score for each model tested. A brand must have at least two models tested to be included. The Overall Score is based on four key factors: road test, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety.

• The road-test scores are for vehicles purchased by CR and run through more than 50 tests.
• Reliability predictions are based on problems reported by CR members in 17 trouble areas.
• Owner satisfaction from surveyed CR members reflects whether drivers would purchase the same car if they had it to do again.
• Safety includes crash-test results and extra points awarded for proven advanced safety features that come standard for the model.

From worst to first, check out how the brands scored below.

No. 33 - Fiat

Fiat 500X Trekking

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Fiat is the lowest ranked brand in the annual Consumer Reports ratings. They earned a 43/100 score and had no vehicles recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 32 - Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Mirage

Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi sank two spots to the next-to-last position with a score of 46/100. None of their vehicles are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 31 - Jeep

Jeep Gladiator

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Jeep earned a 49/100 score and sank two places from their 2019 position. The company has only one product Consumer Reports would recommend out of the six they tested.

No. 30 - Land Rover

2020 Land Rover Defender

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover earned a 50/100 in the ratings but none of its products are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 29 - Cadillac

2020 Cadillac CT6

Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac's brand score of 57/100 helped it fall three places in the 2020 rankings. Consumer Reports does not recommend any of Cadillac's products.

No. 28 - Jaguar

2021 Jaguar F-Type

Photo courtesy of Jaguar

Jaguar climes four places in 2020 with a score to 57/100.

No. 27 - Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo 4C

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Alfa Romeo scored a 59/100, the same as the No. 26 company. That's up one place from 2019's standing.

No. 26 - GMC

GMC Acadia AT4

Photo courtesy of GMC

GMC is the highest rated brand that scored a "zero" in the question of which products Consumer Reports would recommend. They tested six. Overall, the company earned a 59/100.

No. 25 - Chevrolet

Chevrolet Camaro

Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevy is down one place in 2020, scoring 61/100.

No. 24 - Acura

Acura ILX

Photo courtesy of Honda of American Mfg., Inc.

Acura has the same score as the No. 23 place brand (66/100) but had higher road test scores.

No. 23 - Ford

Ford Expedition

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford has fallen three places in 2020 with a 66/100 score, the same as what Acura got.

No. 22 - Volvo

Volvo XC60

​​Photo courtesy of Volvo Car Corporation

Volvo pops up one spot in Consumer Reports' rankings with its 67/100 score.

No. 21 - Dodge

Dodge Charger

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Dodge is up four places in 2020 earning a 68/100 score.

No. 20 - Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz GLA

Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

With its 68/100 score, Mercedes-Benz finds itself three spots lower on the list than where it ended up last year.

No. 19 - Buick

Buick Envision

Photo courtesy of Buick

Buick slid down one spot with its 69/100 score, but still played better than most of the luxury brands on the list.

No. 18 - Chrysler

Chrysler 300

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Chrysler is up four places with a score of 69/100 for 2020. Its vehicles earned a very good 85/100 in road testing.

No. 17 - Nissan

Nissan Sentra

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan jumped four places to No. 17 earning 70/100.

No. 16 - Volkswagen

Volkswagen Atlas

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

No. 16 and 17 achieved the same 70/100 score. Volkswagen had better road-test scores, however.

No. 15 - Honda

Honda Passport

Photo courtesy of Honda of America Mfg, Inc.

Honda fell two places and earned a 72/100 score in this year's rankings.

No. 14 - Infiniti

Infiniti QX50

Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti maintained its spot from 2019 getting a 73/100.

No. 13 - Lincoln

Lincoln Corsair

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln fell five spots in this year's rankings getting a 73/100 score despite earning a respectable 81/100 in road testing.

No. 12 - Toyota

Toyota Camry TRD

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota fell three places in this year's rankings, scoring the same as the Nos, 14, 13, and 11 place brands with a 73/100.

No. 11 - Tesla

Tesla Model X Photo courtesy of Tesla Motors

Tesla was the biggest mover in this year's rankings, gong up eight places to end up at No. 11. The company scored 73/100.

No. 10 - MINI

Mini Cooper Electric

Photo courtesy of MINI

Mini is up five places in the 2020 rankings compared to 2019 earning a 74/100 score.

No. 9 - Kia

Kia Sportage

Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia hopped up three spots in the rankings earning a 74/100, the same as the tenth place finisher.

No. 8 - BMW

BMW X7

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW slipped one spot from their 2019 ranking, but earned the same score as the seventh place brand. The company earned high road test scores (88/100).

No. 7 - Hyundai

Hyundai Palisade

Photo courtesy of Hyundai Motor America

Hyundai jumped three spots in the 2020 rankings, earning a 75/100 score.

