Consumer Reports

Worst to First: These are 2021's best car companies according to Consumer Reports

The redesigned 2022 Subaru BRZ joins the company's lineup this year.

Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

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. Click here to see 2020's results.

No. 32 - Alfa Romeo

Alfa Romeo 4C

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Alfa Romeo scored a 59/100, 15 points lower than they did in 2020. Consumer Reports tested two of the company's vehicles and was not able to recommend either of them.

No. 31 - Land Rover

2020 Land Rover Defender

Photo courtesy of Land Rover

Land Rover earned a 46/100 in the ratings, four points less than in the 2020 ratings, and drops one position. None of its products are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 30 - Mitsubishi

2022 Mitsubishi Outlander: Exterior Photo courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors

Mitsubishi is up three spots from their 2020 position with a score of 46/100 - the same score as lat year. None of their vehicles are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 29 - Jeep

Jeep Gladiator

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Jeep earned a 48/100 score but went up two places from their 2020 position, which was up from the 2019 spot. The company has only one product Consumer Reports would recommend out of the six they tested.

No. 28 - Lincoln

Lincoln Corsair

Photo courtesy of Lincoln Motor Company

Lincoln fell 15 spots in this year's rankings, after falling five the year before, getting a 53/100 score despite earning a respectable 78/100 in road testing.

No. 27 - Jaguar

2021 Jaguar XF: Exterior Photo courtesy of Jaguar

Jaguar climbs one in 2021 and was up four places in 2020. The company scored a 54/100 and has one green vehicle in its lineup.

No. 26 - GMC

GMC Acadia AT4

Photo courtesy of GMC

There's some good news for GMC. Despite being in the bottom third of the ratings, Consumer Reports recommends one of their vehicles. That's one more than they did last year. Overall, the company earned a 57/100, down two points from 2020.

No. 25 - Ford

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford fell three places in 2020 and two more in 2021, earning a 57/100 score, the same as what GMC got.

No. 24 - Chevrolet

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV Photo courtesy of Chevrolet

Chevy is up one place in 2021, scoring 58/100. Out of the 13 Chevy vehicles Consumer Reports tested, they recommend two of of them.

No. 23 - Acura

2021 Acura TLX Advance Photo courtesy of Acura

Acura is up one spot for 202, earning a 59/100. The company had decent road test scores but Consumer Reports doesn't recommend any of their models.

No. 22 - Cadillac

2020 Cadillac XT5 Photo courtesy of Cadillac

Cadillac's brand score of 62/100 helped it jump seven places in the 2021 rankings. Consumer Reports recommends one out of the five Caddy products they tested.

No. 21 - Mercedes-Benz

2021 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Photo courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

With its 62/100 score, Mercedes-Benz finds itself one spots lower on the list than where it ended up last year. Consumer Reports recommends three of their vehicles.

No. 20 - Volvo

Volvo XC60

​​Photo courtesy of Volvo Car Corporation

Volvo pops up two spots in the' rankings with its 64/100 score. Two of its five vehicles that were tested by the Consumer Reports team are recommended.

No. 19 - Kia

2021 Kia K5 Photo courtesy of Kia Motors

Kia fell down 10 spots in the rankings earning a 64/100, a score 10 points lower than the company scored in 2020. The good news is that out of the 11 of their vehicles that were tested, Consumer Reports recommends four of them.

No. 18 - Volkswagen

2022 Volkswagen Taos Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

Volkswagen has better road-test scores than anyone lower than it on this list. The company scored 65/100 and Consumer Reports recommends two of its models.

No. 17 - MINI

2021 MINI Paddy Hopkirk Edition Photo courtesy of MINI

Mini was up five places in the 2020 rankings compared to 2019, but fell seven places from their 2020 level in 2021. The company earned a 66/100 score for this year.

No. 16 - 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. But, this year, they're down five spots scoring just 66/100.

No. 15 - Genesis

2020 Genesis G90 Photo courtesy of Genesis Motors

Genesis placed second with an 66/100 score, 18 points lower than they scored in 2020. The automaker fell 13 spots from their 2020 placement

No. 14 - Dodge

2020 Dodge Challenger Photo courtesy of Dodge

Dodge was up four places in 2020 earning a 68/100 score. For 2021, the company moves up one place but only earned 67 points.

No. 13 - Nissan

2021 Nissan Rogue Photo courtesy of Nissan North America

Nissan jumped four places to No. 17 earning 70/100. For 2021 they are up another four places, getting a 68/1000 with Consumer Reports recommending half of their 12 tested vehicles.

No. 12 - Infiniti

2021 Infiniti QX80 Photo courtesy of Infiniti Motors

Infiniti, the premium arm of Nissan, jumps two spots for 2021 earning a score of 70/100. Like Nissan, Consumer Reports recommends half of the company's vehicles to shoppers.

No. 11 - Audi

Audi Q7

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi fell five spots in the 2021 rankings earning a 71/100 score, just one better than Infiniti. However, Audi's road test score was an 88 compared to Infiniti's 77.

