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Old 03-02-2007, 02:00 PM
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Arrow Car Consumer Info - Consumer Reports Adds Toyota RAV4, Infiniti ...

Consumer Reports Adds Toyota RAV4, Infiniti G35, Toyota Sienna ...

Toyota Prius Top 'Green' Pick for Fourth Consecutive Year; Best Fuel Economy of Any Five-Passenger Vehicle YONKERS, N.Y., Feb. 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Consumer Reports announced today that it has named five new models to its Top Picks list for 2007 -- the Toyota RAV4, Infiniti G35, Toyota Sienna, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and the new Honda Fit. The Top Picks list is published in CR's Annual April Auto Issue.

The Toyota Prius remains the Top Pick in the "green" car category for the fourth year in a row. The Toyota Prius demonstrated an excellent 44 mpg overall fuel economy, the best of Consumer Reports tests of any five-passenger vehicles. This marks the second time that all the vehicles are Japanese nameplates since Consumer Reports introduced its Top Picks list in 1997. Historically, Consumer Reports Top Picks have been a blend of Japanese, European, and domestic models.

CR's respected list of Top Pick vehicles appears in the Annual April Auto Issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday, March 6.

Consumer Reports' Top Picks are recommended models and all-around high-performers that scored at or near the top among competing vehicles in CR's rigorous testing program; have average or better predicted reliability, based on CR's Annual Car Reliability Survey; and performed adequately in overall crash protection if tested by the government or insurance industry. Top Pick vehicles were selected from among the more than 250 vehicles that Consumer Reports has recently tested.

Consumer Reports' new Top Pick list for 2007 includes a new category, for fuel-efficient subcompact cars. The Honda Fit is the Top Pick in that category. Missing from the Top Pick list this year is the Pickup Truck category; CR is not naming a vehicle in that category pending upcoming testing of newly released full-size pickup trucks. The Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Avalanche are previous Top Pick trucks.

"All the vehicles in Consumer Reports' Top Picks list are standouts for performance, versatility, reliability, and safety," said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut. "CR's Top Picks list is a great place for consumers to start when they're looking for a new car."

Consumer Reports' testing procedures are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or Web site. More than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of performance, comfort, convenience, safety, and fuel economy. Many tests were developed exclusively by CR's auto engineers and adopted by the auto industry. Around 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up during the testing process. Here, by category, are the issue's best performers. Changes from last year's Top Picks list are noted:

BUDGET CAR: Honda Fit. The Honda Fit ($14,000-$16,000) is the best overall in a new class of fuel-efficient subcompact cars. Not only is it fun to drive, but its compact dimensions pack an impressive amount of interior room and versatility. Overall fuel economy is an excellent 32 and 34 mpg with the automatic and manual transmissions, respectively. Antilock brakes and curtain air bags are standard, a rarity in this class.

SMALL SEDAN: Honda Civic. The redesigned Honda Civic ($17,000 to $23,000) has a roomy interior, a comfortable ride, good fuel economy, smooth powertrain, and good handling. Manual- and automatic-transmission versions get 31 and 28 mpg overall. The hybrid gets 37 mpg overall. It gets kudos for excellent reliability and impressive crash-test results.

FAMILY SEDAN: Honda Accord. The Honda Accord ($20,000 to $33,000) provides an excellent balance of comfort, roominess, ride, and handling. Each model provides good fuel economy for its class, with the four-cylinder and V6 models getting 24 and 23 mpg overall. The Honda Accord Hybrid delivers moderately better gas mileage of 25 mpg. Other top-scorers were the Toyota Camry and the Volkswagen Passat 3.6.

UPSCALE SEDAN: Infiniti G35. The Infiniti G35 ($35,000 to $39,000) successfully blends sportiness and luxury. Available in rear- or all-wheel drive, it has exuberant powertrain, agile handling and a comfortable ride. The interior is nicely finished and the controls are well designed. Another high scorer, but not sporty, is the Lexus ES350.

LUXURY SEDAN: Infiniti M35. The Infiniti M35 ($42,000 to $45,000) provides an excellent combination of luxury and performance and earned the highest score of any current sedan in our testing. Available in rear- or all-wheel drive, the Infiniti M35 is well-equipped and comfortable. It's just as capable threading a twisty road as it is cruising on the highway. The M also comes as a V8-powered Infiniti M45 model for about $55,000.

FUN TO DRIVE: Mazda MX-5 Miata. The Mazda MX-5 Miata ($21,000 to $27,000) won drivers over with its balanced handling, quick and precise steering, and crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission. The manual top can be lowered and raised with one hand from the driver's seat, making open motoring a snap. The Mazda MX-5 Miata proved that consumers don't have to spend a lot of money or give up practicality to get a fun-to-drive sports car. Last year's Fun to Drive Pick was the Subaru Impreza WRX/STi.

SMALL SUV: Toyota RAV4. The Toyota RAV4's 2006 redesign ($23,000 to $27,000) is a significant improvement over its predecessor and features agile handling and a comfortable ride. Larger than the outgoing model, the interior is versatile, comfortable, and now spacious enough for an optional third-row seat. Its 3.5-liter V6 is smooth and powerful, and returns good fuel economy that's only 1 mpg less that the standard four-cylinder. The Honda CR-V is a good runner- up. (Last year's Small SUV Pick was the Subaru Forester.)

MIDSIZED SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The gasoline/electric Toyota Highlander Hybrid ($35,000 to $40,000) is a an excellent package that includes all the inviting attributes of the conventional Toyota Highlander plus better acceleration and moderately better fuel economy at 22 mpg. It delivers a comfortable, quiet ride, excellent fit and finish, and an available but small third row. The Honda Pilot is a good runner-up if you need a roomier third-row seat.

MINIVAN: Toyota Sienna. For years, the Toyota Sienna ($26,000 to $38,000) and Honda Odyssey have swapped spots as CR's top-rated minivan. For 2007, the Toyota Sienna received a new powerful and efficient 3.5-liter V6 engine that now gives it its edge in our testing. Its spacious and refined interior is on par with some luxury sedans. The Toyota Sienna is quieter than the Honda Odyssey and is offered with all-wheel drive. (Last year's Top Pick for Minivan was the Honda Odyssey.)

GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius. For the fourth year, the $23,000 gasoline/electric hybrid Toyota Prius is CR's pick, thanks to its excellent 44 mpg overall fuel economy, the best CR has measured in any five-passenger vehicle. Providing reasonable performance with a roomy interior, the Prius is

a good alternative to a family sedan. Another excellent choice is the 37-mpg Honda Civic Hybrid.

CR's Annual April Auto Issue is on sale from March 6 through June 6. The Consumer Reports Auto Issue is available wherever magazines are sold. Free highlights from the April Auto Issue will be available at http://cars.consumerreports.org/

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Web site; the magazine's auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at http://www.ConsumerReports.org .

APRIL 2007

(C) Consumers Union 2007. The material above is intended for legitimate news entities only; it may not be used for commercial or promotional purposes. Consumer Reports(R) is published by Consumers Union, an expert, independent nonprofit organization whose mission is to work for a fair, just, and safe marketplace for all consumers and to empower consumers to protect themselves. To achieve this mission, we test, inform, and protect. To maintain our independence and impartiality, Consumers Union accepts no outside advertising, no free test samples, and has no agenda other than the interests of consumers. Consumers Union supports itself through the sale of our information products and services, individual contributions, and a few noncommercial grants.

Source: Consumers Union

Source: [url=http://www.autospectator.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=8317]Auto Spectator[/url]
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