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t

PRoduct Ratings and BRand ReliaBility
he product rating and brand reliability information that follows is designed to help you zero in on the model you want to buy. start by reading the general buying advice for the product you’re interested in. the page numbers for these reports are noted on each Ratings page. then turn to the Ratings chart to get the big picture on performance.

For some products you’ll find full Ratings charts that include every currently available model we tested. For other products, you’ll find Select Ratings charts that include the models recommended for most people plus models that we designated as Best Buys. To obtain Ratings, all models within a category are put through weeks of testing, side by side, so test results can be compared. We rank products by performance; products with equal scores are listed alphabetically. CONSUMER R EPORTS checked to make sure most products rated in this Buying Guide were still available when the book was published. However, depend ing on how long after publication you use this book, you may find a Rating for a product that is no longer available. Or, you may not find a Rating for a model that is available because it hadn’t been tested as of publication. Besides checking for similar models, you can also refer to the brand repair history charts for some products. Most products today are pretty reliable, but some brands have been more reliable than others.

Every year we survey readers on repairs and other problems they encounter with household products. From their responses, we derive the percentage of a brand’s products that have been repaired or had a serious problem. The reliability graphs that accompany the Ratings give brand repair rates for 16 product categories. Our findings have been consistent over the 30-plus years we’ve surveyed brand reliability, though they are not infallible predictors. A brand’s repair history includes data on many models, some of which may have been more or less reliable than others. And surveys of a brand’s past models can’t anticipate design or manufacturing changes in its new models. Still, you can improve your chances of getting a trouble-free product by getting a brand that has been reliable in the past. Product categories include appliances, such as washers and ranges; electronics, such as computers, digital cameras, televisions, and Blu-ray players; and power equipment, such as lawn mowers and tractors. Note that repair histories for different products are not directly comparable.

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air conditioners

189

ratinGs

aiR conditioneRs
Fine cooling performance is a given. Top-scoring room air conditioners are also energy-efficient and relatively quiet. An air conditioner’s air direction matters more if your window is not centered in your room. Check the Airflow left and Airflow right columns in the Ratings for this information. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

Price

Overall score

Test results Comfort Indoor noise low Indoor noise high Brownout Ease of use Airflow left Airflow right

Features Min window width (in.) Max window width (in.) Weight (lb.) Remote control 23 22 22 21 37 36 39 36 57 58 43 58 Btu/hr. EER

■ d ■ d ■ c ■ d ■ c ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ d ■ d

5,000 TO 6,500 BTu/hr. (COOlS 100-300 Sq. FT.) haier ESAD4066 $250 81 &N &M &C &N Friedrich CP06F10 280 80 &N &M &M &N Kenmore 70051 150 78 &N &M &M &N Friedrich CP06E10 250 78 &N &M &M &N
Frigidaire LRA074AT7 Sharp AF-S60PX
AF-S60NX

150 77 200 76 140 75

&N &M &M &N &C &C &B 6,500 10.7 22 39 45 • &N &M &M &C &C &V &B 6,000 10.7 22 34 49 • &N &C &C &N &C &M &M 5,000 10.7 23 37 41 • &M &M &C &N &B &C &C &C &C &C &B &V
8,000 10.8 23 37 60 • 7,800 10.7 24 39 65 • 7,800 10.8 21 36 64 • 8,000 10.8 25 41 55 •

&M &C &C &C

&V &B &M &V

&C &B &B &B

6,000 6,000 5,200 6,000

12 10.7 11 10.7

• • • •

Frigidaire FRA054XT7

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

7,000 TO 8,200 BTu/hr. (COOlS 250-400 Sq. FT.) lG LW8010ER 200 75 &N &M &C &N Kenmore 76081 200 73 &N &M &C &N Friedrich CP08E10 300 71 &N &C &C &C GE AEM08FM 250 70 &N &C &C &N AEW08FM, AEH08FM

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Brand & model Recommendation Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score

Test results Comfort Indoor noise low Indoor noise high Brownout Ease of use Airflow left Airflow right

Features Min window width (in.) Max window width (in.) Weight (lb.) Remote control 28 28 27 27 41 41 39 39 82 76 80 83
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Btu/hr.

0

■ c ■ c ■ d ■ d ■ d

9,800 TO 12,500 BTu/hr. (COOlS 350-650 Sq. FT.) lG LW1210ER L1210ER $300 76 &N &M &C &N lG LW1010ER L1010ER 250 75 &N &M &C &N Kenmore 75101 270 73 &N &M &C &N Kenmore 75121 300 73 &N &M &C &N GE AEM10AM 300 70 &N &M &C &N AEW10AM, AEH10AM

100 P | F | G | VG | E

&M &M &C &M &M

&B &B &V &V &C

&C 12,000 &M 10,000 &C 10,000 &C 12,000 &V 10,500

10.8 10.8 10.8 10.8

• • • • 10.8 27 38 86 •

See report, page 78 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

guide to the ratings
overall score is based mainly on comfort, noise, and energy efficiency . The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points . comfort is temperature and humidity control on low cool . The best performers held temperatures to within one-and-a-half degrees of the setpoint . indoor noise low and indoor noise high combine an objective measurement of noise at the low-cool and high-cool settings using a decibel meter with a subjective assessment of noise quality (how annoying or grating the particular sounds were) . Brownout gauges the unit’s ability to run and restart during extreme heat and low voltage . ease of use reflects control-panel layout, including the clarity of its markings, as well as how easy and intuitive the controls were to operate . airflow left and airflow right show how well the louvers can direct air to the left or right of the unit when the user is facing it . eeR is the energy-efficiency ratio as supplied by the manufacturer and as certified by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers . Price is approximate retail .

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EER

b l u - r ay p l ay e r s

191

ratinGs

Blu-Ray PlayeRs
You have many fine choices for a regular Blu-ray player at attractive prices. Full-featured, top-rated players from major brands now start at about $150, and prices could drop even further this year. All models now have BonusView, a picture-in-picture feature that lets you view additional content in a smaller window while the movie is playing, and most new models now have BD-Live, enabling them to connect to the Internet to access extra content. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Features Wi-Fi capability

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

lG BD590 lG BD570 Oppo BDP-80 Samsung BD-C6900

$350 250 290 380 250 230 430 150 250 200 130

83 83 80 80 80 79 79 77 76 76 75

■ d Panasonic DMP-BD85 ■ d Samsung BD-C6500 ■ d Panasonic DMP-BDT350 ■ c ■ c ■ c ■ c
Panasonic DMP-BD65 Sony BDP-S570 Sony BDP-S470 Insignia NS-BRDVD3

See report, page 14 .

guide to the ratings
overall score is based primarily on picture clarity and ease of use . Displayed score is out of a total of 100 points . Hd picture quality indicates trained panelists’ evaluation of clarity and color accuracy of a high-definition progressive scan (1080p) signal, such as that from a Blu-ray player . dVd picture quality represents trained panelists’ evaluation of clarity and color accuracy of an upconverted HD (1080p) signal, from a Blu-ray player playing DVD content on an HDTV . All signals sent through an HDMI connection . Versatility includes streaming movies, audio/video outputs, Wi-Fi connectivity, and 3D capability . Remote score assesses the user-friendliness of the remote control for basic playback and control functions . average load time score represents the average time the player took to load a sample DVD and Blu-ray movie disc . Load time can vary from film to film, and this represents a relative performance among models . Price is approximate retail .

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HD picture quality DVD picture quality Versatility Remote Average load time BD-Live Multichannel analog-audio outputs DVD load time Blu-ray load time

&N &N &N &N

&N &N &M &N &C • &N &N &C &M &M • &N &N &M &M &C • &N &N &C &N &C • &N &N &M &M &M • &N &N &C &M &M • &N &N &C &N &C •

&N &N &N &N

&C &C &C &M

&N &N &M &M

&M &M &M &N

• • • •

No 14 13 Built-in No 14 13 Built-in 7.1 13 13 No 7.1 13 9 Built-in Dongle 7.1 22 17 Supplied 7.1 13 12 Built-in Dongle 7.1 21 17 Supplied No 22 17 Optional No 17 15 Built-in No 17 13 Optional No 20 19 No

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cell PHones
Choose a conventional model if you need only voice and text messages, and perhaps a music player and camera (most models are compact and are priced between $20 and $150 or come free with a 2-year contract). Most phones work only with a specific carrier, so you must decide whether to stay with your current provider or select a new one when shopping for a phone. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Features Touch screen QWERTY keyboard Voice command GPS navigation Broadband data Bluetooth VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

AT&T CEll PhOnES

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Ease of use Voice quality Messaging Battery life Camera (megapixels)

Samsung Impression lG Vu Plus Samsung Solstice Samsung Rugby II Motorola Tundra

$130 150 30 100 180

68 68 68 64 64

&M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M

&V &V &V &V &C &C &C &C &C &C

&N &N &M &C &C &M &N &N &N &N

&M &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &C &C

3.1 3.1 1.9 1.9 1.9

HSDPA HSDPA HSDPA HSDPA HSDPA

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

SPrInT nExTEl CEll PhOnES
Samsung Instinct HD lG Rumor Touch lG Lotus Elite Samsung Exclaim lG Remarq 100 50 50 50 0
66 65 62 62 62

T-MOBIlE CEll PhOnES
Samsung Gravity T Samsung Comeback Samsung Gravity 3 75 0 50
69 64 63

&M &V &N &N 1.9 HSDPA VDS • • • • • • • &M &V &N &M 1.9 HSDPA VDS • • • &M &V &N &M 1.9 HSDPA VDS

5 1.9 1.9 1.9 1.2

EV-DO EV-DO EV-DO EV-DO 1xRTT

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cell phones

193

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results

Features Touch screen QWERTY keyboard Voice command GPS navigation Broadband data Bluetooth

0

vErIzOn CEll PhOnES

100 P | F | G | VG | E

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Ease of use Voice quality Messaging Battery life Camera (megapixels)

See report, page 18 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

lG enV Touch Samsung Alias 2 Casio G’zOne Brigade lG enV3 Casio G’zOne Rock Samsung Convoy lG VX8360 Samsung Jitterbug J

$150 50 200 80 150 70 0 100

74 72 71 69 62 62 62 60

&N &M &M &M &M &M &M &C

&C &C &V &C &C &C &C &C

&N &N &N &N &C &C &C &C

&C &M &M &C &C &C &C &C

3.1 1.9 3.1 3.1 1.9 1.9 1.2 NA

EV-DO EV-DO EV-DO EV-DO EV-DO EV-DO EV-DO none

VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS VDS V

• • • • •

• • • • • • • •

• • • • • • •

guide to the ratings
overall score is based mainly on ease of use, voice quality, messaging, and battery life . The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points . Phones are listed in performance order, within categories . Due to test upgrades, results may vary from past Ratings . ease of use mainly considers how easy it is to access the phone’s various features and modes, the number of step-saving functions for making and receiving calls, and display and keypad readability under different lighting conditions . We also factor in features and capabilities, such as camera, music, GPS navigation, Web browsing, and broadband connections, as well as the phone’s size and weight . Voice quality considers listening quality, which reflects what you hear, and talking, what’s heard by other phones . Tests were conducted in noisy and quiet environments using live phone calls indicated by carrier used . We show the lower score between listening and talking . Messaging mainly assesses keyboard and keypad ergonomics, text-messaging features, support for Microsoft Outlook, and whether or not the phone can open various e-mail attachments . Battery life represents mainly an average of talk time from tests with strong and weak network signals, and also considers standby, display times, and other factors . Price is approximate retail .

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coFFeeMaKeRs
How good your cup of joe is depends more on the coffee than the coffeemaker. But a good-quality machine extracts more from your beans and can take the hassle out of coffeemaking. Our tests show that you don’t have to spend a lot to get a good model.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Brew temperature Convenience Carafe handling Features Programmable Thermal carafe/mug Small-batch setting Brew-strength control Dispenser-style

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

8- TO 12-CuP DrIP MODElS wITh CArAFE

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ c ■ c ■ d

Cuisinart Brew Central DCC-1200 Kalorik CM25282 zojirushi Fresh Brew EC-BD15 Krups Coffee Machine FMF5 Black & Decker DLX1050B Kalorik TKM-20208 Mr. Coffee JWX27 Delonghi Multi DCF-212T

$100 80 90 100 20 45 40 50 80

87 84 79 79 77 77 76 74

&N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M

12-CuP BrEw STATIOnS ■ d hamilton Beach BrewStation 47454
DGB-600BC ■ d Cuisinart Grind & Brew DGB-700BC ■ d Krups Grinder & Brewer KM7000

93

&N &N NA • NA • • • &N &V &M • • • • &N &V &N • • • &N &V &M • &M &M NA •

&N &N &N &M &N &M &C &M

&N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

8- TO 10-CuP GrInD & BrEw MODElS ■ d Cuisinart Grind & Brew Thermal 150
150 130 $ 25

72 72 72

1- TO 2-MuG TO-GO MODElS ■ d Black & Decker Brew’N Go DCM18S

72

DuAl COFFEE/ESPrESSO MODElS 90 ■ c Emerson CCM901 105 ■ d Krups XP1500

70 68

&M &M &M • &M &M &M

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coffeemakers

195

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results Brewing range First-cup speed Noise Repeat speed Temperature consistency Size consistency Convenience

Features More coffee choices Can use two pods at a time

POD COFFEEMAKErS

■ d SS-1

Cuisinart Cup-O-Matic

$200 63 130 63 70 59 120 54 310 53 170 48 170 48 300 48 120
44

&M &N &V &V &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &N &M &C &C &N &M &C &V &N &C &B &M &C &M &B &M &C &M &N &B &M &M &B &C &B &C &B &V &N

&N &C &V &V &M &C &C &M &M &M

&M &C &N &C &N &C &C &M &V &C &N &C &N &C &M &M &N &C &M &M

• • •

See report, page 62 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

Senseo Supreme 7832 Senseo by Philips HD7810 Flavia Fusion Drinks Station Bunn My Cafe MCP Bosch Tassimo Krups Dolce Gusto Keurig-Breville BKC600XL Keurig Professional Mini30 Keurig B40 Brewing System

• • • • •

120 41

guide to the ratings
Drip: overall score is based on convenience and carafe handling . The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points . Brew temperature is the ability to reach 195° F or more for six minutes . convenience reflects ease of filling the reservoir, placing the filter, gauging the amount of coffee remaining, cleanup, and clarity of controls . carafe handling covers handle comfort, tendency to drip when pouring, balance of a full carafe, and ease of emptying . Models with no score here brew into single-serve containers, or are dispenser-style . Pod: overall score is based on convenience, brewing finesse, and selection of coffee . convenience reflects how easy it is to operate a unit, refill the water reservoir, and clean the appliance . Brewing reflects ability to produce weak to strong brews using controls and varying the amounts of water and coffee pods . First-cup speed reflects how quickly the machine produces the first cup of coffee . Repeat speed reflects how quickly the machine produces the second cup . temperature consistency reflects how closely the second cup matches the first cup in temperature . size consistency reflects how closely the second cup matches the first cup in temperature and size, respectively . noise reflects judgment of expert panelists . Price is approximate retail .

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coMPuteRs, desktops
Recommended models are based on test results and features. We also consider brand reliability, tech support, and overall value.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Performance Ergonomics Versatility 3D gaming Display Speakers Features Video memory (MB) Memory (GB) Hard drive (GB) Processor 3.06GHz Core i3 Core 2 Quad Q8200 Core 2 Duo T6500 Athlon II X2 235e Athlon II X2 235e Pentium DualCore E5400 Pentium DualCore E5400 Athlon II X2 250 Pentium DualCore T4300 Pentium DualCore T4400

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

All-In-OnE
Apple iMac 27-inch MC510LL/A ■ MB952LL/A d Apple iMac 27-inch Apple iMac 21.5-inch MC509LL/A ■ MC508LL/A d Apple iMac 21.5-inch Gateway One ZX6900-01E ■ 600-1120 d hP TouchSmart Acer AZ5600-U1352 Apple iMac 21.5-inch MB950LL/A hP TouchSmart 600-1050 ■ 300-1120 d hP TouchSmart Gateway One ZX4300-01e ■ VGC-JS450F/S d Sony Vaio Dell Inspiron One 19 hP Pavilion All-in-One MS235 Gateway One ZX4800-02 lenovo IdeaCentre A300 4018-1DU $1,700 78 1,470 75 1,500 74 1,200 72 930 70 1,100 69 970 68 1,060 67 1,000 65 850 64 700 62 1,000 62 600 57 600 55 700 55 750 54

&N &C &M &N &N &M 3.2GHz Core i3 4 1000 512 &N &C &M &N &N &M &N &C &M &N &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &N &C &C &M &M &M &C &N &M &M &M &C &C &N &M &C &C &C &C &N &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &V &M &N &M &C &C &B &V &N &M &C &C &V &C &M &M &V &C &V &C &M &C &V &M &V &N &C &M &N &M &M 3.2GHz Core i3 4 1000 512 &M &M &M &C &M &C Core i3-530 &M &N &M &C &M &M Core i3-330M 4 1000 NA
4 1000 NA 3.06GHz Core 4 1000 256 2 Duo 4 500 256 4 640 NA

3.06GHz Core 4 500 NA 2 Duo 4 750 NA 4 750 NA 4 640 NA 4 500 256 4 640 NA 4 320 NA 4 750 NA 4 320 NA

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computers, desktops

197

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results Performance Ergonomics Versatility 3D gaming Display Speakers

Features Video memory (MB) Memory (GB) 1 1 Hard drive (GB) Processor

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

All-In-OnE continued
Compaq Presario CQ1-1020 eMachines EZ1601-01 (Win XP) $380 35 410 30

&B &N &C &B &C &V Atom D410 &N &N &M &C &M &N &M &C &C &N &C &C &C &N &C &C &C &M &M &V &V &N &M &V &V &N &C &V &V &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M

&B &M &C &B &V &B Atom N270
Core i3 530 Pentium DualCore E5500 Athlon II X2 215 Athlon II X2 240 Athlon II X2 215 Athlon &V LE-1660 Celeron 450

160 NA 160 NA

COMPACT ■ d Dell Inspiron 580s
Gateway SX2801-01E hP Pavilion Slimline s5414y ■ s5510y d hP Pavilion Slimline eMachines EL1352-01e eMachines EL1333G-03w eMachines EL1850-01e Dell Inspiron Zino HD

500 75 520 73 400 63 460 63 370 61 300 55 310 52 380 48

4 320 NA 6 1000 NA 4 500 NA 3 640 NA 4 500 NA 2 500 NA 2 500 NA

Athlon 2850e 3 320 NA

Full-SIzED ■ d Dell Studio XPS

SX8100-1408NBC ■ HPE-240f d hP Pavilion Elite Gateway FX6840-03E ■ 8100 c Dell Studio XPS hP Pavilion Elite HPE-210y ■ HPE-112y d hP Pavilion Elite
See report, page 23 .

950 89 1,100 88 1,200 88 700 85 900
84

&C Core i5-650
Core i5-650 Core i7-860 Core i5 650

8 1000 1024 8 1000 1024 8 1000 1024 3 500 512

770 82

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

Phenom II X4 8 1000 512 945 Phenom II X4 8 1000 512 925

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Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results Performance Ergonomics Versatility 3D gaming Display Speakers

Features Video memory (MB) Memory (GB) Hard drive (GB) Processor Phenom II X6 1035T Phenom II X6 1035T Phenom II X4 830 Core i3 530 Athlon II X4 630 Athlon II X2 240 Pentium DualCore E5500 Pentium DualCore E5400 Pentium DualCore E5400 Athlon II X2 220 Pentium DualCore E5400 Pentium DualCore E5400 Celeron 450 Sempron LE-1300

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

Full-SIzED continued
hP Pavilion Elite HPE-235f ■ XPS-7100 d Dell Studio $900 82 700 80 660 78 500 74 600 73 780 69 500 69 500 69 460 67 500 66 390 65 480 56 340 51 300 50

&N &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &C &N &N &M &C &M &N &M &C &M &N &M &C &M &M &M &C &M &N &M &C &M &N &M &C &C &N &M &C &M &N &M &V &M &N &M &B &V &N &M &C &V &N &C &V &C &C &C &C

8 1000 1024 4 1000 1024 8 1000 256 4 320 NA 6 750 NA 4 500 NA 4 1000 NA 4 500 NA 6 750 NA 5 640 NA 4 750 NA 6 640 NA 3 500 NA 2 320 NA

■ d hP Pavilion p6540F ■ c ■ d ■ d ■ d
Dell Inspiron 580 Dell Inspiron I570-7034PBK Dell Inspiron I570-7163PBK Asus Essentio CM5671-05 Dell Inspiron I560-2050NBK Asus Essentio CM5571-BR003 hP Pavilion p6523w eMachines ET1831-07 Dell Inspiron I545-1125NBK eMachines ET1831-05 Compaq Presario CQ5300F

guide to the ratings
overall score reflects all the Ratings factors . Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed in order of precise score . Performance reflects speed while running productivity applications, multimedia applications, and 3D games . ergonomics represents quality of the keyboard and pointing device, and accessibility of features . Versatility includes hardware, such as memorycard slots and AV connections; software, such as security programs and productivity applications; and tech support and warranty provisions . 3d gaming covers performance while running 3D games . For all-in-ones, display is our judgment of clarity, color, brightness, and viewing angle . speakers covers fidelity, bass response, and loudness . Price is approximate retail .

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computers, laptops

199

ratinGs

coMPuteRs, laptops
Based on our surveys, laptop reliability has been mostly undistinguished. Apple had the best technical support, while Acer/Gateway/eMachines had the worst. We didn’t recommend some top-rated models because of their technical support, including the Gateway NV59C09u, Gateway NV7915u, and the Acer Aspire AS7736Z-4088. Consider those if tech support is not a concern for you.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Performance Ergonomics Versatility Display Speakers Features Battery life (hr.) Weight (lb.) Memory (GB) Hard drive (GB) Video memory (MB) Processor

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

11- TO 13-InCh MODElS
Apple MacBook Pro $1,500 13-inch MC375LL/A ■ Apple MacBook Pro 1,200 d 13-inch MC374LL/A ■ Apple MacBook d 1,000 MC516LL/A Apple MacBook Pro 1,060 13-inch MB990LL/A Apple MacBook 950 MC207LL/A ■ Toshiba Satellite c 470 T135-S1305 hP Envy 13-1030NR 1,800 Alienware M11x 800 Toshiba Satellite ■ d 710 U505-S2970 Apple MacBook Air 1,430 MC233LL/A hP TouchSmart tm2t 850 Toshiba Satellite 580 T135D-S1324 Toshiba Satellite 500 T135D-S1320 lenovo Thinkpad 630 Edge 0197-27U Toshiba Satellite 425 T115D-S1120 Dell Adamo 1,330 A13-050B-PRL
73 72 69 68 65 64 62 59 59 59 59 58 58 58 57 57

2.66GHz &N &M &C &M &V 7.75 4.5 Core 2 Duo 4 320 256 2.4GHz &N &M &C &M &C 6.75 4.8 Core 2 Duo 2 250 256 2.26GHz &M &M &C &C &M 6.5 4.4 Core 2 Duo 2 160 NA 2.26GHz &M &M &C &M &V 5.75 4.7 Core 2 Duo 2 250 NA Pentium &C &C &C &C &V 9 3.7 SU4100 3 320 NA Core 2 Duo &N &C &M &C &B 4 3.8 SL9400 3 250 NA Core 2 Duo &M &M &M &C &V 4.5 4.9 P7450 4 500 NA Turion Neo &C &C &C &C &B 5.75 3.7 X2 L625 4 320 NA

2.4GHz &N &M &C &M &V 7.25 4.5 Core 2 Duo 4 250 256

Pentium &C &C &C &V &C 9.75 4.4 SU4100 2 160 1024 1.86GHz &C &M &V &M &B 4.25 3 Core 2 Duo 2 120 NA Core 2 Duo &C &C &C &C &B 8.5 4.4 U7300 2 160 NA Athlon Neo &V &M &C &C &V 5.5 3.7 MV-40 3 250 NA Athlon Neo &V &C &C &C &V 5.5 3.4 MV-40 2 250 NA Athlon Neo &C &M &C &C &V 4.75 3.9 X2 L325 3 250 NA

Core 2 Duo &C &C &C &C &V 5.25 4 U9300 2 128 NA

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Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results Performance Ergonomics Versatility Display Speakers

Features Battery life (hr.) Weight (lb.) Memory (GB) Hard drive (GB) Video memory (MB) 4 500 256 4 500 NA 4 500 NA 4 320 NA 4 320 NA 4 320 NA 4 320 NA 3 250 NA 4 320 128 4 320 256 4 250 NA 4 320 NA 4 320 512 4 500 512 4 500 512 4 500 1024 4 500 NA 4 320 NA 4 500 NA 4 500 NA
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0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

14-InCh MODElS
Sony Vaio $ 840 68 VPCCW21FX/L Toshiba Satellite 900 66 E205-S1904 ■ lenovo Thinkpad d 680 66 Edge 057826U ■ Samsung R430-Black 560 65 c

■ d

&N &M &M &C &B 4.75 5 &M &M &M &C &V 3.5 5

&N &C &M &C &V 5.75 5.1

&M &M &M &C &V 5 4.8 &N &M &M &C &C 3.5 5.3 &M &C &M &C &V 4 5.3 &M &M &M &C &V 3.75 4.9 &C &M &M &C &V 7.5 4.5 &M &C &M &C &C 3.5 5.3 &N &M &C &M &C 8 5.5 &N &M &M &C &C 4.5 5.7 &N &M &M &C &V 4 &N &M &M &C &M 4

hP Pavilion dv4-2155dx

750 700

65 63

■ d

hP Pavilion G42-240US lenovo IdeaPad U450P 3389 Toshiba Satellite M505-S4972 hP Pavilion dv4-2145dx

600 63 650 61 500 59

15- TO 16-InCh MODElS
Apple MacBook Pro 2,000 78 15-inch MC372LL/A ■ Apple MacBook Pro 1,800 78 d 15-inch MC371LL/A Apple MacBook Pro 1,600 74 15-inch MC118LL/A Gateway NV59C09U 700 73

2.53GHz &N &M &C &M &C 8.5 5.5 Core i5 4 500 256

Core i3-330M Core i5-430M Core i3-330M Core 2 Duo T6600 Core i3-330M Turion II P520 Core 2 Duo U7300 Pentium Dual-Core T4300 Turion II M520

&M &M &C &M &M 7 5.4 &N &M &M &C &C 5.25 5.4

■ d ■ d

Dell Studio 15 (1558)

975 1,120

72 71

Dell Studio XPS 16 Samsung NP-R580-JSB1US Dell Studio XPS X1647-5330BK Toshiba Satellite ■ A505-S6005 d ■ hP Pavilion d dv6-2157wm ■ hP Pavilion d dv6-2155dx hP Pavilion dv6-3040us

&N &M &M &M &M 3.25 6.4 &N &M &M &C &M 3.25 6.4 &N &M &M &C &C 7.75 7
5.6

830 70 1,000 69 650
68

700 68 680 66 860 65

&N &M &M &C &C 3.75 5.9
6

&M &M &M &C &V 3.5 5.4

2.4GHz Core i5 2.53GHz Core 2 Duo Core i3-330M Core i5-520M Core 2 Duo P8700 Core i5-430M Core i5-430M Core i3-330M Core i3-330M Core i3-330M Phenom II N830

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Processor

computers, laptops

201

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results Performance Ergonomics Versatility Display Speakers

Features Battery life (hr.) Weight (lb.) Memory (GB) Hard drive (GB) Video memory (MB) Processor Pentium T4400 Pentium

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

15- TO 16-InCh MODElS continued
Asus U50F-RBBAG05 $ 650 hP Envy 15-1050NR Sony Vaio VPCEB11FM/W ■ Sony Vaio d VGN-NW350F/S ■ Dell Inspiron 15 d (1545) Asus G60JX-RBBX05 Compaq Presario CQ61-420US ■ Toshiba Satellite d L505-ES5018 hP G60-635DX Dell Inspiron 15z Gateway NV5378u Toshiba Satellite L505D-GS6000 Dell Inspiron I1546-2453JBK Toshiba Satellite L455-S5000 hP G61-429wm Compaq Presario CQ60-423DX lenovo Essential G555 0873-25U Compaq Presario CQ60-615DX Toshiba Satellite L455D-S5976 Acer Aspire AS5532-5535
64

1,800 63 700 63 730 63 500 62 900
60

Core &N &C &M &C &V 4.5 5.4 i3-330M 4 500 NA Core i7 &N &C &M &M &C 2 6.3 720QM 6 500 1024 Core &N &M &M &C &B 3.25 5.7 i3-330M 4 320 NA Core 2 Duo &M &M &M &C &V 3.75 5.7 T6600 4 320 NA

&M &C &M &C &V 5.25 5.8 Dual-Core 4 500 NA

520 59 480 59 480 59 550 58 480
58

Core &N &M &M &C &V 3 7.4 i5-430M 4 500 1024 Athlon II 3 250 NA &M &M &M &C &C 3 6 M320

&M &M &M &C &B 3.75 6 Dual-Core 3 320 NA
T4400 Pentium 3.25 6.2 Dual-Core 3 320 NA &M &M &M &C &V T4300 Pentium &C &M &M &C &V 4.75 4.9 Dual Core 2 160 NA SU4100 Athlon II &C &C &M &C &V 3 5.7 M300 4 500 NA Turion II &M &M &M &C &B 2.5 6.1 M500 4 320 NA Turion X2 &M &M &M &C &V 2.75 5.9 RM-75 4 250 NA Celeron 3 250 NA &C &M &M &C &V 3.5 5.8 900 Sempron 3 250 NA &C &M &M &C &V 3 6 M120 3.25 6.2 Celeron 3 250 NA &C &M &C &C &V 900 3 5.8 Athlon II 3 160 NA &C &M &M &C &V M320 3.5 6.3 Celeron 2 250 NA &C &M &M &C &V 900 3 5.8 Sempron 2 250 NA &V &M &M &C &V SI-42 3.25 5.6 Athlon 3 160 NA &V &M &C &C &V TF-20

500 57 750
57

380 56 450 340
55 55

480 54 330 380 350
53 51 50

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Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results Performance Ergonomics Versatility Display Speakers

Features Battery life (hr.) Weight (lb.) Memory (GB) Hard drive (GB) Video memory (MB) Processor Core i3-330M Core i5-430M Core i7-720QM Turion II Ultra M620 Core i3-330M Pentium Dual-Core T4400 Core 2 Duo T6600 Pentium Dual-Core T4300 Pentium Dual-Core T4400 Turion II M520

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

17- TO 18-InCh MODElS

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch MC024LL/A Apple MacBook Pro 17-inch MC226LL/A hP Pavilion dv7-4060us Dell Studio 17 (1749) Dell Inspiron 17 (1764) Dell Studio 17 Touch (1749) Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q860 Asus G73JH-RBBX05 hP Pavilion dv7-3165dx Gateway NV7915u Acer Aspire AS7736Z-4088 hP G71-340us hP Pavilion G71-449wm

$2,300 80 2,030 77 890 75 965 73 930 72 850 70 1,200 69 1,200 700
69 68

2.53GHz &N &M &C &N &M 9.25 6.5 Core i5 4 500 512 Core &N &M &N &M &V 4 7.3 i5-520M 4 500 NA Core &N &M &M &M &V 3.5 6.3 i5-520M 4 500 512

2.8GHz &N &M &C &M &M 6.75 6.5 Core 2 Duo 4 500 256

Phenom II &N &M &M &C &M 4.75 7.2 N830 4 500 1024

&M &M &M &C &M 3.75 8

&N &M &M &M &M 4 10.2 &N &M &M &M &C 2 8.4 &M &M &M &C &V 4.5 7.1 &M &M &M &C &V 4.75 6.9 &M &M &M &C &C 3.5 6.7 &M &M &M &M &C 2.25 9 &N &C &M &M &V 3.75 6.8 &M &M &M &M &V 3.5 6.6 &M &M &M &M &V 3 6.6

3 250 NA 4 500 1024 6 500 1024 4 500 NA 4 500 NA 3 320 NA 4 320 NA 4 320 NA 2 160 NA 4 500 NA

App

e

600 68 500 67 700 66 580 450 680
64 63 63

■ d

See report, page 23 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

Dell Inspiron 17 (1750) Toshiba Satellite P505D-S8007

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computers, laptops

203

ratinGs

guide to the ratings
overall score reflects all the Ratings factors . Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed in order of precise score, out of a total of 100 . Performance is based on performance while running productivity applications, multimedia applications, and 3D games . ergonomics represents the quality of the keyboard and pointing device, and accessibility of features . Versatility includes hardware such as memory-card slots and AV connections, software such as security programs and productivity applications, and tech support and warranty provisions . display covers display size, clarity, color, contrast, brightness, and glare . speakers covers speaker fidelity, bass response, and loudness . Battery life (hr.) is estimated in hours while running productivity applications . Weight (lb.) is the weight of the laptop as you would carry it around, including the battery but without the power adapter . Price is approximate retail .

Most & least Reliable
desktops Fewer repairs Apple (iMac) Compaq eMachines Dell HP Sony Gateway 0% 5% 10% 13 18 19 20 21 22 23 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs Toshiba Sony Compaq Acer Apple HP Gateway Dell Lenovo 0% 5% 10% laptops Fewer repairs 16 17 18 19 19 20 20 21 21 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs

Apple has been the most reliable brand of desktop computers . That’s what we found out when we asked more than 62,500 readers who bought a desktop computer between 2005 and 2009 about their experiences . This graph shows the percentage of brands that have ever been repaired or had a serious problem . We’ve adjusted the data to eliminate differences due to age or whether the computer was covered by an extended warranty . Differences of fewer than 5 points aren’t meaningful . Although we lacked sufficient historical data to include the Lenovo desktop brand in the chart, the data we have indicates that it has been a reliable brand . Models within a brand might vary, and changes in design or manufacture might affect reliability . Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model .

No one brand stood out as the most reliable among laptop brands . That’s what we found out when we asked more than 75,000 readers who bought a laptop between 2005 and 2009 about their experiences . Graph shows the percentage of brands that have ever been repaired or had a serious problem . We’ve adjusted the data to eliminate differences due to age or whether the computer was covered by an extended warranty . Differences of fewer than 3 points aren’t meaningful . Models within a brand might vary, and changes in design or manufacture might affect reliability . Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model .
Source: Annual Product Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports National Research Center .

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coMPuteRs, netbooks
All are suitable as secondary systems for performing routine tasks. The best offer lighter weight, larger keyboards and trackpads, and longer battery life. All include a memory-card reader and webcam.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Portability Ergonomics Performance Versatility Display Speakers Features Battery life (hr.) Weight (lb.) Hard drive (GB) 250 250 250 250 LCD size (in.) Processor

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

10-InCh MODElS

■ d ■ d ■ d

hP Mini 210-1092DX Toshiba Mini NB305-N410BL Samsung NP-N150-JA03US Acer Aspire One 532h-2730 Gateway LT2104u Dell Inspiron Mini IM1012-687OBK Asus Eee PC 1005PEB-RRED01S hP Mini 210-1050NR Toshiba Mini NB205-N325BL Dell Inspiron Mini 10 Asus Eee PC 1005HA-MU17-WT Asus Eee PC 1005HAB-RRED04S Samsung NP-N210-JAO2US Gateway LT2030u lenovo IdeaPad S10-3T-0651 Asus Eee PC 1008PB-CFE002S

$380 60 400 59 350
59

Atom &M &C &C &C &V &C 8.75 2.9 10.1 N450 160 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &V 7.75 2.5 10.1 N450 160 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &V 8.25 2.7 10.1 N450 160

Atom &M &C &C &C &C &B 9.5 2.9 10.1 N450 250 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &B 7.75 2.6 10.1 N450 250 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &V 8.75 3 10.1 N450 160 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &B 9.5 2.9 10.1 N280 160 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &V 7.5 2.8 10.1 N270 160

300 59 310 57 330 330 330
57 56 56

■ d ■ d ■ d

Atom &M &C &C &C &V &B 9.5 2.9 10.1 N450 250 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &B 8.75 2.9 10.1 N450 250 Atom &M &V &C &C &C &V 9.75 3 10.1 N450 160 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &B 7.75 2.9 10.1 N270 250

375 55 300 55 300 54 300 54 350 310 550
54 54 53

■ d

&M &C &C &M &C &B 7

400 52

Atom 2.9 10.1 N450 Atom &M &V &C &C &C &B 8 2.8 10.1 N270 Atom &M &C &C &C &C &B 9 3.4 10.1 N450 Atom & M &C &C &C &C &V 5.25 2.5 10.1 N450

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computers, netbooks

205

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results Portability Ergonomics Performance Versatility Display Speakers

Features Battery life (hr.) Weight (lb.) Hard drive (GB) 250 160 250 160 120 LCD size (in.) Processor

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

10-InCh MODElS continued
Asus Eee PC $400 52 1008PB-PCH002S Asus Eee PC 1000HE 385 51 (Win XP) Sony Vaio 450 51 VPCW211AX/P eMachines EM250-1915 220 49 (Win XP) nokia Booklet 3G 600 48

&M &C &C &C &C &V 5

&C &C &C &C &C &V 6.5 &C &C &C &C &C &B 3.5 &N &V &V &C &C &B 9.5

&M &V &C &C &C &B 8.25

11- TO 12-InCh MODElS

■ d

Dell Inspiron 11z hP Mini 311-1037NR

375 620

51 47

Celeron &C &C &M &C &C &V 3.25 3 11.6 743 250 Atom &C &V &C &M &C &C 5.75 3.4 11.6 N270 160

Atom 2.5 10.1 N450 Atom 3.2 10.1 N280 Atom 2.8 10.1 N450 2.4 10.1 Atom N270 2.7 10.1 Atom Z530

See report, page 23 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

guide to the ratings
overall score reflects all the Ratings factors . Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed in order of precise score, out of a total of 100 . Portability reflects battery life and weight . ergonomics represents the quality of the keyboard and pointing device, and accessibility of features . Performance is assessed while running productivity applications . Versatility includes hardware such as memory-card slots and AV connections, software such as security programs and productivity applications, and tech support and warranty provisions . display covers display size, clarity, color, contrast, brightness, and glare . speakers covers speaker fidelity, bass response, and loudness . Battery life (hr.) is estimated in hours while running productivity applications . Weight (lb.) includes the battery but without the power adapter . Price is approximate retail .

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cooKtoPs
Most cooktops are gas or smoothtop electric. But induction models—an electromagnetic field that heats the pan more directly and efficiently—are falling in price, and may be the wave of the future. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score Test results Features Medium-power elements Expandable elements High heat Low heat High-power elements Low-power elements 2 2 2 2 1 2 Touch controls

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

30-InCh ElECTrIC SMOOThTOP MODElS

■ d ■ d ■ c ■ c ■ d ■ d

Electrolux Icon E30EC65E[SS] $1,200 lG LCE3081[ST] 1,050 Kenmore 4273[2] 600 whirlpool RCC3024L[Q] RCC3024R[ ] 500 whirlpool Gold GJC3034R[P] 700 Frigidaire FEC30S6A[S] 580

85 83 82 81 79 78

&M &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N

1 1 2 1 1 2

2 1 0 1 2 0

• • • •

FPCC3085K[S] ⁄ ■ d Kenmore Elite 4283[0] ■ d GE Profile PHP900DM[BB] ■ d Kenmore Elite 4280[0] ⁄Has radiant and induction elements.

InDuCTIOn COOKTOPS

■ c Frigidaire Professional

1,100 1,850 1,700 1,700

94 93 92 91

1 3 2 3

3 1 2 1

0 0 0 0

• • • •

W K Fr Kitc J

See report, page 69 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

Wh Ke Kitc

guide to the Ratings
overall score reflects cooktop performance at high and low heat, as well as safety issues such as surface temperature . The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points . High heat reflects how quickly the highest-powered element heated water to near-boiling . low heat reflects how well the lowest-powered element melted and held chocolate without scorching and how the most powerful element, set to low, held tomato sauce below a boil . Price is approximate retail .

The

J

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cooktops

207

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation

Price

Overall score

Test results High heat Low heat

Features High-power burners Medium-power burners Low-power burners Stainless steel Glass ceramic Porcelain enamel Continuous grates 2 1 3 2 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 2 0 1 2

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

36-InCh GAS COOKTOPS

■ c ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Kenmore Elite 3249[9] GE Profile JGP975WEK[WW] GE Monogram ZGU385NSM[SS] lG LCG3691[ST] GE JGP637WEJ[WW] Most & least Reliable

$1,250 1,250 1,400 1,350 800

83 80 79 75 66

&M &C &C &M &C

&N &N &N &M &M

• • • • • • • • •

electric cooktops Fewer repairs GE Whirlpool Kenmore Frigidaire KitchenAid Jenn-Air 0% 4 5 5 6 8 10 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs

gas cooktops Fewer repairs Whirlpool Kenmore KitchenAid GE Thermador Wolf Jenn-Air Viking Dacor 0% 4 5 6 7 9 9 11 18 18 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs

Dacor and Viking were the most repairprone brands of gas cooktops, and Jenn-Air has been among the more repair-prone brands of both gas and electric cooktops . That’s what we found when we questioned more than 20,000 readers who bought a cooktop between 2005 and 2009 . The graph shows the percentage of models from each brand that needed a repair or had a serious problem . Differences of fewer than 4 points aren’t meaningful, and we’ve adjusted the data to eliminate differences linked solely to the age of the cooktop . These findings might not apply to electric cooktops that feature induction elements, and we lack sufficient data to comment on their reliability . Models within a brand might vary, and design or manufacture changes could affect future reliability . Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model .
Source: Annual Product Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports National Research Center.

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coRdless dRills & Kits
We found capable drills for $100—and good kits starting at $160. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Speed Power Run time Charge time Handling Noise at ear Features Battery type NiMH NiCd Li NiCd NiCd NiCd NiMH Li NiCd NiMH NiCd NiCd Weight (lb.) Volts 15.6 18 18 19.2 12 18 18 18 18 18 14.4 19.2 Battery recharge time (in minutes) Speed ranges 50 60 60 60 30 60 30 45 60 60 60 60 2 2 2 2 2 3 2 2 2 2 3 2
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0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

GEnErAl uSE DrIll/DrIvErS

■ d ■ c ■ d ■ c ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ d ■ c ■ c ■ c ■ c

Panasonic EY6432GQKW $200 80 Porter-Cable PC180DK-2 100 70 ryobi P815 160 69 Craftsman 11588 120 66 hitachi DS12DVF3 80 55

&N &N &M &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N

&C &M &C &M &V &N &M &M &N &M &M &M

&N &C &C &C &V &N &N &M &M &N &M &C

&M &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M

&M &C &M &C &M &C &C &M &C &C &C &C

&C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C

4.8 5.1 3.9 5.3 3.4 6.1 6 4.9 5.9 5.4 5.7 5.5

TOuGhEr jOB DrIll/DrIvErS
Dewalt DCD 940KX hitachi DS18DMR Makita LXT BDF451 Bosch 33618-2G Makita 6347DWDE Dewalt DCD 920KX Craftsman 11543 280 200 280 200 200 200 130
85 85 82 80 79 75 66

See report, page 80 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

guide to the Ratings
overall score for drills is for speed, power, run and charge times, handling, and noise at ear level . Displayed scores for all tools are rounded; models listed by precise overall score . speed is for drilling holes and driving screws . Power (torque) is twisting force . Run time is work per battery charge . charge time is to recharge fully discharged battery . Handling is weight, balance, and effort to position head . noise is at ear level . overall score for kits is total for drill and saws . Price is approximate retail with batteries and charger .

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countertops

209

ratinGs

counteRtoPs
All countertops look good in the showroom, but keeping them pristine requires durable materials or high maintenance. We stained, scratched, sliced, scorched, and pummeled leading brands of 11 materials and found long-lasting, attractive countertops no matter how much—or little—you want to spend.
Material Price per sq. ft. Overall score Test results Abrasion Cutting Impact Stains
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

quartz (engineered stone) Granite Tile (ceramic and porcelain) laminate Solid surfacing Paper composite * Concrete (penetrating sealer) Stainless steel Concrete (topical sealer) limestone Butcher block (oil finish) Butcher block (varnished) Marble
See report, page 63 .

$ 50-$100 45-200 10-30 10-30 35-100 50-100 80-120 100-150 80-120 60-100 30-65 30-65 50-140

87 86 76 67 53 49 48 45 37 34 34 32 19

* Only Richlite’s product was tested. Results for other brands might vary.

&M &M &C &N &M &M &V &M &N &V &V &N &C

Heat

&N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &V &N &M &B &V

&N &N &N &V &V &V &C &B &B &B &B &B &B

&N &N &M &C &V &V &V &V &C &V &V &B &B

&V &V &C &M &M &M &B &B &B &B &B &B &B

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

guide to the Ratings
overall score summarizes performance in all tests . stains shows resistance to 20 common foods and household products . Heat gauges how well materials resisted damage and discoloration from a pot filled with oil heated to 400° F . cutting reflects resistance to damage from weighted chef’s and serrated knives used in slicing and chopping motions . abrasion is resistance to damage from a weighted sanding block . impact reflects ability to withstand blunt and pointed weights dropped from up to 3½ feet . Price is the usual range per square foot, including installation .

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decK stains
Wood usually changes color quickly unless you apply a finish; top finishes from our tests are listed below. Consider opaque stains for durability, semitransparent stains for pressure-treated lumber, and clear stains to show off natural wood grains.
Recommendation After 3 yr. After 6 yr. After 9 yr. Cracking Color change Dirt Mildew Claimed VOCs Per gallon
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

Product All products clean up with water unless footnoted.

Type Price Overall score Appearance resists

FullY TESTED Completed the equivalent of up to 9 years’ exposure (3 years’ for decks). ■ d Behr Deck Plus Solid Color Deck, Solid $26 67 &M &M &M • • • • 250

■ d Sears Weatherbeater Solid Deck,

Fence & Siding Wood Stain (200 line)

See report, page 91 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

Fence & Siding Stain woodsman Solid Deck Stain Olympic Maximum Deck, Fence & Siding Semi-Transparent Stain Sherwin-williams Woodscapes Semi-Transparent Stain wolman DuraStain Semi-Transparent Stain Olympic Maximum Waterproofing Sealant

Solid Solid Semi Semi Semi Clear

21 51 24 13 33 12 36 11 22 11 30 11

&M &C &C • &V &V &B &B &B

90

• •

• •

250 233 79 250 230

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d ec k sta i n s

211

ratinGs

Recommendation

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

STIll BEInG TESTED Completed the equivalent of 3 to 6 years’ exposure (decks, 1 to 2 years’).
Sherwin-williams Woodscapes Solid Stain Behr Premium Solid Color Deck, Fence & Siding Weatherproofing Wood Stain wolman DuraStain Solid Stain Olympic Maximum Deck, Fence & Siding Solid Stain Sikkens Rubbol Siding Finish ⁄ Cabot Pro VT Solid Color Acrylic Stain ⁄ ■ Semi-Transparent Stain € d Sikkens Cetol SRD ⁄Recommended only for siding and fences. Solid $36 Solid Solid Solid Solid Solid Semi 33 27 33 36 32 40

€Clean up with mineral spirits.

guide to the Ratings
overall score is a weighted average of each year’s appearance for up to 3 years of testing . appearance after 3 years summarizes performance after 1 year of our accelerated weathering (i .e . equivalent to 1 year on a deck or 3 years on a vertical surface) . Testing stops when appearance falls to Fair or Poor at which time the product must be reapplied . appearance after 6 years summarizes performance after 2 years of our accelerated weathering (i .e ., equivalent to 2 years on a deck or 6 years on a vertical surface) . Testing stops when appearance falls to Fair or Poor, at which time the product must be reapplied . appearance after 9 years summarizes performance after 3 years of our accelerated weathering (i .e ., equivalent to 3 years on a deck or 9 years on a vertical surface) . Testing stops after 3 years, whether or not the product appearance falls to Fair or Poor . Products that at this point still rate at least Good for appearance are considered superior products . Price is approximate retail .