No. 10 - Hyundai

2021 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid

Hyundai jumped three spots in the 2020 rankings, earning a 75/100 score. For 2021, they fell three spots with a 71/100 score.

No. 9 - Buick

Buick Envision

Photo courtesy of Buick

Buick slid down one spot with its 69/100 score in 2020, but has made up for it in 2021, jumping up 10. Out of the three Buicks Consumer Reports tested, they recommend two of them.

No. 8 - Chrysler

2021 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Like Buick, Chrysler is up 10 places for 2021 earning 74/100. This is on top of the four places they gained in 2020 with a score of 69/100.

No. 7 - Toyota

2021 Toyota Venza Photo courtesy of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.

Toyota fell three places in 2020's rankings, but gained five in the 2020 ratings, scoring 74/100. Consumer Reports recommends 15 of the 19 Toyotas it tested - impressive!

No. 6 - Lexus

Lexus LX

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

Lexus is down one position for 2021, scoring 75/100, which is two points worse than the company scored in 2020. Seven fo the eight Lexus vehicles tested by the publication are recommended.

No. 5 - Honda

Honda Accord Photo courtesy of American Honda Motor Co., Inc

Like Buick and Chrysler, Honda jumped 10 places in 2021 with a 75/100 score. In 2020, the company earned a 72/100. Eight of the 10 Hondas tested are recommended by Consumer Reports.

No. 4 - Porsche

2021 Porsche Panamera 2021 Porsche Panamera Photo courtesy of Porsche AGPhoto courtesy of Porsche AG

Porsche scored 10 less points in 2021 than they did in 2020 (76 vs. 86/100). The company has earned the same road test score as Audi: 88. Three of the four Porsches that were test driven earned recommended ratings.

No. 3 - Subaru

2022 Subaru BRZ Photo courtesy of Subaru of America, Inc.

Subaru sits in the same place in 2021 as it did in 2020. The company scored worse, however, earning just 76/100 compared to the 81/100. Five out of the seven models Consumer Reports test drove they recommended.

No. 2 - BMW

BMW X7

Photo courtesy of BMW

BMW is up six spots compared to their 2020 ranking, earning 78/100. Subaru and BMW scored the same in Consumer Reports road testing, getting an 87. Ten out the 12 BMWs Consumer Reports tested are recommended.

No. 1 - Mazda

Mazda CX-5

Photo courtesy of Mazda North American Operations

Mazda moved up three places to claim the 2021 crown with a score of 80/100. That rating is one point higher than the company earned in 2020. Consumer Reports recommends all seven of the Mazdas they test drove this year.

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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Buying guide

How to buy a modified car: Three tips

This is a clean modified truck, but they don't all end up this way.

Bring a Trailer

Modified cars are a mixed bag. Sometimes, they're incredibly well built and better than the original, but too many times they're only partially finished or end up being rushed as their owners get late-project anxiety. Whatever the case, buying a modified car can be a stressful process if you haven't done your homework ahead of time. The good news is that you can get a good deal on a reasonably well sorted project or modified car, but you'll need to be careful. Looking at used Lexus LXs earlier today, it became clear that there are as many modified vehicles for sale as there are clean examples.

This LX got me thinking about the breakdown between buying a rig and building one. The modifications made by this Lexus' seller are almost exactly what I would do if I were building a light overlanding rig. What could go wrong? I'm still on the fence about the Lexus, but the three topics below will help you make the right decision on buying a modified car.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Even if the mods are well done, you'll want to have the vehicle inspected before you buy.Bring a Trailer

Understand your personal taste

I mentioned the LX470 and how the owner's updates were pretty close to what I'd do with the truck. That's an exception to the rule, because 90 percent of the time I walking away from a sales listing because of modifications, rather than the other way around. If you're hoping to find a tastefully modified car that matches your exact tastes, you could be waiting a while. If you're hoping to sell a modified car, the same is true in reverse. Finding a buyer for your extremely personalized project car may not be the easiest thing you've ever done.

2004 Lexus LX 470 It's a good idea to seek out vehicles in solid shape, regardless of mods.Bring a Trailer

Be aware of condition and quality

This Lexus looks to be well maintained and in good shape. It also doesn't hurt that the LX is one of the most reliable vehicles built by one of the world's most quality-conscious automakers. Even so, it's hard to know what you're getting with this, or any other, modified vehicle. There's a little rust in this image, but the lift kit, wheels, and bumper mods all look good. However, even if the truck looked brand-new, you'd want to get a pre-purchase inspection. An independent mechanic can tell you if there are potential issues that are unrelated to mods, and you'll want to be sure that any modifications are installed properly.

2004 Lexus LX 470 Some mods are more useful than others.Bring a Trailer

Keep an eye on the price

Most people are reasonable when it comes to selling their modified cars, but there are hundreds of "I know what I got" memes on the internet for a reason. Some sellers want to recover every penny of the money they spent customizing their cars. They're convinced that the mods drastically increased the car's value and can't understand why the customized car isn't as attractive to you as it is to them. Tread lightly and be careful not to insult the owner, but it's your job to work toward a reasonable, fair price.

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