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Car brands that never had Top Picks

Car brands that never had Top Picks

Each year, the most popular report in the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Issue is Top Picks, which spotlights the 10 best cars of the year. In a previous blog, we looked at which brands perennially make the list, but what about those brands that just never made the Top Pick cut?

Honda has claimed three of the 10 Picks this year and last year Toyota placed in half of the categories. Both Honda and Toyota have dominated the list since Consumer Reports first published it in 1997, so it is easy to believe that some brands have never earned their way on to the coveted list. And no wonder, the threshold to be named a Top Pick is quite high.

To be eligible, Top Picks must meet our criteria in three areas:

  • Road test. Each must rank at or near the top of its category in overall test score.
  • Reliability. Each must have earned an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on the problems Consumer Reports subscribers experienced, covering 1.2 million vehicles in our latest Annual Auto Survey.
  • Safety. Top Picks must perform well if included in crash or rollover tests conducted by the government or the insurance industry.


Visit our Annual Auto Issue special section for quick access to the latest Ratings, articles, and videos.


Since 1997, 21 brands have been included: Acura, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jeep, Kia, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Plymouth, Pontiac, Scion, Subaru, Toyota, and Volkswagen.

Among the brands that were on the market in 2012, 16 never made the list: Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Fiat, GMC, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln, Lotus, Mini, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Scion, Smart, Suzuki, and Volvo.

Of course, since its inception, there were several other brands that retired to the pages of history without claiming a Top Pick honor, including Daewoo, Geo, Hummer, Isuzu, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Saab, and Saturn.

That is not to say that some of these brands didn’t offer good cars.. But being good isn’t enough to make the cut. With Top Picks, we are looking for great. Not just the cars that hit all the numerical benchmarks, but those cars that the staff feels exemplify the best attributes in a category and that we would personally recommend.

On occasion, the Top Pick may not be the highest-rated model in a given category. (See our best and worst car lists.) Instead, the candidates are carefully deliberated and test findings scrutinized before committing to our choices.

Read about this year’s Top Picks, and learn more about what makes them shine.

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