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After 3 yr. After 6 yr. After 9 yr. Cracking Color change Dirt Mildew Claimed VOCs

Per gallon

Product All products clean up with water unless footnoted.

Type Price Overall score Appearance resists

&M &C &M &M &M &C &C &C

• • • • • • • •

136 100 100 166 200 100 250

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

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digital caMeRas, Point & shoot
The Ratings list models by overall performance. Recommended models usually stand out for their combination of price and performance. All models offer Good or Very Good overall performance and image quality.
Brand & model Price Recommendation Overall score Test results Features Optical zoom Manual controls Touch screen

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

COMPACT MODElS

■ d

Canon PowerShot SX210 IS Sony Cybershot DSC-H55 Fujifilm FinePix F80EXR Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 nikon Coolpix S8000 Canon PowerShot SD4000 IS ELPH Canon PowerShot SD940 IS ELPH Casio Exilim EX-Z2000 Canon PowerShot SD1400 IS ELPH nikon Coolpix L21 Sony Cybershot DSC-HX5V Sony Cybershot DSC-TX7 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP1

$330 60 230 58 230 57 300 57

SuBCOMPACT MODElS

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ d ■ d

300 65 350 64 200 63 190 61 230 61 100 61 330 60 350 59 140 59

Image quality Regular photos Low-light photos Flash photos Video quality Response time Handling shake Controls Versatility LCD quality Megapixels Weight (oz.) Widest angle (mm) Battery life (shots)

&C &M &C &C &M &M &M &C &M &C 14 8 28 260 14 • &C &C &C &M &C &C &M &M &M &C 14 7 25 310 10 • &M &C &M &C &V &M &N &M &M &C 12 7 27 230 10 • &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &C 12 7 25 340 12 • &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &C &M &C 14 6 30 210 10 &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &M &M 12 5 28 220 4 &M &C &M &M &C &M &M &C &M &C 14 5 26 580 5 &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &C 14 5 28 230 4 &C &C &C &C &M &M &C &C &M &C 10 5 25 230 4

&M &M &C &M &M &C &M &C &M &M 10 6 28 250 3.8 •

&M &M &M &N &V &M &V &C &M &C 8 6 41 280 3.5 &M &C &M &C &C &M &M &C &M &V 12 5 35 300 4

&M &M &C &M &M &M &M &C &M &V 10 7 25 310 10 • •

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Brand & model Price Recommendation

Overall score

Test results

Features Optical zoom Manual controls Touch screen

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

SuBCOMPACT MODElS continued

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

■ c

■ c

Canon PowerShot A3100 IS nikon Coolpix S1000pj Pentax Optio W90 Canon PowerShot A3000 IS nikon Coolpix S70 Pentax Optio I-10 Olympus Stylus 5010 Olympus Stylus 7040 Canon PowerShot A490 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W350 nikon Coolpix S3000 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH20 Canon PowerShot A495 nikon Coolpix S6000 Casio Exilim EX-G1 Kodak EasyShare M580 Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP3 Fujifilm FinePix Z700EXR

$180 58 300 58 320 58 150 57 300 57 230 57 200 56 240 55 100
55

Image quality Regular photos Low-light photos Flash photos Video quality Response time Handling shake Controls Versatility LCD quality Megapixels Weight (oz.) Widest angle (mm) Battery life (shots)

&C &C &C &M &C &M &M &C &M &C 12 6 35 240 4 &M &C &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &C 12 6 28 220 5 &C &C &M &M &C &M &V &C &M &C 12 6 28 205 5 &M &M &C &M &C &C &C &C &M &C 12 6 28 200 5 &C &C &C &M &C &C &C &C &M &C 10 6 35 230 4 &C &C &M &C &C &M &V &C &M &C 12 6 28 250 5 &C &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &C 14 5 26 NA 5 &M &C &M &M &C &C &N &C &C &C 14 5 28 NA 7 &C &C &C &C &M &M &V &C &M &V 10 7 37 150 3.3 &C &C &C &M &C &M &C &C &M &C 14 4 26 120 4 &C &M &C &M &C &C &B &C &C &V 12 4 27 220 4 &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C 14 6 28 300 8 &M &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &C 14 6 28 210 7 &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &M &V 12 5 38 300 3 •

180 55 140 55 170 55 110 55 230 54 230 54 180 54 190 53 220 52

&C &C &C &C &M &C &V &C &M &V 10 7 37 150 3.3 &M &M &M &M &C &V &M &C &C &V 14 6 28 200 8 &C &C &C &C &V &C &V &C &C &C 12 6 35 170 5

&M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &M &C 14 5 35 300 4

• •

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Brand & model Price Recommendation

Overall score

Test results

Features Optical zoom Manual controls Touch screen

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

SuBCOMPACT MODElS continued
Casio Exilim EX-FC150 Olympus Stylus Tough 6020 Sony Cybershot DSC-TX5 Casio Exilim EX-Z550 nikon Coolpix L22 Samsung CL80 Olympus Stylus Tough-3000 Fujifilm FinePix XP10 nikon Coolpix S4000 Kodak EasyShare C142 Olympus Stylus Tough-8010 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W310 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W370 GE E1486TW Olympus FE-47 Pentax Optio H90 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S2100 Kodak SLICE R502 $300 51 300 51 350 50 130 50 120 50 400 49 220 49 220 48 200 48 80 48 400 48 130 48 220 48 150 47 110 47 180 47 110 46 300 46

Image quality Regular photos Low-light photos Flash photos Video quality Response time Handling shake Controls Versatility LCD quality Megapixels Weight (oz.) Widest angle (mm) Battery life (shots)

&M &C &M &C &M &C &V &C &M &C 10 6 37 300 5 • &M &M &V &M &C &B &M &C &C &C 14 6 28 NA 5 &C &C &M &C &M &M &C &C &M &C 10 5 25 250 4 &C &C &M &C &C &C &M &C &M &C 14 5 26 250 4 &C &C &M &M &C &M &C &C &M &C 14 7 31 NA 7 &C &C &C &C &C &V &V &C &C &V 12 5 36 165 5 &C &M &M &M &C &C &V &C &M &C 12 7 37 240 3.6 &M &C &C &M &C &B &C &C &M &V 12 6 28 NA 3.6 &C &M &M &M &C &C &V &C &C &C 12 5 27 190 4 &C &C &M &C &V &V &V &C &C &V 10 6 34 200 3 &C &C &V &M &C &V &C &C &M &C 14 8 28 NA 5 •

&C &C &C &V &V &C &M &C &C &V 12 5 28 220 4 &M &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &M &C 14 6 34 230 7 &C &C &M &M &C &V &V &C &C &V 14 7 36 NA 5 &C &C &M &C &C &M &V &C &C &C 12 5 28 210 5 &C &C &C &M &C &V &C &V &M &V 14 6 35 200 5 &C &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &C 14 5 28 160 8 &C &V &C &C &V &C &V &C &C &V 12 7 35 170 3 •

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Brand & model Price Recommendation

Overall score

Test results

Features Optical zoom Manual controls Touch screen

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

SuBCOMPACT MODElS continued
Kodak EasyShare M530 Kodak EasyShare M575 Fujifilm FinePix JX250 Fujifilm FinePix JZ500 Fujifilm FinePix Z70 GE J1250 Pentax Optio E90 Olympus T100 Olympus FE-4020 GE Create 21 (Jason Wu) $120 46 160 46 140 45 200 45 130 44 130 43 100 43 90 42 140 41 180 41

SuPErzOOM MODElS

■ d ■ d ■ c

See report, page 34 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

nikon Coolpix P100 nikon Coolpix L110 Olympus SP-600UZ Olympus SP-800UZ Fujifilm FinePix S2500HD Samsung HZ35W

400 68 260 65 200 61 350 60 250 56 350 52

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Image quality Regular photos Low-light photos Flash photos Video quality Response time Handling shake Controls Versatility LCD quality Megapixels Weight (oz.) Widest angle (mm) Battery life (shots)

&C &M &V &C &C &C &M &C &C &V 12 5 36 200 3 &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &C &M &V 14 5 28 220 5 &C &C &M &C &C &C &V &C &C &V 14 5 28 180 5 &C &C &M &C &C &C &V &C &C &V 12 5 36 165 5 &C &C &M &C &V &C &V &C &M &V 12 5 35 190 5 &C &C &M &V &C &C &C &C &C &V 14 6 28 230 10 &C &C &C &C &V &C &V &C &C &V 10 6 32 220 3 &C &C &M &M &C &V &V &C &C &V 12 4 36 NA 3 &C &C &C &C &C &V &C &C &V &V 12 5 NA NA 3 &C &C &M &C &V &V &V &C &C &C 14 4 26 NA 4 &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M 10 18 26 250 26.1 • &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &C 12 18 28 270 15 &M &C &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &C 12 17 28 NA 15 &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &C 14 16 28 NA 30

&C &C &C &M &C &C &C &C &M &C 12 17 28 300 18 • &M &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &C 12 8 24 NA 15 •

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guide to the Ratings
overall score is based mainly on image quality, ease of use, versatility, LCD-panel quality, and flash and video quality . image quality combines several tests, including regular photos, lowlight photos, and flash photos as well as color tests, among others . Regular photos reflects the quality of a series of handheld shots, using natural light and flash, taken indoors and outdoors under a range of light conditions . low-light photos tests the quality of shots taken in low-light conditions . Flash photos tests the quality of the built-in flash’s light output and evenness of illumination . Video quality mostly reflects footage shot in regular and low light, with audio quality and macro (close-up) capability also considered . Response time is an overall speed judgment, including start-up time and the shutter delay for the first and later shots . Handling shake reflects how well blur, distortion, and color defects are avoided with handheld shots . controls is a general assessment of basic operation . Versatility assesses controls, features, menus, and settings . lcd quality is a judgment of images viewed under a number of lighting conditions . Price is approximate retail .

Most & least Reliable
point & shoot Fewer repairs Panasonic Sony Olympus Pentax Canon Fuji Kodak Nikon Samsung Casio 0% slr Fewer repairs Sony Olympus Canon Nikon 0% 3 4 5 5 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs 3 4 4 4 4 5 5 5 6 7 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs Most cameras are very reliable, and few differences exist among brands . That’s what we found when we asked almost 203,000 readers who bought a digital camera between 2005 and 2009 about their experiences . The graphs show the percentage of models for each brand that were repaired or had a serious problem . Differences of fewer than 3 points aren’t meaningful, and we’ve adjusted the data to eliminate differences linked solely to the age of the digital camera . Although we lacked sufficient historical data to include Pentax SLRs in the chart, they do not appear to warrant reliability concerns, according to our analysis . Models within a brand can vary, and design or manufacture changes might affect future reliability . Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model .
Source: Annual Product Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports National Research Center.

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digital caMeRas, slR
Most models were fine overall performers. Image-quality scores aren’t comparable with those of point-and-shoots because the two types are factored differently.
Brand & model Price Recommendation Overall score Test results Features LCD size (in.) Max. continuous speed (fps) Image stabilizer 8 L 7 B B B L 4 3 Weight (oz.)

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

Slr

■ Digital d Canon EOS 7D $1,900 ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ c ■ c

73

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

Canon EOS 900 71 Rebel T2i Canon EOS 700 70 Rebel T1i nikon D300s 2,100 69 Pentax K-7 1,100 68 nikon D5000 700 67 Sony 500 64 DSLR-A330 Sony 850 64 DSLR-A550 Pentax K-x 500 63 Sony 550 63 DSLR-A380 Sony 650 63 DSLR-A500 Olympus E-620 700 60 nikon D3000 500 60

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 217

Image quality Regular photos Low-light photos Flash photos Video quality Response time Handling shake Controls Versatility LCD quality Megapixels

&M &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M 17.9 50.3 3

&M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M 17.9 27.7 3 3.7 L &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &C 15.1 27.7 3 3.4 L

&M &M &M &C &M &N &M &M &M &C 12.2 52.2 3 7 L &M &C &N &M &C &N &N &M &M &M 14.5 36.4 3 5.2 B &M &M &N &C &M &M &M &M &M &C 12.2 32.6 3 4 L &M &M &N &M NA &N &N &N &M &C 10 28.1 2.7 2.5 B &C &M &N &M NA &N &M &N &M &C 14 33.2 3 &M &M &M &M &C &M &N &M &M &C 12.2 31.4 2.7 4.7 B &C &M &N &M NA &N &C &N &M &C 12.2 33.2 2.7 5 &M &M &M &M NA &C &M &M &M &C 12.2 27.7 2.7 &C &C &M &M NA &M &C &M &M &C 10 30 3

&M &M &N &N NA &N &C &N &M &C 14 28 3 2.5 B

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Brand & model Price Recommendation

Overall score

Test results

Features LCD size (in.) Max. continuous speed (fps) Image stabilizer 3 3 B B 3 3 B L 3 40 B
9/17/10 1:10:20 PM

Image quality Regular photos Low-light photos Flash photos Video quality Response time Handling shake Controls Versatility LCD quality Megapixels

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

Slr-lIKE
Panasonic Lumix DMC$1,180 71 GH1K Panasonic 730 67 ■ d Lumix DMCGF1K ricoh GXR 600 63 Olympus PEN 1,100 60 E-P2 Samsung NX10 600 60

&M &C &C &M &M &N &N &M &N &M 12 32.8 3

&M &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &C 12 20.2 3 &M &M &M NA &M &C &M &M &M &C 12.2 21.4 3 &C &C &M &M &C &M &B &M &M &C 14 22.7 3 &C &C &M &M &M &C &N &M &M &C 10 8

&M &M &M &N &M &M &C &C &M &C 10 14.7 3 1.6 B

ADvAnCED POInT-AnD-ShOOTS ■ d Canon Power500 65
Shot G11 Casio Exilim EX-FH100 350 57

&M &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &M 10 14.9 2.8 1.1 L

See report, page 34 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

guide to the Ratings
overall score combines several tests, including regular photos, low-light photos, and flash photos as well as resolution, macro, veiling glare, vignetting, color and geometric distortion tests, among others . image quality combines several tests, including regular photos, low-light photos, and flash photos as well as resolution, macro, veiling glare, vignetting, color and geometric distortion tests, among others . Regular photos reflects the quality of a series of handheld shots, using natural light and flash, taken indoors and outdoors under a range of light conditions . low-light photos tests the quality of shots taken in low-light conditions . Flash photos tests the quality of the built-in flash’s light output and evenness of illumination . Video quality mostly reflects footage shot in regular and low light, with audio quality and macro (close-up) capability also considered . Response time is an overall speed judgment, including start-up time and the shutter delay for the first and later shots . Handling shake reflects how well blur, distortion, and color defects are avoided with handheld shots . controls is a general assessment of basic operation . Versatility assesses controls, features, menus, and settings . lcd quality is a judgment of images viewed under a number of lighting conditions . Price is approximate retail .

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 218

Weight (oz.)

d i g i ta l p h oto f r a m e s

219

ratinGs

digital PHoto FRaMes
Picture quality is by far the most important feature to consider when you’re buying a digital frame. You might also want to look for a frame with built-in Wi-Fi to make it easier to grab photos from your computer or an online photo-sharing service. Extra memory is also a plus. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Features Picture quality Viewing angle Versatility Ease of use Viewable display size (in.) External memory formats Display resolution Internal memory (MB) Audio playback Video playback Aspect ratio

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

6- TO 8-InCh DISPlAY

■ d Digital Spectrum
Memory Frame MF-801

$ 80 72 150 71 70 70 160 64

800x SD, MMC, &M &V &N &N 8.5 600 MS, xD, USB 512 4:03 • •

■ d Ipevo Kaleido R7 ■ d Pandigital
PAN7000DW

&M &V &M &M 7

■ d Sony DPP-F700 ■ d 100
hP DreamScreen

800x 480 800x &M &V &M &N 6.9 600 800x & C &V &M &N 6.9 480

SD, MMC, 512 16:09 MS, USB SD, MMC, 1024 4:03 • • MS, xD, USB SD, MMC, 1000 16:10 MS, CF, xD SD, MMC,

9-InCh-Or-lArGEr DISPlAY
200 71

800x &M &C &N &M 10.2 480 MS, lCF, xD, 2000 15:09 • • MD, USB

See report, page 39 .

guide to the Ratings
overall score is in performance order, based on picture quality, viewing angle, and versatility . Picture quality includes image clarity, color accuracy, and contrast, based mainly on the judgments of a panel that viewed photographs on each device, as well as lab measurements . Viewing angle indicates the quality of images when viewed from 45 degrees of the center line both horizontally and vertically . This is important if you are standing above the frame and looking down, sitting at an angle to the frame, or sitting with the frame positioned above you . Versatility includes the presence of hardware and menu-based navigation features; the number of memory-card and USB slots; built-in memory; brightness, color, and contrast controls; wireless remote control; portrait and landscape stands; removable picture frames and any extra frames included; audio and video playback; audio and video connections; computer-to-device image transfer speeds; number and duration of slideshow timings; the ability to delete images; image quantity; size and format limitations; and handling of non-compatible image formats . ease of use includes characteristics that aid in the usability of the frame . Price is approximate retail .

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disHWasHeRs
Most of the dishwashers we tested rated at least a Very Good washing job even as federal efficiency standards have become stricter. One downside of using less water is that dishwasher cycles are longer, with some models requiring 3 hours for a normal cycle.
Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score

Test results Washing Energy use Noise Ease of use Cycle time (min.)

Features Adjustable top rack Self-cleaning filter Cycle-time display Ample flatware slots Stainless-steel tub

0

COnvEnTIOnAl DIShwAShErS All are Energy Star-qualified. &N &N &M &M 120 • ■ d Bosch SHE55M1[2]UC SHE55P0[ ]UC $ 850 82 KitchenAid KUDE70CV[SS] ⁄ 1,300 81 &N &N &N &M 140 • KUDE70FV 1,000 81 lG Steam LDF7932[ST] ⁄ &N &M &M &N 130 • 650 80 &N &M &C &M 125 • ■ Kenmore 1374[2] ⁄ 1384[ ] c 1,280 79 Kenmore Pro HE1317[3] ⁄ &N &N &N &M 145 • &N &M &M &M 115 • ■ d KitchenAid KUDS40CV[WH] KUDS40FV 990 79 700 79 lG LDF6920[WW] ⁄€ &N &M &M &M 125 •
SHX45L0[ ]UC, SHV43P1[ ]UC

100 P | F | G | VG | E

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Bosch SHX45P0[5]UC ⁄ SHX45L1[ ]UC, KitchenAid KUDE60FV[WH] Kenmore 1389[2] whirlpool Gold GU2300XTV[Q] Kenmore 1348[2]

900 1,340 500 550 500 1,300 700 675 800 800 1,300 700

79 78 78 78 77 77 77 77 77 77 77 77

Asko D5253XXL ⁄ whirlpool Gold GU2800XTV[Q] ■ c KitchenAid KUDS30IV[WH] whirlpool Gold GU3600XTV[Q] ■ d Bosch SHX43P1[2]UC ⁄ SHE43P1[ ]UC,

■ d GE Profile PDWT500R[WW] ⁄
PDWT580R[ ], PDWT502R[ ]

&N &N &M &M 115 • &N &N &M &M 135 • &N &M &C &M 135 &N &M &C &M 135 • &N &M &C &C 120 &N &M &M &M 180 • &N &N &C &M 155 • &N &M &C &M 120 • &M &N &M &M 145 • &N &N &C &M 115 •

• •

SHV43P1[ ]UC, SHE43F1[ ]UC, SHE43P0[ ]UC

Bosch SHX6AP0[2]UC

&N &M &M &N 110 • • • • • • • • &N &N &M &M 110 •

• •

• •

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ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score

Test results Washing Energy use Noise Ease of use Cycle time (min.)

Features Adjustable top rack Self-cleaning filter Cycle-time display Ample flatware slots Stainless-steel tub

0

■ SHE65P0[ ]UC, SHV65P0[ ]UC d Bosch SHX65PO[5]UC ⁄
SHX4AP0[ ]UC

Miele Inspira G2142SC[WH] ⁄ $1,150 KitchenAid KUDE50CV[SS] ⁄ 1,200 whirlpool DU1055XTV[Q] € 400 Bosch SHE6APO[2]UC ⁄ SHE6AF0[ ]UC, SHE5AL0[ ]UC, SHX5AL0[ ]UC, SHE4AP0[ ]UC, 600

100 P | F | G | VG | E

COnvEnTIOnAl DIShwAShErS continued
76 76 76 75 75 75 72 71 70 70 69 69 68 68 66 65 64 62 61 60 58 56 53 53

&N &N &M &C 145 • &N &N &M &M 125 • • &N &M &C &C 125 &N &M &C &M 135 • &M &M &M &M 120 • &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &V &M &V &C &V &C &N &C &M &C &C &C &M
120 • 140 • 120 • • 155 120

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Maytag MDB7609AW[W] € whirlpool DU1300XTV[Q] € ■ d Maytag MDB8959AW[W] ⁄ Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2431K[W] ⁄€ GE GDWF100R[WW] ⁄€

1,150 450 420 750 350 600

Maytag MDB4709AW[W] ⁄€ 400 Dacor Epicure ED24[S] ⁄ 1,550 whirlpool DU1030XTX[Q] ⁄€ 350 Frigidaire Gallery FGBD2432K[W] ⁄ 380 BBBD2432K[ ], LGBD2432K[ ], DGBD2432K[ ]
GDWF160R[ ], GDWT200R[ ], GDWT260R[ ]

• •

Frigidaire Gallery FGHD2433K[F] ⁄
BGHD2433K[ ], FGHD2461K[ ], FGHD2471K[ ]

Electrolux Wave-Touch 1,200 EWDW6505G[W] ⁄ jenn-Air JDB3200AW[W] ⁄ 1,100 GE GLD7400R[WW] ⁄ GLD7460RSS 600 Amana ADB1600AW[W] ⁄€ 350 Kenmore 1344[2] ⁄ 300 Kenmore 1324[2] ⁄€ 410 Asko D5233XXL[HS] ⁄ 1,500 hotpoint HDA3600R[WW] € 300 GE GLD4408R[WW] ⁄€ LD4458R[CS], GLD4468R[ ], GLD4406R[ ], GLD4456R[CS], 400
GLD4466R[SS], GLD4404R[ ], GLD4464R[ ]

500

&M &M &C &M 135 • • • •
145

125 • 110 • • 130 •

&M &N &M &M &C &M ‹ &M & C &N

&C &M &V &C 135

&M &M &C &V &V &C &M &B

&N &C &N &C &C &C &M &V

• •

135

• •

• •

125 • • 110 • • • • 130 • • 110 • • 125 • • 180 • • 115 •

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Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score

Test results Washing Energy use Noise Ease of use Cycle time (min.)

Features Adjustable top rack Self-cleaning filter Cycle-time display Ample flatware slots Stainless-steel tub

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

See report, page 66 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

KitchenAid KUDD03DT[WH] › 125 NA 1,480 55 • Maytag MDD8000AW[S] ⁄ › 145 NA 1,400 49 • Kenmore Elite 1334[2] ⁄ › 130 NA 1,300 38 • jenn-Air JDD4000AW[S] ⁄ 130 NA 1,600 32 • ⁄ Available in a stainless-look option. € Lacks adjustable tines. ‹ Wash performance was inconsistent, ranging from Fair to Very Good. › Does not qualify for Energy Star. Fisher & Paykel DD24DCT[W]6
DCS DD224-P5

DIShwAShEr DrAwErS All are Energy Star-qualified unless otherwise noted.
$1,000
78

&N &M &C &V &V

&M &C &C &V &C

&C &C &C &C &C

&M &C &C &C &C

120 NA

• •

Fish

guide to the Ratings
overall score, based mainly on washing performance, includes energy and water use, noise, cycle time, and ease of use . Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed in order of precise overall score . Washing is normal-cycle results with very dirty full load . energy use is energy and water consumption for a normal cycle . noise covers listener judgments and sound-level measurements . ease of use considers convenience factors and loading . cycle time (rounded to nearest 5 minutes) is for normal cycle with very dirty full load and includes temperatureboost option and, if available, heated dry . adjustable top rack increases loading flexibility . A self-cleaning filter is convenient but adds noise . As cycle times lengthen, cycle-time display is helpful . ample flatware slots means baskets provide individual slots for silverware . A stainless-steel tub won’t discolor but boosts price . Price is approximate retail . Ratings of previously tested models might differ from earlier reports because of changes to our scoring methodology . Under Brand & model, a bracketed letter or number is color code .

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dishwashers

223

ratinGs

Most & least Reliable
dishwashers Fewer repairs Hotpoint Whirlpool Kenmore Miele Bosch GE Amana Jenn-Air KitchenAid Frigidaire Maytag Asko Fisher & Paykel LG 0% 5% 8 8 9 9 10 11 11 12 12 13 13 14 18 23 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs LG and Fisher & Paykel were the most repair-prone brands of dishwashers . That’s what we found when we asked almost 114,000 readers who bought a dishwasher between 2005 and 2009 about their experiences . The table shows the percentage of models for each brand that were repaired or had a serious problem . Differences of less than 4 points aren’t meaningful, and we’ve adjusted the data to eliminate differences linked solely to dishwasher age and usage . Although we lacked sufficient data to distinguish between pull-out/drawertype and standard dishwashers, pull-out dishwashers appear to be as reliable as standard dishwashers . Models within a brand can vary, and design or manufacture changes might affect future reliability . Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model .
Source: Annual Product Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports National Research Center.

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dRyeRs
All dryers get the job done, but our Recommended models use a moisture sensor to do so with the least wear and tear on your clothes, especially delicate items. They also scored Very Good or better for drying, capacity, and convenience. Gas and electric dryers have performed comparably in our tests over the years.
Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model. Bracketed letters or numbers are color codes.
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

Price

Overall score Test results

Features

■ d

lG DLE2701[V] ⁄€ Gas: DLG2702[ ] GE Profile Harmony DPGT750EC[WW] lG DLEX2501[W] ⁄€ Gas: DLGX2502[ ] Samsung DV419AE[W] Gas: DV419AG[ ]
Gas: DPGT750GC[ ] 6809[ ] Gas: Oasis Steam 7808[ ], 7809[ ]

$1,100 84 950 1,050 1,200 950 1,200 1,100 1,300 700 1,150 1,100 680 1,300 1,200 950 700 510
83 83 82 81 81 81 80 80 80 79 79 79 79 79 78 78

Kenmore Oasis Steam 6808[2] ⁄ Oasis Steam
Duet Steam WGD9750W[ ] Gas: Duet WGD9450W[ ]

whirlpool Duet Steam WED9750W[W] Gas: whirlpool Duet WED9450W[W] Kenmore Elite 8219[2] €Gas: Elite 9219[ ] Samsung Steam DV448AE[W]

■ d lG DLE2050[W] €Gas: DLG2051[ ]
Gas: Steam DV448AG[ ] Gas: 5000 Series Steam MGDE500V[ ]

■ d

Kenmore Elite Oasis 6703[2] ⁄ 6704[ ], 6705[ ] Maytag 5000 Series Steam MEDE500V[W] lG SteamDryer DLEX3001[W] €
Gas: 7703[ ], 7704[ ], 7705[ ] Gas: SteamDryer DLGX3002[ ]

Maytag 9000 Series MEDE900V[W]
Gas: 9000 Series MGDE900V[ ]

lG DLE5955[W] Gas: DLG5966[ ]

■ d lG DLE2516[W] Gas: DLG2526[ ] ■ c
Gas: 800 Series 7982[ ], 7983[ ] Vision 800 Series WTVC853[0]UC

Kenmore 800 Series 6982[2] 800 Series 6983[ ] Bosch Vision 800 Series WTVC833[0]US Gas:

1,200 77

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Drying Capacity Convenience Noise Stackable Custom programming Steam option

&N &N &N &N

&M &N &M &N

&N &N &N &N

&M &M &M &M

&N • • • &N &N • • • &N • • •

&N &N &M &M • &N &M &M &M •

• •

&N &N &M &N • • • &N &M &M &N • • &M &N &M &N • • • &M &M &M &N • &N &M &M &M

&M &N &M &N • • •

• &N &N &M &C • &M &N &M &N • • &N &M &M &N • •
&M &N &M &M &N &M &M &M •

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dryers

225

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model. Bracketed letters or numbers are color codes.

Price

Overall score Test results

Features

■ d Kenmore 8002[1] € Gas: 9002[ ] ■ c ■ d
GE Profile DPSE810EG[WT] ⁄
Gas: Profile DPVH890GJ[ ] Gas: DPSE810GG[ ]

0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

$ 650 77 1,200 600 830 850 700 750 930 900 600 1,100 900 1,500 750 740 700 1,300 600 480 420 770 650 1,000
77 77 77 77 77 77 76 76 72 71 70 70 69 69 68 66 65 62 61 59 58 56

GE Profile DPVH890EJ[WW]

Cabrio Steam WGD6600V[ ] Gas: Duet WGD9250W[ ]

whirlpool Cabrio Steam WED6600V[W] Gas: whirlpool Duet WED9250W[W] GE DCVH680EJ[WW] Gas: DCVH680GJ[ ] Maytag Bravos MED6400T[Q] ⁄

Gas: MGD6400T[ ]

■ d

Bosch Vision 500 Series WTVC533[0]US Gas: Maytag Bravos MEDB850W[Q]
Gas: Bravos MGDB850W[ ] Vision 500 Series WTVC553[0]UC

Amana NED7200T[W] Gas: NGD7200T[ ] Electrolux IQ EIED55H[IW] Gas: IQ EIGD55H[ ] Maytag Bravos Steam MEDB800V[Q]
Gas: Bravos Steam MGDB800V[ ]

Kenmore 8027[2] €Gas: 9027[ ] Maytag Bravos MEDB200V[Q]
Gas: Perfect Steam EWMGD65H[ ] Gas: Bravos MGDB200V[ ] Gas: WGD6200S[ ]

Electrolux Perfect Steam EWMED65H[IW]

whirlpool Cabrio WED6200S[W] Miele Touchtronic T9800 Gas: T9820 Frigidaire Gallery GLEQ2152E[S] whirlpool WED5800S[W] Ï WED5700V[ ] Kenmore 6962[2] 6963[ ] Gas: 7962[ ], 7963[ ] Fisher & Paykel DE62TG1 DE62T27G

Gas: Gallery GLGQ2152E[ ] Gas: WGD5700V[ ]

Frigidaire Affinity AEQ6000E[S] LEQ6000E[ ] (Lowe’s), AEQB6000E[ ] (Best Buy) Gas: AGQ6000E[ ], LGQ6000E[ ] (Lowe’s), AGQB6000E[ ] (Best Buy)
Gas: Centennial MGDC500V[ ]

Gas: DG62TG1

Asko TL751XXL[W] Gas: TL751GXXL[ ] Maytag Centennial MEDC500V[W]

490 56

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 225

Drying Capacity Convenience Noise Stackable Custom programming Steam option

&N &M &M &M • &M &N &M &M • • • &N &M &M &C &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &M &C &M &M &N &M &C &M • &N &M &M &M •

&N &M &M &C • •

&M &N &M &M • • • &M &N &M &M • &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &V &M &C &M &M • &C &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &C &N &M &M &C &M &M &C

• &C &N • &V • • • • &M •

&C &C &M &M •

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Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model. Bracketed letters or numbers are color codes.

Price

Overall score Test results

Features

Gas: NBXR333GG[ ]

Fisher & Paykel DE60FA1 Gas: DG60FA1 GE DRSR483EG[WW] ⁄‹Gas: DRSR483GG[ ] Staber HXD2304E Gas: HXD2304G Amana NED4800V[Q] ‹ Gas: NGD4800V[ ] hotpoint NBXR333EG[WW] ‹

0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

See report, page 74 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

380 30 Kenmore 6952[2] ‹Gas: 7952[ ] &B &M &C &C 300 28 roper RED4440V[Q] ‹ Gas: RGD4440V[ ] &B &M &V &C Ï Discontinued, but similar model is still available; price is for similar model. ⁄Has a porcelain top. €Has a ductblockage indicator. ‹Lacks a moisture sensor. 370
30

$470 52 550 45 800 39 400 36

guide to the Ratings
overall score for dryers is based mainly on drying, capacity, convenience, and noise . Because of changes in our scoring scheme, some scores of previously tested models might have changed . drying performance is measured for multiple fabrics and load sizes . noise reflects panelists’ judgments . Price is approximate retail for electric dryers . Add $50 to $150 for gas .

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 226

Drying Capacity Convenience Noise Stackable Custom programming Steam option

&C &V &V &V

&B &C &V &M

&C &M &M &M

&C &M &C &M

&M &C &V &V

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dryers

227

ratinGs

Most & least Reliable
electric dryers Fewer repairs LG Bosch Whirlpool GE Frigidaire Kenmore Maytag Roper Amana Fisher & Paykel 0% gas dryers Fewer repairs LG Whirlpool GE Kenmore Maytag Frigidaire 0% 6 6 6 7 8 8 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs 4 5 5 6 6 6 6 7 9 12 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs Fisher & Paykel was the most repair-prone brand of electric dryers . That’s what we found when we asked more than 100,000 readers who bought a dryer between 2005 and 2009 about their experiences . The graphs show the percentage of brands that needed a repair or had a serious problem . Differences of fewer than 3 points aren’t meaningful, and we’ve adjusted the data to eliminate differences linked solely to age and use of the appliance . Models within a brand might vary, and design or manufacture changes might affect future reliability . Still, choosing a brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model .
Source: Annual Product Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports National Research Center.

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e-BooK ReadeRs
E-book readers judged best for readability will be the easiest on the eyes. Readers with the best scores in versatility will have more features. If you’re going to get books from multiple e-book stores and public libraries then look for readers with the highest file support Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Overall score Test results Readability Versatility Responsiveness Page turn Navigation File support Features Claimed battery life Viewable display size (in.) 3G carrier AT&T AT&T NA AT&T NA NA NA Wi-Fi Internal memory (GB) 4 0 2 2 1

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

8-InCh-Or-lArGEr DISPlAY

■ d Amazon Kindle DX $360
irex DR 800SG 400

65 49

&M &M &C &M &N &V 7-14 days NS &C &M &B &C &C &M &M &C &C &N &N &V 7-14 days &C &N &M &C &N &N 7-17 days &C &M &M &M &N &N &C &C &C &C &M &N &C &V &M &C &C &M &C &M &V &M &C &M 10 days
4,000 pages Up to 14 days

9.6 AT&T 8 Verizon

6- TO 7-InCh DISPlAY 190 ■ c Amazon Kindle
Sony Reader Daily Edition PRS900BC Sony Reader Touch Edition PRS600SC Barnes & noble Nook BeBook Neo 170

63

6 7.1 6.1 6 6.1

300 60
56

200 52 300 51

• 2 • 1

5-InCh-Or-SMAllEr DISPlAY
Sony Reader Pocket Edition PRS300RC Aluratek Libre eBook Reader Pro
See report, page 42 .

150 51 170
43

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

24 hrs. continuous/ 5.1 &C &V &B &N &C &N 30 days standby

Up to 14 days

5

1 0

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e-book readers

229

ratinGs

guide to the Ratings
overall score is in performance order, based on display readability, e-reader versatility, responsiveness, page turn, navigation, and support for file versatility . The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points . Readability is a measurement of how well the e-reader can be viewed in various lighting conditions . E-readers are tested in bright sunlight, a room replicating an average lit room, and a dimly lit room . Versatility mainly includes characteristics that aid in usefulness and convenience . Those include the presence of hardware and menu-based navigation features . Also considered are the number of memory-card slots, built-in memory, power and headphone jacks, touch screen, physical keyboard, Wi-Fi, and accelerometer, among other features . Responsiveness is a speed measurement of how quickly an e-reader can turn on from full off, resume from sleep, open an e-book, and transfer an e-book from a computer via USB . Page turn is mostly a performance measurement of how quickly an e-reader can turn to the next page of an e-book . It also takes into account the page-turning experience and such qualities as whether or not the screen blinks while page turning, if there are dedicated page forward and back buttons, placement of those buttons, and presence of a physical keyboard . navigation includes the ability of the e-reader to rotate to landscape and portrait mode, automatically and manually bookmark a page, search for an e-book, search through an online bookstore, and the presence of an accelerometer . File support is a Rating of typical e-book formats supported as well as other typical file formats you may want to read on an e-reader . The following formats are rated; EPUB, PDF, MOBI, Word documents, TXT, RTF, JPEG, and GIF . Viewable display size is the size of the display screen, measured diagonally to the nearest 10th of an inch . Price is approximate retail .

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consumer reports buying guide 2011

FlooRing
Top performers did best in our everyday abuse tests. For baths, we suggest vinyl or ceramic tile for its moisture resistance. Below are Select Ratings.
Product Recommendation All engineered-wood, plastic-laminate, and linoleum products can be floated unless otherwise indicated.
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

Price per Sq. ft. sq. ft. per box

Overall score

Test results Wear Scratches Dents Stains Sunlight (UV)

■ c

PrEFInIShED SOlID wOOD Usually nailed to a subfloor at grade or above; all are ¾-inch thick. $ 5.75 23 69 EcoTimber Woven Honey WBH061 ⁄ &M &N &M &N &C Bruce Dundee Plank CB1210 5.70 22 57 &N &C &B &M &B ■ d ■ lumber HUSR03N38VBellawood Natural 4.50 40 54 d Red Oak liquidators &M &M &B &N &C

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d
■ c

Teragren Synergy Strand with Xcora Java ⁄ home legend Hand Scraped Oak Gunstock Click-Lock (Home Depot) HL16 Mannington American Hardwoods American Oak Plank Armstrong Coastal Living L3051 White Wash Walnut Pergo Accolade Pergo American Cottage

EnGInEErED wOOD Can usually can be nailed or stapled anywhere in the house. Some can float.
6.00 4.00 5.90 23 21 36
65 64 57

&C &N &V &M &N &C &N &B &N &N &C &M &B &N &N &N &N &V &N &N &C &N &M &N &N &C &N &M &N &N

PlASTIC lAMInATE Can usually be floated anywhere in the house.
3.50 3.00 3.40 14 18 18
77 68 68

■ d

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flooring

231

ratinGs

Product Recommendation All engineered-wood, plastic-laminate, and linoleum products can be floated unless otherwise indicated.

Price per Sq. ft. sq. ft. per box

Overall score

Test results Wear Scratches Dents Stains Sunlight (UV)

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

vInYl Can usually be glued down anywhere in the house.

■ d
■ c

Congoleum DuraCeramic Sierra Slate SI-74 Golden Greige nafco PermaStone Natural Slate NS-660 Sand Stone Armstrong Marmorette Oak Brown LP066 € ⁄ Bamboo product. € Cannot be floated.

$6.50 3.90

17 27

86 72

&N &N &M &N &N &N &C &N &C &N &C &M &M &M &N

lInOlEuM Can usually be glued down or floated anywhere in the house.
4.50 85
69

■ d

See report, page 82 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

guide to the Ratings
overall score based mainly on resistance to wear, scratches, dents, stains, sunlight, moisture, and slips . Moisture resistance, not shown, based on damp sponge left overnight (minor spills) and soaked samples (long exposure) . Slip resistance, not shown, is friction listed by precise overall score . Wear is how quickly surface wear was noticeable during test using abrasion machine . scratches is ability to withstand damage from simulated dragged object . dents is resistance to blunt and pointed weights dropped from various heights . stains indicate how resistant the floor is to staining from various products such as coffee, bleach, grape juice, motor oil, tar, ink, etc . sunlight (uV) is exposure to high levels of ultraviolet light for more than 300 hours . Price per square foot is based mainly on price paid . square feet per box is as claimed .

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gas gRills
You’ll pay $300 to $500 for a grill that can handle most of your cooking needs. Spending more will get you more stainless-steel styling and additional convenience features, but not necessarily better performance. Several midsized models that cost less than $500 performed as well in our tests as others that cost much more. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

Price

Overall score

Test results Features Evenness Grilling Convenience Stainless-steel grates Coated cast-iron grates All or mostly stainless Long-warranty burners Side burner Infrared burner none none none none none none
9/17/10 1:10:22 PM

lArGE MODElS

■ d ■ c ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ c ■ c

jenn-Air 720-0709 Brinkmann 810-1575-W (Walmart) Char-Broil Commercial Quantum 463247310 [item #154596] (Lowe’s) Kenmore 16649 Bond GSC3218WA weber Genesis E320
Genesis E310

$800 380 500 700 600

80 73 72 71 69

&N &M &N • &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M • &M &M &M •

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Rotisserie, • searing burner • Rotisserie, side burner

• Main burners • Rotisserie, side burner •

MEDIuM-SIzED MODElS
700 86 Char-Broil Red 463250509 (Home Depot) 450 81
Red 463250510 (Home Depot)

• Main burners • • • •

Brinkmann 810-8410S (Home Depot)
810-8411-5 (Home Depot)

200 76 350
76

Kenmore 16641 Char-Broil Commercial Series 463268008 [Item #242266] (Lowe’s)
Commercial Series 463247010 [Item #242266] (Lowe's)

300 75 200
74

Grill Master 720-0697

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gas grills

233

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score

Test results Features Evenness Grilling Convenience Stainless-steel grates Coated cast-iron grates All or mostly stainless Long-warranty burners Side burner Infrared burner none Main burners none

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

MEDIuM-SIzED MODElS continued

■ c ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ d

uniflame GBC1059WB (Walmart) Kenmore 16657 Ducane Affinity 3400 30731301

$250 400 450

74 72 70

&M &M &M

&M &M &M • &M &M &M • &M &N &M &M &M &C

• •

none • • Main burners

POrTABlE Or SMAll MODElS
Char-Broil Red Patio 463250210 (Home Depot) 270 weber Q 200 396002 200
78 65

• •

See report, page 84 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

guide to the Ratings
overall score denotes performance, features, and convenience . Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed in order of precise overall score . We tested evenness at high and low settings . grilling is the ability to cook on low without burning . convenience includes construction and materials, shelves, rack space, flare-up, and ease of use . Price is approximate retail .

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gPs naVigatoRs
Portable GPS navigation systems differ most in ease of use and their features. For our Ratings, we factor heavily the qualities that make it easy to input destinations and give the most helpful directions. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

Price

Overall score

Test results

Features

nAvIGATOrS wITh TrAFFIC OPTIOnAl

■ d 1350

Garmin Nuvi

$170 70 100 67 120 66

■ TomTom One c 140 S ■ Garmin Nuvi d 1200 Nuvi 1250 ■ d 3760T ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ c
Garmin Nuvi TomTom Go 740 Live Go 740 TM Live Garmin Nuvi 1490T Nuvi 1490LMT Garmin Nuvi 765T Nuvi 755T Motorola Motonav TN765t Magellan Maestro 4350 TomTom XL 340 S Live

TrAFFIC-rEADY nAvIGATOrS
400 76 250 74 250 74 250 73 280 72 150 70 150 70

See report, page 44 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 234

Entering destination/POI Info for driver Routing options Use of controls Mount design Display Portability Routing time Traffic interface Tested battery life (hr.) Weight (oz.) Screen size (in.) Bluetooth hands-free calling Spoken street names

&N &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &M 2.8 5.7 4.4 &M &M &M &M &C &C &N &C &M 3 4.9 3.5 &M &C &C &M &M &M &N &M &M 3 4.7 3.5 &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &M 2 4.1 4.3 • &N &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &N 2 7.6 4.4 • &N &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M 2.5 8 5 &N &M &M &C &N &M &M &M &M 2 6.5 4.4 • • &M &M &C &N &M &N &M &N &C 1.8 6.2 5.1 • &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M 2.8 7.2 4.4 • &M &M &M &M &C &M &N &C &N 2.8 6.6 4.4

• • •

• • • • • • •

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g p s n av i g at o r s

235

ratinGs

guide to the Ratings
overall score mainly reflects how easy a navigation system is to use, combined with factors such as information given, portability, and routing options . The displayed score is out of a total of 100 points . entering destination/Poi is based on the logic and ease of programming an address or Point Of Interest into the system . Includes whether the database allows dynamic searching for addresses, if letters are grayed out, ease of entering into navigation menus upon startup, and ease of finding POI . info for driver reflects the onscreen and audible information given to the user during navigation . Includes type and font size of onscreen information, ability to speak proper street names, languages supported, and amount of audible information given including descriptions of the next maneuver . Routing options is based on the number of options for fine-tuning the route plotted by the system . Includes multidestination routing, avoidance of toll roads, biking routes, walking routes, and RV/truck use . Also includes availability of foreign map databases . use of controls is based on the design of the physical interface with the system . Includes size of onscreen icons, presence of hard keys, need to use a stylus instead of a fingertip, and ease of adjusting common functions like volume, brightness, and map zoom setting . Mount design considers how the mount is engineered, factoring size, security, and ease of installation . display is based on display size, brightness, contrast, and glare/reflections in bright sunlight . Considers ratio of screen size to overall device size for packaging efficiency . Portability reflects the size and weight of the unit, as well as the size of the mount and the ability to easily detach the mount for packing . Routing time is based on measurements of calculation time for plotting various trips with GPS reception active . Also includes system response time when operating data-entry menus, such as POI searching . traffic interface rates the presentation of the traffic information and the ability to put the data into use . Rating factors include antenna design, color coding for traffic severity, depth of information, estimated time for delay, and tools for rerouting around congestion . However, we do not rate the accuracy or timeliness of the traffic information itself . tested battery life (hr.) is the length of time in hours that the fully charged unit remained on, while set to full brightness . Price is approximate retail .

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gPs PHone aPPs
Smart-phone navigation applications are evolving rapidly, offering new features and improved guidance with each successive release. The best apps approximate the convenience seen with dedicated portable navigation devices, with simple menus, spoken street names, and reality view.
Brand & model Recommendation Price version File size Spoken Overall score street names Test results Entering destination/POI Use of controls Info for driver Routing options Traffic interface Integration

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

PrElOADED DATABASE

■ navigon MobileNavid gator North America $80 ■ Magellan RoadMate d 2010 North America ■ TomTom U.S. & d Canada ■ CoPilot Live North c America G-Map U.S. & Canada Sygic Mobile Maps North America iGO My Way 2009 Navigation for North America
AT&T Navigator 80 70 30 50 60 55

1.5.1 1.2 1.3 8.0.0.660 2.0 8.0.1 1.1

1.46 GB 1.36 GB 1.41 GB 1.33 GB 1.98 GB 1.83 GB 1.03 GB

• • • • • • •

64 63 62 62 58 56 52

&N &C &C &C 4 5

&N &M &M &V NA 3 &M &M &M &C 4 3 &M &C &M &M NA 1 &M &V &C &M 4 4 &M &C &M &C 3 3 &M &V &C &V NA 3 &M &C &C &V 3 4 &C &M &V &V NA 4 &C &C &C &V 3 3

SErvEr-BASED DATABASE

■ d Motionx-GPS Drive

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

70 25 Gokivo GPS Navigator 40

1.5i 3.5 4.4.3

2.3 MB 7.6 MB 2.7 MB


No

58 46 46

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 236

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gps phone apps

237

ratinGs

guide to the Ratings
overall score reflects ease of use and factors such as information given, portability, and routing options . Displayed score is out of a total 100 possible points . entering destination/Poi is based on the logic and ease of programming an address or Point Of Interest . Includes whether database allows dynamic searching for addresses, if letters are grayed out, ease of accessing navigation menus upon startup, and ease of finding points of interest . use of controls assesses size of onscreen icons, use of hard keys, and ease of adjusting common functions like volume, brightness, and map zoom setting . info for driver is based on the onscreen and audible information given to the user during navigation . Factors the type and font size of onscreen information, ability to speak proper street names, languages supported, and amount of audible information given, including descriptions of the next maneuver . Routing options reflects the number of options for fine-tuning the route plotted by the application . Includes multidestination routing, avoidance of toll roads, biking routes, walking routes, and RV/truck use . traffic interface rates the presentation of the traffic information and the ability to put the data to use . Rating factors include color-coding for traffic severity, depth of information, estimated time of delay, and tools for rerouting around congestion . We do not rate the accuracy or timeliness of the traffic information itself . integration is based on how well the application integrates with common iPod/iPhone functions, such as playing music, routing to contacts, and resuming after phone calls . Price is approximate retail .