No. 6 - Audi

Audi Q7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

While Audi scored the same as the brand in the fifth position (77/100), the automaker had higher owner satisfaction scores than the No. 5 place company.

No. 5 - Lexus

Lexus LX

Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., Inc.

Lexus bested its mass market counterpart with its 77/100 score. The luxury automaker is in the same position this year as they were in 2019.

No. 4 - Mazda

Mazda CX-5

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Mazda moved up two spots from where they placed in 2019 thanks to a 79/100 score.

No. 3 - Subaru

Subaru Crosstrek

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America Inc.

Subaru moved down two places from their 2019 ranking coming in third with a score of 81/100.

No. 2 - Genesis

Genesis G70

Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Genesis placed second with an 84/100 score, keeping their placement unchanged since 2019.

No. 1 - Porsche

Porsche Carrera

Photo courtesy of Porsche AG

Porsche scored 86/100, moving them up two places from 2019 and securing the German automaker the top spot in Consumer Reports' rankings.

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The Acura TLX offers buyers a good time behind the wheel and true premium appointments.

Photo courtesy of Acura

The Honda Accord is a really decent car. It's perennially one of the top sellers in the U.S., and for good reason. But, sometimes the Accord isn't enough. That's where the Acura TLX comes in.

Acura has completely redesigned the TLX for the 2021 model year. It's made the car into a sharp-looking and better handling machine that is designed to remind buyers what Acura was all about in its 1990s and 2000s heyday. One quick trip around the neighborhood will show you that it achieves that, in spades. A longer trip will make you realize that it's okay to say "no" buying an SUV.

2021 Acura TLX Advance Diving the TLX is a pleasure. It's both comfortable to be in and engaging to toss around on the road.Photo courtesy of Acura

2021 Acura TLX Advance

The exterior of the car looks good. It has LEDs in the right places for its premium price point and styling that makes it stand out (for all the right reasons) more than it blends in. The car is athletic in its state and a bit moody and aggressive while fitting in with the rest of the Acura family, which includes the redesigned 2022 MDX. Every bit of that is a positive.

The TLX is longer, wider, and taller than the Accord by a few inches in each direction.

The suggestion of performance extends from the outside to the inside though the cabin does not set aside the comfort and convenience features one typically wants from a sedan for the weight-saving suede substitute upholstery or unique and different-just-to-be-different knobs, dials, and buttons that make operation more complicated than it needs to be. The TLX is more than properly trimmed out for its price point.

One of the best features of the TLX is its space. The waterfall dashboard design gives the front passenger the illusion of having more space to occupy in front of them. There is more passenger volume in the 2021 TLX versus the 2020 - slightly more room - and all other -room metrics are nearly the same from the old generation to the next. The Accord has more headroom, three cubic feet more cargo space, and nearly 10 cubic feet more passenger space.

The TLX is longer, wider, and taller than the Accord.Photo courtesy of Acura

The center console's side bolsters, with their interiors accented in real wood add to the premium look and feel of the vehicle in an unexpected way. Between those bolsters are the Acura's climate controls. They are button-operated and match what is in the RDX and MDX. They're not as fancy as what you'll find in a luxury car, but for the premium segment, they're attractive enough and extremely easy to use, which makes them winners.

Putting the Dynamic Mode drive mode selector front and center in the TLX, RDX, and MDX makes it easy to use and puts it front of mind. The shifter being directly under it frees up center console space, a logical layout that is an equal part practical.

Speaking of dynamic, the TLX is a dynamic dream, for a non-sports car. While the tester was not the TLX Type S (that super sporty variant is coming later this year), it does have quite a bit of dynamic difference form the Accord. The TLX with all-wheel drive grips the road, even when you're pushing the limits of what it can handle.

Steering is accurate and properly weighted, and allows the car to easily go where you want it. The TLX takes corners with ease and little body lean. There's no need for super bolstered seats as the TLX doesn't toss you around unless you make it.

The car's waterfall dashboard gives the interior a spacious feeling.Photo courtesy of Acura

Acceleration from its 2.0--liter turbo-four is plenty for daily drivability, and even when you want to go have a riot behind the wheel on the weekend. The engine is paired with a 10-speed automatic transmission that delivers the 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque smoothly and relatively efficiently. Changing to the Sport drive model gives the TLX noticeably shorter shifts and changes up the throttle response and damping capability, and tightens up the steering. It's a proper Sport mode.

While you're at speed, or idling, there's a lot to take in on the driver's information display. Smartly, Acura has put the necessary information front and center. If you're looking for your trip meter, fuel efficiency, or odometer information, you're doing to need to look to the smaller area of the screen. While you might strain your eyes to see it, you don't really need the info displayed there on-the-go.