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consumer reports buying guide 2011

gutteR guaRds
The best systems kept out debris while keeping in rainwater. But even the best proinstalled products let some water pour over during our simulated severe storms. Below are Select Ratings.
Brand & model Recommendation Price Type per ft. Overall score Test results Severe flow Ease of installation
9/17/10 1:10:22 PM

Buildup
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ c ■ d ■ c ■ d

hOMEOwnEr-InSTAllED These can also be installed by a contractor, and they cost much less. 89 8.95 Screen (fine mesh) Gutterglove Pro ⁄ &N &N &N &V 86 0.30 Screen Amerimax 85198 € &M &N &N &N 84 3.95 Screen Amerimax 85246 ⁄ &N &N &N &V 80 0.40 Screen Amerimax 854054 ⁄ &M &N &N &N 77 4.75 Screen raindrop € &M &N &N &V OPEn GuTTEr wIThOuT A GuArD (For comparison)
unprotected gutter NA Conventional ⁄Metal. €Plastic. ‹Includes integrated gutters.
27

PrO-InSTAllED These include installation and, often, free clog-clearing, but they’re pricey. 86 $20 Screen (fine mesh) leafFilter ⁄€ &N &M &C NA 80 23 Surface tension Gutter Topper ⁄ &N &M &C NA 80 30 Surface tension leafGuard ⁄‹ &N &M &C NA 80 waterloov 20 Surface tension &N &M &C NA

&B &M &C NA

See report, page 86 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

guide to the Ratings
overall score is based mainly on ability to prevent buildup and handle simulated heavy and severe rainfall, and (for do-it-yourself systems) ease of installation . Displayed scores are rounded; products are listed by precise overall score . Buildup is based on leaves and other debris over 16 / / months outside with no upkeep . Heavy flow is ability to contain equivalent of 31 2 to 41 2 inches per hour of water over typical roof section . severe flow is ability to contain equivalent of 6 to / 71 2 inches per hour . ease of installation includes cutting, drilling, and other work . Price per foot is for product and installation; for do-it-yourself systems, approximate retail for product only .

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 238

Heavy flow

lawn mowers

239

ratinGs

laWn MoWeRs
We found cordless and electric models that handled well, but gas-powered models are better for larger lawns and include more safety features.
Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.
0 100 P | F | G | VG | E

Price

Overall score

Test results Evenness Mulching Bagging Side discharging Handling Ease of use

Features Deck size (in.) Electric start Blade brake clutch 22 21 19 22 22 • 22 • Forward speeds Drive wheels Engine size (cc/volts) 190 190 190 160 190 160 190 190 160 175 173 190 190 190 175 190

SElF-PrOPEllED MOwErS

■ d ■ c ■ c ■ d ■ c ■ d

honda $ 700 85 HRX2172HXA Toro Super Bagger 690 84 20194 Super Bagger 20197 Toro Super Recycler 530 83 20092 Toro Recycler 400 82 20333 honda HRX2172VKA 600 81 honda 500 80 HRR216K3VXA Toro Recycler 20332 350 79 honda 400 78 HRR216K5VKA Craftsman 37659 360 72 honda 440 72 HRR216K3TDA Toro Recycler 20330 300 72 Craftsman 37435 300 70 37436 350 500 280 340 500 350
70 68 68 68 67 66

&N &N &N &C &M &N Variable Rear 21 &N &N &M &N &M &N Variable Rear 21 &M &N &M &N &M &M Variable Rear 21 &M &N &N &C &M &M Variable Rear 21 &M &M &M &M &M &N Variable Rear 21 &M &N &M &C &M &M Variable Rear 21 &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &N &M
3 1 Variable Variable 1 Variable Variable Variable 4

• 190 • 160 • 190 • 160

&M &N &M &N &M &M Variable Rear 22 &M &N &M &N &M &C Variable Rear 22

&C &M &M &M &M &M Variable Front 22 •
Rear 21 Front 22 Front Rear Rear Rear Rear Rear

Variable Rear 22

Craftsman 37654 Craftsman 37108 ■ Yard-Man 12A-18M7 d Craftsman 37454 john Deere JS46 Brute BTXPV22700E ■ d Troy-Bilt TB340 XP 12AI869F john Deere JS26

370 66 350 66

&M &M &M &M &V &M

&M &C &M &C &M &M Variable Front 22
Rear 21

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 239

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consumer reports buying guide 2011

Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score

Test results Evenness Mulching Bagging Side discharging Handling Ease of use

Features Deck size (in.) Electric start Blade brake clutch Forward speeds Drive wheels Engine size (cc/volts) 173 190 173 190 190 190 190 190 173 190 173

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

SElF-PrOPEllED MOwErS continued
Cub Cadet 12A-18MC Craftsman 37639 husqvarna XT721F lawn-Boy 10641 Brute BTXP226750HW Craftsman 37624
37061 10642

$ 270 64 290 63 330 63 270
63

&M &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &M &M &C &C &C &M &M &N &C &C &M &C &M &C &M &C &C &M &M &M &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &N &M &C &M &C &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &M &C &V &C &N

&C &M &M &V &C &M Variable Front 21
1 1 1 1 4

1

Rear 19

Front 22 Rear 20 Front 22 Front 22 • Rear 21

■ d ■ d

270 62 330 62 400 61 320 61 290 60 1,300 56 290 500
54 50

Cub Cadet 12A-E18M 12A-E18JA Craftsman 88933
88733

SPV2270HW

Snapper SPV21675E Snapper SPV22675HW

&C &C &C &C &M &M Variable Front 22 &M &C NA &M &V &C &C &C &C &V &C &M Variable Front 21
4 1 1 Rear 19 •

Rear 33

• 344

Troy-Bilt TB230 12AVB26M Ariens BR21SP/911152

Rear 21

COrDlESS ElECTrIC SElF-PrOPEllED MOwEr
ryobi RY14110 400 57

1

48 Rear 20 • NA volts

guide to the Ratings
overall score is mostly cutting performance, handling, and ease of use . Displayed scores rounded; models listed in order of precise overall score . evenness shows average cutting performance for available modes . Mulching is how well clippings were cut and distributed onto lawn . Bagging is effective capacity with full bag(s) or clogged chute . side discharging is how evenly clippings were dispersed onto lawn . Handling includes ease of using drive controls, pushing, pulling, U-turns, and other maneuvers . ease of use is ease of starting, using blade-stopping controls, changing speeds, and adjusting cut height . Price is approximate retail for mowers and attachments; attachment prices for riding mowers are from manufacturers .

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 240

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lawn mowers

241

ratinGs

Brand & model Recommendation
Similar models, in small type, are comparable to tested model.

Price

Overall score

Test results

Features Engine size (cc/volts/amps) 190cc 173cc 190cc 149cc 190cc 158cc

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

GAS-POwErED PuSh MOwEr

■ d ■ c

lawn-Boy 10640 Cub Cadet 11A-18MC
11A-18M9, 11A-18M9

$240

67

240 66 220 66 200 65 200 200 240 180
65 64 64 64

Craftsman 38909 ■ husqvarna 6021P c 38451 (Sears) Craftsman 38903 Troy-Bilt TB110 11A-A26M Craftsman 38911 Bolens 11A-414A Yard Machines 11A-414E029

180 63

COrDlESS ElECTrIC PuSh MOwEr

■ d ■ d

Toro 20360 Black & Decker CM1936 Black & Decker CMM1200 Craftsman 37048
CC500BAT

420 400

70 66

400 64 400 62 350
61 49

■ Black & Decker d CM1836 neuton CE 6.4 worx WG 780 Earthwise 60120 ■ d
Black & Decker MM875 Black& Decker MM1800 Earthwise 50120

470 430 48 320 42

COrDED ElECTrIC PuSh MOwEr
240
63

220 58 160 40

See report, page 87 .

Ratings Key NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor c CR Best Buy These models offer the best combination of performance and price. All are recommended. d Recommended These are high-performing models that stand out.

187-242 Ratings BG11.indd 241

Evenness Mulching Bagging Side discharging Handling Ease of use Can bag Can mulch Can side discharge Deck size (in.)

&C &M &C &C &C

&C &C &C &C &M &C • &C &C &C &C &M &M • &C &C &C NA &M &C • &C &C &V NA &N &C •

&M &C &C &M &C

&C &M &C &C &C

&N &C &C &C &C

&M &M &M &M &M

&C &M &M &C &C

• • • • •

• • • • •

• • • • •

20 19 21 21 21

• • 21 190cc • • 21 190cc 21 158cc • •
21

20 36 volts &M &M &V NA &M &M • • • • • 19 36 volts &C &M &M &C &M &N

&C &M &C &M &M &C • • • 19 24 volts &C &C &C &C &M &N • &C &V &V NA &M &N • &C &V &V &V &M &C • &C &V &V &V &M &C •

&C &C &C &C &M &M • • • 19 48 volts • • 18 36 volts
19 36 volts • • • 19 24 volts • • 20 24 volts

&C &M &M &M &C &M • • • 19 12 amps

&C &C &C &C &C &N • • • 18 12 amps &C &V &B &V &C &M • • • 20 12 amps

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Most & least Reliable
push mowers Fewer repairs Troy-Bilt Toro Honda Craftsman Yard Machines/ Yard-Man Lawn-Boy 0% 7 8 9 9 9 12 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% More repairs John Deere was the most repair-prone brand among self-propelled mowers . That’s what we found when we asked readers who bought 11,643 push mowers and 34,797 self-propelled models between 2005 and 2009 about their experiences . The graphs show the percentage of models for each brand that were repaired or had a serious problem . Differences of less than 5 points aren’t meaningful, and data are adjusted to eliminate differences linked to age and usage . Models within a brand may vary, and design and manufacturing changes may affect future reliability . Still, choosing a mower brand with a good repair history can improve your odds of getting a reliable model .
Source: Annual Product Reliability Survey, Consumer Reports National Research Center.

self-propelled mowers Fewer repairs Husqvarna Toro Craftsman Lawn-Boy Yard Machines/ Yard-Man Snapper Honda Troy-Bilt John Deere 0% 5% 10% 15% 14 14 14 16 17 17 17 18 24 20% 25% 30% More repairs

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Copyright of Consumer Reports is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

Copyright of Consumer Reports Buying Guide is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

c o m pa r i n g r e ta i l e r s

7

O

Comparing Retailers

ur product testers can tell you which dishwasher or netbook delivers the most value. But then you have to find the hottest deal. To help you find the best places to shop, tens of thousands of Consumer Reports subscribers are surveyed regularly about their experiences buying appliances, electronics, and computers at walk-in and online retailers.
The hunT fOR lOw pRiCes Most people who responded to our Shopper Satisfaction survey said they had decided on a store because they were looking for low prices. That was especially true in the hunt for small appliances. An annoying problem to watch out for, according to our Home Gripes survey: excessive delivery or installation costs. Bottom line. Only Abt Electronics scored better than average on price for major appliances. The almost 25 percent of Abt shoppers who bought via the Internet or by phone got a bonus: free shipping for many products and, if outside the four-state regional delivery area, no sales tax. For small appliances, Amazon.com and Costco got our readers’ highest marks for price for the second year in a row. seRviCe makes a diffeRenCe Besides price, the expertise and manner of a store’s sales staff were important reasons for the choice in a major appliance retailer, according to the Shopper Satisfaction survey. But respondents to our Home Gripes survey cited difficulty in finding a useful salesperson at all as one of their chief shopping annoyances. Salespeople who were arrogant or even nasty were

appliance shopping: seeking satisfaction

If you’re in the market for new appliances, you probably want to find a store with reasonable prices, good selection, trained help, and a smooth shopping experience. But results of two recent surveys from the Consumer Reports National Research Center show that no one retailer was able to provide all of those things. We did find some cause for hope. Abt Electronics, in the Chicago area, and independent local stores garnered high praise from shoppers who bought a major appliance in the past year. For small appliances, independents also rated highly, along with Costco, though the standout was Amazon.com, as in past years. The rankings for shopper satisfaction come from more than 21,000 respondents to our 2009 Appliance Shopper Satisfaction Survey. We also commissioned a separate, nationally representative Home Gripes survey of 1,405 homeowners about their experiences shopping at home stores. From those surveys, we found what was most important to most people when shopping and where they were most likely to find satisfaction.

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8

consumer reports buying guide 2011

especially bothersome for women. Bottom line. Independent retailers, Abt Electronics, and Pacific Sales in Cal-

ifornia received top marks for having salespeople knowledgeable in major appliances. The trio also stood out for

appliance retailers
Retailer

in order of highest reader score within appliance type

Reader score

Survey results Product quality Service Price Shopping ease Checkout ease Selection Knowledgeable staff

0

100

MAJOR APPLIANCES
Abt Electronics Independents Pacific Sales Lowe’s hhgregg Home Depot P.C. Richard & Son Sears Best Buy
92 88 85 85 84 83 83 83 82

&M &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &N &C &N &V &C &C &C &C &C &C

&N &C &N &C &C &V &C &C &C &N &M &C &C &C &C &V &C &C &C

&N &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &N &N &M &C &C &C &B &C &C &V

&C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &V &N &V &M &M &C &B &C &M &B

&N &N &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &N &C &M &C &V &V &C &C &V

&N &N &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &N &N &M &C &C &C &V &V &C &V

&N &N &N &C &C &C &C &C &B &N
— —

SMALL APPLIANCES
Amazon.com Independents Costco Sears Lowe’s Target Sam’s Club Home Depot Best Buy Walmart
Ratings Key
93 90 87 83 83 81 80 80 80

&C &M &V &C &C
— —

N

Better

M

3

76

2

Worse

1

007-012 BG11 Comparing Retailers.indd 8

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c o m pa r i n g r e ta i l e r s

9

service rendered; Best Buy scored below average for its staff. For staff expertise and service in small appliances, independent local retailers scored best. Among major retailers, only Lowe’s staff stood out, and for service, Sears scored above average. For our Ratings of appliance stores, see opposite page.

electronics shopping: Finding the best deals

Most people still buy their gear at walk-in stores, despite the recent demise of the Circuit City and Tweeter chains. Yet the best online retailers outscored the best walk-in stores in our Ratings of places to buy major electronics items and computers.

sTudY The ReTuRn pOliCY Price was among the most important determinants of where survey respondents bought their electronics gear. But price shouldn’t be your only criterion. In particular, pay attention to return policies—and not just the number of days they run. Some retailers allow any major electronics item

to be returned, but others make certain product categories nonreturnable. Laptop computers are the most common exclusion, but sometimes camcorders, cameras, desktops, TVs, and other items are also excluded. On the positive side, some Web sites with associated retail stores, including Costco.com and Sears.com, allow you to return items to a store even if you ordered them online. Some retailers charge so-called restocking fees, keeping up to 25 percent of the purchase price of a return. Restocking fees are most common for computers, though usually only if the box has been opened. But some retailers charge fees on other items, too. Bottom line. With electronics sales down, retailers are surprisingly willing to negotiate on price, our recent survey suggests. Of those customers who asked for a better price, more than half were successful. Average savings were substantial: $200 for those who dickered on the price of a flat-panel TV, $100 for buyers of audio equipment, and $50 for camera and camcorder buyers. Survey respon-

guide to the survey
The Ratings are based on 21,068 subscribers to ConsumerReports.org who reported on 28,260 appliancepurchase experiences in the 2009 Consumer Reports National Research Center Appliance Shopper Satisfaction survey. Respondents might not mirror the U.S. population. Small appliances include air conditioners, grills, and vacuum cleaners; major appliances include ranges, refrigerators, washers, dryers, and others. Because of differences in methodology, scores for major and small appliances are not directly comparable. Reader score reflects readers’ assessments of their overall buying experience and is not limited to factors under survey results. A score of 100 would mean all respondents had been completely satisfied; 80 would mean very satisfied, on average. Differences of less than 4 points are not meaningful. Displayed scores are rounded; stores are listed in order of precise overall score. price, selection, product quality, service, and checkout ease scores reflect percentage of respondents who rated the store as excellent on each factor. shopping ease is percentage of people who did not face shopping hassles. knowledgeable staff reflects percentage of respondents who felt that sales staff was well informed. Scores for shopping ease, service, and knowledgeable staff reflect in-store rather than online purchases. Higher scores mean the store was rated more favorably compared with that attribute’s median score. Attributes for small and major appliances are not comparable. “–” signifies not applicable or insufficient sample size.

007-012 BG11 Comparing Retailers.indd 9

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10

consumer reports buying guide 2011

dents had better luck getting a discount at independent stores and two regional chains, hhgregg and P.C. Richard, than at Best Buy or Sears. Yet fewer than one in five in-store shoppers tried to negotiate the price of their purchase. How to ask? Be direct: “This was online for $200 less. Can you match that?” Many stores even have price-matching policies, though they usually apply only to the exact model. For our Ratings of online and walk-in electronics stores, see page 12.
wheRe TO BuY COmpuTeRs Even the lowest-rated computer retailers pleased most customers, according to our survey results. But return policies vary, including whether the retailers even accept returns. Restocking fee policies vary as well, usually 15 percent on returns of nondefective computers. In addition, 12 percent of respondents paid more than they expected for a

computer, and most said it was because of how they customized the systems they bought. The best Web sites for PCs were Amazon.com, Newegg.com, PC Connection/ MacConnection, TigerDirect.com, and PC Mall/MacMall. All were rated above average for selection and price. Among walk-in stores, Costco stood out for price among other retail shops. You have 90 days to return a computer for a full refund, but selection is very limited. For the best all-around walkin experience for PC buyers, try Micro Center, though its stores are located in only 16 states and computers had to be returned within seven days. (Always check return policies as they will often change.) If you’re looking for a Mac, Apple’s own outlets provided the best shopping experiences, whether walk-in or online. But buying from Apple can be pricey. For our Ratings, see page 11.

guide to the surveys
COMPUTER RETAILERS. Results are based on more than 50,000 responses from subscribers who bought new desktops and laptops from January 2008 through June 2009. Reader score reflects respondents’ satisfaction with their purchase experience and is not limited to the factors listed in the survey results. A score of 100 would mean all respondents were completely satisfied; 80 would mean very satisfied, on average; 60, fairly well satisfied. Differences in scores of fewer than 5 points are not meaningful. survey results reflect how each vendor did in comparison with the average of all others. Respondents rated vendors on their selection of computers, price, and service (including knowledge and helpfulness of staff for walk-ins, usability for Web sites). Survey results might not reflect the U.S. population as a whole. ELECTRONICS RETAILERS. Based on 35,543 purchases of TVs, digital cameras, camcorders, DVD players or recorders, PDAs, and audio components by more than 31,144 Consumer Reports readers, January 2008 to June 2009. Results might not reflect the U.S. population. Reader score reflects overall satisfaction with the shopping experience. A score of 100 would mean all respondents were completely satisfied; 80, that respondents were very satisfied on average. Differences of fewer than 5 points are not meaningful. The ratings listed under survey results reflect how each retailer did in comparison with the average of all retailers. Customer service reflects online or phone support for Web sites and in-store service for walk-in stores. For buying ease, higher scores indicate a lower incidence of problems such as unavailability of advertised sale items or lack of online product details, user reviews, or comparison tools.

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c o m pa r i n g r e ta i l e r s

11

computer retailers
Retailer

in order of highest reader score

Reader score Survey results Selection Service &M &M &C &C &C — &C &V &C &N &C &C &C &V &C &N &V &N &C &B &C &C &C &C &C &B
d Recommended
9/14/10 2:59:12 PM

0

100

WEB SITES/CATALOGS

n d n d n d n d n d

Amazon.com Newegg.com PC Connection/MacConnection TigerDirect.com Costco.com QVC.com PC Mall/MacMall Buy.com Best Buy Apple.com Toshiba Sony HP/Compaq Lenovo Dell

90 88 87 86 85 85 84 84 81

&M &N &M &M &B &V &N &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &B &M &B &B &V &B &M &C &C &B

MANUFACTURER WEB SITES/CATALOGS

n d

91 81 81 81 81 80

WALK-IN STORES

n d n d n d

Apple Costco Micro Center OfficeMax Sam’s Club Office Depot Staples Fry’s Electronics Best Buy CompUSA Walmart

90 84 83 80 80 79 79 77 77 75 75

“—” indicates we lacked sufficient sample size to include in analysis. Ratings Key

N

Better

M

3

2

Worse

1

c CR Best Buy

007-012 BG11 Comparing Retailers.indd 11

Price &M &N &M &M &M &C &M &M &C &V &C &B &C &C &C &B &M &C &C &C &C &V &C &V &V &C

electronics retailers
Retailer

in order of highest reader score

Reader score

Survey results Product quality Customer service &N &M &N &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &V &C &B &B &B Price Selection Buying ease &M &M &N &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &V &C &V &B &V
9/14/10 2:59:12 PM

ONLINE STORES

0
95 95 94 94 94 94 93 92 91 91 90 90 88 88 86

100

n d Vanns.com B&H (bhphotovideo.com) Crutchfield.com n d Amazon.com n d Newegg.com n d Beachcamera.com n d Costco.com n d JR.com n d Buy.com n d TigerDirect.com Dell.com Sony.com n d Abe’s of Maine (abesofmaine.com) Walmart.com BestBuy.com
WALK-IN STORES

90 Independents &V &C &N &N &N 90 Apple &B &B &N &N &N 90 Costco &M &B &M &B &C 90 Ultimate Electronics &C &N &N &N &M 89 Video Only &C &M &M &N &N 88 Sony &V &C &M &M &C 88 &B &M &N &N &N n d Ritz Camera 87 Army-Air Force Exchange &C &V &C &C &M 86 Sam’s Club &C &B &B &B &V 86 hhgregg &C &M &M &M &C 86 BJ’s Wholesale &C &B &C &B &C 86 P.C. Richard & Son &C &C &M &M &C 86 Sears &C &C &M &C &C 84 Staples &C &B &C &C &C 83 Office Depot &C &B &C &C &C 82 BrandsMart USA &C &M &M &C &B 82 RadioShack &V &B &B &C &M 82 Best Buy &B &C &C &C &V 82 Target &C &B &B &B &C 81 Fry’s Electronics &V &C &C &B &B 79 Walmart &C &B &B &B &B ⁄ Policies differ for some products; some categories might be excluded from returns or subject to restocking fees. € Unlimited; policies might differ for some products. ‹ No refunds, only store credit, for any opened items. ›Only

&N &C &C &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &C &V &M &C &V

&N &N &N &N &N &N &B &N &N &M &V &C &N &B &C

&C &N &M &M &M &M &B &C &C &V &B &B &C &B &V

n d n d n d n d

defective items accepted for return.
Better

Ratings Key

N

M

3

2

Worse

1

c CR Best Buy

d Recommended

007-012 BG11 Comparing Retailers.indd 12

Copyright of Consumer Reports is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

Copyright of Consumer Reports Buying Guide is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

14

consumer reports buying guide 2011

E

Electronics: A World of Choices

very year brings a host of enhancements and new developments to consumer-electronics products, opening up a world of new choices for consumers. You can now enjoy 3D when watching TV, perusing home videos and still photos, and playing video games. Internet connectivity is expanding, allowing you to buy on eBay, browse YouTube, and watch streaming movies on your TV, iPod, or phone, with no need for a computer. Meanwhile, devices like Apple’s iPad and Amazon’s Kindle and rivals all offer new entertainment options.

Blu-rAY & DVD PlAYErs
Home-entertainment options are expanding. High-definition Blu-ray players are steadily gaining favor, although regular DVD players are still available. If you have an HDTV, we strongly recommend that you buy a Blu-ray player. A basic high-def player won’t cost you much more than a standard DVD player, and the superior picture quality of Blu-ray is well worth it. On the other hand, if you have a standard-def TV and don’t plan to buy a high-def set anytime soon, it makes little sense to buy a Blu-ray player, even though it can play regular DVDs. On a

standard TV, you won’t be able to appreciate the benefits it offers.
TYPEs Blu-ray player. Blu-ray discs contain 1080p video, currently the highest-resolution HD. Prices have been dropping as manufacturers battle for market share, and are likely to continue falling over time. Players generally start at about $130, though you may find some models on sale for less. Many full-featured models from major brands are going for $200 to $300. The first 3D-capable players on the market are selling for $200 to $400. These can play 3D Blu-ray discs as well as regular Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and CDs. There are already many thousands of Bluray titles, both movies and TV episodes, on the market, and 3D Blu-ray titles are starting to appear. Most Blu-ray players

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are single-disc models that hold only one disc at a time, but Sony has a 400-disc changer, and LG has a player that also has a built-in hard drive for storing music, photos, and home videos. Standard DVD players. As the transition to high-definition DVDs gains steam, you’re likely to see fewer standard-def models being introduced, and retailers may not stock as many models as they used to. Almost all new DVD players are progressive-scan models. These players can convert (or deinterlace) the interlaced video (480i) contained on DVDs and output it to your TV as a 480p video signal. With a TV that can display high-definition images, you can expect a smoother, more detailed image. That’s because HD sets can support the player’s progressivescan 480p mode, drawing 480 consecutive lines on the screen in a single pass. Prices for progressive-scan players start as low as $25, and many major-brand models are priced from $50 to $75.
FEATurEs Getting a Blu-ray or DVD player with all the right features will increase your long-term satisfaction and enjoyment. Internet connectivity/BD-Live. Most newer Blu-ray players have a feature called BD-Live that enables them to connect to the Internet. With some models, you must provide extra memory, via a USB flash drive or memory card, to enable the BD-Live feature. An Internet-enabled player does not have a full-fledged browser enabling you to surf anywhere on the Web. You can go only to specific sites and access specific content as arranged by the player’s manufacturer. The online content you can access from a player varies by brand and sometimes

by model within a brand. The most basic BD-Live models can access only extra online features related to a specific Blu-ray disc, such as outtakes and video games or movie trailers. Other models can also stream movies and visit specified sites such as YouTube, eBay, and others. A growing number of players can connect to the Internet through your wireless home network, handy if you don’t have an Internet connection near the player and don’t want wires running all over the house. Wi-Fi access is sometimes built in, but for models called “wireless-ready,” you need an adapter, or dongle, to enable wireless connections. The adapter may be included with the player, or you may have to buy it separately for about $70. Models without BD-Live are typically less expensive, but there are fewer available. Video streaming. Many Blu-ray models with BD-Live can also receive streaming movie services from companies such as Amazon Video on Demand, Blockbuster on Demand, Netflix, and Vudu, and can also access YouTube videos, photo-sharing sites such as Picasa and Flickr, Internet radio stations such as Pandora, eBay, and other sites. Some content, such as YouTube, is free, but you have to pay for movies. Generally, it’s a pay-per-view arrangement, but Netflix subscribers with an unlimited plan can stream as many movies or TV episodes as they like. (Unlimited subscriptions start at $9 a month.) Available services could change over time if the manufacturer makes different arrangements with Internet companies. Updates might be automatic, but in some cases you might have to search for new content. 3D capability. The first 3D-capable Blu-ray players are now on the market. When used with special 3D discs, 3D

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glasses, and a 3D TV, they enable you to see honest-to-goodness 3D images. They can also play normal Blu-ray discs, DVDs, and CDs. Surround sound. Another benefit of Blu-ray and standard DVD players is the ability to enjoy movies with multichannel surround sound. To reap the full sound experience of the audio encoded into standard DVD titles, you’ll need a Dolby Digital receiver and six speakers, including a subwoofer. (For 6.1 and 7.1 soundtracks, you’ll need seven or eight shop smart speakers.) Dolby A basic Blu-ray Digital decoding player won’t cost built-in refers to a you much more DVD player that than a standard decodes the mulDVD player. tichannel audio before it gets to the receiver. Without the built-in circuitry, you’d need a decoder built into the receiver or, in rare instances, a separate decoder box to take advantage of the audio. (A Dolby Digital receiver will also decode an older format, Dolby Pro Logic.) Most players also support Digital Theater System (DTS) decoding for titles using 5.1-, 6.1-, or 7.1-channel encoding. When you’re watching a movie, dynamic audio-range controls help keep explosions and other noisy sound effects from seeming too loud. Some Blu-ray players support a few additional multichannel formats, including Dolby Digital Plus and DTS High Resolution Audio, higher-resolution 7.1-channel audio, and new lossless Dolby TrueHD and DTSHD Master formats that are bit-for-bit reproductions of the movie’s master soundtrack. Most players also provide features such as multilingual support, which lets you

choose dialog or subtitles in different languages for a movie. Parental control is a player feature that lets you lock out films by their rating code. BonusView. All Blu-ray players have a feature called BonusView, a PIP (picturein-picture) feature that displays bonus content on some Blu-ray discs in a window while the main feature is onscreen. Navigation. DVD and Blu-ray players enable you to navigate the disc in a number of ways. Unlike a VHS tape, most DVDs and Blu-ray players are sectioned. Chapter preview lets you scan the opening seconds of each section or chapter until you find what you want. A related feature, chapter gallery, shows thumbnails of section or chapter opening scenes. Go-to by time lets you enter how many hours and minutes into the disc you’d like to skip to. Marker functions allow easy indexing of specific sections. Blu-ray interactivity allows you to navigate the disc’s menus and other content without leaving the movie. Picture control. DVD and Blu-ray players give you all sorts of control over the picture. The aspect-ratio control DVD player feature lets you choose between the squarish 4:3 viewing format of conventional TVs (4 inches wide for every 3 inches high) and the 16:9 ratio of newer wide-screen sets. Picture zoom lets you zoom in on a specific frame. Black-level adjustment brings out the detail in dark parts of the screen image. If you’ve ever wanted to see certain action scenes from different angles, multiangle capability gives you that opportunity when used with discs that include this feature. A/V connections. Almost all Blu-ray players have HDMI and componentvideo connections, which are required to view high-definition pictures on an

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HDTV. Most also have composite-video outputs, and some have S-video connections to use with older TVs. 3D Blu-ray players use newer HDMI 1.4 connections, but can connect to a TV using standard high-speed HDMI cables. Most standard DVD players also have HDMI connections now, as well as component-video and composite-video outputs; some have S-video, too. All players will support at least 5.1-channel sound through the digital-audio outputs. Blu-ray players will also support high-resolution audio from Blu-ray discs. USB connections and memory-card slots. Many players now include a USB port or a memory-card slot that allows you to play digital media files, such as music, photos, or videos on your TV. Some have a slide-show capability for digital photos. Disc capacity. Most standard DVD and Blu-ray players accommodate a single disc at a time. Other standard players have carousels that can hold several (generally three or five) discs. DVD jukeboxes hold 100 discs or more. Sony has a jukebox that holds 400 discs. Disc formats. In addition to commercial DVD titles, DVD players often support playback or display of many other formats. They include CD-R/RW recordings of standard audio CDs; the recordable DVD formats DVD+R/RW, DVD-R/RW, and DVD-RAM; Video CD (VCD); and DVD-Audio. They can also play CD-R/RW discs containing MP3 and Windows Media Audio (WMA) files and JPEG picture files. All Blu-ray players can play commercial Blu-ray discs and standard DVDs. All current Bluray players play commercially released CDs, and may play CDs burned with MP3 files. A given model might or might

not play JPEG, WMA, or video CDs, or DVD-/+/R/RW or DVD-RAM discs you’ve recorded.
sHoPPIng TIPs Here are some issues to consider: Video streaming options. If you want a Blu-ray player that can stream video, make sure it offers the movie services of interest to you. Upconverting. Most new DVD players can upconvert regular DVDs to pseudoHD when used with an HDTV; you’ll see no benefit with a standard TV. (Note that you must connect the player to an HDTV’s HDMI input to get upconverted video.) But don’t buy a new DVD player Tech tip simply to get the Many DVD players upconverting feawill play back or ture. An LCD or display other disc plasma set automaformats, including t ically upconverts audio CDs. the video from any DVD player to match its native screen resolution. The main benefit to using an upconverting player is to have the option of seeing whether it does a better job of upconverting than your TV. In either case, upconverted video is not nearly as good as true high-def from a Blu-ray player, which is a much better choice for use with an HDTV. Audio capabilities. All DVD and Bluray players support 5.1-channel surround sound (some offer 7.1) and can pass along digital signals. They can also decode the signals and pass the analog output (stereo and sometimes multichannel) to a receiver or TV with analog inputs. Most new Blu-ray players support high-resolution multichannel audio formats such as Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio,

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though some can internally decode those signals, while others pass them to a capable receiver for decoding. Related CR Report: March 2010 Ratings: page 191

CEll PHonEs & sMArT PHonEs
Cell phones are evolving to allow faster texting, Web surfing, gPs navigation, and social networking while keeping up with their day job—voice calling. Smart phones like the iPhone are leading the charge. Thanks to their computerlike operating systems, they can run all types of applications, from Twitter to games, restaurant guides, shopping assistants, and more. Conventional cell phones aren’t gathering dust, though. Many of the newest models have large displays, keyboards, and Internet capabilities. Their e-mail and applications aren’t as robust as a smart phone’s, but they’re less complicated to use. And there still are phones with fewer bells and whistles for users with more straightforward needs. Before you set out to buy a phone, though, consider the service provider. Service providers determine which phone models work on their networks. So when you’re replacing your phone, use this cellphone guide to help you decide whether you’ll stay with your current cellular service carrier or switch to a new one. Major carriers rely heavily on two incompatible digital networks. Sprint and Verizon networks use mainly Code Division Multiple

Access (CDMA) technology, while AT&T and T-Mobile use Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) technology. All of these carriers also support high-speed data networks. The network plays a big part in the capabilities your phone will have and, to some extent, its performance. When you’re ready to buy a phone, you’ll first have to decide which of the two types, conventional cell or smart, meets your needs and budget. Choose a conventional model if you mainly need voice and text-messaging capability, and perhaps a music player and camera. Smart phones, with their advanced operating systems, larger displays, QWERTY keyboards, and other computerlike features, are a better choice for people who need frequent access to e-mail accounts, an organizer for appointments and contacts, the ability to open Office documents, and Internet-based services. Useful features such as support for wireless Bluetooth headsets, GPS navigation, and high-speed data access can greatly enhance user satisfaction.
TYPEs Conventional cell phones. Most models are priced from $20 to $150, but they often come free with a two-year contract. You can also buy prepaid phones, which are quickly becoming the leading low-price option in cellular. Keypad and overall operation is generally straightforward. All allow you to store frequently used numbers and to send and receive text messages. Many have cameras and support for wireless Bluetooth headsets for hands-free communication. Many can access high-speed data networks to enjoy music and video-based services. Other capabilities might include a touch screen,

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a QWERTY keyboard, a full browser, a multimegapixel camera, memory-card storage for music and pictures, and more options for custom ring tones, games, and other services. Smart phones. Long used by corporate travelers to keep up with e-mail and appointments, smart phones have caught on with consumers. A smart phone can typically handle multiple e-mail accounts (including corporate types), has a sophisticated organizer, and can handle Microsoft Office files. Some allow you to create and edit spreadsheets and documents, and they usually come with Microsoft Outlook or other personal information management software for your PC. Their advanced operating systems give them access to a host of applications: productivity tools, shopping, multimedia, games, travel, news, weather, social, finance, references, etc.
FEATurEs Today’s cell phones come equipped with many useful calling and multimedia features. Bluetooth. This technology enables the phone to work with wireless headsets and most hands-free car systems for tangle-free calls. (But avoid using any phone, even hands free, while driving.) Some phones support stereo Bluetooth headsets for music and other multimedia. And some can wirelessly exchange pictures, contacts, and other files with other compatible Bluetooth devices, such as a computer, cell phone, or PDA. Camera. Most new phones have cameras with resolutions of 1 megapixel and up that are capable of producing respectable snapshots, though many lack a flash, which is helpful when taking pictures in dark environments. Look for models with

3-megapixel cameras or higher if you intend to print some of what you shoot. Those models take photography more seriously by pairing sharper image sensors with high-grade lenses, auto focus, zoom, and brightness controls for greater photo control. However, like older digital cameras, higher-megapixel camera phones may be a bit sluggish at taking pictures. Document editing. All smart phones, and some conventional cell phones, allow you to review documents. Some models add the convenience of creating, deleting, and editing them without adding any hardware or software. GPS navigation. All phones have some type of location-based technology to help emergency responders find you when you dial 911 or 112. Many of them support GPS-navigation services that access information wirelessly over the carrier network. They integrate GPS with maps and search engines to give you real-time, spoken, turn-by-turn directions to an entered address, and also traffic info. You can even find nearby businesses by name or category. Menus and features are similar to other portable systems. Having GPS on your phone eliminates the need to carry an additional device for navigation, and you’ll have the ability to call ahead to a destination with the push of a button. The service is sometimes free, but more typically adds about $10 per month to your cell-phone bill. You can also order it by the day for about $3—handy if you need directions only occasionally. Hearing-aid compatibility. Some phones interfere with hearing aids. Even those with hearing-aid-compatible designations are not guaranteed to work with all hearing aids. Your doctor can help you choose a phone compatible

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with the aid you use. Or go to www. accesswireless.org. Mac compatibility. Many phones let you synchronize appointments, contacts, and documents with both Windowsbased and Macintosh computers, but some can do that only with Windows computers. Media player. Most phones have very competent media players, allowing you to view videos and sort music tracks according to genre, album or artist, playlists, etc. They also typically have more than one playback shop smart option, such as repeat and shuffle. Phones displaying Some phones, such numbers in as the iPhone, have large black type media capabilities against a white better than other background are stand-alone playthe easiest ers. The small to read. number of phones that lack those convenient features are rather cumbersome to use. Memory card. Many phones have slots that accept memory cards, typically microSD, to expand storage capacity by as much as 32GB. The removable cards can also serve as an easy way to shuttle files between your phone and other devices— provided that the phone’s maker didn’t bury the card slot behind the battery cover. Preset and custom text messages. Besides providing a quiet means of communication, text messages have been known to get through even when networks are overloaded. Most phones come with preset messages, such as “running late” or “call home.” And most allow you to program customized messages for an emergency or frequent use. Programmable shortcuts. These let you

assign functions to the phone’s controls (touch screen, jog dial, etc.) so that you can quickly access contacts, text messaging, and other frequently used features. QWERTY keyboard. Keyboards make composing and editing text and e-mail messages much easier than a keypad does. Some phones have keyboards that try to save space by having some letters, numbers, and symbols share a key. Those “condensed” keyboards, though still more convenient than a keypad, are not quite as easy to handle as full QWERTY keyboards. Speakerphone. A built-in speakerphone allows hands-free use in a car or elsewhere. (But avoid using any phone, even hands free, while driving.) Standard headset connector. The standard connector on the handset, also known as a 2.5-mm or 3.5-mm connector, is compatible with most aftermarket wired headsets. Some phones with a proprietary connector might include an adapter to a standard connector. Touch screen. Full touch-sensitive displays respond to light contact with a stylus, finger, or both. They provide an alternate, and sometimes more direct, method to input data and launch phone features and controls. But they often require two hands to operate, and they smudge more frequently than their nontouch counterparts. Voice command. This feature allows you to dial numbers from your phone book by speaking the name, without training. You can also dial numbers by pronouncing the digits. Wi-Fi. Cell-phone data networks — even those designated “3G broadband”— are much slower than the broadband Internet connections many people have at home. But a growing number of phones

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have a built-in Wi-Fi radio that gives them faster Internet and e-mail access through home networks and Wi-Fi hotspots. On some phones, the Wi-Fi is just for Web browsing; on others, you can use the connection to swap files with a PC or make calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).
sHoPPIng TIPs Consider shape and size. Phones that fold, slide, or swivel are typically more compact when closed. Phones shaped like candy bars can be used without first being opened. The best choice depends largely on personal preference, so visit a store and hold the phone if possible. Make sure that you can comfortably use most major functions such as making and taking calls and messaging with one hand. Make a test call and access menu items. We’ve found that flat or virtual keypads make dialing without looking difficult. Other call clunkers include keys that are small, oddly shaped, or arranged in unusual patterns, especially if you’re trying to dial a number in dim light. Check the display. Most screens are fine in dim and normal light, but some are harder to see in daylight or under bright light. Try the phone outside or under bright light. In our tests, phones that displayed incoming and outgoing numbers in large black type against a white background were the easiest to read under most conditions. Also make sure indicators such as battery life and signal strength are clearly visible. Touch-screen displays provide an alternate, and sometimes a more direct, method to input data and launch phone features and controls. But they often require two hands to operate, and they smudge more frequently than their nontouch counterparts.

Consider a keyboard. A phone’s shape and size are largely determined by its keyboard and display. Some models have a QWERTY keyboard that slides out from behind the phone and tucks away when not in use. Others open like an eyeglass case to reveal a keyboard, or leave the keyboard in plain sight. Still other models have a virtual keyboard on their touch-sensitive displays. Overall, we found pecking out messages on their mirror-smooth, buttonless surfaces to be a challenge. If you plan to do a lot of typing, look instead for a keyboard with keys that are raised, clearly labeled, well-spaced, and well-sized. Make sure that the keys provide solid tactile feedback. The keyboard should be easy to read under different lighting conditions. Overall, we’ve found that a full QWERTY keyboard, similar to a computer keyboard, is best for composing and editing text and e-mail messages. Some keyboards cram multiple letters, numbers, and symbols on a single key to save space. But those “condensed” keyboards, though still more convenient than keypads, are not as easy to handle as full keyboards. Consider the operating system. Smart phones run on various operating systems (OS), each with its own character. The operating system affects a phone’s capabilities, ease of use, and other conveniences. Android. This is well suited for advanced Google searching and proficient with multimedia, but you can’t edit Office documents, such as Word and Excel files, without adding software. The OS can drive large touch-screen displays, and some versions support multitouch displays and multitasking. Its open-source

smart-phone buyers

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architecture enables a broad community of software developers to create applications that run on the phones. There are more than 60,000 applications currently available on Android Market. BlackBerry. This well-established device is best known for its messag ing capabilities and easy e-mail setup and account management. Most BlackBerry phones have easy trackball navigation but lack touch-screen support. And on many models, you can’t create and edit Office documents such as Word and Excel files. Some models have a more powerful operating system, Office document editing, and even a touch screen. There are more than 5,000 applications currently available on BlackBerry App World. iOS 4. Known for innovative features, including the best of the iPod multimedia capabilities, iOS 4 has the largest, most diverse body of applications, with more than 200,000. This OS drives a large, high-resolution, multitouch display and provides intuitive navigation and support for rich HTML and advanced searching and map functions, but you can’t edit Office documents out of the box. Palm webOS. Palm is recognized for its strengths in organizing, contacts, and calendar features. Found on the Pre and Pixi, this operating system drives the user-friendly touch-screen interface that provides easy access to many features and applications. It enables multiple apps to run concurrently, links functions more intuitively, and adds more-advanced Web, multimedia, search tools, and messaging. You can shuffle apps on the touch screen much as you would a deck of cards. More than 1,500 apps are now available in the Palm App Catalog.

Symbian or Series 60. Found primarily on Nokia phones, the basic version can be a bit difficult to use, especially when setting up and using e-mail. And it can be tricky to navigate. Also, you can’t create and edit Office documents, such as Word and Excel files. The more powerful version, available on touch-screen models, is easier to manage and better at those tasks. The home screen offers customizable shortcuts to applications, contacts, and widgets. Some advanced Symbian models let you edit Office documents. There are more than 6,500 “content items,” videos, and applications on the Nokia Ovi Store. Windows Mobile. Entrenched among business users for its Microsoft Office and Outlook capabilities, this OS’s familiar interface makes navigation intuitive for PC users. It synchronizes easily with Microsoft Outlook. It’s easy to switch between apps and run multiple programs, though that might slow performance. The basic version only allows you to view documents in Office apps and lacks touchscreen support. A more powerful version supports a touch screen and full-featured e-mail and Office programs. Microsoft’s Marketplace for Mobile has more than 1,000 applications. Consider the data plan. Using a phone’s extra, network-dependent capabilities requires a regular (voice/text) phone plan and a data plan for Web surfing and sending and receiving e-mail. Depending on the carrier, prices for the two combined start at $45 to $80 a month with a twoyear contract. But you can easily spend much more than that as you add minutes, messaging, and other services. Consider syncing options. Syncing your phone with your computer has some advantages. For example, you’ll most

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likely find it easier to update calendar events and contact data using your computer’s larger keyboard and display. You’ll also have peace of mind knowing all your documents and personal data will be safely backed up should your phone be lost or stolen. But before you buy, check with the carrier or phone maker to be sure the phone is compatible with your computer or its operating system. Also confirm phone compatibility with your company if you plan on setting up corporate e-mail and calendar access. Check for updates. Manufacturers and carriers often use updates to improve talk time or even add new features. To update your phone, look for “update” under the settings menu, and follow the instructions. Make sure you’re in a good reception area to ensure that the file downloads fast and error-free. You should also periodically look up your phone on the Web sites of your carrier and phone’s manufacturer. Look for useful features. Today’s phones come equipped with many useful calling and multimedia features, including a media player, a camera, and Web browsing, as well as child-location and call-management services. Some features, such as programmable shortcuts, Bluetooth, speakerphone, and voice command make the phones easier to use. Check for special prices and promotions. Rebates and special offers can be substantial, but they change frequently. To get the best deal, check the carrier’s offerings online and in its retail stores, and then see what independent dealers offer at their Web sites and in their outlets. If at all possible, buy a new phone when you’re switching carriers or signing a new service commitment with your existing carrier. You almost always get a

better deal—either a deeply discounted price or even a free phone—when you’re signing a contract. Be aware that some rebates are offered only if you also sign up for a data plan. Check the return policy. Make sure you can return the phone if you’re not happy with it. Some stores attach stiff service-cancellation fees on top of what a carrier might charge. Don’t buy phone insurance. Cell carriers will insure your phone for about $4 to $8 a month with a $25 to $100 or more deductible, but they can replace your lost, stolen, or damaged phone with a repaired, refurbished one. We don’t think insurance or extended warranties are worth it. Only 17 percent of buyers we’ve surveyed got a new phone because the old one broke, and only 3 percent because the phone was lost or stolen. A better idea: Keep your old phone until the new phone’s contract ends. If you lose or break the new phone, reactivate the old one and use it until you qualify for a free or low-cost phone. Related CR Report: September 2010 Ratings: pages 192, 271

CoMPuTErs
Meaningful differences in speed between desktops and laptops have largely disappeared. But each design has its own advantages and trade-offs. The choices among desktop and laptop computers can be confusing. New desktops can be smaller and less conspicuous than some laptops. Meanwhile, some portable computer laptops offer

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features and capabilities that rival traditional desk tops. Here are the types of computers—and the pros and cons—you need to consider.
TYPEs

The desktop computer has become just another appliance you use every day. However, consider these pros and cons of desktop computers in general: Desktops deliver more performance than laptops. They are less costly to repair. They allow for a more ergonomically correct work environment. They let you work on a larger screen, and they can be equipped with better speakers. Desktops are available in various styles and configurations, all designed to appeal to different tastes—and uses. They take up a lot of desk space, even with a thin LCD monitor. All-in-one. These incorporate all components, including the monitor, into one case. The components are tightly packed behind and underneath the display, making it difficult to upgrade or repair. Meant to be space savers, they’re also designed to look less stodgy than a traditional computer. You’ll pay a premium price for these models. Compact. If you don’t have the space under your desk or you plan to put the computer on top of your desk, consider a compact or slim desktop. These are less than half the size of a full-size desktop. Like their larger brethren, compact desk tops tend to be inexpensive. But they may be more difficult to upgrade and repair. Full size. If you have the space for a tower under your desk, consider a fullsize desktop. While they are the largest

desktops

type of desktop, they are the least expensive and the easiest to upgrade and repair. Full-size desktops offer the most features and options. Gaming. The sky’s the limit for these, which are geared primarily toward gamers. You get the fastest quad-core processors, the most sophisticated graphics cards, multiple large hard drives, and plentiful RAM. Cases are usually large— and, in some cases, offer a fair amount of bling—with lots of room for expansion.

laptops

Laptops let you use your computer away from your desk, but you pay for that mobility with a smaller screen and keyboard, and often at the expense of performance. Technological advances have lessened the performance compromises somewhat, though. Whether portability or power is your main consideration, screen size will be an essential factor in deciding which type of laptop is right for you: 12- to 13-inch. If you’re planning to carry the laptop around with you frequently, a 12- to 13-inch model is probably the right choice. In our tests of 13-inch systems, we found that you might have to sacrifice some speed, and you’ll spend a few hundred dollars more than you would for a larger laptop. But you’ll also lighten your load by at least a pound, and you’ll find many of the same features on these laptops that are available on larger models, including web cams and memorycard readers. Some models shave a few ounces by removing the DVD drive. 14- to 16-inch. Laptops with a 14- to 16-inch screen generally offer the ideal balance of performance, portability, and price. They weigh about 5 to 6 pounds or more. They’re a good choice for those who

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need to take a laptop along less frequently, and a system in the 14- to 16-inch size range can easily be configured to serve as a desktop replacement. 17-to-18-inch. For a full-blown, entertainment-oriented desktop replacement, consider a 17- to 18-inch model. You’ll get better performance, a good-sized screen, and better speakers. It will cost more than a comparable desktop, but it’s handy if you have space constraints or if you’re planning to use it in areas of your house other than the home office. Netbooks. Inexpensive and portable, netbooks are downsized laptops with a 10- to 12-inch screen that weigh 2 to 3 pounds and cost $250 to $500. They are designed chiefly for Internet use and light word processing. They are not meant to replace the full-functionality of your laptop or desktop. Many newer netbooks run Windows 7. Not much larger than a hardcover book, netbooks are lighter, smaller, and less expensive than most standard laptops. They’re great for travel and might also make a good computer for a child. Netbooks have small displays, keyboards, and touchpads, and performance is slow. They have no optical drive (although you can add an external one), so you can’t easily install shrink-wrapped software or play CDs or DVDs. Netbooks are a relatively new category, and we currently have no reliability data. Tablets. Lightweight and highly portable, tablets are made to be carried wherever you go. They’re multifunctional, serving as Web browser, e-book reader, digital picture frame, movie viewer, and music player. Some will also include phone functionality. Apple’s iPad was the first major tablet to market. It weighs 1.5 pounds and uses a bright display that

rivals its 27-inch iMac counterpart. Battery life on the Wi-Fi version was 10 hours. Archos offers a 7-inch tablet for $200. Others are expected from most major computer manufacturers.
FEATurEs Many components play a key role in how a computer performs, including the processor, memory, operating system, hard drive, video adapter (with video memory), optical drive, and display (monitor). Laptop computers have additional features and considerations that are important. Where applicable, we’ve noted feature information that is important and distinctive to the type of computer. Processor. Also known as the CPU (central processing unit), the computer’s “brain” is responsible for processing information. Speed is the most important factor when choosing a processor, so pay attention to the processor’s family, the number of cores, and the clock speed. Intel and AMD are the dominant manufacturers of processors. Intel’s processor families include the low-end Atom, Celeron, and Pentium; the midrange Core 2 and Core i3; and the high-end Core i5 and Core i7. AMD’s processors range from the low-end Neo, Sempron, Athlon, and Turion to the midrange Phenom and high-end Phenom II. Processors with multiple cores can process more data at the same time. You can usually tell how many cores a processor has by looking at its name. A Core 2 Duo has two cores and a Core 2 Quad has four cores. A Phenom X3 has three cores. But it’s not always that clear; a Core i5 or i7 has four cores. Clock speed, measured in GHz (gigahertz), determines how quickly it can process information. Within a processor

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family, the higher the clock speed, the faster the computer. Clock speeds typically range from 2 to 3GHz. Power consumption is another important factor when choosing a processor. This is especially true for laptops—lower power consumption translates to longer battery life. When buying a computer, make sure the processor will be fast enough to handle your needs. If you are buying a desktop or a laptop, avoid computers that use the AMD Neo or Sempron processor, the Intel Atom or Celeron processor, or the Via Nano processor. For basic tasks like browsing the Web and checking e-mail, you’ll do fine with a low-end dual-core processor like the Intel Pentium DualCore and AMD Athlon/Turion X2. If you plan to use your desktop or laptop for entertainment like watching videos or playing games, get a faster processor such as the Intel Core 2 Duo/Quad, Intel Core i5, or AMD Phenom/Phenom II. If you’re a hard-core gamer or plan to edit highdefinition video, buy a computer with a high-end processor like the Intel Core i7. For less intensive uses like productivity tasks, the Core i3 should suffice. If you’re in the market for a netbook, stick to the slow but low-power-consuming Intel Atom processor. Memory. The computer’s memory, or RAM (random access memory), is used to temporarily store data while in operation. Computers with more memory tend to be faster than those with less, up to a point. Memory is measured in GB (gigabytes). Most brand-name desktops and laptops sold today have at least 4GB of memory, although 3GB is sufficient for most people. Any more than that is probably not beneficial unless you plan to run multiple memory-intensive applications

at the same time and use a 64-bit operating system. Netbooks typically come with 1GB of memory, which is adequate. Log-on security. For laptops: Some notebooks include fingerprint scanners as a convenient alternative to typing a password when logging in. Some of Lenovo’s laptops use face-recognition technology, as do some from Toshiba and other manufacturers. Lenovo’s new IdeaPad uses VeriFace technology when you log in. With VeriFace, your face is scanned, via the laptop’s webcam, and then scanned again to make sure it matches the initial scan every time you log in. Operating system. Many people choose PCs running Windows because they’re less expensive than Macs. Others choose PCs because they have a wider selection of games or they want to be fully compatible with Windows programs. If you go with a PC, you have a choice of several versions of Windows 7, each with its own hardware requirements. We recommend Home Premium as the Windows 7 version for most home users. Macs are more expensive but are stylish, and they’re also immune to most, if not all, viruses and spyware. Apple’s support has been tops in the industry in our surveys. While the company’s phone support is only available free for 90 days, you can get unlimited technical support through the Genius Bar if you live near an Apple store. Apple released its most recent version of OS X, called Snow Leopard, in September 2009. Video adapter and video memory. Also known as the video card, video accelerator, or graphics card, this is responsible for drawing what you see on your screen. There are two types of video adapters: integrated and discrete. The vast majority of computers sold have integrated video,

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which is slower and uses up part of your system’s memory. That said, integrated video is perfectly fine as long as you don’t plan to play complex 3D games like The Sims or World of Warcraft. Otherwise choose discrete video, which is faster and uses its own video memory. If you choose discrete, make sure that it has at least 256MB of video memory. Hard-core gamers should get 512MB to 1GB of video memory. Video outputs. If you’re buying a desktop, check to see which video outputs it has. Almost all desktops have an analog VGA output, which is compatible with flat-panel LCDs and older CRT monitors. Some have a digital DVI output for use with LCDs; this delivers a much cleaner and crisper image on the screen. If you’re buying a laptop, a VGA output can be used with a projector for delivering presentations. The newest desktops and laptops might have an HDMI (HighDefinition Multimedia Interface) output to feed video to an external HDTV. Hard drive. Also known as a hard disk, this is where your programs, documents, music, photos, and videos are stored. Bigger is better. Hard-drive sizes are measured in gigabytes (GB) and commonly range from 160 to 1,000GB. While size matters, speed is equally important. Speed is measured in RPMs (revolutions per minute). A slow hard drive will take longer to start up programs such as Windows and complete tasks (such as installing programs or scanning your hard drive for viruses). For a desktop, make sure it has a 7,200RPM hard drive. For a laptop, make sure it has a 5,400RPM hard drive. Hard drives often fail, and when they do you need to have a backup to recover your data. The best option is an external

hard drive. These connect to your computer through its USB, FireWire, or eSATA port. Some desktops offer portable harddrive bays, which save space by letting you insert a removable hard drive inside the desktop. Some high-end desktops and laptops can be configured with a RAID (redundant array of inexpensive disks) array. These computers have two or more hard drives. There are several types of RAID arrays, the most common being RAID 0 and RAID 1. RAID 0 distributes your data across multiple hard disks, which can greatly improve speed. But if one drive fails, you’ll lose data on all your hard disks. On the other hand, RAID 1 automatically copies data from one hard disk to the other. There is no speed boost, but if one crashes, all your data will be safe on the other one. SSDs (solid-state drives) are on the cutting edge of storage technology, allowing your computer to access data without the moving parts required by a traditional hard drive. So-called flash drives don’t have the spinning disk of a conventional hard drive, so they use less power, work more quietly, and should be more resistant to damage from rugged use. And because there are no moving parts, they promise quicker access to data. Netbooks are an exception; they may be bundled with very small solid-state drives that perform worse than traditional hard drives. Optical drive. This lets you read and write to CDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray discs. DVD burners (also known as DVD+/-RW) are standard gear on today’s computers. DVD burners can read and write to CDs and DVDs so you can back up your home-video footage or digital photos, for example. Recordable CDs

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(CD-R) can hold up to 700MB of data. Recordable DVDs (DVD+R, DVD-R, or DVD-RAM) can hold up to 4.7GB of data (single layer) or 8.5GB of data (dual layer). Blu-ray Disc (BD) drives are the newest standard. BD drives are capable of playing the growing list of Blu-ray movies and can store up to 25GB of data (single layer) or 50GB of data (dual layer), almost six times the capacity of a DVD. Monitor. For desktops: Most are widescreen, which are designed to fit wide-screen movies better without the black bars, but give you less screen area per inch over Tech tip a non-wide-screen With no display. Those who moving parts, plan to edit photos solid-state drives or videos may want promise to pay attention to quicker access differences in color, to data. viewing angle, contrast, and brightness. You can often obtain a discount on an LCD monitor by buying it bundled with a new computer. Display. For laptops, a 15- to 16-inch display, measured diagonally, should suit most people. Displays that are 13, 14, and 17 inches are also common. The screens on most laptops are glossy instead of matte. Glossy screens have more saturated colors and deeper blacks, but are also much more prone to glare. Like desktop displays, most laptops have wide-screen displays to fit wide-screen movies better. LED-backlighted displays provide more efficient use of power, resulting in longer battery life. Color on LEDbacklighted screens is in most cases not significantly different than that on other types of displays. Battery. For laptops: When not plugged into a wall outlet, laptops use a recharge-

able lithium-ion battery for power. Laptops go into sleep mode when used intermittently, extending the time between charges. You can lengthen battery life if you dim the display, turn off wireless when not needed, and use only basic applications. Playing a DVD movie uses more battery power than other functions, but most laptops should be able to play one through to the end. Many laptops can accept an “extended” battery, adding size and weight but giving as much as twice the battery life. Case. For desktops: Form factors for computers are more varied now. In addition to the most common tower format, you can find all-in-one and small-formfactor (SFF) computers. Mainstream computers usually come in towers, which fit on top of or underneath a desk. The all-in-one form factor, such as the Apple iMac, packs all the components into the same enclosure as the LCD display. Only the keyboard and mouse are separate. Sony, HP, Dell, and Gateway also have all-in-one models. SFF cases include the Dell Studio Hybrid and the Apple Mac mini. Networking. For connecting to the Internet, all desktops come with an Ethernet port that lets you run a wire between your desktop and your router. But if it’s not possible to run such a wire through your home, you may want to consider a Wi-Fi wireless adapter. Some desktops have this feature built in, while others require you to buy one and install it separately. You’ll also need a wireless router. All laptops come with wireless built in, and most have a wired Ethernet port as well. Wireless adapters mostly use the newer 802.11n standard (which is backwardcompatible to the older 802.11g). Unless

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you have an exceptionally large house, there’s no reason to buy an 802.11n wireless adapter. 802.11g is slightly less expensive and fast enough for most people’s needs, and its range is wide enough to cover a medium-sized house. If you do select an 802.11n adapter, make sure your router supports 802.11n as well. Mouse. Desktops typically come with a mouse to move the cursor on the screen. Most mice bundled with desktops are optical mice, which have light sensors on their underside to track movement. Apple offers its Magic Mouse, which has a touch-sensitive top surface that works in a similar manner to a multitouch touchpad. Mice come in all shapes and sizes. Some are ergonomically contoured to match the shape of your palm, while others are designed to be stylish. They can also be either wired or wireless. If you have a wireless mouse, you won’t have to deal with a cord, but you will have to recharge or replace the batteries every few months. Touchpad. Most laptops use a small touchpad in place of a mouse; you slide your finger across it to move the cursor. You can also program the pad to respond to a “tap” as a “click,” or scroll as you sweep your index finger along the pad’s right edge. Touchpads come in various sizes; the larger ones let you move the cursor farther across the screen without lifting your finger. Some models let you use multifingered gestures for zooming and rotating images. An alternative system uses a pointing stick the size of a pencil eraser in the middle of the keyboard. You can attach a USB or wireless mouse or trackball if you prefer. Keyboard. Most computers come with a standard wired keyboard. Some key-

boards have CD (or DVD) controls that let you pause, play back, change tracks, and change the volume. Still other keyboards also have additional keys to expedite getting online, starting a search, launching programs, or retrieving e-mail. Like mice, keyboards can also be wireless. Sound system. Computers for home use feature a high-fidelity sound system that plays CDs or downloaded music files, synthesized music, game sounds, and DVD-movie soundtracks. Some computers have three-piece speaker systems with a subwoofer, providing deeper, more powerful bass. Others with surround-sound systems can turn a PC into a home theater. Many computers have connections for an external audio source (such as a microphone) and for headphones. For laptops: The small speakers built into laptops often sound tinny. And a brand name like Altec Lansing or Harmon Kardon doesn’t guarantee that they’ll sound good. Headphones or external speakers deliver much better sound. But some larger laptops include much better speakers and even a subwoofer for deeper bass. Touch screens. Touch screens are beginning to show up on some desktops and laptops. These allow you to use your fingertip right on the display to control what you’re doing, for example making the screen larger or smaller, selecting menu items, and more. Ports. The ports to look for on a computer include USB, FireWire, Ethernet, and S-video or HDMI. USB ports let you connect many add-on devices, such as digital cameras or external hard drives, as well as a memory drive for copying files to and from the hard drive. Having these ports at the front of the case makes

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connecting devices more convenient. An Ethernet port or wireless network card lets you link several computers in the household to share files, a printer, or a broadband Internet connection. FireWire or IEEE 1394 ports are used to capture video from digital camcorders and connect to other peripheral devices. An S-video or HDMI output jack lets you run a video cable from the computer to a television so you can use the computer’s DVD drive to view a movie on a TV instead of on the computer monitor. Media-center PCs (equipped with TV tuners) can also capture video from a VCR, letting you copy tapes to DVDs. Other slots to look for on a new computer are memory-card readers for flash cards. Most laptops let you attach those devices without a docking station. At least two USB ports for easy hookup of, say, a printer, digital camera, or scanner are standard. A wired network (Ethernet) port is also standard. A FireWire port for digital-video transfer is common. An internal wireless-network (Wi-Fi) adapter is standard. Another option is an internal Bluetooth wireless adapter to link to a Bluetooth-capable cell phone, camera, or another laptop. Docking station. For laptops: Some notebooks offer a connection for a docking station, a $100 to $200 base that makes it easy to connect an external monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, network, and power in one step.
sHoPPIng TIPs Shop at an online retailer. Our subscriber surveys have found them generally superior to walk-in stores for selection and price. You can also save money by using sites such as Techbargains, Fat

Wallet.com, and Ebates, which tend to provide information on rebates. Macs aren’t often discounted, so it’s a good idea to take advantage of the price cuts that usually occur around the time Apple announces new models. That’s when other retailers, such as Amazon. com, MacConnection, and MacMall, tend to clear out older stock. Models from PC brands may also be discounted when their successors arrive. Or buy à la carte. If you have special needs, order from the manufacturer’s Web site. Menus show you all the options and let you see how a change affects the overall price. You might decide on a more-expensive processor and a bigger hard drive. Configure-to-order will often give you choices that you won’t get if you decide to buy an off-the-shelf model. But be sure to double-check your choices before ordering, and look for unwanted items that some manufacturers include by default. Shop at the right time. January, July, and October are good times to shop; new models are expected to show up in stores at those times, which means older inventory needs to be cleared out to make room. If a computer you like isn’t on sale, ask for a better price. Apple usually offers free iPods and educational discounts to students buying computers during the back-to-school season. Otherwise, the best time to buy an Apple is right after the company makes a new-product announcement and retailers are selling off old inventory. Try before you buy. Especially when you’re buying a laptop, you should try it before you buy it, if you can. Look for a keyboard with keys that don’t feel mushy. Touchpads should be large enough so that your finger can cover the span of the

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screen without repeatedly lifting it, and touchpad buttons should be easy to find and press. The touchpad should also have a dedicated scroll area. Carry the laptop around for a few minutes and make sure it’s not too heavy or too big. The laptop shouldn’t get hot during use (89 to 100 degrees F is a good range), and it should run quietly. Check the screen for glare. Glossy screens are now standard on most laptops. Several have added antireflective coatings, with mixed results, so view the screen under bright lighting to see if there’s a problem. Think green when you buy. Some computers meet the Energy Star standard for efficient power use. Energy-use guidelines cover three operating modes—standby, sleep, and running—with systems entering sleep mode within 30 minutes of inactivity. Power supplies also need to operate more efficiently. You probably won’t notice much difference in the operation of your computer, but your electric bill might go down a bit. Look for the Energy Star label on qualified computers. Prices won’t increase because of the new standard, according to a spokesperson for the Energy Star program. Another standard is EPEAT, which offers guidelines on what materials can be used in a computer. Depending on how well each computer meets their criteria, they are rated bronze, silver, or gold. A list of EPEAT compliant systems can be found at www.epeat.net. Recycle when you toss. Most manufacturers also have recycling programs that help you to dispose of your old computer, but the programs vary considerably from one company to another. Related CR Report: September 2010 Ratings: pages 196, 199, 204

CoMPuTEr MonITors
like TV screens, computer monitors are continuing to go wider and bigger. The squarish 17-inch monitors are now almost obsolete, replaced by wide-screen models. Their larger size allows for easier side-by-side page viewing or more spreadsheet columns with less scrolling. Prices keep falling on LCDs, even for bigger screens. You can now get a 17-inch LCD for not much more than $100 and a 24-inch for as little as $225. If you’re buying a monitor bundled with a new computer, as many consumers do, you can often upgrade from the standard display to a larger one for a modest amount—$50 to $150 or so. Before you start shopping, consider whether you really need a new monitor. If you’re still using a CRT, it’s probably time for an upgrade. Low prices on flat panels leave little justification for sticking with that space-hogging relic of the 20th century. If you already own a flat panel, good reasons to upgrade include switching to a bigger display for more screen real estate, or to a wide screen if you want to watch movies on your computer. Or you may want a monitor with a built-in TV tuner, speakers, or USB ports. Which LCD? Even if you could still buy an old-style CRT monitor (they’re essentially extinct), the reasons for choosing an LCD are many, among them no image flicker, sharper image, no glare, low electromagnetic emissions, reduced energy consumption and, the

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most obvious, space efficiency. Standard or wide screen. Even some LCDs are on the endangered list. With wide-screen displays now the norm, only a few squarer (4:3 aspect ratio) screens remain available, mostly 17- and 19-inch models. Some offer good value and you may even prefer that shape—if horizontal space is limited or the extra vertical space better suits your needs. Decide on a screen size. Unlike a CRT, whose viewing area is smaller than its diagonal size, an LCD has a nominal image size and a viewable image size that are the same. More screen real estate is always a good thing, and we recommend buying the largest screen you can. So the decision comes down to what fits your space and how much you want to spend. Expect to pay $100 and up for a 17-inch LCD, $130 and up for a 19- or 20-inch, $150 and up for a 22-inch, and $225 and up for a 24-inch.
TYPEs The vast majority of monitors on the market are lightweight, flat-panel LCDs. They come in a variety of sizes including the types of monitors listed here. The smaller monitors suffice for office work, but if you consume a lot of media or play games, you might prefer a larger screen. 17-inch. If you’re really pressed for space or can find a particularly good deal, a 17-inch monitor could provide enough screen real estate for you. But 19-inch and even some 20-inch models don’t cost much more. 19- to 20-inch. For spreadsheet work or home photo editing, a 19- to 20-inch monitor offers a good amount of screen space for a reasonable price. 22-inch. This is the sweet spot for gamers and media fans. You should be

able to find a monitor with very good display quality for under $300. 24-inch. Prices rise pretty quickly once you hit the 24-inch mark, but hard-core gamers and multimedia mavens looking for a big screen to watch movies and TV shows will appreciate this size.
FEATurEs Display quality, the most important monitor feature, isn’t a major worry thanks to a generally high standard of performance. But today’s monitors have other features that you should consider. Resolution. A monitor’s resolution refers to the number of picture elements, or pixels, that make up an image. More pixels mean finer detail. Most monitors can display at several resolutions, generally from 640x480 to 1920x1200, depending on the monitor and the computer’s graphics card. An LCD usually displays its sharpest image when set to its “native” resolution—typically 1024x768 pixels for a 15-inch screen; 1280x1024 (17 inches); 1440x900 (19 inches); 1680x1050 (22 inches); or 1920x1200 (24 inches). Typical resolutions for wide-screen monitors are 1280x800 (15 inches) and 1440x900 (17 inches). The higher the resolution, the smaller the text and images, so more content can fit on the screen. Higher resolution is preferred for working with photos and graphics. Response time. A flat-panel display’s response time indicates how fast the pixels can turn on and off. Contrast. This is a measure of the difference between the brightest white and the deepest black found on the screen, and is expressed as a ratio. Higher contrast results in images that are more vivid and punchy. But because a monitor’s

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contrast can vary across the screen, the number isn’t always a reliable measure. Monitors have brightness controls, so you can adjust to your liking. Brightness. A bright screen is important if you’re working in a brightly lit room. The spec is expressed as candelas per square meter, or cd/m2. But all you need to know is the higher this number, the better. You can also control an LCD’s brightness with knobs or onscreen controls. Most monitors also have controls for color balance (usually called color temperature), adjusting the screen geometry, and similar functions. Connectors. Virtually all new monitors have the DVI ports needed to take advantage of higher-end video cards for a sharper image, but not all include the necessary cable (about $10). And many include HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface) ports, also found on some newer computers and electronics equipment such as DVD players. One of the advantages of the HDMI interface is it allows for video and audio to be sent over the same cable (useful only if the monitor has built-in speakers). If you choose a monitor without one, you can buy an adapter for $25 or less that turns a DVI port into an HDMI connector, but you won’t get audio. Another port you may find is for high-bandwidth digital content protection (HDCP). This prevents the copying of video and audio content, and without it you may not be able to view copyprotected material. Extras. Some monitors include a microphone, one or more USB ports, integrated or separate speakers, and HDMI inputs for viewing the output of a DVD player or camcorder. You may also see LCDs with memory-card readers, so you can display

photos onscreen, and iPod docks for viewing images or playing music through the monitor. Plug-and-play capability makes it simple to add a new monitor to an existing computer. A built-in TV tuner is another feature to look for if you want your monitor to double as a TV.
sHoPPIng TIPs The most important attribute in a monitor, display quality, isn’t a major worry, thanks to a generally high standard of performance. Many monitors tested for our latest Ratings of recommended models had very good display quality. Even among the other models we tested, the worst performers received good scores, which is adequate for Tech tip many people. A note to video Plug-and-play capability makes viewers: Don’t exit simple to add a pect TV images new monitor to an to look as good as existing computer. they do on your flat-panel TV. Even the best monitors fell short of most LCD TVs, with blacks that aren’t as deep, slight haziness, and some light leakage around the edges of the screens. Check the viewing angle. Few monitors measure up to the best LCD TVs for viewing from a wide angle. That won’t matter for typical computer use. But if you often share your screen with a crowd, say for slide shows or games, you may want to pick a model that experiences less image degradation when viewed at an angle. When comparing specs, the bigger the number, the better. Consider easy adjustments. Virtually all new displays tilt up or down for a quick adjustment. For extra flexibility, look for monitors that allow you to adjust

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their height. Such models may also be able to rotate 90 degrees, from a landscape to portrait mode, which is especially useful for viewing a larger portion of Web pages or text documents. Also look for conveniently placed controls that adjust contrast, brightness, and other settings that affect images. We prefer a dedicated front-positioned contrast/ brightness control. Check for ample connections. Many new monitors feature at least one USB port, which can provide convenient connectivity for peripherals if your computer doesn’t have many USB ports, or accessing the ones it has is difficult. Virtually all new monitors have DVI ports and HDMI ports. Take a shine, or not. LCD monitors are showing up with glossy instead of matte-finish screens. The glossy screen can make dark areas of the image appear deeper and less washed out in bright, ambient light. But a glossy screen can also reflect light-colored objects in the room like a mirror. Some antireflective surfaces help minimize this problem. View the screen in bright light before buying, if possible. Look for a long warranty. Many monitors come with a three-year warranty on parts and labor, but others have only one-year coverage. It’s worth looking for the longer coverage, especially if you’re purchasing a more expensive model. Another consideration is the manufacturer’s defective-pixel policy. Some consider a certain number of stuck, dead, or hot pixels acceptable, while others will replace a monitor during the warranty period if it has even a single faulty pixel. Related CR Report: June 2010 Ratings: page 249

DIgITAl CAMErAs
Buying a digital camera can be disorienting. There are hundreds of cameras available at many different types of retail outlets (online and in traditional stores), with prices ranging from $75 to several thousand dollars. A digital camera takes information from its image sensor and processes and stores it as a collection of tiny dots, or pixels, in a digital file, usually on a memory card inside the camera. A digital photo image is made up of thousands of these pixels. A camera that captures 8 million pixels, for example, is called an 8-megapixel camera. The number of megapixels a camera features can also help to determine the size photos you can print or the amount of cropping you can do. For example, a 4-megapixel camera may be enough for snapshots, but if you want to print poster-sized images or crop heavily, 8 megapixels (or greater) are more suitable. A 6-megapixel camera might be all you’ll need because higher resolution doesn’t necessarily produce better prints. Lenses and other factors affect quality too. But most cameras today have at least 10-megapixel sensors. The size of the sensor, and the size of each individual image sensor element, which corresponds to pixels, can affect photo quality. But remember, the number of megapixels alone doesn’t determine the quality of a digital camera’s images.

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TYPEs In our Ratings, we divide models into two main types: basic cameras, which are simple point-and-shoots with just the features needed for routine shots, and advanced cameras, which are featureladen models that include sophisticated point-and-shoots and models that let you change lenses. These can be further divided into several subcategories. Subcompacts. Among the many types of digital cameras, the largest category is subcompacts—small cameras that fit in a pocket, weigh a few ounces, and can be carried everywhere. Most don’t have manual controls or viewfinders, but some include a variety of useful features, such as touch-screen LCDs. Some have zoom lenses as long as 14x. Compacts. Mainstream compacts are too big for pockets but small enough for most handbags. Many are simple to use and are great for everyday events such as family gatherings. Some don’t have manual controls for exposure and composition, limiting you to the camera’s assortment of preset scene modes, as with subcompacts. Superzooms. Superzoom cameras are characterized by a very long zoom range—15x or greater, which is good for sports, travel, or nature shooting. They’re generally bulkier and heavier than compacts and subcompacts. Some models have zooms as great as 30x. Advanced point-and-shoots. These cameras have a nondetachable lens but differ from basic models in that they have lots of manual controls, a hot shoe for an external flash, and support for RAW files. It’s the lightest advanced type. SLR-likes. These cameras, which include Micro four-thirds models, accept interchangeable lenses, but they lack a through-

the-lens viewfinder (in fact, most have no viewfinder). They’re smaller and lighter than an SLR (single lens reflex) but usually larger than a point-and-shoot. SLRs. These have the most features, with interchangeable lenses and the largest sensors for the best image quality in low light, and a through-the lens viewfinder. Controls are extensive. They’re also the heaviest, most expensive cameras. Most SLRs are now able to capture HD-resolution video.
FEATurEs Before you buy, consider the following features, which are included on most digital cameras. Exposure modes. Most digital cameras, including SLRs, are highly automated, with features such as automatic exposure control, which manages the shutter speed and aperture according to the available light. In that mode, the camera generally handles setting ISO and autofocus too. But there are other program modes that allow you to control specific settings, including shutter priority, aperture priority, and special scene modes. Some cameras include full manual controls, which let you set shutter speed and aperture. Zoom lenses. This type of lens, which is actually made up of several different lenses or lens elements, allows you to vary the focal length. That provides you with flexibility in framing shots and closes the distance between you and your subject, which is ideal if you want to quickly switch to a close shot. The typical 3x zoom on mainstream cameras goes from a moderately wide-angle view (35mm) to moderate telephoto (105mm). You can find cameras with extended zoom ranges between 5x and 30x, giving you added versatility. If you want a greater view

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angle for more panoramic landscapes or group portraits, look for cameras with a wide-angle end of the zoom range as low as 28 or 24mm. One common feature of zoom lenses is that they generally protrude from the camera when you turn it on. But some subcompacts and a few compacts and superzooms have nontelescoping lenses. On larger compacts or superzooms, you might also find a manual focus ring similar to the one on an SLR lens, although manual focusing on a point-and-shoot works differently than that on an SLR. Optical zooms are much better than digital zooms, which merely magnify the center of the frame without actually increasing picture detail. Almost all point-and-shoot digital cameras include zoom lenses. SLRs, which can use interchangeable lenses, often ship with a zoom lens, but also accept prime or nonzoom lenses. Image stabilization. More and more cameras, including many with powerful lenses, now come with an image stabilizer, a device that compensates for handheld camera shake. Often, the IS device lets you shoot with a slower shutter speed than you otherwise could without producing blur due to hand shake (although it won’t compensate for a subject’s motion). Optical (in the lens) and mechanical (in the camera body) image stabilizers are the best types to use, although some cameras include simulated stabilization. In SLRs, some brands include mechanical stabilizers, which can use IS with every lens. But some SLR brands only include optical IS in telephoto or long zoom lenses, which are the ones that need it most. The optical-based IS generally produces better results than mechanicalbased IS. But you won’t have IS on every

lens because it’s not built into the camera body. Image stabilization is a feature you should look for, especially if the camera has an optical zoom greater than 3x. Face detection & “smart camera” features. This digital camera feature attempts to find a face in the image to set focus, exposure, and color balance so that faces appear in focus and well exposed. When we’ve tried it, we found that it usually worked well. In some cameras, you have to turn on the feature. In others, it’s enabled at the factory, but can be turned off. Other types or variants of face detection are beginning to appear in newer cameras too, such as a smile shutter mode, which shoots a photo of the subject when a subject smiles. Other types include blink warning, which alerts you to shots in which a subject might have blinked, and intelligent ISO. Focus. In addition to being able to automatically set exposure, digital cameras automatically adjust the focus of the lens with autofocus features. But more advanced cameras include additional focusing functions. Be sure to look carefully at the types of additional features available on your camera, including manual focus. On SLRs, look for the number of AF (autofocus) points they have and what types of AF modes are available. SLRs include additional types of AF (often called dynamic AF) that group focus points into a field to more accurately track moving subjects. Shooting modes. Most cameras have three options for shooting still images: single image, burst mode, and self-timer. The burst mode allows you to fire off a series of shots quickly, for several, dozens, and sometimes scores of shots. Some SLRs can shoot more than

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a hundred shots in a burst, and do so very quickly (measured in frames per second, or fps). Some newer advanced point-and-shoots are also able to capture many shots per second. As the name implies, the self-timer mode provides a delay between the moment the shutter button is pressed and the photo is captured. Some cameras let you set how long this delay is and the number of shots you can take. Playback modes. All digital cameras let you review images on the LCD, along with exposure and other information embedded in the image file. So you can quickly see what the image actually looks like and delete it if you don’t like it. Many cameras have automatic orientation features that turn the photo vertically or horizontally to correspond to how you shot the photo. When reviewing, you can use the zoom control to magnify portions of the image file. You would also use the LCD screen to access the camera’s menu system to change various settings and access features. A few types of digital cameras include either touch-screen LCDs or LCDs that swivel. The best LCDs also don’t change in color or tone (often called solarizing) when viewed at an angle, although we don’t test for that. Selected models include slide-show features, and some even let you play music or create a multimedia slide show. ISO. This setting expresses how sensitive the sensor is to light. Many cameras allow you to set various ISO settings (anywhere from ISO 100 to ISO 3200, although some ranges can be even greater, particularly on SLRs). The advantage in being able to set a higher ISO is that you can then have more flexibility in adjusting either the aperture or shutter speed. For example, if you need to shoot

an image at 1/250 of a second in order to “freeze” the action, but you have only enough light for a shutter speed of 1/125 of a second, one option is to change the aperture to let more light in. But if you’re already at the widest aperture, you can instead increase the ISO from 100 ISO to 400 ISO, and you should be able to set the higher shutter speed. But high ISO settings on point-andshoot cameras, which have smaller sensors than SLRs, often suffer from image noise, which will make your photos look grainy and degrade image quality. So, even though point-and-shoots include ISOs up to 3200 or higher, you may be disappointed in the results. There is also concern about the relationship between high megapixel counts and sensor sizes. The more megapixels manufacturers cram onto the same-sized sensor, the more visual flaws can appear in the images. LCD viewers. Although optical viewfinders were once ubiquitous on cameras, hardly any subcompacts or compacts include them anymore. The reason is that they’ve been replaced by larger, sharper color LCD viewers. Some are now as large as 3.5 inches. These displays are accurate in framing the actual image you get— better than most optical viewfinders—but they might be hard to see in bright sunlight. This live-view functionality, available in point-and-shoot for years, has also been appearing on more and more SLRs, which have traditionally used the LCDs only for playing back or reviewing images. A camera with both an optical and an LCD viewfinder is more versatile, especially when you shoot in bright light or need to conserve battery power. Also, select point-and-shoots and SLRs include swiveling displays, which are helpful for taking hard-to-reach shots.

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Flash. Available on almost every digital camera, a flash (or strobe) allows you to illuminate subjects by using a short burst of light. Nearly all have auto-flash modes, a setting that will automatically fire a flash whenever the camera senses there isn’t enough illumination for a correct exposure. Most include other flash modes, including red-eye reduction mode, which minimizes a common flash camera problem (although you can also fix this in an image-editing program when the image is stored on your computer). There are primarily two types of flashes associated with consumer-level cameras: A built-in (onboard or, in some cases, pop-up) strobe is generally positioned directly above or diagonally above the lens. An external strobe, sold separately as an accessory, fits into a camera’s hot shoe, which lets you attach this accessory on to an advanced point-and-shoot, SLR-like model, or SLR. Many cameras include a number of flash modes that allow you to alter the type of flash or the strength of the illumination. Image file formats. The most commonly used file format is the JPEG, a compressed image format that allows you to use the file for a number of different applications, such as printing photos, but also for using on Web pages and e-mailing as attachments. Advanced point-and-shoots and all SLR-likes and SLRs can also capture images in a file format commonly known as RAW. This format is most often uncompressed and the image isn’t processed inside the camera, as with JPEG files. RAW files can yield the best quality images and give you the most flexibility when manipulating the photos with software. Memory cards. Instead of film, nearly all digital cameras record their shots and store

them on flash-memory cards, although occasional models also have had onboard f lash-memory capacities greater than 1GB. SecureDigital (SD) is the most widely used format. Other memory cards used include Compact Flash (CF), mostly on SLRs, Memory Stick Duo, and xD. Although those storage cards were once quite expensive, they have recently dropped significantly in price. New cameras can also accept special, highercapacity versions of SD cards, such as SDHC and the latest, SDXC, a format that allows memory-card manufacturers to produce cards with capacities as large as 2 terabytes. Connections. To save images, you transfer them to a computer, typically by connecting the camera to the computer’s USB or FireWire port, or inserting the memory card into a special reader. (Many computers now have built-in card readers.) Cameras can also be connected to printers, or you can insert the memory cards directly into select printers. Both options allow you to print photos without the need to transfer them to a computer. Most cameras also include a video output that lets you view images on your TV. Some even include an HDMI output (on the camera body or camera dock) that can be attached to an HDTV. But the cords and docks might cost extra. Video. Basic point-and-shoots have been able to capture video for many years, but SLRs have only recently added this feature. Most cameras include HDresolution video, although some still capture in standard definition, which may not look as sharp on an HDTV. Some models with HD video quality are good enough to avoid the cost and inconvenience of a separate camcorder. One convenient video feature many cameras now

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include is a dedicated video button, which lets you quickly record video when you’re shooting still images. Also, if you’re buying a basic or advanced point-andshoot, check to see whether the camera can zoom while capturing video. Not all models can.
sHoPPIng TIPs Don’t buy into megapixel hype. Despite the prevalence of 10-, 12-, and 14-megapixel cameras, 6 megapixels is all the resolution most people need. If you often crop or drastically enlarge your images, get at least 8 megapixels. Higher resolution doesn’t necessarily produce better prints, so don’t let a salesperson push a camera solely based on its megapixel count. Shop by brand. Before diving into specific models, consider some characteristics by brand, culled from our years of digital-camera tests. For example, Fujifilm offers image sensors with proprietary technology that produce high image quality at high ISO settings. Kodak emphasizes simplicity and ease of use. Canon, Nikon, and Olympus offer full lineups for every type of user. Casio specializes in ultraslim models. Samsung offers cameras with high styling and multimedia features. Panasonic uses image stabilizers and Leica lenses throughout its line. Sony often uses Zeiss lenses, a brand well-known in the camera world. Try it out. The smallest, lightest models aren’t necessarily inexpensive cameras. And the biggest and heaviest aren’t necessarily found at the high end. If possible, try cameras at a store before you buy. That way you’ll know which one fits your hands best. In our tests, some of the smallest didn’t leave much room even for small fingers.

Keep your other cameras in mind. If you own a film camera with interchangeable lenses, you can often use the lenses on digital SLRs of the same brand. But there are exceptions. For example, some new Nikon bodies only operate autofocus on its AF-S or AF-I lenses. Forgo the extended warranty. Overall, digital cameras have been among the most reliable products in our subscriber surveys. Only about 5 percent of those purchased from 2005 through 2009 have been repaired or had a serious problem. Yet in our latest electronics-buying survey, 68 percent of digital camera buyers were pitched an extended warranty in stores and 11 percent bought one. We don’t think it pays to buy an extended warranty for a digital camera. Related CR Report: August 2010 Ratings: pages 212, 217

DIgITAl FrAMEs
A digital photo frame could be a good idea for anyone who’s tired of seeing the same old lineup of photos on the mantel. That’s because you can make the pictures inside the frame change automatically. Most frames let you simply insert your camera’s memory card and choose the photos you want to show, but there are other options as well, one of which is the use of wireless connections. Most frames contain built-in memory, so you can store photos in the frame and then return the memory card to your camera. Some can store and play digital music to accompany photos and others can play short digital video clips,

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although not all of those can play audio with the video. Frames generally range in size from about 3x5 to 10x12 inches. What’s more important is the display area within the frame. We tested 7- and 8-inch frames, measured diagonally. Our tests showed that a number of models have some glitches that affect setup and use, and menus that can be confusing. But many of those issues can be overcome with a little effort.
FEATurEs Certain features, like aspect ratio and image quality, can help ensure your satisfaction with a digital picture frame long after you buy it. Here are some of the more important features to consider. Image quality. This is a frame’s most important attribute. The screen surface also might affect how well you see the picture. Many models have matte, nonreflective screens. Others place the screen under a piece of glass that creates a Tech tip bit of glare in some Unless you take cases, even if the pictures using a glass has an anti16:9 aspect ratio, glare coating. stick to frames Display resoluwith a normal tion. As stated by (4:3 or 3:2) the manufacturer, aspect ratio. this is the number of pixels, horizontally by vertically, that the frame can display. We recommend frames with a pixel resolution of at least 800x600 or 800x480, which produces a visual resolution of about 100 pixels per inch. Aspect ratio. This represents the relationship between an image’s height and width. Most frames use either a 4:3 or 3:2 aspect ratio. They work well because

most digital cameras shoot at 4:3 and digital SLR cameras shoot at 3:2. But an increasing number of frames utilize the wide-screen 16:9 ratio typical of digital TV sets. Many cameras can shoot images at 16:9, but only if you change the camera’s default setting. If you shoot at the standard 4:3 or 3:2, displaying those images on a 16:9 frame can distort the images, because the frame stretches and crops to make the pictures fit. You can also select a 4:3 setting on those frames, but that leaves black bars on each side of the image. Frames with 4:3 aspect ratio provide the best view for most people. Controls. With most frames, you insert your camera’s memory card into a slot, turn the frame on, and watch your photos display in slide-show fashion. With others, though, you must decide whether to display a still image or slide show each time you turn on the frame. The multiple layers of controls for tasks such as choosing only to view certain pictures or showing pictures from a memory card can be frustrating. Some frames have onboard software and controls for selecting images stored on a card or in the frame’s internal memory and, in most cases, for setting slideshow timings, transitions, and brightness. Frames with the controls in front are easier to use. While controls placed on the side or back of the frame are out of sight, they’re also harder to reach, and you’re forced to tilt the frame back and forth to see the settings you’re changing on the screen. Versatility. Most frames can be set to either the wider “landscape” mode or the taller “portrait” mode. But not all offer that versatility, so check before you buy. A number of frames can automatically rotate individual photos to their proper

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orientation, but only if the pictures were taken by a camera that records orientation as it shoots. Some frames can be hung on walls, but many frames require AC power, so there is a power cord to contend with. Generally, digital frames are best suited for use on a desk or credenza. Frames with removable outside borders can be customized to match a room’s decor. Built-in storage. Some frames have built-in memory that can store images, which is more convenient than leaving your camera’s memory card in the frame. Look for at least 256MB. Memory cards. Most models can accept the common types of memory card, such as SD, Compact Flash, or Memory Stick. Make sure the frame can use the same type as your camera. USB port. If you want to transfer digital images directly from your computer, look for a frame with a USB port. (Those with a USB 2.0 port, noted in the Ratings, have faster transfer rates than those with 1.1.) Wi-Fi. If you get a frame with Wi-Fi connectivity, you might be able to download photos from your computer’s hard drive (provided that it also has a network connection). Many frames also connect with particular photo-sharing sites. Most are free, but some let you retrieve photos only from a Web site that requires a subscription fee. Bluetooth. A few frames let you connect via Bluetooth. If your camera or cell phone has Bluetooth, it might be a handy way to get photos to your frame. Audio and video extras. Some models allow you to accompany slide shows with music or narration. It’s fairly simple to do with some frames and a bit more involved with others. Some models can play AVI

Motion JPEG video with sound, others can play it without sound, and a few can also play MPEG1 and MPEG4 digital video formats. A few frames include a built-in iPod dock for showing photos and playing music. But keep in mind that the speakers on the frames are not the best for listening to music. Connections. Not all frames that work with Windows computers also work with Macs. Look specifically for models that work with Macs if that’s what you have. Remote. A wireless remote makes the frames easier to use.
sHoPPIng TIPs Make picture quality your top priority. After all, you’re looking at your favorite family photos and memories. Fit the frame to the recipient. Some frames require only the ability to plug in a memory card. Others might have confusing menus or require wireless setup. Make sure the person who will be using the frame has some tech savvy if the model you’re considering is a bit tricky to use, or make sure you’re available to help with the setup. Skip the wide-screen models. Unless you take pictures using a 16:9 aspect ratio (something most cameras allow, but not by default), stick to frames with a normal (4:3 or 3:2) aspect ratio. Otherwise, the frame will display bars above and below or on the sides of the picture, or you’ll have to stretch it to fill the screen. Get at least a 7-inch frame. This will allow you to display a full 4x6 photo. Consider your photo-sharing service. If you use an online photo-sharing site like Snapfish or Flickr, choose a wireless frame that supports your site. Related CR Report: July 2009 Ratings: page 219

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E-BooK rEADErs
E-book readers are portable devices with 5- to 10-inch screens optimized to show the electronic text of digital books. Most electronic book readers offer additional capabilities, including wireless access to virtual bookstores and to Web sites, and they even play audiobooks or other digital multimedia files. They’re quite light—mostly 10 ounces or so—and are about as thin as many smart phones. Prices generally range from $140 to $500, though you might see a model or two for $100 or so. Most use technologies such as E Ink that rely on reflected ambient light to illuminate their screens, and so use much less energy than the LCD screens of laptops and many phones. That gives them a relatively long battery life— thousands of page turns, or upward of a week or so in standby mode. But reader screens typically aren’t backlit, so they can be as difficult to read as printed books in dim light. E-book readers offer other capabilities, such as built-in music players, but they’re designed primarily for reading. You select content and turn pages using buttons, bars, or (on touch-screen models) an onscreen swipe. Here are some questions to consider if you’re thinking of buying an e-book reader. Can I read e-books on other devices? You can. The same e-book applications found on readers are also available for many smart phones, PCs, and Mac computers. Some tablet models such as Apple’s

iPad have their own e-book apps, too. But multipurpose devices are generally less suited to e-book reading than dedicated readers. Their LCD screens typically display type less crisply than reader screens, they run for hours on a charge rather than days, and they’re more prone to wash out in bright light. How do I get e-books onto my reader? They’re usually downloaded directly from an e-book store maintained by the reader’s manufacturer. Many readers come bundled with unlimited access to a 3G cellular network that allows wireless downloads from those stores wherever you have network coverage—a significant plus. A book generally requires a minute or less to download. Some readers, and some multipurpose e-book devices such as some iPad models, connect wirelessly only over a Wi-Fi connection to a home network or hotspot. Other units, including some of the Sony Reader models, require you to connect the device to a computer to download content. Downloads using a USB cord and a computer are an option with all units, even wireless ones. What do e-books cost? E-books can be less expensive than printed books. Prices range from free to $30 and up. New best-selling titles often cost less as e-books than as hardcovers. Many classic titles that are in the public domain cost only a few dollars or are available free from the Google Books database of more than 500,000 public domain titles. E-book retailers frequently offer free sample chapters. The selection of e-books on all the major devices is large and rapidly expanding. That said, not every printed book is available in e-book form and the e-book release is sometimes delayed

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somewhat, to maximize sales of hardcover editions. Is other content available? Yes, most readers also allow you to buy magazines and newspapers, either as single issues (typically for prices comparable to buying their printed counterpart) or as subscriptions, which can cost less than subscribing to the printed versions. Is an e-book reader right for you? E-book readers are much thinner and lighter than a single hardcover book, and can hold thousands of titles. Buying an e-book reader makes the most sense if you’re a voracious reader or someone who often lugs books among several favorite reading locations. A reader can also be a fine choice for the visually impaired. Type size can be enlarged, sometimes to sizes that exceed those of large-print books and periodicals, and a few models also allow fonts to be changed. Amazon Kindle models will even read text to you, albeit in a somewhat mechanical voice.
TYPEs Dedicated e-book readers. These devices, including Amazon Kindles, Sony Readers, and Barnes & Noble Nooks, focus primarily on displaying e-books and are included in our Ratings. Many also offer newspaper and magazine subscriptions as secondary capabilities that are compromised somewhat by their monochromatic screens. Most have E Ink screens, and so offer decent or better type and long battery life. Multipurpose e-book readers. This type, which include such devices as the Apple iPad, typically offer a color screen, supplemented on a few models by a second, monochromatic E Ink screen. They usually also have a full Web browser,

whereas dedicated readers may have none, or only a limited one.
sHoPPIng TIPs Consider screen size. Measured diagonally, screens range from about 5 to 10 inches. A 6-inch screen offers a good combination of adequate size and moderate price for most people. It will be small and light enough to slip into a handbag or briefcase. Consider screen capabilities. At the moment, no devices sold primarily as e-book readers have color, at least on their main screen, though it’s coming within a year or so (and is available now on multipurpose mobile devices that have e-book capability, such as smart phones and Apple’s iPad tablet computer). On some readers, you can use touch capability to help you choose content and turn pages. But on some models we’ve evaluated, the additional “touch” layer of the screen has tended to make type a little less crisp than on nontouch models. Consider connectivity vs. cost. A model with wireless 3G access offers the most flexibility for obtaining new content for the reader, but models with Wi-Fi– only access generally cost less. E-readers that must be connected to a computer can be the least convenient to use, but they are likely to be the lowest-priced. You’ll have to choose between cost and convenience. In any case, don’t expect to use 3G or Wi-Fi access to the Internet for much except downloading content from the e-reader’s dedicated store. At best, readers have Web browsers that are very limited, and our testers have found most to be virtually unusable. Consider performance differences. Readers vary in the clarity of type on their screens, and in the contrast between

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the type and the screen background— both important to readability. In addition, the E Ink screens of these devices turn black when changing pages, and some models take noticeably longer to complete these page turns than others. There are also differences in how quickly competing readers are usable. While these devices’ frugality with power means you can leave them on almost for days and even weeks without running the battery down, some models are a few seconds quicker to wake up from sleep mode, or a few minutes faster to boot up from off mode, than Tech tip their competitors. Most e-book Consider versareaders also serve tility and flexibilas a basic MP3 ity. Books ordered player or digital from the reader’s photo frame. dedicated e-book store all come formatted for the device. Some readers, including the Barnes & Noble Nook, can also accept books from other e-book stores natively—that is, without the need to convert their format—and also support documents of other types, such as Word documents. Other readers are more limited in their support. With Kindles, for example, Word documents and photos in JPEG format must be sent to Amazon for conversion before they can be loaded. Most readers have the capability to be a basic MP3 player or basic digital (albeit monochromatic) photo frame. Virtually every reader brand has other distinctive capabilities. Kindles can read content aloud, in a somewhat mechanical voice. You can lend e-books from Nooks. Some Sonys allow you to handwrite notes or even drawings, using a stylus. Related CR Report: July 2010 Ratings: page 228

gPs nAVIgATIon
Portable gPs navigation systems can guide you through unfamiliar areas, suggest an alternative route around rush-hour traffic, and perform an increasing array of infotainment functions. In today’s competitive market, GPS prices are coming down and budgetpriced units include features previously available only on more expensive models, such as spoken street names, speed warnings, a music player, or a photo viewer. Higher-priced models can include such features as a wireless FM transmitter and Bluetooth-phone compatibility, which allows you to access phone numbers from your cell phone or call a number displayed on your GPS unit. Bluetooth connectivity can be handy for hands-free phone operation, or even making a reservation at a restaurant while en route based on the GPS points of interest information. Premium services, such as traffic and weather reports, are becoming widely available, although they can require a subscription. However, free traffic information supported by small, onscreen advertising is quickly becoming the norm. Extra features aside, our testing has shown that all GPS guide devices will typically get you to your destination, but not always by the most efficient route. While there is no substitute for local knowledge of roads and traffic situations, some of the latest devices have features such as historical traffic data and the ability for users to modify maps to add some local intelligence.