There are folks out there that complain about the Acura touch interface for the infotainment system controls. Spend some time with them and sincerely get to know them and they suddenly become incredibly easy to use. Just remember, unlike a mouse, there's no swiping to move the selector. It's a touch-for-touch system like on an iPad.

The touch pad interface and wireless device charging are well placed.Photo courtesy of Acura

The space where Acura has elected to fit the wireless device charger is also its own type of genius. It's below the center console bump out wrist rest for the touch interface, which holds it in place when carving corners, and keeps it close enough to the driver that you can look down and see what alert has popped up if you're not using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at the time.

Acura's long list of standard and available safety and driver assist features help keep you going down the road without nagging. The car also has Acura's new airbag technology for the front seat passenger.

Pricing for the TLX starts at $37,500. As tested, the car was nearly $50,000. The TLX blows away its closest premium competition by a mile. Maybe more. It's also a lot better at $48,000 than what you'll find in many other luxury cars for the same price.

Most importantly though, Acura has put significant daylight between its Honda brother, not just in price, but also in materials, drivability, maneuverability, and design. That's a big step in the right direction for the brand.

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The Nissan Ariya has wind glide over it in the testing tunnel.

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

Nissan is targeting a drag coefficient (Cd) of 0.297 for the Ariya all-electric crossover. If it can make that number, it will be the company's most aerodynamic crossover to date. What does that mean? Let's take a closer look.

What is drag?

Simply put, drag is an aerodynamic force. It's mechanical in nature, so it is the result of the interaction of a solid body and a liquid. In the case of a car, this liquid is air. (Yes, air is a liquid.) It only occurs when one part of the equation (the solid body or the liquid) is in motion. If there is no motion, there is no drag.

Drag only occurs in the opposite direction of the object's movement. Think of a car cutting through the air as it drives down a north-south road. As the car heads north, the air it passes through is pushed south. The car is in motion; there is drag.

2022 Nissan Ariya

Photo courtesy of Nisan Motor Company

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What is coefficient of drag?

The coefficient of drag, also called a drag coefficient, is a number that aerodynamics professions (aerodynamicists) use to determine the shape, inclination, and flow conditions on a vehicle's drag. The shape of an object (bullet vs. square vs prism, etc.) has a large impact on the amount of drag created by airflow surrounding a vehicle. Objects with narrower front ends tend to have a lower coefficient.

Scientists and vehicle designers want to keep air moving around the car for maximum efficiency. The inclination of the airflow to either move in a smooth, connected pattern, or to be broken up with air sitting, stalling in one particular part of the vehicle, lessening airflow and making the vehicle less aerodynamic.

A vehicle's Cd is determined by plugging various measurements into an equation. Cd is equal to drag (D) divided by the quantity of density (r) multiplied by half the velocity (V) squared multiple by the reference area (A). As an equation, it looks like this: Cd = D / (A * .5 * r * V^2).

The smaller the Cd, the more aerodynamic a vehicle is.

2022 Nissan Ariya

The Nissan Ariya employs aerodynamic wheel design, made to help it cut though the air with greater ease.

Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

What is the coefficient of drag of the Nissan Ariya?

"With the growing shift towards electric mobility, aerodynamic testing is becoming increasingly important. The aerodynamics of electric vehicles are directly linked to how efficiently the vehicle moves – less drag and better stability allows the customer to drive longer distances before having to recharge," said Sarwar Ahmed, Aerodynamics and Aeroacoustics Engineer at Nissan Technical Centre Europe.

Nissan is targeting a 0.297 coefficient of drag for the Ariya. How will it achieve that number? By utilizing precisely shaped body lines and strategically placed air ducts, among other components. There's a bonus to better aerodynamics when it comes to EVs.

"Following official homologation of the Nissan Ariya later this year, we anticipate the range to improve compared to the 310 mile figure shared in 2020 during the World Premiere. This will give drivers more efficiency and confidence to go even further on a single charge," said Marco Fioravanti, VP Product Planning, Nissan Europe.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to other Nissans?

The newest Nissans, the Kicks, Pathfinder, and Frontier, don't have their Cd publicly available yet, but other models have their results. The targeted 0.297 Cd in the Ariya is less than that in the 2021 Armada, Murano, and Rogue. But, it's higher than the Nissan Leaf.

The fact that it's higher than the Leaf is not surprising. Shorter cars tend to be more aerodynamic because they sit lower to the ground and have a smaller profile. That also explains why Nissan's largest and boxiest SUV, the Armada, has the highest number on the list.

How does the Ariya's coefficient of drag compare to numbers from other EVs?

The Nissan Ariya's coefficient of drag is higher than that of most other electric cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold in the U.S. Here's where the others measure up:

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