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TYPEs Shoppers looking for navigational aid can choose from many types of GPS devices, including aftermarket portable or in-dash units, cell phones, factoryinstalled in-dash units, telematics systems, and even laptop computers. All have advantages and disadvantages, and choosing the right one for you depends on your needs and budget. Aftermarket portable systems. Today’s portable units offer most of the features of carmaker built-in systems, and some have features that you can’t get in a builtin system. Plus, they’re compact enough to carry with you. They can easily be moved from car to car, and their light weight and small size make them easy to pack in luggage. With prices from about $80 to $450, portable units are much less expensive than built-ins, at $1,500 to $2,000. And features available in portables have been advancing in recent years. Real-time traffic reporting is available even on more-affordable units, and some offer voice-command capability. But portables have smaller screens that can be harder to read at a glance. You also have to securely mount the device to prevent possible injury in an accident, make sure it’s out of the way of possible air-bag deployment, and remember to hide or take it with you when you leave the car. (Theft of GPS units is growing.) If the unit’s battery loses its charge, you will also have to deal with a cord running to a power outlet. Basic. These are no-frills navigators, ideal for those who don’t need a lot of bells and whistles like Bluetooth connectivity for hands-free cell-phone use and MP3 players. The least-expensive models in this category generally have 3.5-inch screens and are some of the

more compact models, which can make them even more appealing to frequent flyers. As a bonus, prices start at under $100, and even lower prices can be found with sales and incentives. Basic models with 4.3-inch-wide screens are generally the more expensive ones in this group. Price: $80 to $300. Traffic optional. These products are ideal if you’re not sure you need traffic info now, but might want to add it later. Keep in mind that adding traffic later on means buying a separate receiver, which can cost up to $100. Models in this price bracket often also add a few key features, like lane assistance. The added features vary by brand; check our Ratings for the ones important to you. Price: $100 to $300. Traffic ready. A top-of-the-line, premium unit usually comes traffic-reporting ready with a built-in or included external receiver. These devices include the features we recommend, plus add extras like a music and video player, Bluetooth connectivity, FM transmitter, and a wide screen. Price: $150 to $450. Map software and GPS receivers for computers. You can turn your laptop into a navigation device with an add-on GPS receiver and map program. These are available from companies such as DeLorme, Garmin, and Microsoft, starting at less than $100. While they provide functions similar to a dedicated GPS device, a laptop can be difficult to secure in a car, and you should never use a keyboard or touch screen while driving. Also, laptop screens can be difficult to see inside a car due to glare. Price: $60 to $150. Handheld GPS hiking devices. GPS navigation has many nonautomotive applications, including handheld units for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking GPS

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devices can include a map, compass, and sometimes altimeter, while adding the ability to program routes, plot a trail, and share information. Many hiking units include what is called a base map, enabling them to show your location on a basic roadway map. But these devices don’t show the level of detail common on a dedicated portable car unit, and they typically don’t offer turn-by-turn navigational aid. What they can do is inspire trail adventures, including geocaching— GPS-based treasure hunting. And they can provide an extra safety margin when exploring off the beaten path, with the ability to follow your trail back to the car or share your specific coordinates in case of an emergency. Price: $150 to $600.
FEATurEs All portable navigation devices on the market today include preloaded maps and provide spoken directions and automatic rerouting if you miss a turn. The following are additional features to look for when comparing models, depending on your needs. Screen size. We’ve tested portable systems with screens ranging from 2.5 to 7 inches. The smallest can be hard to see, and their small touch-screen buttons can make it tedious to enter an address. On the other hand, the largest units can be bulky to carry, and when mounted to the windshield tend to obstruct more of your view of the road. A 3.5-inch screen measured diagonally is an acceptable compromise, but 4.3-inch-wide screens are easier to read and use. Manufacturers are also beginning to offer a 5-inch screen size. Spoken street names. Better systems tell you to turn onto a street, highway, or route number by its name rather than the

more general “right turn ahead” or similar generic instruction. This GPS feature, often called text-to-speech, helps you to keep your eyes on the road and less on the GPS unit. It is especially useful in busy, unfamiliar areas where driving is challenging and intersections may be close together. Real-time traffic reports. Units with traffic information can alert you to a problem or slowdown ahead in time to avoid it. Some will even ask if you want to find another route and will detour you at the touch of a button. The real-time data is available to subscribers through a cell-phone network, FM signal, or satellite radio service. But the service is currently available only in some cities, and coverage is normally limited to major roads. The quality of information—like any traffic reporting—can vary or be less than current. Still, we have found that it can help. We’re seeing more and more devices with free, advertisingsupported traffic information, but some are still subscription-based, and some require an additional receiver costing up to $100. Free traffic information is supported by small banner ads that pop up occasionally. Garmin, Magellan, Motorola, and Nextar all offer this feature on some models. Another emerging trend is that some new models factor in historical traffic data and can route around known congestion patterns such as rush-hour traffic. Predictive data entry and dynamic search. These GPS features make entering a city name or address faster. With predictive data entry, as you type, the screen’s keyboard will highlight only letters that help complete a known name. If you type “Pitt”, for example, the system will then highlight “S” as the next letter

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for Pittsburgh. The latest Garmin units offer word prediction similar to smartphone texting applications. Almost all models have dynamic search. This common GPS device feature helps narrow things down as you tap in an address. With dynamic search, if you type “San”, the unit might offer up a list of choices including San Diego, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, etc. You can then pick one from the list or just keep typing. Detour feature. If you see traffic building up ahead, a manual “detour” button will find you an alternative route. Some models allow the user to select a specific distance to route around a problem. Traffic-capable devices integrate their traffic information with detouring functions, prompting a user to choose an alternative route when traffic conditions are unfavorable. That can be helpful in evaluating options before changing course. Routing options. Some systems can alert you to toll roads on your chosen route and often allow you to select a route that avoids them. Other routing options you might want to look for include multiple trips, or routes for biking or walking that avoid highways and let walkers go against one-way traffic. Mounts and mounting. Most portable systems mount to the windshield using a large suction cup. Manufacturers have typically used either an angled rigid arm or a flexible gooseneck to attach the unit to the suction cup. We recommend the rigid arm mount because the lesscommon goosenecks tend to vibrate when the car is in motion. Something else to look for is a unit that is easy to install and remove from the mount. Typically, a unit slides onto a mount or snaps into it. The power cord either plugs into the mount or directly

into the unit. We’ve found the most convenient to use are mounts that allow you to snap the unit in and release it with the push of a button. If the power cord plugs into the mount, that makes it easier to quickly remove and reinstall the unit. Power supply. All portable systems can be powered through a car’s 12-volt socket, and most have an internal recharge able battery. An interna l power Tech tip supply helps to minimize a tangle A screen size of 3.5 or 4.3 inches of cords in the car. is easy enough We found that to read without those units typimaking the unit cally operate for too bulky. 2–4 hours on a charge, although testing revealed sig nificant variance among models. Internal power also allows you to practice using the system and program driving destinations while you are away from the car, or to use the device as a handheld tool when traveling, walking, or bicycling. Bluetooth compatibility. This allows you to make and receive telephone calls using the unit’s internal speaker, microphone, and screen, and automatically quiets directions while the call is being made. Units with this feature can also display the user’s telephone book, show caller ID onscreen, and allow you to call point-of-interest locations found in the GPS device. This requires a Bluetoothcompatible telephone. MP3 player. With a music player, the device can store and play preloaded audio files, either through its speaker or through the car stereo using an FM transmitter or a cord from the GPS headphone jack to the car’s auxiliary port. This GPS feature means the unit can

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also be used as a portable music device away from the car. File capacity varies by unit. Most navigation units have SD card expansion slots for file storage. Video player. Some models show videos previously downloaded to the unit’s hard drive or stored on an SD card. Using this GPS feature normally disables navigation while the video is being shown, but it can be handy for families on road trips and frequent flyers. Photo viewer. The viewer allows users to display previously loaded photos or photos stored on an SD card, as a single image or as slide shows. Foreign languages. Many units offer spoken and displayed directions in Spanish and French in addition to English, and several have even more choices. Some TomTom models can provide spoken directions in more than 30 languages, but can’t display them all on the screen. For specific language needs, it is recommended that you check with the device manufacturer for the latest out-of-the-box abilities and additional language features that might be available by download.
sHoPPIng TIPs Before you buy a GPS navigator, think about your typical driving conditions, how often you’re in unfamiliar areas, and the features that are most important to you. Next, focus on how well the system works for navigation. The highest-rated models we’ve tested make it especially easy to enter destinations, and they give the most helpful directions. Look for a GPS guide device that scored well for entering a destination. Some interfaces are more intuitive than others, and low scoring units can be awkward, slow, or

both. Then consider what, if any, extra features you want. What type of driving do you do? If most of your driving is spent commuting along the same route or running local errands on familiar roads, you might not get much use from a GPS guide device. On the other hand, if you often encounter traffic congestion, a nav system can help you get around it by showing surrounding roads and plotting an alternative route. It also may be worth paying extra for real-time traffic information, which can warn you of traffic congestion, accidents, or road construction, and plot a route around it before you even get to the trouble area. But traffic reporting on GPS units is not perfect; like other sources of traffic information, it can be inaccurate or outdated. Where and how often will you use it? If you’re buying a new car, check to see if a built-in system is available and how much it costs. These are nicely integrated into the car. But they can be more complicated to use and are typically more expensive than portable systems, initially and for subsequent map updates. Still, if most of your driving is done in one car, or if you’d prefer not to have a unit mounted on the dash or windshield, and you’re not on a tight budget, you might be happier with a built-in system. If you often fly to new places and rent vehicles, or if you own more than one car, a portable system might be the way to go—especially with prices for entrylevel systems now starting at less than $100. And portables are now available with high-end features once found only on built-in models. Another increasingly popular option is a cell or smart phone with navigation capability. With these, you don’t have to

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pay for an expensive in-dash system or worry about carrying around a portable GPS guide unit. There are two types of phone-based navigation available. One is a subscriptionbased service from your service provider, which typically costs about $3 dollars a day or $10 dollars a month. Downloadable navigation applications are the other option, which range in price from free to as much as $80. Whichever option you choose, you’ll also need to purchase a mount, car charger, and possibly a data plan for your phone. Related CR Report: August 2010 Ratings: pages 234, 236

PrInTErs
Inkjet and laser printers have become more affordable and increasingly full featured. Color inkjets, which can cost as little as $30, now turn out photos nearly indistinguishable from lab-processed photos. Once reserved for businesses, monochrome laser printers can now be had for less than $50.
TYPEs Here’s how to find the type of printer that best suits your needs. Inkjet printers. Inkjets use droplets of ink to form letters, graphics, and photos. Some have one cartridge that holds the cyan (greenish-blue), magenta, and yellow inks, plus a second one for black. Others have a separate cartridge for each color. For photos, many inkjets have additional cartridges that contain lighter cyan and magenta inks, or gray

ink, which can give a smoother look in light areas of a photo. Most inkjet printers output black-andwhite text at 2 to 9 pages per minute but are much slower for color photos. Various models we tested took from 1½ to 10 minutes or more to print a single highquality 8x10. Printing a 4x6 snapshot can take as little as one minute, and cost as little as 25 cents. The cost of printing a color 8x10 photo can range from 75 cents to $2.30, including ink and paper. The cost of printing a black-text page with an inkjet varies considerably from model to model, typically between 2 and 10 cents. Printer prices range from $30 to $400. Laser printers. These work much like plain-paper copiers, forming images by transferring toner (powdered ink) to paper passing over an electrically charged drum. The process yields sharp black-and-white text. Laser printers usually outrun inkjets, cranking out black-and-white text at a rate of 12 to 18 ppm. Black-and-white lasers generally cost about as much as midpriced inkjets, but they’re less expensive to operate. Laser cartridges, about $50 to $100, can print thousands of blackand-white pages for a cost of 2 to 3 cents per page. Lasers that can be networked—shared by all the computers on a home network— start at $130. All-in-one laser printers add scanning, copying, and sometimes fax capability. Among laser printers we tested, there was only one clear-cut performance difference: They were noticeably slower at printing text than the plain lasers. Prices start at $200. Color lasers are slower than black-andwhite models. They cost as much to use as the better inkjet models, and they’re not a

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good choice for printing photos. They’re also very bulky. They cost $250 and up. All-in-one printers. You can also get printers with scanning, copying, and sometimes fax capability. Many all-inones cost no more and take up little more space than a plain printer. What’s more, all-in-ones are actually getting less expensive and more versatile. They cost $60 and up. In our tests, inkjet all-in-ones and plain inkjets performed similarly, cost about the same to use, and printed at similar speeds. A few inkjet all-in-ones and plain inkjets printed a color 4x6 in less than 2 minutes, and a few relatively frugal ones printed one for as little as 25 cents. Specialty snapshot printers. For printing photos at home, a speedy snapshot printer can be more convenient than a full-sized model. Most are limited to 4x6inch snapshots, but a few models can also print on 5x7 paper. Snapshot printers use either inkjet or dye-sublimation technology, in which a waxy ink is fused to paper from a roll of plastic film. Like most full-sized inkjet printers, these models typically hook up directly via cable to a digital camera through a PictBridge connection, or print directly from your camera’s memory card so you can print without using a computer. They cost $100 to $200. Mobile or personal printers. These smaller versions of inkjet printers are good for executives—or others—on the go. Most have a built-in battery in addition to an external power cord. And they come equipped with memory card readers so you can print photos without a computer. What they lack in speed, they make up in portability. They’re lightweight and can fit into a briefcase or backpack.

FEATurEs To determine which printer features you’ll need, consider how you’ll be using your printer and what you need to print. If you’re printing photos, you’ll need a memory card reader, PictBridge compatibility, or some other form of connectivity. And if you’re planning to network your printer to a number of computers, look for that capability too. USB port. The way a printer connects to a computer depends on what kind of connectivity it has. All printers have a USB port that lets them connect to Windows or Mac computers. Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or infrared wireless. Many printers have optional Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or infrared wireless connectivity. A printer with PictBridge can connect directly to a camera, and some models can print and download photos right from your camera’s memory card. Memory-card reader. This feature lets you print image files from a digital camera’s memory card without using a computer. You can also transfer the files to a computer. LCD viewer. Many printers incorporate a built-in LCD screen for viewing and editing images from a memory card. The screen is small, usually 1 to 3.5 inches, and editing capability is very limited. Ink monitor. Most inkjet printers have an ink monitor to warn when you’re running low, but accuracy varies. Networking. Networking lets you print from any computer in either a wired or wireless home network. Internet connectivity. Some all-in-one printers can communicate directly with the Internet, running “apps” that enable you to print online content directly, or even send printing to your home from a remote computer.

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Double-sided printing. For doublesided printing, you can print the oddnumbered pages of a document first, and then flip those pages over to print the even-numbered pages on a second pass. A few printers make this process easier by incorporating built-in duplexers for automatically printing on both sides. Printing on CD/DVD. Some models allow you to print your own labels directly on CD and DVD discs you buy with blank white backs.
sHoPPIng TIPs Consider supply costs as well as price. High ink- or toner-cartridge costs can make a bargain-priced printer a bad deal in the long run. Shop around for the best cartridge prices, but be wary of offbrands. We have found that brand-name ink cartridges have better print quality and fade resistance, and per-page costs are often comparable. You should also consider whether an inkjet has single or separate color cartridges. Those with a single color cartridge usually have a separate black cartridge for text. But some have individual color cartridges. Depending on your photos, separate color cartridges may be more economical. Another way to save money is by using plain paper for works in progress and saving the good stuff for the final results. Glossy photo paper costs about 25 to 75 cents a sheet. We got the best results using the recommended brand of paper. You might be tempted to buy a cheaper brand, but lower-grade paper can reduce photo quality. Do you want to print photos without a computer? This saves you an extra step and a little time. Features such as a memory-card reader, PictBridge support

(a standard that allows a compatible camera to be connected directly to the printer), or a wireless interface are convenient. Without the computer, though, you lose the ability to tweak image characteristics such as size, color, and brightness. You can do some editing on a printer that has an LCD screen, but your options will be very limited. Weigh convenience features. Inkjets can make borderless prints like those from a photo finisher. That matters most if you’re printing to the full size of the paper, as you might with 4x6-inch sheets. If you plan to use 4x6-inch paper regularly, look for a printer with a 4x6-inch tray or a second paper tray, which makes it easier to feed paper this size. With those small sheets, though, the cost per photo might be higher than combining a few images on 81/2 x11-inch paper. With some printer models, in order to use the photo inks to get the best picture quality, you must remove the black-ink cartridge and replace it with a photoink cartridge. Then, to print text or graphics, you must reinsert the black cartridge. Models that hold all the ink tanks simultaneously eliminate the hassle of changing cartridges. Consider connections. All printers have a USB port for connecting to a computer. Many also offer wired or wireless networking, which lets you print from any computer on your network. You can share a printer that lacks this feature, but the computer it’s connected to must be turned on in order to print from a different computer. Memory requirements. While inkjet printers use a computer’s memory to process the print job, laser printers have their own onboard memory. A laser printer’s memory must be large enough to hold

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full pages of the most complex graphics you need to print. If you print large files with a lot of graphics or have multiple users on your network, look for a laser with at least hundreds of megabytes of onboard memory, or the ability to add more. Be skeptical of vendor specs. When shopping for a printer you’ll notice a number of specs, such as print speed and resolution. Those numbers are not all that useful, even for comparison purposes, because each company performs its tests in a different manner. Your speed may vary. Print speed varies depending on what you’re printing and at what quality, but the speeds you see in ads are generally higher than you’re likely to get in normal use. You can’t reliably compare speeds for shop smart different brands because each comHigh ink- or pany uses its own toner-cartridge costs can make methods to meaa bargain-priced sure speed. We run printer a bad deal identical tests on in the long run. all models, printing text pages and photos that are similar to what you might print. Therefore, the print times in our Ratings are realistic and can be compared across brands. Don’t get hung up on resolution. A printer’s resolution, expressed in dots per inch, is another potential source of confusion. With all things being equal, the more dots a printer puts on the paper, the more detailed the image. But dot size, shape, and placement also affect quality, so don’t base your choice solely on resolution. Related CR Report: September 2010 Ratings: pages 253, 257

TElEVIsIons
High-definition TVs come in all shapes and sizes. Whether you want a slim lCD or plasma TV, a 3Dcapable set, or a front projector that can give you a cinemalike experience at home, you’ll find prices that are lower than ever. Buying a TV involves many choices. Here we organize the decision-making process into clear, logical steps. Budget. Of course, your budget will affect all of your decisions. It’s possible to find good TVs selling for a few hundred dollars, while others go for several thousand, and there are many sets that fall in between those extremes. Screen size, features, brands, and more affect the price. TV type. If you’re like most buyers, you’ve probably settled on a slim flat-panel TV, but you might not know whether to buy an LCD or a plasma set. Though they look very similar on the outside, they use different technologies and the pictures have different characteristics. While LCDs outsell plasmas by a wide margin—in part because plasma sets are available only in screen sizes 42 inches and larger—don’t automatically assume that LCDs are the way to go. It’s worth considering both types. Flat panels have largely pushed rear-projection and picture-tube TVs to the sidelines; few of those sets are now being introduced or stocked by retailers. Front projectors are a great choice for home theaters but less practical for everyday use. Screen size. You can’t compare the screen size of a conventional squarish

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tube TV with a wide screen, so don’t think a move from a 27-inch tube set to a 32-inch-wide screen will give you an appreciably bigger picture. It won’t; content will be perceived as the same size, though wider. For the most part, we recommend at least a 37-inch screen for a primary TV that you’ll watch often. We believe that most consumers would be happier with a 40- to 42-inch TV, budget and room size permitting, and a 46-inch or bigger set is often preferable. Screens of about 26 to 32 inches are good for casual viewing in bedrooms, and even smaller screen sizes suit kitchens. Remember to factor in viewing distance when deciding how big a screen will work in your room. TV pictures tend to look better and more natural if you can sit at least 5 feet from a 40- to 47-inch set displaying good-quality HD content and a minimum of 6 feet from a 50-inch-orlarger TV. With less distance, you might notice the picture elements (pixels) that make up the images (sometimes referred to as the “screen-door effect”), graininess, or video noise—what you might consider “snow” or specks. If you watch mostly standard-definition programming, which is less detailed and often lower quality, allow more distance between you and the TV. Screen resolution. Resolution means the number of pixels, or picture elements, a screen contains. A 720p set displays 1024x768, 1280x720, or 1366x768 pixels. A set with 1080p resolution, sometimes advertised as “full HD,” displays 1920x1080 pixels. The first number in each case indicates the number of pixels going across the screen from left to right; the second number is the number of pixels from the top of the screen to the bottom. That

second number is often used as shorthand to describe the set’s resolution, for example, a 1080p screen has 1,080 pixels from top to bottom. Most new LCD and plasma TVs with screens 40 inches and up now have 1080p resolution, and the price difference between 720p and 1080p sets is shrinking. A 1080p set has the potential to display finer detail than a 720p set, but resolution alone doesn’t determine picture quality. Factors such as brightness, contrast, and color also come into play. You can best appreciate the finer detail of a 1080p screen on a 50-inch-or-larger TV, though you might see subtle improvements on a 40-to-47-inch screen, especially when viewed up close. In smaller sizes, the benefits of 1080p are less obvious. One exception: If you plan to use your TV as a computer display, 1080p resolution is a plus. The higher resolution will let you see more content onscreen with greater clarity and finer detail than you would on a 720p set. (You might have to connect your computer to the TV with an HDMI input to take full advantage of the 1080p resolution and to avoid cutting off outer edges of the image—otherwise known as overscan.) What you’re watching matters too. To fully enjoy the benefits of a 1080p TV, you need top-quality high-def content. You can get that from a Blu-ray disc, which contains true 1080p content. A 1080p set will convert current HD signal formats (720p and 1080i) to match its native screen resolution. If the quality of the programming is good and the TV does the job well, the picture quality can be outstanding. In fact, most 1080p HD sets can derive true 1080p performance from most film-based movies. But the quality of HD content varies considerably

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(especially on cable), so it might not fully exploit the potential of a 1080p display. These are a good choice if you want a thin, lightweight TV that comes in a wide range of sizes and is well suited for viewing in a bright room. Common screen sizes. 15 to 60 inches. Manufacturers have showcased sets larger than 100 inches. No matter how large the screen, most LCD TVs are only 2 or 3 inches thick, and some new ultraslim sets are even thinner. Typical selling prices. Standard prices are about $350 to $800 for a 32-inch model, $500 to $900 for a 37-inch set, $600 to $1,400 for a 40- to 42-inch set, $700 to $2,600 for a 46- to 47-inch set, and $1,300 to $3,000 for a 52-inch set. (With prices continually dropping and special promotions, you’ll probably see some TVs selling for less than the prices Tech tip indicated.) Matte screens Ke y p oi nt s . reduce glare, There are many making them a more companies good choice for selling LCD than brightly lit rooms. plasma TVs, and in a wider range of sizes. LCD televisions generally cost more than comparably sized plasma sets, but the gap is narrowing. Many LCD sets with 40-inch-or-larger screens (and some smaller models) have 1080p resolution. Many newer LCD TVs use LED backlighting instead of the more typical fluorescent backlight. These sets have been among the most energy-efficient we’ve tested. LCDs tend to be brighter than plasma screens, and some have matte screens that don’t suffer from reflections and glare,

lcd tVs

making them a good choice for brightly lit rooms. But we are seeing many more LCD sets with glossy screens, which are more reflective. With LCD TVs, there’s no risk of burn-in of static images, which can be a concern with plasma TVs, although it is less of a problem than it was in the past. Advances in technology have also addressed problems that have plagued LCD technology. LCD TVs have had trouble displaying deep blacks, a problem caused partly by backlighting leaking through in dark scenes. Some new models have minimized this problem by using full-frame LED (light-emitting diode) backlights (instead of fluorescents) and so-called local-dimming technology. The backlight can be dimmed behind a dark scene, enhancing the depth of black, while remaining bright elsewhere. TVs with edge-lit LED backlights around the perimeter of the screen typically don’t offer local dimming, but a few of the newest models do. Edge LEDs can allow for extremely thin profiles. Models with LEDs also use less power than typical TVs; some we’ve tested were exceptionally frugal with energy. Recent developments have also improved LCD TVs’ ability to display fast-moving scenes without blurring. A growing number of sets now use 120Hz and 240Hz technology, or quasi-240Hz (120Hz plus a scanning backlight), an increase from the usual 60Hz refresh rates, to reduce motion blur. But LCD TVs haven’t caught up with plasma TVs in terms of viewing angle. With most LCD sets, the picture looks its best only from a fairly narrow sweet spot right in front of the screen. As you angle away from the center of the screen—either horizontally or vertically—the image can

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dim, lose contrast, look washed out, or lose color accuracy. So if you’re sitting off to the side (say, at the end of a long couch), stretched out on the floor, or looking up at a TV over the mantel, you could be seeing less-than-optimal picture quality. If you want a thin TV with a screen 42 inches or larger with an almost unlimited viewing angle, these are a good choice. Common screen sizes. They’re 42 to 58 inches, with more 60-inch-plus models arriving. Most models are 4 inches or less in depth, and some new ultraslim plasma TVs are as thin as an inch. Typical selling prices. Standard prices are $500 to $1,000 for a 42-inch set, $700 to $2,500 for a 50-inch model, $1,500 to $2,800 for a 58-inch set, $2,000 to $4,200 for a 60- to 65-inch model. (With prices continually dropping and special promotions, you’ll probably see some TVs selling for less than the prices indicated.) Key points. You’ll find more sizes, including 46-inch and 54-inch models, as manufacturers try to compete more directly with LCD sets. There are also many more 1080p sets than in the past, including 42-inch models. It’s hard to beat the best plasma TV sets for accurate colors, deep blacks, and great contrast. And a virtually unlimited viewing angle means that no one has a bad view, because you see the same picture quality from almost anywhere in a room. New plasmas use much less energy than older models and in general are comparable to typical LCDs for power consumption. But some of the biggest sets do consume more power than most models, especially when compared to LEDlit LCDs, which tend to be very energy-

plasma tVs

efficient. The reflections from a plasma TV’s shiny screen can be annoying in a bright room, though an antireflective coating can minimize them. In this respect, they’re similar to what you might have seen with a picture-tube TV, or with LCD sets with glossy screens. Static images displayed for extended periods— such as stock tickers or video games—can burn in temporarily and could become permanent if you consistently leave the same pattern onscreen over a long period. But that seems to have been more of a problem with earlier plasma TVs. Screen-saver–type features on new plasmas greatly minimize the likelihood of burn-in. In our tests, we’ve seen temporary impressions that have disappeared after a short while; we haven’t seen any evidence of permanent burn-in in normal home use.
FEATurEs Features can help to ensure your satisfaction with a TV long after you park it in your living room. Many features, such as the inputs and outputs, are common to all TV types, while some are relevant only to a particular type of TV; that’s indicated below. Here are some of the more important TV features to consider. 3D. This is a new feature, not a new type of TV. 3D-capable sets function like any standard HDTV with regular programs. When the TV detects 3D signals, it shifts into 3D mode. You need to wear special high-tech glasses to see 3D images; without them, you’ll see blurry double images. You don’t need glasses for regular 2D content. There isn’t much 3D content yet, but more is coming. As of July, there were a few 3D Blu-ray movies available, with more expected soon. (You’ll need a 3D-capable Blu-ray player to play them.)

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There will also be a growing number of 3D broadcasts. 120Hz and 240Hz technology (LCD TVs). This spec refers to the refresh rate or frame rate of the display—how often it updates the images onscreen. LCD TVs have typically had a refresh rate of 60Hz, meaning they update the image 60 times a second. At that relatively slow rate, there’s a tendency to blur images during scenes with fast motion, such as sports programs. To address this, some new sets display double the number of frames per second—120 or 240 rather than the typical 60—by inserting additional video frames (or black frames). Because there is less time between frames, motion appears smoother. Another approach, taken by companies such as LG and Toshiba, is to combine 120Hz refresh rates with a scanning, or flashing, backlight to achieve a “240Hz-like” effect. Many companies are giving this technology proprietary names; Sony, for example, calls it Motionflow and JVC’s is dubbed Clear Motion Drive. LED backlighting (LCD TVs). LCD displays use lights in the back of the display to illuminate the screen. These have typically been fluorescent bulbs, but many new sets use LED backlights instead. Some have full-array LEDs arranged across the entire panel. These are divided into zones that can darken or brighten independently, a feature called local dimming. Thus, the backlight can be dimmed behind a dark scene, enhancing black levels, while remaining bright in other parts of the picture. Other LCD TVs have LEDs around the perimeter of the screen, a design called edge-lit. This enables a very thin profile, but generally does not allow local dimming. A few new sets with edge-lit LEDs do have local dimming, but they haven’t improved

black levels as much as sets with fullarray LEDs. In general, LEDs can reduce power consumption. Some of those we’ve tested have been among the most energyefficient sets we’ve seen. Internet connectivity. Some new LCD and plasma TVs can access the Internet directly, through a broadband connection, without using a computer. They don’t function as full-fledged browsers; Web access is limited to specific content, which varies by brand and model. Some of these Internet-enabled TVs offer only simple RSS news feeds but others can bring you streaming video movies and TV episodes from Netflix, Blockbuster, Amazon on Demand, Vudu, and Hulu, and music from services such as Pandora, and access to popular sites such as YouTube, Twitter, Flickr photos, eBay, Facebook, and more. (Some Blu-ray players and gaming consoles also offer this feature, so you can get Internet connectivity and streaming video without buying a new TV.) Most TVs with access to online content now have onscreen icons, called widgets, that are used to access the various services. Yahoo and Vudu offer a widget platform that aggregates content applications from various service providers, such as the streaming services mentioned above. Wi-Fi connectivity. A small but growing number of TVs now have the ability to connect to a home network wirelessly, so you don’t need a nearby Ethernet jack. Some models come with built-in Wi-Fi, while others come with, or offer as an option, a Wi-Fi dongle that connects to the TV’s USB port. Connections. One of the most critical considerations with any TV is the number and type of inputs it has for hooking up to other devices. Most larger TVs

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now have at least three or four HDMI inputs plus two component-video inputs, which should be adequate for most current uses, while smaller sets typically have fewer of each type. Both types are capable of carrying high-definition signals from devices such as cable and satellite boxes and DVRs. You can use the RF (antenna/cable) input to feed highdef TV signals, either from an off-air antenna or from a cable hookup. S-video and composite-video inputs are generally used with older gear such as a VCR or sometimes a DVD player. If you want to hook up a video-game system or camcorder occasionally, look for a TV with front- or side-panel inputs, which are more accessible than those on the rear of the set. A handful of sets, typically high-priced models, can accept “wireless HDMI” signals. These TVs come with a separate media module, where all connections—such as from a cable box or Blu-ray player—are made. Audio and video signals are then sent wirelessly from the media console to the TV, leaving the power cord as the only remaining cable. There are several different technologies being used, including WHDI, WirelessHD (WiHD), Ultra Wide-Band (UWB), and even 802.11n, also known as Wireless-N. Aspect-ratio adjustments. Most wide-screen (16:9) sets have stretch and zoom modes that expand or compress an image to fill the screen better. That helps to reduce or eliminate the dark bands that can appear on the sides or top and bottom of images if you watch content that isn’t formatted for a wide screen, including most standarddefinition TV programs and even some HD content. The tradeoff is that the picture is distorted or cut off a bit in the

process of being stretched or zoomed. A mode called “native,” or 1:1, which is found on many TVs, presents the full image, without cutting off the edges. This is especially helpful when using the TV as a computer display. Film mode. This improves the appearance of movies converted from film to video. That includes most theatrical releases on DVD, many movies shown on TV, and some TV programs. This feature (also called 3:2 pull-down, motion compensation, or brand-specific names such as CineMotion and Film Mode) helps to compensate for the difference in frame rates between film (24 frames per second) and video (30 frames per second), which can create jerkiness and jagged edges on moving images. Most TVs and progressive-scan DVD players also have a film-mode feature, so experiment to see which device does the best job of making the images look smoother. DLNA. The Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) supports a standard that enables interoperability among various consumer electronics devices across a home network. A DLNA-compliant TV, for example, can access photos, movies, and music stored on a PC through a network connection. TV settings and modes. All TVs have menus with settings that enable you to adjust the picture, sound, and more. We suggest adjusting the TV’s settings once you get home to get the best viewing experience. Newer sets have a menu option that allows you to choose between a “home” or “retail” (“store”) setting when the TV is first connected. The home mode adjusts the TV’s picture controls to settings appropriate for viewing in a home environment. You can also choose from other preset picture modes that are

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optimized for certain types of content (such as movies, sports, or games), and make adjustments to individual attributes, such as brightness, color, and so forth. (With some sets, you can adjust attributes individually only in a custom or user mode.) With more sources for video available all the time, it’s handy to have a feature that allows you to customize settings for each input, such as the one you routinely use for your cable box or the DVD player. For example, you might want sharpness set to its Tech tip lowest level when watching highOne of the most critical quality DVDs or considerations Blu-ray movies with any TV is the routed through the number and type HDMI input, but of inputs it has a higher sharpness for hooking up setting to improve devices. the softer appearance of standarddefinition programs coming in by cable through the component-video input. CableCard slots. Available on a small number of TVs and DVRs, a CableCard slot lets you use a card, rented to you by the cable company for a few dollars a month, instead of a cable box. When the card is inserted, the TV can receive scrambled digital-cable content, including high-definition programming. That eliminates the need for an extra piece of equipment and cables, but there is a downside: Most current CableCards are one-way, so they don’t provide an interactive program guide or video-on-demand, and pay-per-view ordering via the remote control. Tru2Way two-way cable cards are starting to show up on a few sets, but are supported by cable companies in a limited number of markets.

Picture-in-picture (PIP). This lets you watch two channels at once—one in a small window, the other as a fullscreen image. It’s useful if you want to browse the onscreen guide while keeping an eye on the program you’re watching or keep track of a sports event while another program is playing. A single-tuner TV requires another device, such as a DVD recorder, DVR or cable box, to display two programs at once; dual-tuner TV models are able to display two programs simultaneously on their own. On some TVs, PIP is disabled when the HDMI input is used. Illuminated remote. Some remotes use either backlighted keys or glow-inthe-dark keys to make them easier to use in a darkened room. Backlighting is preferred because glow-in-the-dark keys fade quickly. In some cases, only a few of the most-used keys are illuminated. Speakers. On most TVs, speakers are built in at the bottom of a TV, along the sides, or occasionally on the rear of the set. Some models have detachable speakers, allowing you to remove them and place them elsewhere. The location of the speakers can affect the width of the set and could determine whether it will fit into a niche in an entertainment center. A recent trend with flat-panel TVs has been toward “invisible” speakers that are integrated within the screen bezel and barely visible to the eye. Some TVs have audio outputs that will allow you to connect external speakers or a powered subwoofer. Monitors, which don’t include an ATSC tuner, may not have speakers. Front projectors generally don’t include speakers either. Antiglare screens (plasma). Like oldfashioned picture-tube TVs, which have reflective glass screens, most plasma TVs

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have shiny screens that show reflections from windows and lamps when their light falls directly on the screen. A growing number of LCD TVs have shiny screens too, so they’re subject to the same glare. If you weren’t bothered by reflections on a tube set, this shouldn’t be a major issue for you. Some plasma sets have screens with antiglare surfaces, which can help to reduce reflectivity. Otherwise you can close window blinds or dim lighting to minimize any glare issues. Anti-burn-in features (plasma). Many plasma TVs now come with features to prevent burn-in, such as screen savers and motion-adaptive (also called pixelshifting) technology, which shifts the picture almost imperceptibly every few seconds. This helps prevent static images such as a station logo or the bars on the sides of an image from permanently etching into the TV’s phosphor coating, leaving faint but persistent, ghostlike images on the screen. Burn-in might have been more of a problem with earlier plasma sets. We haven’t seen any evidence of burn-in when testing TVs in our labs over the course of a few months, and we have heard no anecdotal reports of permanent burn-in from staffers or readers who have used plasma TVs longterm at home. Temporary image sticking is more likely to occur. In this case, static images that remain on the screen for a matter of hours—or on a few sets we’ve seen, in minutes—may leave a subtle impression that’s noticeable on a dark screen, though hard to detect with typical video. These impressions disappear when you play random video scenes. Some models include a feature that essentially blasts the screen with a white image for a period of time to remove lingering images.

sHoPPIng TIPs View TVs skeptically in the store. Our TV tests are based on settings that you would use at home, with content that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of a given set, so you can use our Ratings to get an accurate assessment of picture quality. It’s harder to judge TVs well for yourself in stores. That’s because TVs are usually set to a Retail or Store mode, which pumps up brightness and color to a level that looks great under fluorescent lights. Also, retailers often display sports programs, which tend to have superbright lighting and vivid colors that minimize any flaws in the picture. See whether a salesperson will tune-in programming with typical indoor scenes (including people, if possible, so you can evaluate skin tones). With an LCD, look at the set from the side, not just head on, to judge the viewing angle. If possible, vary your vertical position too, so that you can judge how the screen looks when you are sitting and standing. With most LCDs, you’ll notice that the picture quality deteriorates as you move away from the center. We’ve found considerable variation among brands and models, so check our test results. Don’t buy expensive cables. “Prestige” brands offer very-high-priced cables. You’ll see some HDMI cables in the 6-foot range (a typical length) selling for $100 or more, and longer cables that cost several times that. We’ve found that the modestly priced brands sold at most consumer electronics stores for half that price or less should work well in typical use. Any “high-speed” HDMI cable should be adequate for connecting to a TV, even for 3D. Just avoid inexpensive cables at dollar stores; those might have flimsy connectors or inadequate shielding on the cable itself.

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Try negotiating. You might be able to talk your way to a better price, especially for higher-priced TVs. See what a TV is selling for at reputable online retailers and in local stores, and use that information in negotiating a price. Once you’ve chosen a set, ask for a break on installation or delivery costs, or for free HDMI or component-video cables, which you’ll need to get high-def signals to your new TV from cable or satellite. Shop where you’ll get a price guarantee. Many retailers will match or beat a lower price from a local competitor, so go to the store with those prices in hand. Even after the sale, some stores promise a refund within a specified period of time, often 30 to 60 days, if they reduce the price of your TV or if you find the set selling elsewhere for less. There are usually restrictions, so check the details. Save your receipt and keep checking the ads even after you buy. Skip the extended warranty. It’s generally not worth the money to buy an extended warranty for an LCD or plasma TV. Our survey data from thousands of TV buyers show that sets of both types from most major brands have had a very low rate of repairs for the first three years of use, and most repairs cost less than $200. A warranty often costs just as much if not more than that. Use a credit card that doubles your warranty, or shop at a retailer like Costco, which adds one year to the standard coverage. Use shopping bots (search engines that collect prices for products from a variety of vendors). Many Internet shopping sites are one-stop shops where you can check prices for specific TVs at

hundreds of retailers. You can sort the listings by price, including tax and shipping, and check reader reviews of products and retailers. Some sites to consider: BizRate (and its affiliate, Shopzilla), Google Shopping, MySimon, PriceGrabber, Shopping.com (and affiliate DealTime), and Yahoo. You’ll also find a price comparison and local shopping link in the Ratings at ConsumerReports.org. Remember to factor in shipping costs, which can be substantial on a big-screen TV, or look for a free-shipping offer. Set price alerts. Some bots will send price alerts by e-mail. Indicate your target price or range for a model, and the site will e-mail you when it finds a store selling at that price. Retailers such as Crutchfield.com will send alerts too. Consider delivery. You might want to consider having the biggest-screen sets delivered. The cartons are too large to fit in many vehicles, and they can be awkward to carry. Delivery services will often remove the TV from the packaging and place it on a stand for you. Some stores and Web sites offer free delivery, a plus with heavy items like TVs. Just make sure the delivery stipulates that the TV will be delivered inside the house; some stores may only deliver to the curb, and it’s your responsibility to bring the TV inside and set it up. Retailers that offer “white glove” delivery will typically bring the TV into a room, place it on a stand or cabinet, and remove the packaging. Sometimes this service is free, but at other times you may have to pay an additional fee. Related CR Report: July 2010 Ratings: pages 276, 281

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Copyright of Consumer Reports is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

Copyright of Consumer Reports Buying Guide is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

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Kitchen, Bath & Laundry: How to Save In Style

nstead of chasing $800 bronze faucets, $3,000 whirlpool baths, and $6,000 professional ranges, homeowners are rediscovering their own sense of beauty and value in the kitchen and the bath, the two most-renovated rooms in the house. Indeed, our latest tests confirm that sensible and stylish needn’t be mutually exclusive: You’ll find top-scoring ranges that offer stainless-steel finishes for as little as $500, along with convection and even quickheating induction for far less. Smart shopping is also one more way to help maintain—and eventually improve—your home’s resale value.

COFFEEMAKERS
You can easily spend more than $250 to make the ultimate cup of joe. But our latest tests yielded several coffeemakers that get the best from the beans for a fraction of the price. We also found models priced at as little as $20 that serve up coffee when you wake. More are also offering espresso options, built-in grinders, and designs that brew neatly from a drop-in pod. But some of these features come at the expense of good, properly brewed coffee.

TYPES Familiar mainstream brands include Black & Decker, Bunn, Cuisinart, Delonghi, GE, Haier, Hamilton Beach, and, of course, Mr. Coffee. You’ll also find a growing number of newer brands such as Kalorik, Michael Graves, Sensio, and Technivorm—a pricey Dutch import. Here are the basic types: Multicup drip models with carafes. These typically brew 8 to 12 cups at once into a carafe included with the machine. They’re the most common kind and are an easy way to serve a crowd because they dispense a full pot into the carafe. Price: $20 to $250 or more. Multicup brew stations. These typically brew 12 cups at once, but dispense

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coffee directly into your cup. While that saves you the pouring and juggling that go with carafes, multiple cups require multiple trips to the machine. Price: about $50 to $100. To-go and pod models. These are best if you want just a cup or two at a time, since they typically can fill a mug in about 3 minutes compared with more than 6 minutes for most multicup machines. Pod versions offer the convenience of sealed coffee pods, though they tend to cost more. Prices: about $20 to $50; $200 or more for pod models. Grind-and-brew models. These combine a coffeemaker and grinder in one unit. Burr grinders, which crush the beans, tend to cost more and grind more uniformly than blade grinders, which chop them. But they can be a hassle to clean. Price: about $20 to $300. Coffee-and-espresso makers. A growing number of machines now make regular coffee and espresso as that stronger brew grows in popularity. But even the best we tested weren’t best overall at making coffee. Price: about $60 to $150 or more.
FEATURES Programmable coffeemakers can be preset to start brewing—say, when you wake up or get home from work. A thermal carafe (about $20 to $40 separately) helps keep coffee warm without heating, avoiding a burned taste. Brew-strength control allows you to adjust brewing time or let some water pass around the beans for milder coffee without underbrewing. Clear markings on the carafe and reservoir and an easy-to-see on/off light help make coffeemakers easier to use, while flush touch-screen controls can ease cleanup.

SHOPPIng TIPS Most of the coffeemakers that made our winner’s list cost well under $100, not several hundred. Here’s how to pick one that helps make your morning: Decide how many you’re serving. If it’s just one or two of you, you may prefer the speed and low price of a to-go model—or a brew station if you like refilling your cup without having to handle a carafe. But if you’re serving a crowd, you’ll probably want a multicup carafe model. Try it out if you can. Look for clear markings and a well-balanced carafe with a handle that’s large enough to hold comfortably. Consider trading paper filters for metal. A permanent metal filter ($5 to $10) can pay for itself in a year. Think twice about pod models. None of the pod models we’ve tested so far was especially impressive. And many lock you into the company’s coffee, which can be expensive. Related CR report: December 2009 Ratings: page 194

COUnTERTOPS
Practically any countertop looks good in the showroom. But one that keeps on looking good in your kitchen requires choosing tough, durable materials now—or lots of time and effort later. As our testing shows, you don’t have to lay out a fortune for a countertop that’s both strong and stylish. We stained, scratched, sliced, scorched, and pummeled a gamut of countertop materials from leading brands and found

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some smart choices, no matter how much or how little you want to spend. We also found you can fork over a mint for “green” and other trendy materials and get less than you may have bargained for.
TYPES Here are the most popular countertop choices from top to bottom, based on how well they withstood stains, heat, cuts, abrasion, and impacts in our tests: Quartz. This blend of stone chips, resins, and pigments imitates granite and marble more realistically than ever and can cost significantly less. It resists impacts as well as granite and fends off stains without needing to Shop smart be sealed. Price: about $50 to $100 Choose your countertop by per square foot inmatching the look stalled. you want with Natural stone. your countertop Granite and marneeds and, ble are the most of course, popular and offer your budget. an array of colors. But marble falls far behind for stains, scrapes, and heat resistance. Both need regular resealing for stain resistance. And what you see at the store may not be what you get on the truck (we suggest shopping at a stone yard). Limestone, slate, soapstone, and sandstone are softer and more fragile than granite. And as with all stone, the moving and installation hassles associated with their sheer weight contribute to the high cost. Price: about $45 to $200 per square foot installed. Ceramic tile. Pluses for this natural material include nearly limitless colors and patterns, and good heat and cut resistance. Tile is inexpensive and

relatively easy to install and repair, and mixes well with other materials. It also works well on a backsplash or island top, or set into the counter near the range as a built-in trivet. Grout can be tinted to match or contrast, but joints tend to trap crumbs and soak up stains. Little impact resistance is another sore point. Price: about $10 to $30 per square foot installed. Laminate. Sold under the Formica and Wilsonart names, among others, laminate offers an array of choices and is light, low-priced, and easy to install. Most have a colored top layer over a dark core, which shows at the edges, but options include prefabricated, postformed versions that have no seams where the counter meets the backsplash and front edge. Stain, heat, and impact resistance are other pluses. But shiny finishes show scratches and nicks, and damaged areas can’t be repaired. Seams can also let water seep in between the countertop and backsplash, causing lifting. Price: about $10 to $30 per square foot installed. Solid surfacing. This blend of polyester or acrylic resins and mineral fillers imitates concrete, marble, and other stone, as well as quartz—essentially an imitation of an imitation. Solid-surface countertops resist heat and impacts. They also come in various thicknesses and can be joined almost invisibly into one apparently seamless expanse that integrates the sink and backsplash. Major brands include Avonite, DuPont Corian, Formica Surell, Nevamar Fountainhead, and Wilsonart Gibraltar. While solid surfacing cuts and abrades easily, scratches and nicks are easily buffed out and repaired. But tougher, more authentic-looking quartz now

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costs about the same. Price: about $35 to $100 per square foot installed. Paper composite. We tested a version of this greener option from Richlite. While it did well at resisting stains and heat, it was only fair when it came to cuts and abrasions. What’s more, it doesn’t use recycled paper, and its resin is petroleum-based. Price: about $50 to $100 per square foot installed. Concrete. This tony material can be tinted any color, and its surface can include stone chips. But quality can vary, since concrete countertops are typically custom-formed by local fabricators. Concrete can also crack, cut, and chip easily, and must be sealed. Topical sealers resist stains, but were damaged by hot pots in our tests; the reverse held for penetrating sealers. Price: about $80 to $120 per square foot installed. Stainless steel. This option lets you integrate counters with stainless appliances. Major brands include John Boos and Elkay as well as local fabricators. Heat and stain resistance are a plus. But while stainless doesn’t rust, it dents and scratches easily, and it shows fingerprints. Price: about $100 to $150 per square foot installed. Butcher block. Maple is most common for these hardwood countertops, though you’ll also find red oak and teak. They’re useful for chopping and slicing, and easy to install and repair, though damage from heat, cuts, scrapes, and impacts make for high maintenance. Butcher block must be treated regularly with mineral oil or beeswax, or sealed with a varnish used for food-prep surfaces. And because changes in humidity affect wood, it’s a poor choice over a dishwasher or near a sink. Price: about $30 to $65 per square foot installed.

SHOPPIng TIPS Begin by matching the material to the wear and tear it will get in your kitchen. And if you’re using an undermounted sink, you’ll need a waterproof counter such as concrete, solid surfacing, stainless, stone, or quartz. Then consider the following tips: Factor in finishes. Laminates with textured finishes hide imperfections better than those with smooth finishes. Stainless offers brushed and random-grain finishes, which tend to hide scratches. But while concrete and butcher block performed differently depending on the sealer, granite with proprietary sealers, such as those sold by Stonemark, performed no better than standard Shop smart granite. Time your pro’s Look for deals with your visit. Have the fabpurchase, such ricator take final as a free sink or measurements— upgrades to a and accept final more expensive responsibility for color or edge them—once the treatment. base cabinets are installed. Those measurements will determine the accuracy of the templates and the cutouts the pro ultimately makes for sinks, cooktops, and faucets. Don’t assume germicides are a cureall. Some countertops now include Microban, an antimicrobial additive. Its manufacturer claims it’s effective against bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause “stain, odors, and product deterioration.” But disease-causing bacteria that lead to foodborne illness aren’t on that list. Related CR report: August 2010 Ratings: page 209

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DISHWASHERS
The latest dishwashers combine impressive cleaning with significant energy and water savings as federal efficiency standards get stricter. Best of all, some of the top machines cost well under $1,000. Just don’t expect those sparklingclean loads in a jiffy. Tougher Energy Star standards now require qualifying models to use roughly one-third less Shop smart electricity than the le a s t- ef f ic ient Dishwasher models—a maxidrawers may be mum of 324 kiloa nice design watt-hours per year touch, but they don’t perform as and just 5.8 gallons well as less pricey of water per cycle. conventional Nearly all of our models. latest batch of dishwashers scored at least Very Good at washing, and many aced our especially tough tests. But even the fastest took well over an hour and a half to wash a full load, while the slowest timed out at a full three hours.
TYPES Electrolux Home Products, General Electric, and Whirlpool make most dishwashers and sell them under their own names, associated brands, and Sears’ Kenmore brand. Whirlpool makes high-end Jenn-Air and KitchenAid and low-end Roper as well as the Admiral, Amana, and Maytag brands. General Electric offers a range of choices under the GE and Hotpoint brands. Electrolux makes Frigidaire models. Asko, Bosch

(which makes Siemens), and Miele are high-end European brands. Other players include Haier (from China), LG and Samsung (from Korea), and Fisher & Paykel (from New Zealand). Conventional dishwashers. These are still what most people buy. Most fit a 24-inch-wide space under a kitchen countertop and attach to a hot-water pipe, drain, and an electrical line. Price: about $400 to $1,300 for most. Dishwasher drawers. Designs from Fisher & Paykel, Jenn-Air, Kenmore, and KitchenAid have two stacked drawers that can be used simultaneously or individually, while Kenmore and KitchenAid are among brands that offer singledrawer dishwashers. Both types tend to be pricey, however. And most of them delivered less cleaning performance and efficiency than most conventional machines we tested. Price: $1,000 to $1,600.
FEATURES Most models offer at least three wash cycles—light, normal, and heavy or pots and pans—which should be enough for most jobs. Some offer power-washing features designed to remove baked-on residue. Rinse/hold lets you rinse dirty dishes before using the dishwasher on a full cycle, which may help with an especially grimy load. Other cycles include pot scrubber, soak/scrub, and china/crystal, which aren’t crucial for most homes; in fact, a sanitizing wash or rinse option that raises water temperature above the typical 140 degrees F doesn’t necessarily mean better cleaning. Nor does a steam mode, which boosted water and energy use by more than a third, on average. Soil sensors adjust water use and cycle time to the load. Half-load cycles let you wash just one rack, but running two half-load

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cycles can use more water and energy than one normal load. Dishwashers often spray water from multiple levels. Most models offer a choice of drying with or without heat. And all dishwashers use filters to keep wash water free of food that can be redeposited on clean dishes. Most filters are self-cleaning and use a grinder, though some models trade the grinder’s noise for manual-clean filters. You can also check whether models offer additional soundproofing insulation. Some dishwashers have easy-to-clean electronic touchpad controls, some fully or partially hidden. A number of electronic models digitally display time left and others merely show a “clean” signal. A delayed-start control lets you set the dishwasher to start when utility rates are lower. Some models offer child locks, and most hold cups and glasses on top, plates at bottom, and silverware in a basket. Adjustable or split racks can accommodate taller dishes. Other features include adjustable and removable tines and silverware slots to prevent crowding; removable racks that allow loading and unloading outside the dishwasher; stemware holders for wine glasses; clips to keep light plastic cups from overturning; and fold-down shelves for stacking cups in a double-tiered arrangement. Stainless-steel tubs resist stains better than white plastic, but don’t improve performance. Cabinet-matching front panels are available as kits for a few hundred dollars.
SHOPPIng TIPS You’ll find a wide range of models that clean impressively and efficiently at a reasonable price. Here’s what to consider at the store:

Gauge your cleaning routine. Prerinsing dishes in the sink wastes water and isn’t needed with today’s dishwashers. But if you insist on it, don’t pay extra for a power-scrubbing mode. And get a self-cleaning filter if you aren’t likely to clean a manual version. Check quietness and energy use. New dishwasher models are probably quieter than the one you have now. But you might want the quietest we tested—with a quieter, manual-clean filter—if you have an open kitchen near a dining or family room. You’ll also hear a lot about Energy Star labels. We suggest using our energy scores, which are based on much dirtier loads like the kind you might experience after a party or holiday gathering. Think twice about hidden controls. Some are concealed on the door’s top edge, making it difficult to determine remaining time or even whether a superquiet machine is on. Related CR report: August 2010 Ratings: page 220

MICROWAVE OVEnS
More microwaves promise to make cooking main meals about as simple as nuking a frozen pizza, with more homes using these kitchen staples as second stoves. You’ll find more auto settings that include such favorites as oatmeal, omelets, pasta, and even grits and soufflés along with the usual pizza and popcorn. Many models also add convection and other features aimed at homeowners who

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would like to have a second oven without having to remodel.
TYPES Major brands, along with volume leaders GE and Sharp, include Emerson, Kenmore, LG, and Panasonic. GE, Kenmore, and Whirlpool also sell the most over-the-range (OTR) models. Sizes range from compact to large. While most still sit on the countertop, more are being mounted over the range to save counter space. Prices: $40 to $250 (most countertop models); $170 to $800 (over-the-range); $250 to $1,000 or more (convection or halogen-bulb countertop or over-the-range). FEATURES

maximizes browning and crisping with heated air circulated by a fan. A few have a crisper pan for making french fries or crisping pizza crust. Several brands also boast grilling and browning using speed cooking via halogen bulbs or convection, though results can vary significantly depending on the food.

For over-the-range microwaves

For all microwave ovens

Power varies for the magnetron, which generates the microwaves. Midsized and large ovens are rated at 850 to 1,650 watts, with compact ovens at 600 to 800 watts. More watts may heat food more quickly, but differences of 100 watts tend to be inconsequential. Many also have a sensor to help prevent under- or overcooking by detecting when food is done. On most, a turntable rotates food for uniform heating, though some use a tray that slides from side to side to keep larger dishes moving. A numeric keypad is used to set cooking times and power levels. Most have preprogrammed shortcut keys for particular foods and for reheating or defrosting. Pressing a 1-minute or 30-second key runs the oven at full power or extends the current cooking time. Microwave ovens typically have a number of power levels; we’ve found six to be more than enough. A child lock renders controls inoperable. A convection mode

These vent themselves and the range below with a fan that usually has several speed settings. Typically, the fan turns itself on if it senses excessive heat from the range. OTRs can be vented to the outside or can recirculate air in the kitchen. If the oven is venting inside, you’ll need a charcoal filter (sometimes included). Either way, don’t expect an OTR to vent as well as a range hood that extends over a range’s front burners. Racks for bi-level cooking let you cook several foods at once on some over-the-range models.

SHOPPIng TIPS Begin by picking a type and size. Countertop models cost the least and are best for kitchens with lots of counter space. Some models can hang below a cabinet, though that often leaves little working space below the oven. OTR models are a common upgrade when remodeling. But you may prefer a capable range hood for its better smoke-clearing ability, especially if you use your range’s cooktop often. And installing an OTR microwave may require an electrician. Focus on useful features. A sensor is a worthwhile feature on any microwave. If you like crispy pizza and grilled cheese, consider grilling and browning features and even convection. And think twice about spending extra on an array of

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shortcut settings for foods you don’t eat. Don’t buy capacity claims. Manufacturers sometimes exaggerate the capacity of their microwave ovens by counting wasted space in the corners. Actual space can be 50 to 60 percent less than claimed. Take a large platter to the store with you to see whether it fits inside an oven you’re considering. Related CR Report: August 2010 Ratings: page 245

RAngES, COOKTOPS & WALL OVEnS
More mainstream brands are serving up induction, double ovens, interactive preprogrammed recipes, and other time-savers for less. Our latest tests found a long list of picks that deliver on that promise. You’ll see more induction ranges, which use an electromagnetic field to speed up cooktop heating, selling for around $2,000 or less as competition heats up. Wall ovens with a built-in database of recipes are also on the menu.
TYPES GE, Kenmore (sourced from others), Frigidaire, Maytag, and Whirlpool are the leading makers of ranges, cooktops, and wall ovens. Other major brands include Amana, Bosch, Electrolux, Hotpoint, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, LG, and Samsung, which recently introduced a line of induction ranges priced more like conventional models. High-end, pro-style

brands include Dacor, GE Monogram, KitchenAid Architect Series, Thermador, Viking, and Wolf. Kenmore Elite and Kenmore Pro, GE Profile, and GE Café have also moved up the social ladder. Ranges. Freestanding ranges fit in the middle of a kitchen counter or at the end. Most are 30 inches wide, though true pro-style models span 36 inches or more. Most are electric or gas, with smoothtop electrics outselling traditional coil-top versions. Induction ranges heat pots much faster than conventional ranges. And because nearly all the heat goes to Tech tip the pot or pan, you and your kitchen Wall ovens can stay cooler. But be installed at waist or eye you’ll need mag- level to eliminate netic cookware for bending, or their electromag- beneath a counter netic field to work. to save space. Pro-style ranges have gas cooktops, beefy knobs, and massive stainless construction. Most now include sealed burners and a self-cleaning oven. Prices: about $400 to $2,000 for most gas and electric models; roughly $2,000 for induction; about $4,000 to $6,000 for pro-style. Cooktops. These can be electric coil, electric smoothtop, gas, or induction. As with induction ranges, cooktop versions have magnetic coils under a glass-covered surface. Induction brands include Bosch, Electrolux, Frigidaire, GE, Kenmore, Gaggenau, Thermador, and Viking as prices drop. Most electric cooktops are 30 inches wide; most gas models are 36 inches wide. Most are made of porcelain-coated steel or glass ceramic, with four elements or burners. Prices: about $500 to $1,200 for electrics; $500 to $2,000 for gas; and $1,000 and

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up for most induction models. Wall ovens. These let you eliminate bending by installing them at waist or eye level, though they can also nest beneath a countertop to save space. Most are electric and offer single or double ovens, self-cleaning or manual, with or without a convection setting. Widths are typically 24, 27, or 30 inches. Prices: about $500 to more than $2,500 for double-oven models; figure on about $300 extra for convection.
FEATURES

include a low-wattage element for warming plates or keeping just-cooked food at the optimal temperature. Some have an elongated bridge element that spans two burners to accommodate rectangular or odd-shaped cookware. And many have at least one hot-surface light—a key safety feature, since the surface can remain hot long after the elements have been turned off. A dedicated “hot” light for each element is best. Many electric ranges and cooktops have one large higher-wattage element in front and one in back.

For all ranges

For gas ranges and cooktops

Many include a self-cleaning feature and—for gas models—sealed burners, which keep crumbs from falling beneath the cooktop. Spending more typically gets you stainless-steel trim, a warming drawer, a double oven, and six or more oven-rack positions. An especially useful feature is a raised cooktop edge to contain spills. Oven controls are typically on the backsplash behind the elements or burners. Slide-in models eliminate the backsplash and side panels to blend into the countertop. Dual-fuel ranges meld a gas cooktop with an electric oven. But they typically cost hundreds more than electric- or gas-only ranges and haven’t offered any performance advantage in our tests.

For electric ranges and cooktops

Coil elements cost the least and are easy to replace if they break. Spending a bit more buys a smoothtop model, typically with expandable or dual elements that allow you to switch between a large, high-power element and a small, lowpower element contained within it. Some

Most gas ranges have four burners in three sizes, measured in British thermal units per hour (Btu/hr.): one or two medium-power burners (about 9,000 Btu/hr.); a low-power burner (about 5,000 Btu/hr.); and one or two high-power ones (about 12,500 Btu/hr. or more). We recommend one or more high-power burners for quick heating; burners sized by power let you differentiate between them at a glance. Some have a fifth burner and some burners automatically reignite. A low-power simmer burner has an extra-low setting for delicate sauces, though other burners should be capable of simmering. Heavy porcelain-coated cast-iron or stainless-steel continuous grates stand up to abuse and let you slide cookware between burners. Pricier prostyle gas ranges have four or more brass or cast-iron burners with about 15,000 Btu/hr. or more, along with heavy stainless-steel construction and beefy knobs. But higher Btus don’t guarantee better performance. A self-cleaning cycle uses high heat to burn off spills and splatters, while a cov-

For range and wall ovens

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ered element keeps spills from encrusting it. An automatic door lock activates during the cycle and unlocks when the oven has cooled. A self-cleaning countdown display is also useful. Convection, which uses a fan and sometimes an electric element to circulate heated air, can cut cooking time for large roasts. Some systems use multiple convection fans, though that doesn’t guarantee better performance. Dual ovens let you simultaneously cook different foods at different temperatures, but the low-mounted second oven typically requires lots of bending. More ovens offer microwavelike shortcut keys that include slow-cook and pizza settings. Some electric ovens offer speed-cooking via a low-power microwave feature, a halogen heating bulb, or both. Trivection uses thermal heating, convection, and microwaves to cut cooking time; though very good overall, it’s pricey. A variablebroil feature in most electric ovens offers adjustable settings. Ovens with 12-hour shutoff turn off automatically if you leave the oven on for that long. But most ovens let you disable this, while a child lockout lets you disable oven controls for safety. Electronic touchpad controls are common, while a digital display makes it easier to set and monitor the precise temperatures. A time-delay start lets you preset start and stop times. Also useful is a temperature probe that you insert into meat or poultry to indicate doneness.
SHOPPIng TIPS Ranges still outsell separate cooktops and wall ovens, despite that combo’s added placement options. And while you can get an electric cooktop and wall oven for as little as $1,300 or so, top electric and gas ranges cost about half that amount.

Some other shopping tips: Consider your cooking. High-heat burners can be useful for searing, stirfrying, or heating large quantities. Convection ovens can speed roasting, but typically cost $250 extra to save a few minutes. If you cook for a crowd, look for at least one high-powered element or burner and a large oven. Buy results, not promises. More heat, more fans, and higher prices didn’t guarantee better cooking and baking in our tests. Indeed, higher Btu/hr. ratings merely gauge fuel used—not the heat that ultimately gets to the pot or pan. And while touchpad oven controls are more precise than knobs, front-mounted versions can be easy to bump by accident. Think twice about going pro. Massive, pro-style ranges may be high on style, but these $4,000-to-$6,000-plus ranges are often outcooked by gas and electric ranges that cost thousands less. Some expensive ranges such as Viking, KitchenAid, and Jenn-Air dual fuel ranges have also proven repair prone in our last product reliability survey. Related CR report: August 2010 Ratings: pages 206, 259, 287

REFRIgERATORS
Forget your assumptions about economy fridges: Some of the best from our latest tests were among the lowest-priced—and some “premium” models struggled with the basic task of keeping food fresh. Style and convenience are also moving downstream as companies compete in a tough appliance market. You’ll find

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top-freezer refrigerators with water dispensers, spillproof shelves, and other features once exclusive to pricier models. Our tests also yielded French-door bottom-freezers for about $1,400, along with side-by-side models with through-thedoor ice and water for hundreds less.
TYPES A few companies actually make the multitude of brands you’ll find, with essentially similar models under several names. Frigidaire, GE, Kenmore, and Whirlpool account for most topfreezer sales and, with Maytag, most sideby-side purchases. Other major brands include Amana, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, LG, Samsung, and Sub-Zero. Some mainstream companies have high-end brand lines, such as Electrolux Icon; Frigidaire Gallery; GE Café, Monogram, and Profile; Kenmore Elite and Pro; and Whirlpool Gold. GE, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Sub-Zero, Thermador, and Viking also offer pricier built-in models, while Amana, Bosch, Electrolux, Frigidaire, GE, JennAir, Kenmore, KitchenAid, LG, Maytag, and Whirlpool sell cabinet-depth models that offer the built-in look for less. Top-freezers. These cost the least overall and offer more space than comparable side-by-sides. Widths range from about 30 to 33 inches. Usable capacity is typically about 80 percent of what’s advertised (about 10 to 25 cubic feet), which brings top-freezers closest to their claims. A downside: You must bend to reach bottom shelves and drawers in the more frequently used refrigerator compartment. Price: about $500 to $1,400. Bottom-freezers. These have grown fastest in popularity since they put refrigerator items at eye level and the less-used freezer below. More offer through-the-

door ice and water. French-door models split the refrigerator compartment vertically so you can open only one door for smaller items, both for wider ones—ideal where narrow door swings are critical. Widths range from 30 to 36 inches, with more French-door models available at the narrow end. While prices have dropped, bottom-freezers still cost more overall than top-freezers and offer less space for their size. Prices: about $700 to $1,500; $1,200 to $2,200 for French doors. Side-by-sides. These have a freezer on one side and a refrigerator on the other. While narrow door swings have long been a major selling point, that and added convenience at a similar price have helped French-door bottom-freezer models grow in sales. Through-the-door ice and water are common, along with temperature-controlled bins and rapid ice-making cycles. But high, narrow compartments make it hard to find items at the back. Widths are typically 28 to 36 inches. Claimed capacity is 20 to 29 cubic feet, though we’ve found only about 65 percent of that space usable. Price: about $800 to $2,000. Built-ins. These pricey fridges are made to fit nearly flush with cabinets and counters, and are typically bottomfreezers or side-by-sides. Most can accept front panels that match other kitchen elements. On the downside, built-ins are wide (36 inches or wider), yet relatively shallow (25 to 26 inches, front to back), making them the least space-efficient overall. They’re also roughly a foot taller than conventional models, making them hard to fit beneath some cabinets. Price: about $4,000 to $8,000. Cabinet-depths. These less-shallow, freestanding refrigerators offer the look of a built-in for less money. They also offer

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more usable space, though they’re still less spacious than conventional fridges. Styles are mostly side-by-side, with topand bottom-freezers and French-door models joining the fold. Many accept extra-cost panels. Price: $1,500 to $3,200. Under-cabinet drawers. These are a luxury for kitchens where even the biggest refrigerator won’t hold everything. But drawers tend to be large on price and small on space. Price: about $1,800 to $3,000. Compact models. Mostly for offices and dorm rooms, these typically range from about 2 cubic feet to 4 cubic feet for “tall” models. Brands include Avanti, Frigidaire, GE, Haier, Kenmore, and Sanyo, among others. But those we tested used nearly as much electricity as fullsized fridges while holding only 10 to 25 percent as much. And none was tops at both refrigerating and freezing. Price: $70 to $200.
FEATURES Most models now offer stainless or stainless-look exteriors, some with fingerprint-resistant clear coatings. Smooth under-glass finishes are growing. More trade knobs for electronic touchpads; some have a digital display for temperature. Adjustable door bins and shelves can handle tall items, while elevator shelves crank up and down without the need to remove the contents, and split shelves adjust to different heights independently. Shelf snuggers— sliding brackets on door shelves—secure bottles and jars. A few models have a wine rack that stores a bottle horizontally. Glass shelves offer easy cleaning and usually have a raised, sealed rim to contain spills. Pullout freezer shelves or bins improve access. Temperature-

controlled drawers that store meat and fish several degrees cooler are growing, as are crispers with controls to maintain humidity and see-through drawers that show what’s inside. Most models have an icemaker in the freezer or give you the option of installing one, though these eat up some space. The ice bin is usually below the icemaker, though some are inside of the freezer door and rob a bit less space. Through-the-door ice-andwater dispensers are common on sideby-sides and are on more French-door bottom freezers. Often they include Shop smart a water filter designed to reduce Refrigerators lead, chlorine, and are being other impurities. discounted with You’ll also see a few other appliances, energy use is models with dual dropping, and evaporators, which brands are piling prevent odors from on features and migrating between conveniences t he fridge and for less. freezer, and LED lighting, which improves visibility while minimizing the energy load.
SHOPPIng TIPS Size—especially width—is as important as type, since most new refrigerators must fit in the same space as the old one. Also check the space available for opening fridge and freezer doors and the clearance needed to get the new fridge through halls and doorways. Once you’ve matched a type to your needs and budget, follow these tips: Look for work-saving features. Key flexibility features include split or half shelves and elevator cranks, along with pull-out shelves and extension drawers and adjustable door bins.

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Consider efficiency. Despite tougher standards for Energy Star models, refrigerators still use more electricity annually than other kitchen appliances, because they’re always on. We also continue to find models that use significantly more electricity in our tough energy-use tests than what their EnergyGuide labels predict. Choose a model that scored well for energy efficiency in our tests. Some states and utilities provide rebates for Energy Star models; visit www.dsireusa. org for details. Consider cleaning. Stainless may look inviting at the store, but it’s likely to smudge easily in your kitchen. Clearcoated stainless or faux-stainless vinyl coatings are easier to keep clean. For the real stuff, use hot water and dish detergent or a cleaner designed for stainless steel. Related CR report: August 2010 Ratings: page 264

impressive front-loading machines for as little as $650 or so, while top-loaders start at under $500. But we also found that you can pay more in the long run for some of the lowest-priced models, or pay extra up front for special cycles that add little to the wash.
TYPES The top four brands—GE, Kenmore (Sears), Maytag, and Whirlpool—account for most washer and dryer sales. Other brands include Admiral, Amana, and Roper (made by Whirlpool), Frigidaire (made by Electrolux), Haier, Hotpoint (made by GE), LG, and Samsung, along with European brands like Asko, Bosch, and Miele. Regular top-loading washers. These fill the tub, thus using more water, and scrub clothing with the conventional tall center-post agitator. Because they must move laundry around for thorough cleaning, they typically hold less (about 12 to 16 pounds) than large front-loaders and top-loaders without agitators. And while they make it easier to load laundry and add items midcycle, most don’t wash as well and use more energy than frontload washers. Price: about $300 to $900 for most. High-efficiency top-loaders. Unconventional, high-efficiency designs eliminate the usual tall agitator post and use a small center device or replace it with discs—called wash plates—that lift and tumble laundry. Wash performance and capacity are typically better than a regular top-loader’s. But the higher spin speeds that reduce drying time and energy use can tangle and wrinkle clothing. These work best with low-sudsing, high-efficiency detergent. Price: about $700 to $1,000.

WASHERS AnD DRYERS
Doing the laundry just got a lot cheaper on several fronts: Washer prices have plummeted by as much as a third, even as energy and water efficiency reach new heights. The trend toward greater efficiency in washers is especially welcome, since dryers use about as much energy as they did a decade ago. The U.S. Department of Energy now requires washers to use 21 percent less energy. The most efficient top-loaders now wash as well as the best front-loaders, even if they’re still a step behind in efficiency. Best of all, you’ll find

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Front-loading washers. These clean clothes by lifting them to the top of the tub and then dropping them into the water below. They fill only partly with water and can typically handle between 12 and 20 pounds of laundry. And many can be stacked with a dryer to save floor space. Like top-loaders that claim high efficiency, these tend to wash best with low-sudsing detergent. They also spin fastest and still save the most energy and water overall. But as with top-loaders, their high spin speeds can tangle and wrinkle clothing. Price: about $600 to $1,300. Full-sized dryers. Most are 27 to 29 inches wide. Front-mounted controls on some let you stack the dryer atop a frontloading washer, though shorter people may have to stretch to reach the dryer controls or inside the drum. Most have ample capacity for typical wash loads— about 5 to 7½ cubic feet. A larger drum is better for large comforters and other bulky items. Prices: about $400 to $1,000 for electric; $450 to $1,100 for gas.
FEATURES

For washers

A stainless-steel or plastic tub won’t rust like porcelain-coated steel if chipped. Stainless tubs can also withstand higher spin speeds, which extract more water and speed drying. A porcelain top/lid resists scratching better than a painted metal one. Touchpad controls tend to be more versatile than dials, letting you save favorite settings, for instance. Some have a display with a progression of menus and customized programs. Important ones include cycle lights or signals, along with an automatic lock that keeps children from opening a top-loader’s lid during the spin cycle. (Front-loaders lock

at the beginning of a cycle but can usually be opened by interrupting it.) You’ll also find allergen cycles and steam settings, along with features aimed at preventing odor if clean laundry is left in the washer too long. Front-loaders and some top-loaders have automatic water-level settings to help ensure efficient water use. Most establish wash and rinse temperatures by mixing hot and cold water in preset proportions. For incoming cold water that’s especially cold, an automatic temperature control adjusts flow for the correct wash temperature. Some models allow an extra rinse, which can help those sensitive to detergent residue, or an extended spin to remove more water from laundry. A time-delay feature lets you program the washer to start at a later time. Automatic dispensers for bleach, detergent, and fabric-softener release powder or liquid at the appropriate time in the cycle, and bleach dispensers prevent spattering. Shop smart You’ll also find Choose a frontmore of the pricier loading washer models with steam for top efficiency, settings claimed a conventional to boost cleaning, top-loader for sanitize fabrics, and value; the best remove sta i ns. use less energy While the settings without sacrificing boosted stain re- performance. moval, models with steam cleaned well even when we didn’t use this feature.

For dryers

Models with a moisture sensor can tell when laundry is dry more quickly than those with a traditional thermostat. Moisture-sensor dryers also subject fabrics to less unnecessary heat and use

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less energy. You’ll often find two or three auto-dry cycles, which shut off the unit when the clothes reach desired dryness. Each cycle may have a more-dry setting to dry clothes completely, a less-dry setting for damp ironing, and gradations in between. Most have a separate temperature control that lets you choose a lower heat for delicate fabrics, for instance. An extended-tumble setting helps prevent wrinkling when you don’t remove clothes right away. Some models continue to tumble without heat. An express-dry cycle handles small loads at high heat in less than a half hour. As with washers, touchpad controls and menus add versatility. A top-mounted lint filter can be easier to clean; some models have a warning light that reminds you to clean it. Most models have a drum light, making it easier to spot stray items at back. A rack included with many attaches inside to hold sneakers or other items you don’t want to tumble. Drop-down doors may fit better against a wall, but side-opening doors may make it easier to reach items.
SHOPPIng TIPS If your laundry room is near living space, check our noise and vibration

scores; front-load washers’ high spin speeds can cause wood floors to shake. Then follow these shopping tips: Choose a type. Most traditional toploaders cost the least and wash the fastest at the expense of energy and water use and cleaning performance. Top-loaders that claim high efficiency tend to hold more and clean better. And while the best top-loaders wash better than ever, front-loaders are still more efficient and capacious. Focus on features. Auto temperature control is worthwhile for consistency, while automatic dispensers save some hassle. But extended-spin cycles and steam added little in our tests. Skip the matching dryer. You’ll save hundreds while often improving performance by choosing the washer and dryer separately. If you do choose a matched set, begin by choosing a washer that did well in our tests. And choose a dryer with a moisture sensor. To be sure the one you’re considering has one, check the literature, visit the manufacturer’s Web site, or pick a highly rated dryer we’ve tested. Related CR report: February 2010 Ratings for washers: page 289 Ratings for dryers: page 224

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Home & Yard: Better Products for Less

hether you’re shopping for a can of paint or a new floor, a competitive marketplace makes this the best of times for homeowners. You’ll find cleaner, greener paints and stains that don’t scrimp on performance, along with exterior coatings that save time and money by eliminating the usual prime coat. Our latest tests also show that you can get a gas grill that outcooks a raft of pricey competitors, along with cushier tractors and greener mowers that help save your lawn and the planet while keeping more green in your pocket. All of that can help you make your home handsomer now—and worth more later—while reducing your carbon footprint without sacrificing performance.

AIR CONDITIONERS
Our latest tests found capable room models in every size and at every price point—at least when it comes to cooling. That’s good news, considering all newly manufactured room air conditioners must now use a new refrigerant that doesn’t deplete the ozone layer. But some bargain-basement models could make you lose your cool on the hottest

days and nights. And some can be noisy enough to be annoying. That’s because utility companies often compensate for high demand by reducing voltage. While most air conditioners do fine in our brownout test, which simulates low-voltage conditions, some didn’t run and restart properly. And while no A/C is silent, some let you hear more of the gurgling of the refrigerant, the chattering of the condenser, and other sounds these units make.
TYPES Models we tested meet the 9.7 Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) required for air

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conditioners below 8,000 British thermal units per hour (Btu/hr.) and the 9.8 EER for those with 8,000 to 13,999 Btu/hr. Many room A/Cs also meet or exceed the 10.7 EER needed to qualify for the voluntary federal Energy Star designation. Central air conditioners must have a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) of 14 or higher for packaged systems, 16 for split and split-ductless units. The higher the numbers, the more efficient the system. And while new models now use greener R-410A refrigerant instead of R-22, we saw no sacrifice in cooling. Leading window-model brands include Friedrich, Frigidaire, GE, Haier, Kenmore (Sears), and LG, among others. Cooling capacities typically range from 5,000 to 6,500 Btu/hr. for small window units; 7,000 to 8,200 Btu/hr. for midsized units; and 9,800 to 12,500 Btu/hr. for large models. Prices: about $100 to $600 for small to midsized models based mostly on capacity; and $200 to $500 or more for larger models.
FEATURES

speeds and most have multiple modes that let you choose between maximum cooling and less energy use and noise. An energy-saver setting on many stops the fan when the compressor cycles off and monitors the temperature. Electronic controls and digital temperature readouts are also common. A timer can save energy by switching the unit on or off automatically—say, when you get home or after you’ve fallen asleep. Some models are installed with a slide-out chassis—an outer cabinet that anchors in the window. Others include variable fan speeds, while some Haier and LG units have a dehumidifying mode that may be useful on humid but cool days. And all models now have safer electrical plugs that help prevent fires by shutting down power if they sense the power cord is damaged.
SHOPPINg TIPS In general, 5,000 to 6,500 Btu/hr. models cool rooms 100 to 300 square feet; 7,000 to 8,200 Btu/hr. models cool rooms 250 to 400 square feet; and 9,800 to 12,500 Btu/hr. models cool rooms 350 to 650 square feet. Those are just guidelines, however; room construction, climate, and other factors also affect your choice of air conditioner. Here’s what else to keep in mind: Don’t think bigger is better. Buying a model that’s too big may not remove enough humidity, leaving you with a cold, clammy room. Consider window location. Nearly all air conditioners are better at directing air in a certain direction. See whether the air must blow to the right or left for the room you’re cooling; then see our Ratings for top-scoring models that are better at directing air in that direction.

For Window units

An air conditioner’s exterior-facing portion contains a compressor, fan, and condenser, while the interior-facing portion has a fan and an evaporator. Most room models are designed to fit doublehung windows, though some fit casement and slider windows, while others are for through-the-wall installation. Most have adjustable vertical and horizontal louvers to direct airflow. Many models include a remote control and offer a fresh-air intake or exhaust setting for ventilation, although this moves relatively little air. Some Haier models have remote controls marked in Braille. All have high and low

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Try out the controls. Look for touchpads with large LED displays, clear labeling, and conveniently placed buttons. Raised buttons with different shapes for different functions are easier to differentiate, use, and identify by touch than tiny or crowded ones. Look for energy savings. For energy efficiency ratings, look for a qualification sticker from the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) or the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). An efficient A/C helps the environment and may qualify for rebates, particularly if it’s Energy Star–certified (see www.dsireusa.org for details on state and local programs). Indeed, Energy Star models use roughly 25 percent less electricity than those made before late 2000. Related CR report: July 2010 Ratings: page 189

metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, Li-ion cells have taken the lead in the race for new cells. But traditional NiCad-powered tools cost far less than both alternatives and often perform comparably overall. Our tests also show that lithium cells can die early if you aren’t careful; several couldn’t be recharged after we ran them down to full discharge and let them sit for a while. That means making the most of their added run time could be an expensive mistake, because replacement cells can cost more than $100. We also found some cordless circular saws to be far more impressive than before—and some small cordless screwdrivers wimpy, even for their size.
TYPES Black & Decker, Craftsman (Sears), Ryobi, and Skil are the major consumer brands. Bosch, DeWalt, Hitachi, Makita, Milwaukee, Porter-Cable, and Ridgid offer pricier drills designed for pros and serious do-it-yourselfers. Most 12-volt models cost less than $100; at about 3 pounds, they weigh roughly half as much as some 18-volt models, the typical voltage these days. You’ll even find small, lightweight Li-ion drills and screwdrivers in that price range. But unless you’re handling strictly light-duty tasks, you’re likely to be disappointed with cordless screwdrivers and the least-expensive drills. Prices: about $40 to $100 for lightduty drills; $100 to $300 for drills that can handle the toughest jobs; and $50 to $160 for most cordless screwdrivers. Many of those same brands also bundle their cordless drills with circular and reciprocating saws and sell them as kits. The pitch: You often pay less than you would if you bought those tools separately, because they all share the same batteries

CORDLESS DRILLS & KITS
More and more consumer drills and other cordless tools are touting the lighter weight and run time of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Those are what powered some of the best in our latest tests. But don’t count out the familiar nickel-cadmium (NiCad) cell when it comes to value. Along with added power and run time per pound over NiCad batteries, Li-ion cells offer easier disposal, since they don’t contain toxic cadmium—a threat to groundwater if spent NiCads are thrown into the trash instead of recycled. While many of those pluses also apply to nickel-

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and charger. Several of the latest cordless circular saws perform far better than older models. But while some kits are a relatively good deal, others are a collection of mediocre tools. Price: about $160 to $500.
FEATURES All but the least-expensive drills come with two batteries, letting you use one while the other charges. A “smart” charger on many models recharges a drill’s battery in 60 minutes or less, compared with three to five hours or more for conventional chargers, while extending battery life by adjusting the charge as needed. Some from Black & Decker and Ridgid have a dual charger that charges two batteries at once. A growing number of brands, including Craftsman and Ryobi, share batteries between tools and sell them with or without a battery, letting you build your own kit à la carte. Some now have a battery charge indicator that shows remaining charge while in use, along with a built-in LED work light. Many cordless drills have two speed ranges: Low for driving screws with added torque (or twisting force), High for drilling with added speed. All have a variable speed trigger to make starting holes easier, and most have an adjustable clutch for lowering maximum torque to avoid driving a screw too far into softwood or wallboard. All are also reversible. Many drills have a 3/8 -inch chuck, but more expensive models have a 1/2-inch chuck for drill bit shanks up to 1/2-inch. (Large-diameter bits with a reduced shank will fit smaller chucks.) Some models have a hammer mode that pulses the chuck and bit to speed up boring through masonry. Some have a second handle that attaches to the side for two-handed drilling.

SHOPPINg TIPS Not everyone needs maximum power and run time; nearly any drill will do for hanging pictures and other easy tasks. Decide how much speed and power you really need. Don’t buy by voltage. Several 18-volt drills outperformed higher-voltage models, and some 12-volt drills are more than adequate for most homeowners. Tech tip Check battery recharge time. It’s Some drills have an hour or less for a hammer mode that pulses the many drills and as chuck and bit to low as 20 minutes speed up boring for some—handy through masonry. for large decks and other big projects. You’ll typically find the recharge time on the box, otherwise it’s likely longer than an hour. Check battery prices. Some NiCad replacement cells cost as little as $25 compared with $90 or more for many Li-ion and NiMH cells. Put your hands on it. Besides checking a drill’s weight, check its balance by gripping it firmly and then lifting it to the wall as if you were about to drive a screw. The drill’s chuck should point straight ahead and not tilt up or dip down. Consider impact drivers and cordless screwdrivers cautiously. An impact driver’s added torque also brings added noise; the striking action that provides the extra twisting power made those we tested loud enough to require hearing protection. And appealing though pocket-sized cordless screwdrivers may be, those we tested were very slow and shy on run time and power. Related CR report: November 2009 Ratings: page 208

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FLOORINg
Laminate and vinyl flooring still win over wood when it comes to fending off everyday wear. But our latest gamut of simulated use tests provide some practical reasons to pay a little extra for the natural beauty of oak, bamboo, and other natural choices. We put a cross section of major brands through our torture test of scuffs, scrapes, spills, and other kitchen abuse. We found several hardwoods that made it through our wear tests with flying colors. You’ll also find bamboo that lasts longer than earlier versions we tested. Indeed, manufacturers promote bamboo as a renewable resource because they can harvest this fast-growing grass in as little as four years. Predarkening and other treatments make today’s better at resisting color change in sunny rooms.
TYPES Though you’ll find a growing array of styles, most flooring falls into one of these six types: Prefinished hardwood. Advantages include its natural warmth and the ability to be sanded and refinished several times. You’ll increasingly find solid bamboo among the oaks and other hardwoods as its price drops and its popularity grows. Major brands include Armstrong, Bruce, Lumber Liquidators, Tarkett, and, for bamboo, EcoTimber and Teragren. Except for the best solid bamboo, however, all the solid-wood products we tested dented easily, and some discolored from sunlight. What’s more, solid flooring shouldn’t go in basements and other damp spaces.

Price: about $7 to $12 per square foot installed. Engineered wood. This flooring uses a thin veneer of real wood, cork, or, increasingly, bamboo over structural plywood. Brands are the same as for solid wood. A major advantage is easy installation: Most products can be clicked together and laid in place—called floating—and can typically be refinished once. Nailing and gluing are also options, as is belowgrade installation. On the debit side, most engineered wood doesn’t wear as well as solid wood or plastic laminate. It also dents easily, and small spills can damage it. Price: about $5 to $10 per square foot, installed. Plastic laminate. This fast-growing category typically is comprised of dense fiberboard with a photo of natural flooring beneath a clear plastic protective layer. Brands include those for solid and engineered wood plus Mannington, Montado, Pergo, Wicanders, and Wilsonart, among others. Advantages include easy, floatable installation without nails or glue as well as the ability to mimic nearly anything from oak to marble. Like engineered wood, laminates can also be installed below grade. Some brands use real cork beneath the clear layer. A repetitive pattern on some products can compromise realism, however. The best laminates resist scratching, denting, and discoloration from sunlight better than most wood products, but as with engineered wood, a big spill can cause damage underneath. And while you may be able to touch up minor flaws, you’ll have to replace the flooring when its outer layer wears through. Price: about $4 to $8 per square foot installed. Vinyl. This lower-priced option can be especially good at fending off wear,

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dents, stains, discoloration from sunlight, and—for the best—everyday scratches. Easy glue-down installation is another plus, as are more color and design choices than before. Premium vinyl does a better job of imitating stone, tile, and even oak, but even the best products still look like vinyl. Allure, Congoleum, and Nafco are among the major brands. Price: about $3 to $7 per square foot installed. Linoleum. This natural and resilient flooring is made from linseed oil and tree bark (cork dust) without killing the tree. Today’s products offer far more colors and styles, including retro patterns, and is available from Armstrong, Forbo, and Nova, among other brands. Linoleum fends off dents and discoloration from sunlight, but resistance to wear, scratches, and moisture varies widely from product to product. Linoleum can also be as expensive as some solid and engineered woods. Price: about $4 to $9 per square foot installed. Ceramic tile. This classic material tends to resist wear, moisture, scratches, dents, and stains. But tiles can crack under impact and grout can stain, while dropped cups and dishes break more easily on its hard surface. Ceramic tile is also relatively expensive and hard to install. Price: about $8 to $15 per square foot installed.
FEATURES

finishes you apply yourself, though the beveled edges on many products may not appeal to everyone.

For engineered Wood

An outer finish layer protects the wood veneer—usually 1/8 -inch thick or less— which covers construction-grade plywood. It’s usually stapled or glued to the subfloor, though some products can be clicked together and floated. Many products can be sanded and refinished once, but no more than that.

A clear plastic outer layer protects what is typically a layer of film that mimics wood, stone, and other natural Shop smart materials. A fiberThe best board core supports laminates resist the top layers, damage better while a foam layer than solid wood, but a big spill can goes be tween the cause damage laminate and the underneath. subfloor. A vapor barrier is rec ommended between the subfloor and foam if moisture is a concern. Peel-and-stick planks or tiles are easier to install than sheets, though sheet vinyl offers a seamless look. Choices also include perimeter-bonded floors, which are glued down only around the edge of the room and along seams, and fully adhered floors, which are laid in a coat of mastic spread over the entire subfloor; both are priced comparably. Perimeterbonded floors tend to hide small imperfections where they aren’t glued down, while fully adhered floors lie flatter and are less likely to bubble up.

For plastic laminate

For Vinyl Flooring

For prefinished solid Wood

Narrow boards are called strips, wide ones planks. Most are 3/4 -inch thick or less. Flooring is usually nailed or stapled to a plywood subfloor and can also cover aboveground concrete using a vapor barrier. Prefinished flooring has fended off wear in our tests better than

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SHOPPINg TIPS Home centers and retailers such as iFloor.com (www.ifloor.com) and Lumber Liquidators (www.lumberliquidators. com) run frequent promotions on specific flooring types and brands at discounts of up to 25 percent. Begin by considering where the flooring will go and how much traffic, sunlight, and other wear and tear it will get—and whether you’ll install it yourself. Then keep these points in mind: For solid wood, consider the finish. While unfinished wood costs roughly 40 percent less than prefinished f looring, paying a pro to sand and finish the f loor is likely to eat up those savings. Count on several days whether you have the work done or handle it yourself. What’s more, prefinished floors tend to hold up better, and the warranty comes from the f looring manufacturer, not the installer. Be sure it’s really green. Certification by the Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative offers some assurance that wood f looring comes from responsibly managed forests. See that both the product and the manufacturer have been certified. Vinyl f looring certified by the industry’s FloorScore program meets California’s tough emissions standards for volatile organic compounds, which have been linked to health problems and pollution. It also qualifies for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design credit from the independent U.S. Green Building Council. But other concerns with vinyl f loors include phthalate exposure and manufacturing and disposal problems. Related CR report: August 2010 Ratings: page 230

gAS gRILLS
Want a grill that sizzles? Our latest tests show that some of the best cost as little as $200. You’ll also find more grills with rotisseries, side burners, and—yes—stainless steel for less than $500, along with portable models that can make your next tailgating party a lot tastier. Our recent survey of roughly 1,000 Americans nationwide also found that among those who grill, more than half do so more than once a week in season. More year-round grilling is also spurring added features that let you cook the entire meal outdoors.
TYPES Char-Broil, Kenmore, and Weber account for most gas-grill sales. Others include Blue Ember, Brinkmann, Fiesta, and Vermont Castings, along with Ducane, Jenn-Air, and Viking, as brands better known for ranges move outdoors. Here’s what you’ll find: Basic grills. These are ideal if you want a good small or medium-sized grill that fits 15 or more burgers on its cooking surface. Features include a painted cart and cast-aluminum firebox and hood, thin porcelain-steel grates, and a side burner for some. You’ll also find small portable grills in this price range.Price: about $100 to $300. Midpriced grills. These tend to be best for most. Options include mediumsized grills with more features and large models with enough cooking area for 30 or more burgers. Features include higher Btus, recessed side burners and griddles,

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an electronic igniter, a rotisserie burner or smoker tray, double storage doors, and stainless. Many have premium grates or burners with long warranties. Price: $300 to $650. High-end grills. These are best if you want a medium-sized or large grill with more style. Features include those on midpriced grills plus mostly or all-stainless construction, lifetime burner warranties, more burners, a fully rolling cart, more storage space, and a toe-kick that hides the wheels. More also have infrared main or side burners. Price: $700-plus.
FEATURES Many cooking grates are porcelaincoated steel, though better grates are heavy stainless and bare or porcelaincoated cast iron. Porcelain-coated grates are rustproof and easy to clean, but can chip. Bare cast iron is sturdy and tends to sear well, but must be seasoned with cooking oil to prevent rust. Heavy stainless grates are sturdy and resist rust without a porcelain coating. Grates with wide, closely spaced bars tend to provide better searing than grates with thin, round rods. Carts are usually painted steel tubing assembled with nuts and bolts; better carts have welded joints, and some are stainless steel. Pricier grills often use 300-series stainless, which includes nickel and has more corrosion-fighting chromium than 400-series stainless. Carts with a caster at each corner are easiest to move; wheels with a full axle are better than those bolted to the frame, which can bend in time. You’ll often find one or more exterior shelves, which flip up or are fixed on the side. Shelves may be plastic, cast aluminum, or stainless; wood shelves may not wear as well as other materials. Most

grills have interior racks for keeping food warm. A stainless or porcelain-coated steel lid and firebox is more durable than cast aluminum. Electronic igniters tend to work better than a push button or knobs. Also look for lighting holes for a match or lighter on the side of or beneath the grill, in case the igniter fails. Tech tip A gas gauge is anWe have found other worthwhile that infrared feature. technology Most burners are doesn’t guarantee steel, though some better grilling premium burners overall. are stainless steel, cast-iron, or castbrass, and are typically warranted for 10 years or longer. Many grills have three or more burners, which can add cooking flexibility. Some grills use infrared burners, which typically diffuse the gas flame through ceramic tile with the promise of better searing and more even heating, though we’ve found the technology doesn’t guarantee better grilling overall. A side burner with its own heat control is handy for side dishes, as is an electric rotisserie, a fuel gauge, smoker drawer, wok, griddle pan, steamer pan, deep fryer, nonstick grill basket, and metal knobs. Most grills also use a cooking medium— typically a metal plate or metal flavorizer bars—between the burner and grates to distribute heat and vaporize juices for flavor. A few grills include a propane tank (about $25 separately), and some can run on natural gas.
SHOPPINg TIPS Most gas grills should perform at least adequately at your next alfresco feast. As with indoor ranges, some models do so with more style.

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Here’s what to consider when you’re ready to buy: Choose the right size. For large crowds, look for a grill with a cooking area of more than 490 square inches which is enough room for 30 or more burgers. Look also for lots of shelf and storage space. Midsized grills (340- to 490-square-inch cooking area, room for 16 to 30 burgers) and small or portable models (340-square-inch cooking area or less, room for 10 to 15 burgers) tend to cost less and are fine for smaller needs. Check the burners. These distribute the gas and flames, and are a grill’s mostreplaced part. Look for main burners with warranties of 10 years or more. Also note that the greater the space between the grates and burners or flavorizer bars where the grease lands, the less the likelihood of sustained flare-ups. Inspect its construction. A magnet will usually stick to cheaper, 400-series stainless steel. But recent changes in metallurgy for some grills mean that some better, 300-series stainless may be magnetic while some 400-series stainless is not. And while cheaper stainless is likelier to corrode, spotting wasn’t severe in our tough salt-spray tests. Ask which type the grill uses if you’re concerned about corrosion—and invest in a cover (about $40) for any grill. Also be sure the rolling cart that supports the firebox and lid doesn’t rattle when shaken. Avoid carts and other parts with sharp edges. And see that the handle doesn’t put your knuckles too close to the lid, which can burn them when hot. Keep it safe. Put the grill in a lowtraffic, well-vented area away from buildings, dry leaves, and brush. Use a fireproof mat beneath. And never grill in the garage or other enclosed area where carbon

monoxide can build. Given the recalls announced each year by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), we strongly recommend registering a new grill with the manufacturer soon after buying it so you’re notified of any safety concerns (and can collect on the warranty if a covered problem arises). You can also sign up for recall notifications at www.cpsc.gov/cpsclist.aspx. Related CR report: June and July 2010 Ratings: page 232

gUTTER gUARDS
Systems that promise to keep your gutters leaf-free can cost thousands of dollars. But our extensive outdoor tests show that a lowpriced screen may be all it takes to help keep your gutters clean. We also found that some inexpensive, do-it-yourself gutter guards do a far better job of keeping rainfall from pouring over the side and pooling around your home’s foundation, where it can seep into the basement.
TYPES Brands include Amerimax, Gutter Topper, Gutter Helmet, K-Guard, and LeafFilter, among others. You’ll find a variety of designs that range from simple screens to systems that include the gutters themselves. You’ll also find a wide range of prices. Here are the basic types and what you can expect to pay, based on the roughly 160 feet needed for an averagesized home: Pro-installed systems. These cost the most by far, but along with the installation,

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the price typically includes a free service call if your gutters ever clog. Many pro systems use an enclosed, surface-tension design in which water is supposed to flow over the top and into slots that route it into the gutter beneath. But most products with that design were only middling at keeping severe rainfall from pouring over the sides in our tests. Price: about $3,000 to $5,000 for an averagesized home. Do-it-yourself systems. These can also be installed by a contractor—a tempting option considering how challenging some are to put in. Along with surface-tension designs, they include screens that go over the gutter along with brush and foam inserts, which you simply cut or bend and press into place. But none of the inserts we tested did especially well at keeping out the leaves and other debris gutter guards are designed to fend off. Prices: about $50 to $1,500 for an average-sized home; add $100 to $500 if a contractor installs it.
FEATURES Fine-mesh screens outperformed screens with larger holes in our tests. Some proinstalled gutter guards are all-in-one systems that are integral with the gutters, an option if your existing gutters are worn or damaged, though they typically cost more. SHOPPINg TIPS Even if you leave your existing gutters as is, be sure drains extend 5 feet from the house and that the ground near the foundation slopes at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more to carry away water. Check your gutters for improper pitch as well as broken fasteners, clogs and corrosion, and gaps between connections.

Then keep these points in mind: Check suggested maintenance. Some systems call for only periodic hosing from the ground, while others need brushing for pollen and other upkeep that could be as onerous as cleaning out an unprotected gutter. Look for caveats. Be sure the gutter guard you’re considering is made for the type of roof you have. Also be sure any system won’t void the warranty on your roof or gutters. Play it safe. Ladder injuries are linked to some 200 to 300 deaths and an estimated 200,000 emergency-room visits each year. Use a sturdy Type 1A extension ladder made of fiberglass if you’re working near electrical lines. Extend it 3 feet beyond the roof and angle it 85 degrees from the ground (1 foot for every 4 feet high). Always face the ladder when climbing and descending. And never reach more than 1 foot to either side. Related CR report: September 2010 Ratings: page 238

LAWN MOWERS & TRACTORS
Your next mower could help green up your lawn in more ways than one: You’ll find riders that run on batteries, electric mowers that move themselves, and some new takes on the age-old reel mower as cleaner machines gain traction. Months of tests also yielded some bargains among the gas-powered models most people buy. For instance, you could

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shell out $700 or so for the top-scoring Honda and get a carpet-smooth cut. Or you could pay roughly half that price for a Toro and get neater results in the side-discharge mode you’ll need in taller grass. And like the other gas mowers we tested, these models pollute some 60 percent less than mowers built a decade ago. Rather ride than walk? Some of the best new tractors cost $1,500 or less.
TYPES Mowing options range from $100 push mowers to $4,000-plus tractors and zero-turn-radius machines. Here’s what you’ll find: Manual-reel mowers. These traditional push mowers are sold by McLane and Scotts as well as by such newer brands as Easun and scissors manufacturer Fiskars. They’re quiet, inexpensive, and nonpolluting, since pushing them turns the wheels and a series of curved blades without an engine. They’re also relatively safe and require little upkeep beyond blade adjustments and sharpening. Some models use a battery-powered motor to spin the blades as you push the mower. The Fiskars we tested proved especially impressive and throws clippings forward so they don’t get on your shoes. But swaths are only 14 to 18 inches wide, cutting tends to be relatively uneven, and most can’t cut grass higher than 3 inches or trim closer than 3 inches around obstacles. And because they don’t disperse clippings like a rotary mower, you may need a bag or a rake if you’re fussy. Price: about $100 to $400. Electric mowers. Major brands include Black & Decker, Craftsman, Ryobi, and Toro, among others. These walk-behind mowers use an electric motor to drive a rotating blade and—for one Ryobi model—

the rear wheels. Corded and batterypowered cordless models start with push-button ease, produce no exhaust emissions, and require little upkeep beyond sharpening and battery recharging. Most offer a side or rear bag and a mulching mode that cuts and recuts clippings until they’re small enough to nestle within the lawn and fertilize it as they decompose. The best corded and cordless mowers perform as well as some gas mowers, and today’s cordless models run longer per charge. But electrics still can’t match the best gas mowers in tall or thick grass. Cordless mowers can rove beyond the roughly 100-foot range of a power cord, but weigh up to 30 pounds more than corded models. Both typically cut 18- to 20-inch swaths versus 21 and 22 inches for gas mowers. Prices: about $150 to $250 for corded; cordless, $350 or more. Gas-powered mowers. These free you from a cord and include push and selfpropelled models. They have a four-stroke engine with between 160 and 190 cubic centimeters of piston displacement—a measurement that has replaced horsepower ratings (some also advertise torque, or twisting force). Most cut a swath 21 or 22 inches wide, can handle long or thick grass and weeds, and can bag, side-discharge, or mulch clippings. But while cleaner than before, all still produce exhaust emissions and require regular maintenance. They’re also loud enough to require hearing protection. Prices: about $150 to $300 for push-type; $250 to $800 for self-propelled. Rear-engine riding mowers. These small riders take up little more space than a walk-behind mower and typically mow a swath 26 to 34 inches wide. While most are gas-powered, Ariens recently

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introduced battery-powered models that eliminate the usual fueling, exhaust emissions, and tune-ups. Gas models priced below $1,000 are also making this older category more competitive against larger, more capable tractors. But even the best didn’t match a tractor’s cut quality in our tests. And you can still pay hundreds for bagging kits. Prices: about $700 to $1,500 for gas; $3,000-plus for battery-powered versions. Lawn tractors. These front-engine machines are sold by Craftsman, Cub Cadet, John Deere, Husqvarna, Toro, and Troy-Built, among others. Most lawn tractors mow a swath 42 to 48 inches wide—though swaths up to 60 inches are available—and can bag, mulch, and sidedischarge clippings. Some offer wider cuts and four-wheel steering for tighter turns. And all accept snow throwers and other tools. But they create exhaust emissions and require a roughly 4x6-foot storage space. Bagging kits typically cost an extra $300 to $500, while other add-ons cost even more and are hard to install and remove. Prices: about $1,000 to $2,500; $3,000 to $3,500 for models with tight turning. Zero-turn-radius mowers. With rear wheels that are independently driven providing quick turns, they’re similar to the ones landscapers use, and typically mow a swath 42 to 48 inches wide. Even tight-turning tractors typically can’t match their tight turns around trees, posts, and other obstacles. Zero-turn machines also side-discharge, bag, and mulch clippings. But they’re pricier than most tractors and typically don’t cut as well. While a few use a steering wheel, most use nonintuitive levers for steering and ground speed. Models that rely solely on their rear wheels for steering

can lose traction and be hard to steer and control on hills. Rear-steering wheels often tear up grass on turns. You’ll also pay some $400 to $800 for a bagging kit. Price: about $2,500 to $4,000 for most homeowner versions. Robotic mowers. These rove within a perimeter wire before returning to a charging station much as robotic vacuums roam indoors. They produce no Tech tip exhaust emissions. The best corded But performance and cordless can vary signifi- mowers perform cantly for these as well as some niche machines. gas mowers, and Ro botic mowers today’s cordless are also pricey and models run should be super- longer per charge. vised. Indeed, manufacturers often warn you to keep children and pets away while they work. Price: about $2,000 to $2,500.
FEATURES

For electric and gas mowers

Cordless-electric mowers often tout voltage, with specs ranging from 24 volts on up to 60 volts. But some lower-voltage mowers outperformed models with higher voltage in our tests. One-lever height adjustment lets you raise and lower the entire deck at once, while a blade-brake clutch on gas-powered mowers stops only the blade when you release the handlebar safety bail, eliminating the need to restart the engine. An overhead-valve engine tends to run more efficiently than a side-valve engine. Most mowers have an automatic choke that shuts off after the engine starts, and a few still have a rubber primer bulb that supplies added fuel for cold starts.

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An electric starter eliminates the need to pull-start a gas engine. Some self-propelled gas-powered mowers have several speeds or infinite drive speeds, typically from 1 to 31/2 mph. Rear-wheel-drive models tend to have better traction on hills than front-drive models, especially when the bag gets Shop smart filled, if you are using one. Models Look for models with a washout with swivel front port that accepts wheels allow easy a hose for 180-degree turns, clearing clippings but can be tricky beneath the deck. on hills; the wheels also prevent the front of the deck from cutting against foundations and walls. Some mowers offer a corrosion-proof aluminum or plastic deck, and most now allow toolsfree mode changes. Nearly all mowers come with a rear bag, which eases maneuvering. More gas mowers include a washout port that accepts a hose for clearing clippings beneath the deck.

Some models also let you switch mowing modes without changing blades, but most require a change of blades for mulching. A fuel gauge visible from the seat eases fuel-level checks, while cup holders are an added convenience. Cruise control locks in a ground speed. A high-back seat adds support, while a washout port accepts a hose for clearing clippings beneath the deck. Also convenient: an hour meter, which shows how long the engine has run between oil changes and other maintenance.
SHOPPINg TIPS Here’s what else to consider as you shop for a mower or tractor: Match the mower to your lawn. A gas or electric push mower is fine for small lawns, but you’ll probably prefer a reardrive gas model for slopes and a lawn tractor for lawns one-half acre or more. Better manual-reel mowers are a greener option for small lawns and trimming larger ones, though they bring more work and, often, less-even cutting. Choose a mower or tractor that bags, side-discharges, or mulches clippings well if that’s the mode you use. Think twice about zero-turn-radius riding mowers. They’re relatively difficult to steer, can lose traction on slopes, and tend to tear up grass during U-turns. Indeed, our tests with a cross section of models found that they lost most of their steering control when we made a hard turn down a 10- to 15-degree slope at typical mowing speeds. Instead, consider a tight-turning tractor for large lawns with lots of obstacles. Don’t buy by the numbers. As with older horsepower ratings, our latest tests confirm that higher engine displacement, torque, or voltage specs don’t necessarily

For tractors and zero-turn mowers

Gear-drive models must be shifted between ground-speed ranges. Models with automatic drive vary ground speed infinitely via a hydrostatic transmission system and are falling in price, and most are controlled with a pedal rather than a lever, which makes back-and-forth trimming much faster and easier. Four-wheel steering lets tractors turn nearly as tightly as zero-turn machines. A safety switch for reverse helps avoid backup mishaps by making you engage it before mowing in reverse. An electric power takeoff switch lets you avoid pulling a lever to engage the cutting blades.

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mean higher-quality mowing. Be sure to check our Ratings for top performers. Related CR report: May 2010 Ratings for mowers: page 239 Ratings for tractors: page 243

PAINTS, STAINS & DECK TREATMENTS
EXTERIOR
Which finish lasts longest? Our latest tests found several stellar paints and stains that are as close as your local Home Depot, Lowe’s, or Sears. An industry move to multi-use finishes also means the best stain for your house is typically the one that will last longest on your deck. Some finishes perform better, even as they get greener: Lower federal and local limits for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are linked to pollution and health issues, have helped spur frequent reformulations for most paints and stains. But those frequent changes also mean the paint or stain you loved last time may not perform the same this time around. That’s why we remove from our Ratings any product that has been reformulated and is not in stores, and begin testing again with the new version. Our three-year tests under sun, rain, and snow—which simulate up to nine years in the elements—also show that some brands are making painting and staining easier as well as cleaner.

TYPES Paints. Major brands include Ace, Behr (sold at Home Depot), Benjamin Moore, Dutch Boy, Glidden, Kilz (sold at Walmart), Olympic, Sears, SherwinWilliams, True Value, and Valspar Tech tip (sold at Lowe’s). In Opaque finishes some areas, you’ll can build up a also find smaller film, especially players like Caliafter several fornia, Kelly-Moore, coats, which and M.A.B. Extecan peel, chip, and rior paints include crack like paint. a variety of sheens. The dullest is flat or matte, followed by low-luster (often called eggshell or satin), semigloss, and gloss. Flatter finishes are best for siding, with the lowest-sheen best for masking imperfections. Glossy paint is most often used for trim because it highlights the details of the woodwork and is easy to clean. Price: $20 to $60 per gallon. House stains and deck finishes come from the same major brands, along with Cabot, Sikkens, and Thompsons. They are typically priced similarly to exterior paints. Most are now formulated for decks, fences, and siding, and fall into three key categories: Opaque finishes. These hide the wood grain and last the longest overall. They’re best for when seeing the wood grain beneath isn’t important, including a typical deck made of pressure-treated pine. Also known as solid-color stains, the best of these treatments typically hold up for at least three years on your deck and up to nine years on siding or fences. On the downside, opaque finishes can build up a film, especially after several coats, which can peel, chip, and crack like paint. Refinishing with opaque is generally more

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extensive and lengthy than with semitransparent and clear treatments. Semitransparent finishes. These usually contain a small amount of pigment, but, unlike opaque finishes, let the wood grain show through. They’re best for cedar, redwood, or other pricier woods you want to show off. Choices range from little pigment to nearly opaque. On the downside, you may need to reapply semitransparents in a year or two, compared with three years or more for the best opaque treatments. Clear finishes. These contain water repellents and may contain a little pigment— ideal if you value seeing as much as possible of a premium-wood deck’s natural grain. Clear treatments may also have UV inhibitors and wood preservatives. But most don’t last more than one year, making deck refinishing an annual chore.
FEATURES While most house paints are latexbased (water), stains may also be alkydbased (solvent). Alkyd-based products require cleaning with mineral spirits. Stricter federal and local VOC regulations are making solvent-based products increasingly difficult to find in anything but quart-sized containers. That’s why you’ll also find a growing number of water-based, low-VOC finishes that contain 100 grams per liter or less. Some paints are self-priming, eliminating the need to apply an initial coat of primer. SHOPPINg TIPS For our tests of exterior paints, we expose painted panels on outdoor racks angled to catch the maximum amount of sun, rain, snow, and dew. We examine each product’s ability to resist cracking, color change, and dirt and mildew buildup.

We subject stains to similarly tough outdoor testing. While many paints still looked very good after the equivalent of six years in the elements, just about all had dropped to a score of Good after the equivalent of nine years outdoors. And because most stains don’t resist the elements as well as paint, you’ll probably have to apply them more often. To choose the best paint or stain: Buy the best paint. Our tests have found that paint grade matters. “Good” or “economy” grades don’t weather as well as top-of-the-line products. Cheaper grades also cost you more over time, because you’ll need to repaint more often. But “best” doesn’t have to mean priciest; several top picks came in at around $20 per gallon. Choose opaque stain for longevity. Opaque stains continue to outlast semitransparent stains overall. Consider semitransparent finishes for older decks. Until 2004, most decks used lumber preserved with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) to fend off rot and insects. But because of concerns that arsenic, a toxin, could leach out of the wood, its use was halted. Other preservatives are now available. Semitransparent coatings penetrate the wood while sealing in the arsenic, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Opaque treatments also seal well, but they can peel or flake and may require sanding, which spreads arsenic-laden dust from CCA lumber. Another plus for semitransparents is they require much less surface prep. Look for hidden savings. Refinishing a 2,000-sq.-ft. house will require up to 20 gallons of paint or stain (2 coats). You can often cut costs by 50 percent or more by

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buying four 5-gallon containers instead of 20 1-gallon cans. But resist the urge to choose a lower-grade paint to get the larger containers. Also ask retailers whether you can get a volume discount. The Paint Quality Institute, supported by Rohm and Hass, which supplies raw materials for most paints, offers a free paint-quantity calculator (visit its Web site www.paintquality.com/diy/calculator/ calc.html). Prep properly. Scrape, sand, and clean siding thoroughly before applying paint. Plan to apply two coats. And remember that painting over other materials may require different steps. Stucco and masonry may need presealing. Vinyl siding can fade and become brittle. If you’re sanding or scraping a house built before 1978, be warned: The older coats of paint may contain lead, so you’ll need to take extra precautions. And if your deck is made of CCA lumber, we suggest protecting yourself by calling a pro equipped to safely refinish it, removing the old finish, dust, and debris. (Go to www.epa.gov for more tips.) Related CR reports: June 2010 Ratings: pages 210, 251

Ultra, are among the lowest in volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are linked to pollution and health issues. Indeed, they contain no more than 50 grams per liter, a fraction of the 380 grams once common in the most-used low-luster paints. They were also impressive at hiding flaws with as little as one coat and resisting many kinds of wear and abuse. Behr Ultra promises further labor savings by eliminating the usual prime coat over bare wood and wallboard. Yet some of the best we tested cost roughly half the price of paints that didn’t make our winners’ circle.
TYPES Along with Behr, major brands include Ace, Benjamin Moore, Dutch Boy, Glidden, Kilz (sold at Walmart), Shop smart Olym pic, Sears, Some of the best Sherwin-Williams, paints we tested and Valspar (sold cost roughly at Lowe’s). You’ll half the price also see more deof paints that signer names and didn’t make our regional brands, winners’ circle. along with zeroVOC paints as green becomes a selling point. Price: about $15 to $60 per gallon. FEATURES Paint typically comes in a variety of sheens—flat, low-luster, and semigloss. Glossiness can differ from one manufacturer to another. Flat paint is dullest and best at hiding surface imperfections, though it tends to be less resistant to stains. It’s well-suited for bedrooms and other spaces that don’t see heavy use. Low-luster (eggshell or satin) has a slight sheen and is typically the best choice for most areas in the home (living rooms,

PAINTS, INTERIOR
Our biggest paint test ever put Home Depot’s Behr brand at the top of our Ratings in all three major categories. Our testing also confirmed that the best make painting faster, easier, and greener for less. For the first time, nearly all of our topscoring interior paints, including Behr

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dining rooms, or family rooms, kids’ rooms, and hallways). Semigloss, shinier still, usually works best on kitchen and bathroom walls and on trim because it’s generally easier to clean. Low-luster and semigloss paints look best on smooth, well-prepared surfaces, since their shine can accentuate imperfections. Tech tip Most brands are White and brown available in several paints tend not tint bases—the unto fade, reds colored paint that and blues fade forms the foundasomewhat, and tion for the color bright greens and you choose. This yellows fade a lot. largely determines the paint’s toughness, resistance to dirt and stains, and ability to withstand scrubbing. The colorant in part determines how much the paint will fade. Whites and browns tend not to fade, reds and blues fade somewhat, and bright greens and yellows tend to fade a lot. You can also check a paint’s VOC level by checking the can.
SHOPPINg TIPS Our latest tests include several paints that combine performance and value. Here’s what else to think about when paint shopping: Consider low-luster first. Durable and wear-resistant, low-luster paint works for every room. Save semigloss for contrasting finishes on trim and shelves. And reserve flat paints for low-traffic areas, such as the master bedroom, because some are more likely to absorb stains. Consider the room. Some paints may fade more easily in sunny rooms. Some are standouts for resisting mildew, making them a good choice for bathrooms and other high-humidity areas. Also consider

what’s already on your walls, because some paints cover old finishes more effectively than others. Try out colors before committing. Hues that look great on a paint chip or in the can might prove hideous on your walls. And some specialty finishes, such as crackle and other textured finishes, can be hard to hide if you tire of them. Buy a sample of the color you’re considering and try it out on a practice board, hanging it in various areas of the room to see how it appears in the changing light. Remember that paints change. As with exterior paints and stains, interior paints are frequently reformulated to boost performance, lower costs, and trim VOCs, particularly as local regulations get tougher. That means the paint you loved last time may not be the same this time—a key reason we remove reformulated paints from our tests and Ratings until we can test the newer version. Related CR report: March 2010 Ratings: page 252

SPACE HEATERS
Practically any portable heater can help make a chilly room more inviting. Remote controls, tip-over switches, and other features help some of the latest models warm a room more conveniently and safely. But don’t expect any of these heaters to slice your energy bill on their own. The electricity most portable heaters run on typically costs significantly more than oil or natural gas, which heats

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most homes. So the only way you might save money would be to use the heater in one room and leave the rest of the house much cooler. Burning kerosene or propane can also be pricey and raises health and fire risks. Our latest tests also found that some heaters can give you the chills even in the room you’re heating, and some still lack key safety features.
TYPES Brands include DeLonghi, EdenPure, Honeywell, Lakewood, Lasko, SelusAir, and Vornado. You will find two basic types of space heaters: Electric. These account for the most sales. Convection versions are best for heating an entire room, since they spread heat over a wider area. Models with a fan spread warmth more quickly but are also noisier and often pricier. Radiant versions use an electric element or quartz tube to quickly heat a narrower spot—keeping one or two people comfy when watching TV, say. But people in other parts of the room must wait for the whole room to warm. Prices: for most, about $40 to $150 for convection; $50 to $80 for radiant. Propane and kerosene. These produce even more heat than electric heaters. But because of their open flames, the risk of carbon-monoxide poisoning, and the hazards associated with handling the fuel, we don’t recommend using fuel-fired heaters indoors except for emergencies and in well-ventilated areas. Price: about $100 to $200. FEATURES Key safety features include a tip-over switch that turns off a knocked-over heater, a sensor that turns off the heater when the grill is touched, an overheatprotection feature, and—for fuel-fired

models—a low-oxygen shutoff valve. Some offer a hot-grill alert—helpful especially after the heater is first turned off. Also look for a long power cord for added placement options without an extension cord; cords on models we tested were at least 70 inches long. A thermostat helps maintain the set temperature withShop smart out your having to The latest models turn the heater off heat more at the desired temconsistently than perature and back earlier versions, on again when and all we tested room temperature will comfortably drops. Digital temwarm a chilly perature displays room. allow you to see room temperature and the degrees you’ve set, while multiple output settings let you tailor the heat output to the need for heat. More heaters also have timers and remote controls. Some include faux fireplace flames for added ambiance. Models that are oil-filled tend to radiate some heat retained by the oil after the unit is shut off, though some can take longer to heat up.
SHOPPINg TIPS Even the best space heaters are essentially a temporary patch for underlying heating problems. Sealing cracks, replacing or applying a film to windows, and adding insulation where needed are more efficient ways to seal out a chilly winter. But for quick comfort on the cheap, follow these heater-buying tips: Decide where you’ll use it. Many heaters weigh roughly 5 to 12 pounds, making them relatively easy to carry up and down stairs. But you may want to use heavier models on a single level or even in a single room.

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Play it safe. Frayed, overloaded, or undersized power cords—including extension cords—are a major cause of fires, injuries, and deaths associated with space heaters. Check heater cords regularly. If you use an extension cord, choose a heavy-duty, 12-gauge model. Don’t place a heater on an uneven surface, near foot traffic, or in a child’s room. And never keep a heater on while sleeping. Related CR report: October 2010 Ratings: page 274

VACUUM CLEANERS
When it comes to vacuuming, carpets are Job One. That’s what 5,000 subscribers told us in a new Consumer Reports National Research Center survey. Our ongoing tests have yielded a long list of picks that breezed through carpet cleaning and other tough cleanTech tip ing tasks. Uprights tend Brands are also to do better on pushing pet-hair carpets while pickup, quietness, canisters tend and even energy to be quieter savings as they vie and easier to for your dollar. But maneuver. as our tougher new pet-hair tests confirm, even vacuums that claim to concentrate on pet hair are less than impressive. We also found that some greener vacs with lower energy draws can save you surprisingly little green while compromising performance.

TYPES Hoover, the oldest brand, is now owned by Techtronic Industries, or TTI, which also makes Dirt Devil models. Other major brands include Bissell; Dyson, the brightly colored British brand; Eureka, which also offers central vacuums and makes high-end Electrolux models; Kenmore (Sears); and Oreck. Brands such as Miele, Panasonic, and Riccar tend to be sold at specialty stores. Higher-priced Aerus (which also makes central vacs) is sold in its own stores and by direct mail, while Kirby is still sold door-to-door. Here are the major types: Uprights. These tend to cost the least and account for the most sales. They still tend to do better than canisters on carpets, and their one-piece design makes them easier to store. But many weigh more than 20 pounds, and are less stable than canisters on stairs. Price: about $50 to $400 for most, though prices can reach well over $1,000. Canisters. A few of the best now clean carpets as well as uprights. Most are quieter and can be easier to maneuver, especially on stairs, since you’re moving only the hose and powerhead. And most are better at getting under furniture. But the added clutter of the hose and wand makes canisters bulkier overall and harder to store. Price: about $200 to $600 for most, though prices can reach well over $1,000. Central vacuums. These work like a canister vac, letting you move only the hose and powerhead. They’re also relatively quiet and require less-frequent emptying. But they’re pricey and typically require professional installation. Their roughly 35-foot hose can be cumbersome, and there’s no place to carry tools while you work. Price: about $500

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to $1,250 for most, plus $300 to $750 for professional installation. Robotic vacuums. These use sensors or ultrasound to vacuum one or more rooms by themselves, identifying or bouncing off walls and furniture as they go. Novelty and ease are their primary selling points. But they still require you to remove cords, toys, and other obstacles. Longer cleanup time per room than conventional vacs is another drawback, as is a tendency to miss edges and corners, get stuck under beds, and close doors behind them. Robots are expensive and time-consuming to set up. Price: about $200 to $500. Stick and hand vacs. These miniature electric vacs come with and without a cord and can be handy for small, quick jobs. But both types typically lack the power of full-sized models. Price: about $20 to $100.
FEATURES

For uprights and canisters

A top-of-the-line upright might have a wider cleaning path and a full-bag indicator. Typical attachments include crevice and upholstery tools, along with extension wands for reaching high places. A full-bag alert can help prevent an overstuffed bag from reducing cleaning ability. Canister vacs often have a power nozzle that cleans carpets more thoroughly than a simple suction nozzle. Suction control lets you reduce airflow for drapes and other delicate fabrics. A brush on/off switch helps prevent thrown debris when vacuuming bare floors; some uprights automatically stop the brush when the handle is in the up position. Most canisters and a few uprights have a retractable cord that rewinds with a tug or push of a

button. A manual pile-height adjustment can improve cleaning by letting you match the height of the vacuum to the car pet pile better than systems that adjust automatically. More models also fold for storage to save space in cluttered closets. Some uprights include a removable handle that doubles as a canister-style wand for cleaning curtains and beneath furniture. Bag less vacs trade the usual bag for a see-through bin, though empShop smart tying them can raise enough dust A full-bag alert can help prevent for concern even an overstuffed if you don’t have bag from reducing allergies. A selfcleaning ability. propelled mode takes the push out of some uprights but tends to add weight. Some vacuums have a HEPA filter, which may benefit someone with asthma, though many with conventional filters perform just as well. A dirt sensor tells you when the concentration of dirt particles in the air stream reaches a certain level, though it signals only that the vac is no longer picking up dirt. Some brands push microfiltration, which typically uses a bag with smaller pores or a second electrostatic filter. But how much dust a vacuum emits depends as much on its overall design as its filter.
SHOPPINg TIPS Carpets still top the list of critical cleaning chores—an area where uprights still rule overall. But you may prefer a canister or even a central vacuum for other cleaning. Here’s what else to go by when shopping: Consider suction. Look for models that performed well in our airflow tests if you often clean with tools. These vacuums

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maintained more suction through the hose as they filled with dust. Check our pet-hair scores. Along with competent cleaning on carpets and floors, look for Very Good or Excellent performance in our pet-hair tests if that’s part of your regular cleaning. Pick the right features. A brush on-off switch helps avoid scratches and scattered dirt on bare floors, while manual pileheight adjustment does a better job of matching the brush to the carpet height than automatic systems. Try before buying. Ease of use affected owner satisfaction even more than cleaning in our survey of subscribers. While top

performers typically weigh 20 pounds or more, you’ll find capable uprights that weigh significantly less. Be sure to see which vacuum feels best at the store. Protect your ears and lungs. Vacuums that scored a Poor in our noise tests produced 85 decibels or more, the level at which we recommend hearing protection. If you’re sensitive to dust, choose a model that scored well in emissions— and skip the mess of emptying a bagless vacuum’s bin by getting a bag-equipped model. Related CR report: March and October 2010 Ratings: page 284

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Copyright of Consumer Reports is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

Copyright of Consumer Reports Buying Guide is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

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Your Inside Track for New & Used Vehicles

his 88-page section is your all-in-one guide to buying a vehicle. Starting off on page 101, we detail the Road Map to a Great Deal, a six-step process for buying a new car. Buying a car can be thrilling and terrifying at the same time, but these easy steps can take the advantage out of the salesperson’s hands and put you in charge of the buying process.
On page 110 is our tire buying advice. With more—and better performing—tires on the market than ever before, we explain what to look for when buying tires. Paying more money doesn’t mean you will necessarily get a better tire. Turn to page 113 to see which vehicles, among the more than 270 we recently tested, did best and worst in our Ratings. Here you can see how each ranks among its competitors in overall test score, realworld fuel economy, Ratings for predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, owner cost, and overall safety. The vehicle profiles, starting on page 124, are our summary reviews of vehicles, including our recommendations and predicted reliability Ratings. Consumers considering a used vehicle should turn to the best and worst used cars section on page 147. You’ll find our CR Best of the Best, models that have performed well in our road tests and showed above-average reliability (Used Car Verdicts) in our Annual Auto Survey, as well as the CR Worst of the Worst, vehicles with multiple years of much below-average reliability that you should avoid. The exclusive CR Reliability History charts start on page 153. These charts are based on responses from our Annual Auto Survey, when we ask our approximately six million magazine and Web site subscribers about any serious problems they have had with their vehicles in the preceding 12 months. We close the section on page 178 with our Ratings of tires. Each tested tire is rated for wet, dry, and, where applicable, winter performance. In addition, CR rates tires for rolling resistance, ride comfort, road noise, and tread life. This edition’s reliability data are based on 1.4 million vehicles. They provide you with information on 230 models, showing you how models from 2004 through 2009 are holding up in 17 trouble spots. These are comprehensive reliability data you can’t get from other publications.
TOYOTA VEHICLE RECOMMENDED STATUS Consumer Reports has suspended the recommendation of eight Toyota vehicles

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because of sudden acceleration associated with accelerator pedal assemblies. We expect to reinstate the recommendations of those models when we are satisfied that the problems have been resolved. In our Ratings and profiles the models are noted by a . For the latest information on the Recommended status of these vehicles, as well as other news related to the unintended acceleration issue, go to www.consumer reports.org/acceleration.

ROAD MAP TO A GREAT DEAL
Driving off of a dealer’s lot in a shiny new car can be an exhilarating moment. But the hours spent haggling in the showroom can be harrowing. Many people are intimidated by the dealership experience, including the price negotiations and the high-pressure sales tactics that can be used to manipulate you into spending more than you need to. Others find it confusing to try to pick the right vehicle from the more than 300 models on the market. Doubts linger: Did you pay too much? Were you pressured into buying things you didn’t really need? Could you have gotten more for your trade-in? With tough economic times, automakers have been offering generous incentives to lure buyers back into showrooms and dealers are primed to bargain. On the other hand, with fewer sales to go around, you must be especially wary of tricks and sales tactics designed to get you to pay more money. If only you had a negotiations coach to guide you through the process.

Well, we can’t provide a coach but we can give you a step-by-step strategy for getting the best price, outsmarting manipulative dealers, and navigating the process on your terms. And it’s based on the experiences of our secret shoppers, who buy more than 80 test vehicles every year. Here’s what you need to know before you buy. To ensure that you get the right vehicle at the best price, you need to be an informed buyer. That means investing time in research and preparation. The car-buying process can be boiled down to a six-step process: • Narrow your choices • Check for incentives • Find your trade-in value • Conduct a test drive • Arrange your financing • Get price quotes. By following that road map—and following our list of Dos and Don’ts at the Dealership—you can get the car you want at the price you want, without worry or stress.

step 1: narrow your choices

Any deal is only as good as the vehicle that you are buying. It’s important for you to do your homework in advance in order to avoid buyer’s remorse down the road. You can do the majority of your research online, but the sources of information vary in quality, just like cars do. The key is to know what to look for and finding the best sources of information. Here, we list some of the major areas that you should consider when comparing models.

AUTOMAkER WEB SITES Use these to get basic information, such as models and trim levels, available features and options, specifications, retail pricing, warranties, and local dealers. Most sites also let you compare vehicles and “build your own car,” giving you a retail price for your

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configuration. That doesn’t guarantee you’ll find a vehicle configured the way you want it on a dealership’s lot. Keep in mind, too, that the main purpose of those sites is to promote their own products, so the model information is the same as advertising.
VEHICLE RATINGS Consumer Reports’ Ratings (page 113) can help you narrow your list by giving you a quick look at how tested vehicles compare with their competitors in several areas. The Ratings charts also show you the vehicles that meet our stringent requirements to be recommended. MODEL REVIEWS Reviews can give you a perspective on a vehicle’s performance, comfort and convenience, and driving character, as well as insight into deficiencies that might not be apparent on a test drive. We recommend reading a variety of reviews. But keep in mind that most are in publications or Web sites that are supported by automaker advertising, and no company wants to bite the hand that feeds it. You might not find hard-hitting analysis or insight into safety or reliability issues. Only a few reviewers do their own instrumented testing, which allows more accurate comparisons between different vehicles. On the other hand, CR conducts the most comprehensive auto-testing program of any U.S. publication or Web site. We differ from other reviewers in several significant ways: We don’t accept advertising; we buy all of our test vehicles from dealerships just like you do; and we conduct more than 50 tests and evaluations on each vehicle over several months and thousands of miles. Summary reviews of all models are included in the model profiles that begin on page 124.

RELIABILITY A vehicle’s reliability can have an effect on how satisfied you’ll be with it over the years, and it can significantly affect its resale value. Reliability, however, is a difficult and expensive quality to evaluate because the information has to come from vehicle owners; the more, the better. CR provides the most comprehensive reliability information available to consumers. Our 2009 Annual Auto Survey, for instance, drew responses on about 1.4 million vehicles. FUEL ECONOMY The fuel-economy figures printed on a vehicle’s window sticker and in automaker advertising and brochures are estimates based on a test created by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). You can find a list of those figures at www.fueleconomy. gov. While changes to the testing process in 2008 have resulted in more realistic numbers on the window stickers, there are still some figures that are higher than you are likely to get. CR’s real-world fuel economy test results are in the Vehicle Ratings charts (starting on page 113). SAFETY RATINGS Consumer Reports provides a single overall safety Rating for many models, based on a combination of government and insurance-industry crash-test results and our accident-avoidance testing. A model loses full points if electronic stability control (ESC) is not available and loses partial points if this important safety feature is optional. Because many models lack key crash-test results, we are not able to calculate an overall safety Rating for every tested model. Several different elements affect a vehicle’s overall safety capability: Crash tests. Frontal- and side-impact crash tests are conducted by the Insurance

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Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS; www. iihs.org) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA; www. safercar.gov). The IIHS also conducts rearcrash tests. Accident avoidance. A vehicle’s ability to help you avoid an accident is just as important as protecting you in a crash. For every accident there are numerous near misses that statistics don’t reflect. Several factors contribute to a vehicle’s accident-avoidance capability, with the two most important being braking and emergency handling. Rollover resistance. Rollovers are involved with more than a third of all passenger-vehicle deaths and are of particular concern with SUVs and pickups. To help consumers compare vehicles, the NHTSA provides a five-star rating system called the Rollover Resistance Rating (RRR). The RRR is calculated from two factors: a vehicle’s Static Stability Factor (SSF) and a dynamic rollover test. The SSF, which is determined from static measurements of the vehicle, essentially indicates how top-heavy it is. The dynamic test simulates a driver having to make a series of sharp steering maneuvers, as can happen in an emergency. Vehicles that tip up at any speed fail the test. We believe that a vehicle that tips up in this type of situation has serious stability problems, and we will not recommend it. RRR ratings are available at www.safercar.gov. Rear-impact protection. Although rearenders are usually not life-threatening, they have a high injury rate, especially for whiplash neck injuries. The design of a car’s head restraints and seats are critical factors in how severe a whiplash injury will be. Consumer Reports evaluates head restraints for all seating positions in every tested vehicle. Any problems are noted in our road-test reports. Another good source for information

on rear-impact protection is the IIHS Web site, www.iihs.org. The institute conducts evaluations of head restraints and performs dynamic rear-impact tests that measure how well the seat/head-restraint combinations in different models protect against whiplash. Blind zones. Every year, children are injured and killed because drivers don’t see them while backing up. A contributing factor is that some larger vehicles, such as SUVs and pickups, have larger blind zones —the area behind a vehicle that the driver can’t see. Consumer Reports measures the blind zone of every vehicle we test and publishes the information free at www. ConsumerReports.org.
RECOMMENDED SAFETY FEATURES Buyers often overlook important safety features because they aren’t aware of them or don’t understand their benefit. We recommend getting proven life-saving safety features, including electronic stability control, curtain air bags, and antilock brakes, which are explained in detail below: Antilock brake system (ABS). Without antilock brakes, a vehicle’s wheels can stop turning during hard braking, particularly on slippery surfaces. You can’t steer, and locked wheels can cause a vehicle to slide sideways or even spin. ABS prevents the wheels from locking up, allowing the driver to retain steering control while braking and to maneuver the vehicle around an obstacle. Electronic stability control (ESC). Consumer Reports highly recommends ESC, which helps keep the vehicle on its intended path during a turn to avoid sliding or losing control. It is especially helpful in slippery conditions and accident-avoidance situations. It can also help keep top-heavy SUVs and pickups from getting into a situation where they could roll over. Each automaker tends to have a proprietary name for its ESC

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system, so make sure to ask if the car has ESC before you buy. Head-protecting air bags. IIHS sideimpact crash tests clearly show the benefit of this feature. To date, few vehicles tested without head-protecting air bags have scored higher than poor. A standard side air bag typically protects a person’s torso, but many don’t do an adequate job of protecting the head. We recommend that you look for a dedicated head-protection bag that deploys from above the side windows. The most common type is a curtain air bag that covers the side windows in both the front and rear, preventing occupants from hitting their heads and shielding them from flying debris. A curtain bag can also keep people from being ejected during a rollover. Safety-belt features. While the safety belt is arguably the single most important piece of safety equipment, enhanced features are helping safety belts do their job more effectively. Adjustable upper anchors help position the belt across the chest instead of the neck to prevent neck injuries. They also can help keep the belt from pulling down on a tall person’s shoulder, making it more comfortable. “Smart” frontal air bags. Some models offer a multistage air bag system that can detect the presence and weight of the person in the front passenger seat, the driver’s seat position, and whether safety belts are fastened. Deployment of the air bags is adjusted to minimize the chance of injury to occupants, including children, in a crash. In the end, look for models that have done well in CR road tests and have scored high Ratings in reliability, safety, owner cost, and owner satisfaction. Some recommended models that have offered incentives in recent months are the Ford Escape, Ford Fusion, Honda Accord, and Hyundai Elantra. Check for our latest list of best new-car deals at www.Consumer

Reports.org/deals. To narrow down your choices, start with our vehicle Ratings that begin on page 113, as well as the vehicle profiles, which begin on page 124. By spending a little time at your computer in advance of the purchase, you can reap some big dividends on the day you purchase your car. There are a number of different types of incentives that are available, but you need to know what to look for. Behind-the-scenes dealer incentives. Automakers often give dealers extra money in the form of rebates or holdbacks when they sell certain models. The dealer can keep the money or pass it along to the buyer in the form of a lower price. Knowing about them can help you better determine how much profit margin the dealer has to work with. Customer incentives. Go to the automakers’ Web sites for the latest national and regional programs, keeping these tips in mind: Cash rebates usually come from the automaker and can be applied to the down payment, which reduces the amount you need to borrow. Rebates don’t affect the dealer’s profit, so don’t be hesitant to try for a lower price on the car in addition to the rebate. Low-interest financing is often heavily promoted, but it’s usually available only to people with good credit scores. Check in advance to see if you qualify. If not, you might find a lower interest rate elsewhere. Discount pricing, such as “employee pricing,” can shave hundreds off a sticker price. But since this discount comes from the automaker, you can often go even lower by bargaining with a dealer. Other programs, such as free or discounted gasoline, trade-in credits, or a buy-back guarantee, can add extra value to a deal. But check the numbers carefully; a different

step 2: check for incentives

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incentive could save you even more money. Government incentives. Always check for any federal or state government incentives that can save you extra money. If you buy some hybrid, diesel, or natural-gas models, you can get a tax credit on your federal income tax. Check www.fuel economy.gov/feg/ taxcenter.shtml for eligible models. Hybrids are also tax-exempt in some states. While all of this sounds confusing, Consumer Reports’ New Car Price Reports does the work for you. Each report shows all three factors: the dealer incentives, the amount of any national or regional customers sales incentives, and the dealer holdback amount. It also includes the CR Bottom Line Price, which takes all of those figures into consideration to give a close approximation of the dealer’s cost. Before you go to the dealership, assess the value of your vehicle, focusing on the usedcar wholesale price. Get the book value of your car by ordering Consumer Reports Used Car Price Reports or at car-pricing Web sites like TrueCar.com or Edmunds. com. Focus on the wholesale value and factor in your car’s mileage and features. To see what sellers are asking for similar vehicles in your area, check car-buying Web sites or local classified ads. To gauge the true wholesale value of your car, take it to used-car dealers and ask what you can get in a straight-up sale. That will give you a benchmark with which to compare tradein offers. It also helps to take the car to a couple of used-car dealerships to see how much they’d be willing to pay for it in a direct sale. Because appearance is important, it pays to spruce up your vehicle before you have it assessed by a dealer. Either give it a thorough cleaning yourself or take it to a profes-

step 3: find your trade-in value

sional detailer, where cleaning usually starts around $100. If your car needs repairs, get them taken care of before you trade it in. And it might make sense to get small dents and scratches fixed by an auto-body shop. Once at the dealership, wait until you’ve settled on a price for the new car before discussing your trade-in. You should have printouts from several pricing sources to support the value you calculated. Tell the salesperson that you simply want what you know the car is worth and that the new-car deal isn’t final unless you get a satisfactory allowance on your trade-in. If you feel you’re being lowballed, you can always sell your car to a used-car dealer. Or you can sell the car yourself, which will probably get you a higher price. But if you need the trade-in to make your down payment, you’ll have to sell your current car before you can purchase the new one.

step 4: conduct a test drive

A lot of vehicles look good on paper, but the test drive is your best chance to see how a vehicle measures up to expectations, to see how well it “fits” you, and to evaluate its driving character, performance, and comfort. After all, you don’t want any surprises after you’ve bought it. You should make a separate visit to the dealership just for a test drive and walkaround inspection. Don’t wait until the day you’re ready to buy or if your car breaks down. You won’t have enough time to thoroughly evaluate the cars you’re considering. It’s important that you spend as much time with the vehicle as possible, with an eye on what it will be like to live with over the long haul. Here are some tips to make your dealership test drive count:

BE ORGANIzED AND THOROUGH Make sure you prepare a list of tasks to

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accomplish during the dealership visit: • Before you go to the dealership, list the likes and dislikes with your current car and compare these with the vehicle you’ll be driving. Take along a notebook so that you can jot down impressions. • Test drive the trim version with the powertrain and options you want to buy before you make a final decision. If more than one person will be driving the vehicle on a regular basis, make sure all have a chance to test drive it before you buy. • Before you drive, evaluate the driving position and interior. Set the seat in a comfortable driving position and attach the safety belt. Make sure that you’re at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel and that you can fully depress all the pedals. Make sure that you can reach all the controls without straining and that they’re easy to use and the displays are easy to see. • Don’t be rushed; spend at least 30 to 45 minutes in each car and drive on a variety of road conditions. Even small variations in such things as seat comfort and ergonomics can make a big difference in how well the car “fits” you. Take someone along to give you the passenger’s viewpoint. If possible, take the test drive without a salesperson, so you can better concentrate on the vehicle. • As you drive, make sure that you can see out well, that you can judge the ends of the vehicle, and that there are no serious blind spots. Pay attention to all of the vehicle’s characteristics—how it rides, handles, accelerates, and stops, as well as road noise. Record your impressions of the vehicle’s comfort, handling, and responsiveness, and compare these with others that you test drive. • If you use child-safety seats, bring them with you and take the time to install them properly so that you can see how easy or difficult it is.

RED FLAG Our car buyers are often asked for Social Security numbers, even when they’re not financing. Unless you’re applying for a loan, don’t give it, and don’t sign anything that lets a dealer run a credit check. It can affect your credit score.

step 5: arrange your financing

You might be a whiz at getting a low price on a new car, but if you don’t choose your financing carefully you could lose everything you saved on the vehicle’s purchase price, and more. It’s critical to comparison shop and prequalify for an auto loan before buying. That allows you to keep the financial arrangements out of the price negotiations at the dealership. Otherwise, your choice of loans is restricted to what the dealership can offer you, and many dealers mark up the interest rate over what you actually qualify for. That “interest-rate bumping” can cost you hundreds or even thousands of dollars more over the term of the loan.

SHOP FOR THE RIGHT TERMS Visit local banks, credit unions, and other financing institutions to see what interest rates they are offering on auto loans. Also, call the dealerships that sell the vehicles you are interested in to see how their rates compare. Taking care of this legwork in advance and being preapproved for a loan removes much of the stress during the negotiating phase. The figure to focus on is the annual percentage rate (APR). For comparison, you can get a quick read on prevailing rates at Web sites such as Bankrate.com, E-Loan (www.eloan.com), and LendingTree (www. lendingtree.com). Try to keep loan lengths as short as possible. A three-year loan costs you far less overall than a four- or five-year loan at the

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Know the pros and cons before you lease
Choosing to lease depends on your lifestyle, expectations, and budget. Leasing usually gives you a lower monthly payment and a lower down payment, and you avoid any resale or trade-in hassles. Leasing can also let you drive a higher-priced, betterequipped vehicle for the same monthly payment as buying a less-expensive model. But leasing makes sense only if you stay within the annual mileage limit (typically 12,000 miles), keep the car until the end of the lease (to avoid early-termination penalties), maintain the car well to avoid excess wear-and-tear charges, and trade in your car every two or three years. Many people who lease end up paying more than they have to because they aren’t familiar with the process and don’t try to negotiate the vehicle’s price. Here are some tips: 1. Negotiate the purchase price of the vehicle as if you were going to buy it. Once you have a firm price, then bring up your desire to lease. 2. Other negotiable elements include the mileage limit, down payment, and purchaseoption price, or how much you’ll have to pay if you want to buy the vehicle at the end of the lease. 3. Avoid lease terms that extend past the vehicle’s basic warranty. 4. The four-digit “money factor” is roughly equivalent to a loan’s annual percentage rate. To translate this into a percentage rate, multiply the money factor by 2,400. 5. Buy extra miles up front if there’s a risk of running over the standard allotment. Excessive mileage at the lease’s end is typically charged at a higher rate. 6. Protect yourself with gap insurance. In case you have an accident that totals the car, this covers the difference between an insurance settlement and the actual payoff for the car. In some cases, gap insurance is included in the lease. If it’s extra, we recommend that you shop around. Prices can vary dramatically, so get a number of quotes. If your own insurance company provides it, that could be your best bet. 7. Understand your end-of-lease options, such as turning in the vehicle and walking away, purchasing the car, or rolling into another lease.

same interest rate. But you need to balance the total cost of the loan against a monthly payment you can afford.
PLAYING THE FINANCING GAME Automakers may offer aggressive, lowinterest financing incentives on many models, but there are catches: • Some low rates are available only for 36-month loans, meaning the payments will be quite high. • Without a stellar credit record, you

might not qualify. Always phone the dealership before you visit to find out what credit score qualifies a borrower for the lowest financing rate and, if you don’t qualify, what the next best rate would be. • You often have to make a choice between a low interest rate and a cash rebate. Run the numbers both ways to see which offer saves you the most money. You’ll find an auto-financing calculator at Consumer Reports.org/calculators. • Low interest rates or large cash

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incentives are no bargain if they lead you to buy a car you’re not happy with. It might make better financial sense over the long term to buy a consistently reliable model at a little higher interest than an unreliable model at zero percent. Saving a few dollars each month on your payments might not seem worthwhile over the long run if you don’t like the vehicle. • In addition, the credit markets have tightened considerably in the past year. You may not be able to use home equity for a car loan, a practice that was common up until last year. Even if a dealership is offering a special financing incentive, you should still do your homework by carefully shopping around for the best loan offers. That lets you accurately evaluate the dealership’s terms so that you can make the best decision.
EXPERT TIP It’s best to pay off your old auto loan before you buy a new car. Rolling over the unpaid portion of an old loan into a new one will increase the amount of interest you pay and make it easier to get upside-down on your loan, so you’ll owe more than the car is worth. RED FLAG When arranging a loan, dealers often make an extra profit by bumping your interest rate up several percentage points over the rate for which you would normally qualify. That’s why it’s critical that you compare interest rates before you go to the dealership.

sands of dollars below the sticker price. The best way to ensure that you aren’t manipulated is to go in armed with accurate pricing information, which lets you assess how good the offer really is. Two key figures you need are a target price on the new vehicle and the value of your current vehicle.
FIND THE DEALER’S PROFIT MARGIN You can estimate the dealer’s cost by subtracting any dealer rebates or holdbacks from the dealer-invoice price. Any of today’s pricing guides list the invoice price. Find dealer rebates and holdback amounts at car-pricing Web sites or in Consumer Reports New Car Price Reports. The reports also include CR’s Bottom Line Price, which does the math for you to show the dealer’s estimated cost. Your goal is to pay as little above that figure as possible. Since dealers can earn extra profit from hard-to-track incentives, it’s possible to buy a car for less than the dealer’s “cost.” Go to www.truecar.com to see what other people are reportedly paying. Because those transaction prices are an average of nationwide sales prices, keep in mind that some actual prices were higher and some were lower. Those prices also might not be accurate for your area. GET DEALERS TO COMPETE Have dealers compete for your business by e-mailing or calling several in your area. Specify the exact model, trim level, and options you want and ask for their lowest out-the-door price that includes everything. But don’t discuss a trade-in or financing at this stage. To locate dealers, go to the automaker Web sites. The more quotes you get, the better. You can get dealer quotes through Consumer Reports’ new Build & Buy service

step 6: get price quotes

In many ways, negotiating a good deal on a new vehicle is a game of numbers. Dealerships are free to sell vehicles at whatever price they want. An informed buyer can often buy a vehicle for hundreds or thou-

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dos and don’ts at the dealership
You’ll have to visit the dealership to check out the car, close the deal, and take delivery. But watch your step; this is the phase where the dealership staff could try to make up for a low price on the car by making you pay more in other areas. Finalize the deal Don’t visit during special sales events solicited by direct mail. Those are often run by contracted specialists trained in techniques that increase the dealer’s profit. Do inspect and drive the car you’re buying. Verify that it’s the right trim level with the right features. Do walk out if the salesperson tries to raise the price you negotiated by e-mail or phone. Do take your lowest competitive quotes and estimated dealer-cost figure to use as leverage, if you plan on final negotiating. Don’t negotiate around a monthly payment figure. Do negotiate one thing at a time. Nail down the new-car price before you negotiate the trade-in or financing terms. Extras can add up Don’t buy unnecessary extras. Offering items like corrosion protection, paint sealant, fabric protection, and window etching of the VIN are common ways to get you to pay extra. You usually don’t need these services or can get them for less money later. Don’t purchase an extended warranty on a car with a good reliability record. In a survey published in the April 2008 issue of Consumer reports, 65 percent of respondents said they spent much more for the contract than they got back in savings on repairs. Do cross out extras in the contract that you haven’t agreed to pay for. Do bring a calculator if you’re financing to verify that the terms match the amount you’ve agreed to finance. Watch the details Do pay the down payment with a credit card. If the dealer goes out of business before you can pick up your car, challenge the payment with your card issuer. Don’t sign any forms with items left blank. A dealership could falsify information such as the customer’s income or the size of the down payment on loan applications. Do make sure the dealer pays off your old auto loan promptly, if they agreed to. If a dealer doesn’t do so, buyers could be responsible for payments on cars they no longer have. Don’t agree to be responsible for any extra interest on loan payments for the trade-in after you’ve signed the bill of sale. Don’t drive the car home before the financial paperwork is completed. That has often resulted in a dealer calling the buyer back, claiming the financing fell through, to get him or her to sign new paperwork at less favorable terms. Don’t take delivery of the car if additional work needs to be performed on it.

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(www.ConsumerReports.org/buildandbuy). It’s available to ConsumerReports.org subscribers and New Car Price Report buyers. Or go to car-buying websites such as Autobytel (www.autobytel.com) or CarsDirect (www.carsdirect.com) and request e-mail quotes from several dealers. All are free, and you aren’t obligated to buy. It can also be helpful to check your target price against those offered by dealerships affiliated with auto-buying Web sites. On those sites, you can ask for a price quote on a vehicle that’s configured the way you want it, and one or more dealerships will reply by e-mail. The services are free, and you aren’t under any obligation to buy. You can compare those quotes against the target price range you calculated based on the dealer’s cost. Usually, the quotes will be higher. But if, by chance, a quote is lower than your figure, this gives you more leverage with which to bargain. If you want to whittle the price down further, recontact some dealers and ask whether they can beat a competitor’s lowest price. If you settle on a price, have the dealer send you a detailed pricing breakdown; you’ll need this when you go to the dealership to close the deal.
RED FLAG Make sure the quotes are comparable. Sometimes a dealer won’t have the exact vehicle you’re looking for and will give you a price on a different version without telling you. If there’s a question, ask for copies of the window sticker.

TIRES
GETTING STARTED Tires have a direct impact on a car’s handling, braking, ride, comfort qualities, and

even fuel economy. More important, the cornering grip, braking distances, and resistance to hydroplaning also directly affect your safety on the road, so good tires that are in good shape can also save your life. Today’s tires last longer and perform better than those of the past. The typical allseason tires that come as standard equipment on most vehicles are apt to last 40,000 miles or more before needing replacement. Luxury cars, sporty cars, and sports sedans tend to come shod with more expensive “performance” tires. Those tires usually have a lower profile (sidewall height) than regular all-seasons, and a larger wheel. The new standard here is performance all-season tires. Prices aren’t that different from conventional all-seasons. In general, you can expect better cornering on wet and dry roads and better braking, but sometimes less ride comfort and a shorter tread life. Another notch up are ultra-high performance tires. More compromises come in to play here, where you may trade away some ride comfort, tread life, and cold-weather capabilities in return for the ultimate in warm-weather performance. Winter tires are a good investment in places where winters are long and harsh. They incorporate a tread that stays pliable in cold weather, and are designed to cope with snow and ice. But they should come off when spring temperatures arrive, as their tread does not give ideal traction on dry and wet roads. The most important thing you can do to keep your tires running a long time at peak performance is to make sure they are properly inflated. Keep all tires inflated to the pressure stated on the sticker found on the car, usually on the driver’s doorjamb.
WHEN DO YOU NEED NEW TIRES? You should replace your tires before they wear out completely. When the tread depth

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gets down to ⅛th of an inch, that’s the time to go shopping. You can get a tread-depth gauge at an auto-parts store for a couple of dollars, but a quarter makes a perfectly serviceable substitute. Hold the quarter with Washington’s head pointed down into the main tread. If the tread is shallow enough to reveal George’s hairline, it’s time to start shopping. Of course, if your tires are balding in spots, then you need to replace your tires pronto. See “Failure Signs” under the Tires section at ConsumerReports.org.
WHAT TO BUY The easiest choice is to buy tires that match, in terms of size and type, those that came with the car when it was new. Automakers take some care to fit their cars with tires appropriate to the car’s performance capacities and requirements. Many replacement tires offer similar performance to the original-equipment tires. But aftermarket tires may also be better than original equipment tires in some respects. You may find a tire that lasts longer, handles better or has better all-weather grip than the original tires. Our Ratings can point you toward desired qualities. You may also consider getting larger tires and wheels than those that came with the car. In theory this can improve handling qualities. CR tests indicate that moving up one size, say from a 16-inch to a 17-inch wheel might improve dry and wet grip and handling, but after that you start giving up a lot—in comfort or hydroplaning resistance, and steering feel. And putting extra-grippy tires on an SUV can make it more prone to rollover, so think twice about that. WHAT YOU’LL SPEND Tires are priced per tire and by size, but most of the time you’ll be buying them in sets. We recommend replacing your tires

all four at a time rather than just front or rear. Typical all-season tires generally run from $60 to $120 each. The increasingly widespread performance all-season tires are priced a little higher, between $60 to $160. The more exotic ultra-high-performance tires can often cost more than $200 apiece. Winter tires generally run $60 to $170 each. We’ve found no absolute correlation between price and performance, although the very cheapest tires rarely excel in our tests. In our Ratings both expensive and moderatelypriced tires are scattered high and low on the scoring scale. That means you don’t have to spend top dollar to get a top-scoring tire. It also means that buying the most expensive tire available is no guarantee of superiority.
HOW AND WHERE TO SHOP You’ll find good selections at tire-retailer chains, large independent tire shops, and warehouse clubs and big-box stores. You can also shop online at discounters such as Tirerack.com and Discounttiredirect.com. Remember that you’ll pay for shipping as well as mounting and balancing when mail-order tires arrive. If you have a brand and model of tire in mind, use the Yellow Pages or online shopping inquiries to locate the best deals near you. TYPES AND FEATURES ALL-SEASON These are the tires that come standard on many cars, minivans, and SUVs. • Best for: Year-round traction, long tread life, and a comfortable ride. But they typically lack the precise handling and grip of performance tires. • Speed ratings: None, S (112 mph), T (118 mph). • Tread-wear warranty: None or 40,000 to 100,000 miles. • Typical wheel size: 14 to 16 inches.

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PERFORMANCE ALL-SEASON These tires come standard on newer cars. • Best for: Improved handling and grip over all-season tires on wet and dry pavement. But they often have shorter tread wear than many all-season tires. • Speed ratings: H (130 mph), V (149 mph). • Tread-wear warranty: None or 40,000 to 60,000 miles. • Typical wheel size: 15 to 17 inches. ULTRA-HIGH PERFORMANCE ALL-SEASON These are found on high-end sports cars, sports sedans, and some lower-priced sporty models. • Best for: Wet and dry braking and handling. But they trade ultimate warm-weather grip for passable winter performance. • Speed ratings: Z (more than 149 mph), W (168 mph), Y (186 mph). • Tread-wear warranty: None or 30,000 to 40,000 miles. • Typical wheel size: 17 to 22 inches. ULTRA-HIGH PERFORMANCE SUMMER Found mostly on high-performance sports cars and sports sedans. • Best for: Wet and dry braking and handling. But they usually don’t perform well in cold weather, ice, or snow. • Speed ratings: Z (more than 149 mph), W (168 mph), Y (186 mph). • Tread-wear warranty: None for most. • Typical wheel size: 17 to 22 inches. WINTER TIRES These tires are specially made for use in freezing temperatures and on snow and ice. • Best for: Maintaining traction on snow and ice. But fast wear and so-so wet and dry braking make them suitable only for coldweather use.

• Speed ratings: Q (99 mph) and higher. • Tread-wear warranty: None. • Typical wheel size: 14 to 18 inches.
SUV/PICkUP All-season and all-terrain tires are designed for the rigors of truck use. • Best for: All-terrain models are designed for light-duty off-pavement use; all-season models are made primarily for on-road use. But some automakers recommend staying with whatever type of tire came with your vehicle. • Speed ratings: S (112 mph for many). • Tread-wear warranty: None or 40,000 to 60,000 miles. • Typical wheel size: 15 to 20 inches. • Price: $55 to $150 or more. All tires are embossed on their sidewalls with information about size, speed rating, load capacity, manufacturing date, and other data. For details go to Consumer Reports.org/Tires “Deciphering tire codes” under “Getting Started. BRANDS The tire industry is dominated by a few giants such as Bridgestone, Goodyear, Michelin, Continental, and Pirelli, plus many smaller makers from Asia, the U.S. and Europe. Goodyear owns the Goodyear, Dunlop, and Kelly-Springfield brands. Bridgestone and Firestone are made by one company, Continental and General by another. Michelin markets Michelin, BFGoodrich, and Uniroyal. Falken, Sumitomo, and Yokohama are Japanese brands, while Hankook and Kumho are Korean. But tires from any brand may be made anywhere these days. Since tire makers often use the same brand and similar model names on different tires, it can be hard to tell what’s what. Our Ratings are therefore a better guide than any brand’s reputation.

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I

RATING THE 2010-2011 MODELS
will likely hold up, based on data from our 2009 Annual Auto Survey. Owner satisfaction also comes from our annual survey, and is based on a question where we ask subscribers if they would definitely buy or lease their vehicle again. Owner cost is a Rating of the five-year projected cost to own a vehicle, including depreciation, fuel, interest, insurance, maintenance/repair, and sales tax. Safety is an overall score based on the combination of crash test and accident avoidance results. A model loses points if ESC is not offered and loses partial points of it’s optional. Fuel economy is the overall mileage a vehicle achieved in our real-world tests, based on results from several tests, and reflects a realistic mix of city, countryroad, and highway driving.
Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

ncluded here are Ratings on nearly 300 vehicles that CR has recently tested. Within each category, they are ranked by their overall road-test score. Recommended models ( d) must perform well in our testing; have average or better reliability; and, if crash-tested, provide a good overall safety Rating. This Rating is a composite of accident avoidance from our testing, and crash protection, based on crash tests administered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, pickups and SUVs must not have tipped up in the government’s rollover test or, if not tested, must be available with electronic stability control (ESC). Survey results include predicted reliability, our forecast of how well a new car
Make & model Recommended Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

HATCHBACKS: SUBCOMPACT

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Honda Fit Sport (MT) Honda Fit (base) Nissan Versa 1.8 SL Scion xD (MT) Scion xD Kia Rio5 SX (MT) Hyundai Accent GS (MT) Toyota Yaris (base)

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor
52

$16,730 16,020 17,250 15,820 16,620 14,110 12,745 16,423

76 68 67 62 60 53 52

&N &N &C &N &N
NA

&M &N

&N &N &V &M &M
NA

&V &C

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N

&M &M &M &M &M &M
-

33 30 28 34 29 30 30 30

d Recommended

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Make & model Recommended

Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

HATCHBACKS: SUBCOMPACT continued
Chevrolet Aveo5 1LT Smart ForTwo Passion $16,470 31 15,355 28 $24,764 20,314 19,475 20,700 21,640 19,998 21,180 19,200 18,360 16,690 16,790 24,700 24,730 21,790 19,015

&B &V &C &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &M
new NA

NA

&M &N &M

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &C &V &N &M

&M
-

HATCHBACKS/WAGONS: SMALL

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Volkswagen Golf TDI (MT) Volkswagen Golf (2.5) Hyundai Elantra Touring Mazda3 s Sport Subaru Impreza Outback Sport Suzuki SX4 Technology (AWD) Toyota Matrix S (2.4L) Toyota Matrix (base, 1.8L) ■ Scion xB d Kia Soul Plus Nissan Cube 1.8S ■ Mini Cooper Clubman d ■ Chevrolet HHR LT (2.4) d Honda Insight EX Dodge Caliber SXT

88 85 79 77 75 73 72 69 68 68 64 64 61 54 49

NA

&M &M &C &C &C &M &N &C &M &B &C &M &M &M &N &M &C &C

&N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &M
-

26 39 38 24 26 25 23 24 27 29 23 25 28 29 24 38 24 24 36 23 24 20 18 21 25 20 22

&C &C &N &C &C &C &M &N &C &V &M &C &M &C

new NA

&M &M &C
-

WAGONS

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Mazda5 Grand Touring Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen TDI Volkswagen Jetta SE (2.5) Subaru Outback 2.5i Limited Toyota Venza (V6, AWD) Volvo XC70 Kia Rondo LX (V6) Audi A3 2.0T Honda Accord Crosstour EX-L (AWD) BMW 325xi*

$23,805 95 27,204 81 24,324 30,099 34,209 42,560 20,655 28,580
80 79 77 77 76 75

&N &N &M &N &N
-

34,730 73 40,520 73

new NA

&C &V

&N

*Powertrain changed since last test.

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Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SEDANS: SUBCOMPACT
Nissan Versa 1.8 S Kia Rio LX Hyundai Accent GLS Toyota Yaris (base) Chevrolet Aveo LT $16,385 14,905 14,230 16,547 16,205 $18,695 20,165 20,965 19,530 18,170 24,510 19,106 17,440 18,404 16,419 19,070 18,445 18,540 17,519 18,490 17,515 $23,970 21,800 21,995 23,939 22,850 23,830 22,489 22,795
69 64 62 57 36

&B
NA

&M &N &B &N &N &N &C &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &N

&V
NA

&V &C &M &M &M &V &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &C

NA

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N

&M &V &V &M &V &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &C &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N
-

27 28 28 32 25 27 31 28 27 30 37 24 29 32 32 28 27 28 26 26 25 26 27 26 33 26 25 25 23

SEDANS: SMALL

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Hyundai Elantra SE Honda Civic EX (MT) Honda Civic EX Nissan Sentra 2.0 SL Mazda3 i Touring (MT) Honda Civic Hybrid Subaru Impreza 2.5i Ford Focus SES (MT) Toyota Corolla LE Toyota Corolla (base, MT) Mazda3 i Touring Hyundai Elantra GLS Kia Forte EX Suzuki SX4 LE Ford Focus SES Mitsubishi Lancer ES Nissan Altima 2.5 S (4-cyl.) Hyundai Sonata GLS Honda Accord LX-P (4-cyl., MT) Volkswagen Jetta TDI Toyota Camry LE (4-cyl.) Subaru Legacy 2.5i Premium Suzuki Kizashi SE Honda Accord LX-P (4-cyl.)

82 82 78 74 74 72 72 71 71 70 70 70 69 66 65 62

new

&M &M &M &M &C &M &M &M

new NA NA

NA

SEDANS: FAMILY ENTRY-LEVEL
91 89 88 84 84 83 82 79

new

&C &M &M &N &M &M &M

new

new

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Make & model Recommended

Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SEDANS: FAMILY ENTRY-LEVEL continued

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Kia Optima LX (4-cyl.) $20,365 77 Volkswagen Jetta (2.5) 22,965 76 Ford Fusion SE (4-cyl.) 22,145 76 Chevrolet Malibu LT (4-cyl.) 23,585 74 Mazda6 i Sport (4-cyl.) 21,920 73 Mitsubishi Galant ES (4-cyl.) 20,944 59 Chrysler Sebring (Touring, 4-cyl.) 20,870 44

&M &M &N &C &C
NA

&B &C &C &M &C &C &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &C &C &B &M &M &M &M

&C &C &M &C &C
NA

&B &C &M &M &M &C &N &N &M &C &N &N &C &N &C &V &V

&N &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &N &M &M &C &M &N &M &C &M &C &M &M &C &V &M &C &C

&M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &N &N
-

25 24 24 25 24 23 23 24 21 22 23 24 34 34 20 20 22 44 32 20 22 19 20 20 21 28 25 24 31

SEDANS: FAMILY

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Nissan Altima 3.5 SR (V6) Honda Accord EX-L (V6) Subaru Legacy 3.6R Limited Toyota Camry XLE (V6) Volkswagen Passat 2.0T Toyota Camry Hybrid Ford Fusion Hybrid Chevrolet Malibu LTZ (V6) Mazda6 s Grand Touring (V6) Ford Fusion SEL (V6) Toyota Prius IV Nissan Altima Hybrid Ford Fusion SEL (V6, AWD) Kia Optima EX (V6) Dodge Charger SXT (V6) Chevrolet Impala LT (3.5) Dodge Avenger R/T (3.5, V6)

$30,335 28,695 30,094 29,839 27,440 29,720 32,360 28,045 30,790 28,400 26,750 28,225 30,055 24,640 28,860 29,270 27,350 $37,225 48,925 29,675 33,734 38,939

93 88 88 87 87 84 84 83 81 80 80 78 75 73 58 57 46

NA

SEDANS: COMPACT SPORTS

■ d

Infiniti G37 Journey BMW 335d ■ Acura TSX (4-cyl.) d ■ Lexus IS 250 d ■ Lexus HS 250h Premium d

95 84 84 84 83

&M &M &C

NA

NA

new

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Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SEDANS: COMPACT SPORTS continued

■ d ■ d

Audi A4 2.0T Volkswagen CC Luxury (4-cyl.) Buick Regal CXL (4-cyl.) ■ BMW 328i d ■ Mercedes-Benz C300 Sport d ■ Saab 9-3 2.0T d Volvo S40 2.4i

$37,525 32,680 28,840 39,175 37,325 31,615 29,145 $36,000 38,615 34,974 35,715 33,700 31,670 37,160 37,555 34,980 38,935 27,895 37,480 30,255 36,295 $53,825 43,800 50,995 58,375 50,660 55,245 53,075 50,325

82 82 77 77 77 69 60

&C &N
new

&M &C &C &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &N

&M &M
new

&M &C &C &V &N &M &N &M &M &M &M

&V &C &M &V &V &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &V &V &C &V &M &V &C &V &B &V &B &B &B &B &B &B

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &C &C &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M

22 24 23 23 21 23 23 21 23 24 23 22 20 20 20 19 17 23 16 19 17 21 20 19 23 19 19 20 18

SEDANS: UPSCALE

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Hyundai Genesis 3.8 Lexus ES 350 Toyota Avalon XLS Acura TL (base) Nissan Maxima 3.5 SV Hyundai Azera Limited Lincoln MKZ Buick LaCrosse CXS (V6) Ford Taurus Limited Buick Lucerne (V8)* Buick LaCrosse CX (4-cyl.) Chrysler 300 C (V8)* Chrysler 300 Touring (V6) Dodge Charger R/T (V8)*

92 91 87 85 83 81 77 74 73 73 70 64 60 59

new

&C &C &V &C &V &M &C &B

new

&M &C &M &V &M

new

new

SEDANS: LUXURY

■ d ■ d

Infiniti M37 Hyundai Genesis 4.6 Cadillac CTS Premium (3.6) BMW 535i ■ Acura RL d Mercedes-Benz E350 Audi A6 3.0T Premium Cadillac STS Luxury (V6)

93 87 84 81 80 79 79 77

new new NA

&C &B

&M &N &M &M &M &M &M &C

*Powertrain changed since last test.

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Make & model Recommended

Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SEDANS: LUXURY continued
Cadillac DTS Luxury II Lincoln MKS (EcoBoost, AWD) ■ Lexus GS 450h Hybrid d Jaguar XF Luxury ■ Volvo S80 3.2 d $48,050 52,770 60,172 54,075 45,305 $76,572 90,200 76,470 76,784 $87,520 64,890 105,855 85,635 91,990
75 75 72 72 70

&V
new

&M &B &C &N &C

&M &M
NA

&M &C &N &N

&B &B &B &B &V &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B

&M &N &M &N
-

17 18 23 20 20 21 17 17 18 20 19 17 19 15 22 28 23 21 21 30 29 22 24 18 23

SEDANS: ULTRA-LUXURY

■ d ■ d

Lexus LS 460L Mercedes-Benz S550 Audi A8 L Mercedes-Benz CLS 500* Porsche 911 Carrera S (MT) Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (MT) Mercedes-Benz SL550 Jaguar XK Convertible Dodge Viper SRT10 (MT)*

99 86 77 73

NA NA

SPORTS CARS: PERFORMANCE/LUXURY

■ d

96 92 86 74 67

&N &V

NA NA

&N &N

SPORTS CARS: 2-SEAT & CONVERTIBLES Equipped with manual transmission. Porsche Boxster* $49,075 90 &V &N &B Mazda MX-5 Miata Grand Touring 31,150 89 &M &N &M ■ d Nissan 370Z Touring 38,565 86 NA &M &V 53,950 84 &C &C &B ■ Mercedes-Benz SLK350* d Chevrolet Corvette (base)* 57,020 81 &V &N &B Mini Cooper Convertible S 32,850 77 NA &M &M Lotus Elise 45,545 55 NA NA &B SPORTS CARS: MUSCLE Equipped with manual transmission. &C &N ■ Ford Mustang GT Premium (V8) $36,310 83 d 28,880 76 &N &M ■ Ford Mustang Premium (V6) d
Chevrolet Camaro 2SS (V8) Hyundai Genesis Coupe Grand Touring (V6) 35,425 71 new new 28,375 70

NA NA NA

NA NA NA

new new

&C &M &C &M

&M &M
-

*Powertrain changed since last test.

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Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SPORTS CARS: MUSCLE continued
Chevrolet Camaro 2LT (V6) Dodge Challenger R/T (V8) $28,195 60 36,600 53

new

SPORTS CARS: SPORTY Equipped with manual transmission. BMW 135i $37,650 97 &V &N Subaru Impreza WRX STi 37,640 89 &C &M ■ d

&C

new

&N

&M &V &V &V &C &M &M &M &V &N &M &M &M &N &V &N &M &M &C &B &V &B &C &B &V &V &V &V

-

21 18 23 21 18 27 24 26 21 33 27 27 25 30 20 26 30 23 25 20 23 21 23 22 24 21 19 19

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Mazda RX-8 Volkswagen GTI (4-door) Subaru Impreza WRX MazdaSpeed 3 Sport Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution GSR Mini Cooper (base) Honda Civic Si Kia Forte Koup SX Volvo C30 T5 1.0 Mini Cooper S Mitsubishi Lancer Ralliart (AT) Scion tC Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V Mitsubishi Eclipse GS (4-cyl.)

31,305 27,504 26,088 23,945 38,078 21,700 22,815 20,240 25,795 26,400 28,344 17,115 23,310 21,764

86 85

NA

84 83 83 81 78 77 75 74 72 70 66 50

&C &V &C &C &M &C &V &N &M &V

NA

&M &M &N &N &M &M &N &M &V

NA

NA

&M &M &N &M
-

new

new

NA NA

NA NA

&V &M &N &M &N
-

CONVERTIBLES: 4-SEAT
Volkswagen Eos Lux $35,829 78 Infiniti G (base) 48,715 77 Lexus IS 250 44,400 77 BMW 328i 49,525 76 Ford Mustang GT Premium (V8) 43,880 75 Audi A5 Premium Plus (2.0T) 49,300 74 Saab 9-3 2.0T 42,505 71 Volvo C70 T5 43,880 68 Mitsubishi Eclipse GT (V6) 35,513 51 Chrysler Sebring Limited (3.5, V6) 37,030 45

NA new

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

&M &M &M &C &M &B

&M &M
new

&M &N &M &V &V

new

new NA

&N &N &M &C

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Make & model Recommended

Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

MINIVANS

■ d

Honda Odyssey EX $32,610 91 Toyota Sienna XLE (FWD) 35,810 80 Toyota Sienna XLE (AWD) 38,201 79 Kia Sedona EX 31,365 79 Toyota Sienna LE (4-cyl.) 29,369 74 Volkswagen Routan SEL (4.0) 36,215 65 Chrysler Town & Country 38,390 64 Limited (4.0) Dodge Grand Caravan SXT (3.8) 33,950 60

&M
new new new

&V &B &B &B &C &V &M &M &N &B &C &N &N

&N &M &M &V &M
NA

&C &V &N &C &M &V &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &C

&C &C &C &V &M &V &V &V

&N &M &M &N &M &M &M &M

19 20 19 17 20 16 17 16 19 20 19 18 17 18 17 18 18 20 24 22 20 23 22 20 21 20 22 20 22

SUVs: COMPACT SPORTY
Audi Q5 Premium Plus Volkswagen Tiguan SEL BMW X3 3.0si ■ Infiniti EX Journey d Cadillac SRX Luxury ■ Acura RDX d Volvo XC60 T6 ■ Mercedes-Benz GLK350 d Land Rover LR2 SE

■ d

$42,800 35,479 43,120 39,425 42,625 37,165 42,245 41,760 36,450

83 80 79 78 73 72 70 66 52

NA

NA

new new

new new NA

&V &C &V &V &B &V &V &V &V &M &N &M &C &N &N &C &M &M &M &M &M

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N
-

SUVs: SMALL

■ d ■ d

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Subaru Forester 2.5XT Limited $28,860 87 Subaru Forester 2.5X (MT) 20,972 84 Toyota RAV4 Limited (V6) 30,328 83 Kia Sorento EX (V6) 32,390 82 Toyota RAV4 (base, 4-cyl.) 25,405 82 Subaru Forester 2.5X 22,040 82 Hyundai Santa Fe Limited (V6) 31,330 80 Honda CR-V EX 25,805 76 Kia Sorento LX (4-cyl.) 26,590 75 Mitsubishi Outlander LS (4-cyl.) 22,820 73 Hyundai Santa Fe GLS (4-cyl.) 25,730 73 Nissan Rogue SL 25,850 73

new

&N &N &M &N &M &M &M

new

new

new NA

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Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SUVs: SMALL continued

■ d

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Mitsubishi Outlander XLS (V6) Hyundai Tucson GLS Chevrolet Equinox 2LT (V6) GMC Terrain SLT1 (V6) Ford Escape Hybrid Ford Escape XLT (V6) Mazda Tribute s Sport (V6) Chevrolet Equinox 1LT (4-cyl.) GMC Terrain SLE1 (4-cyl.) Ford Escape XLT (4-cyl.) Mazda Tribute i Sport (4-cyl.) Mazda CX-7 Touring Suzuki Grand Vitara Premium (4-cyl.) Honda Element EX Jeep Patriot Sport Jeep Compass Sport Dodge Nitro SLT (3.7) Jeep Liberty Sport

$30,615 24,090 31,780 30,985 32,575 28,365 28,725 26,350 26,745 25,470 24,340 32,915 23,705 23,560 21,660 28,875 26,060

70 70 69 69 66 66 66 66 66 64 64 62

&M
new new new

&C
new new new

&M &C &C &C &C &V &N &M &C &B &V &M

&M &C &C &V &M &V &B &V &M

new new

NA new new NA NA

&C &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &N &M &N &C &M &V &V &C &V &V &C &V &V &V &C &C &M

&M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M

19 22 18 18 26 19 19 21 21 21 21 18 19 21 22 22 16 16

22,563 61
58 55 53 33 27

NA

NA

SUVs: MIDSIZED

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

Toyota Highlander Hybrid $43,770 86 Limited Ford Flex Limited (EcoBoost) 46,720 85 Toyota Highlander Limited (V6) 38,578 81 Chevrolet Traverse LT 39,920 80 GMC Acadia SLT2 39,630 80 Nissan Murano SL 36,330 78 Ford Flex SEL 38,460 77 Mazda CX-9 Grand Touring 38,615 76 Hyundai Veracruz SE 33,870 75 Honda Pilot EX-L 35,830 74 Subaru Tribeca Limited 34,270 70

new

&M &C &V &C &C &C &C &M &C

&N &M &M &C &M &N &C
NA

24 17 18 16 16 19 17 16 17 18 16

&M &C

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Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SUVs: MIDSIZED continued
Kia Borrego EX (V6) $34,795 68 Mitsubishi Endeavor LS 32,394 66 36,310 62 ■ Nissan Pathfinder LE (V6) d 33,590 60 ■ Ford Edge SEL d 28,000 60 ■ Nissan Xterra S d Dodge Journey SXT (V6) 27,320 58 Ford Explorer Eddie Bauer (V8) 39,025 58 Toyota 4Runner SR5 (V6) 37,425 55 Ford Explorer XLT (V6) 35,520 53 Toyota FJ Cruiser 30,881 36 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sahara 30,735 17 NA NA

&C &C &C &B &C &C &N &B &N &M &N &B &C &B

NA NA

new

&V &M &C &V &C &M &C &M &C &M &M &N &M &M &C

&V &V &V &C &M &C &V &C &V &C &C &B &V &V &B &V &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B

&M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C
-

SUVs: LUXURY

■ d ■ d ■ d ■ d

■ d ■ d

■ d ■ d

Lexus RX 450h Acura MDX Lexus RX 350 Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTec Buick Enclave CXL Mercedes-Benz GL450 BMW X5 35d Volvo XC90 (V8) Land Rover LR4 Lincoln MKT (EcoBoost) Infiniti FX35 Toyota Land Cruiser Mercedes-Benz ML350 Lexus GX 460 Audi Q7 Premium Plus (V6)* BMW X5 3.0si Volkswagen Touareg (V6) Lincoln Navigator Ultimate Porsche Cayenne S

$53,576 46,715 47,381 66,925 43,260 67,820 62,375 47,685 54,010 56,555 51,635 67,707 48,880 58,428 54,225 56,745 43,350 59,015 71,985

88 85 79 78 77 77 75 74 73 72 71 69 69 69 68 67 66 65 65

&N &N &N &N
-

16 17 15 16 17 16 14 18 15 17 15 26 18 21 19 15 15 22 16 15 18 18 14 16 17 17 17 15 13 15

NA new new NA new

&V &M &C &B &V &B &C &C

NA NA new new

&N &N &M
-

&M &C &C &C &M

NA new

&N &M &N
-

NA NA

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Price as tested

Overall Survey road-test score results Predicted reliability Owner satisfaction

Owner Safety Fuel cost economy Overall MPG

SUVs: LUXURY continued
Land Rover Range Rover Sport $61,900 61 HSE* Cadillac Escalade (base) 64,905 61 Lincoln MKX 43,595 60

NA

&V &V &M &C &B &B &C &V &V &C &C &N &C &M &V &B &B &C &V &C &C &C &C &C &C

NA

&C &C &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &N &C &M

&B &V &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B

&B

&M
-

-

14 13 16 15 13 14 14 13 14 14 19 19 15 15 17 14 16 16 16 13 14 14 15 14 14 13

SUVs: LARGE
Toyota Sequoia Limited (5.7) $54,005 66 Ford Expedition EL Eddie Bauer 48,730 65 Chevrolet Suburban LT3 (5.3)* 51,940 64 GMC Yukon XL SLT3 (5.3)* 52,285 64 43,570 64 ■ Nissan Armada LE d Chevrolet Tahoe LTZ (5.3) 57,435 58 GMC Yukon SLT2 (5.3) 56,625 58 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid 55,585 57 GMC Yukon Hybrid 56,045 57

■ d

PICKUPS: COMPACT

■ d ■ d ■ d

Honda Ridgeline RTS Nissan Frontier LE (V6) Toyota Tacoma TRD (V6) Dodge Dakota SLT (4.7) Chevrolet Colorado LS Z71 (5-cyl.)* GMC Canyon SLE Z71 (5-cyl.)* Ford Ranger XLT (V6)

$30,825 30,110 29,210 29,970

79 67 63 58

NA NA

29,315 41 30,080 41 26,005 25

&B &V &M &M &M &M &M &C &C

&C &C &M &C &C &B &V &V &V &V &V &V &C &M

&M &M &N &V &V &V &C &C &C &M &M &C &C
-

PICKUPS: FULL-SIZED
Chevrolet Avalanche LT (5.3) $46,560 74 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 LT (5.3) 37,235 70 GMC Sierra 1500 SLT (5.3) 39,115 70 Toyota Tundra SR5 (5.7) 34,738 69 39,775 68 ■ Ford F-150 XLT (5.4) d 39,140 67 ■ Dodge Ram 1500 SLT (5.7) d 36,520 62 ■ Nissan Titan SE (5.6) d

■ d ■ d

*Powertrain changed since last test.

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T
Model

REVIEWS OF THE 2010–2011 MODELS
or better reliability; and, if crash-tested, provide a good overall safety Rating. This Rating is a composite of accident avoidance from our testing and crash protection, based on crash tests administered by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In addition, pickups and SUVs must not have tipped up in the government’s rollover test or, if not tested, must be available with electronic stability control (ESC). Entries include, where available, the date of the last road test for that model published in Consumer Reports magazine. These road-test reports are also available to subscribers of our Web site, at www.ConsumerReports.org.

his rundown of all the major 2010–11 models can start you on your search for a new car, minivan, SUV, or pickup. You’ll find a summary of each model, often based on recent road tests that are applicable to this year’s models. Most models include Consumer Reports’ predicted reliability rating, an indication of how problematic we expect a model to be. It is based on our 2009 annual subscriber survey, where we asked owners about any serious problems they’ve had with their vehicles in the previous 12 months. These data allow us to predict how this year’s models are likely to hold up. Recommended models ( d) must perform well in our testing; have average
Predicted reliability

■ Acura MDX d ■ Acura RDX d ■ Acura RL d ■ Acura TL d

&M &M &C &M

Description/with last road-test date
The MDX has a refined and powerful 300-hp V6, is agile, and is quiet. The third-row seat folds easily into the floor and is a good fit for kids. The dashboard is a sea of tiny, similar-looking buttons. Crash-test results are impressive. June 2010 The RDX’s turbocharged four-cylinder provides strong acceleration, but lacks refinement. Handling is agile and secure, but the ride is stiff. The interior is pleasant, but some controls could be better designed. Crash-test results are excellent. Jan. 2007 The AWD RL is powered by a powerful V6. The powertrain is polished, but ride and handling don’t stand out. The less-expensive TL has similar interior room, and the RL’s driver interaction system isn’t particularly intuitive. Feb. 2010 The TL gets a good 23 mpg overall. Handling is taut and the ride compliant, but the vague steering lacks feedback. Road noise is evident. The rear seat is tight and the well-finished interior is cluttered with buttons. AWD is available. Feb. 2009

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

d Recommended

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Acura TSX

&M

Description/with last road-test date
The TSX’s smooth engine, slick transmission, and agile handling make it enjoyable, but the steering is vague. The four-cylinder gets 25 mpg overall. The supportive front seats are well-shaped, but rear seat room is tight. A V6 is also available. June 2009 The ZDX is a four-door SUV with coupe styling. The front seats are roomy, but the second row is snug. The low roof and small windows compromise visibility. The smooth and powerful 3.7-liter V6 is mated to a six-speed automatic. — This sporty four-door hatchback uses a quick turbocharged 2.0liter, four-cylinder engine, and the optional S-tronic transmission works well. AWD is also available, as is a front-wheel-drive diesel trim. Crash-test results are impressive. Sep. 2006 The A4 has a firm and controlled ride, with agile handling. The fourcylinder is responsive and gets 22 mpg overall with the AWD system. The interior has excellent fit and finish, but the rear seat is tight. The MMI driver-interaction system is complicated. June 2009 The A5 is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged engine. Handling is agile. The cabin is quiet and nicely furnished. The S5 coupe gets a 4.2-liter V8; the convertible uses a 3.0-liter supercharged V6. The rear seats are snug for two adults. The convertibles have a well-insulated soft top. May 2010 The A6 has responsive handling, but the low-speed ride is quite firm. AWD is available. The 3.0-liter supercharged V6 delivers effortless power and good fuel economy. The seats are excellent, and the interior is well-finished and filled with nice details. IIHS crash-test results are impressive. Feb. 2010 A redesigned A8 goes on sale late 2010 with more power from the V8 and an eight-speed automatic. A V6-powered, front-wheel-drive version will also be available. The outgoing A8 was pleasant and capable, with responsive and secure handling. Nov. 2003 The Q5 uses a refined 3.2-liter V6 mated to a six-speed automatic, and gets 19 mpg. Handling is agile and sporty, and the ride is good. The well-furnished interior is very quiet, but rear seat and cargo room are modest. Controls are complicated and require multiple steps to perform simple functions. Sep. 2009 The Q7 has a V6 that gets 17 mpg overall, mated to a six-speed automatic. It is fairly nimble, but the low speed ride is stiff. Interior fit and finish is excellent, but the MMI driver-interaction system is complex. A 3.0-liter V6 turbodiesel is also offered. June 2010 The TT has responsive but not sporty handling. The turbocharged four-cylinder engine is punchy enough. The excellent S-tronic, a manual transmission that shifts automatically, works well. A highperformance TTS model is also available. — The 1 Series is a small two-door coupe. A 3.0-liter six-cylinder is in the 128i, while the 135i uses a turbocharged six-cylinder. It is spectacular to drive with excellent steering. Although snug, the interior features high levels of fit and finish. Oct. 2008

Acura zDX

New

■ Audi A3 d ■ Audi A4 d
Audi A5

&C &C

New

Audi A6

NA

Audi A8

NA

Audi Q5

NA

Audi Q7

&B &V &V

Audi TT

BMW 1 Series

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

BMW 3 Series BMW 5 Series BMW 5 Series GT BMW 7 Series BMW X3

&M

Description/with last road-test date
The 3 Series has a supple ride and smooth engines. Handling is taut and agile. Crash-test results are impressive, but the convertible didn’t do well in the IIHS rear-crash test. The turbodiesel got 28 mpg in our tests. AWD and a wagon are available. Mar. 2008 The redesigned 2011 5 Series is larger, but rear leg room is just marginally better. The turbocharged six-cylinder and twin-turbo V8 are both smooth and powerful, and mated to a slick new eight-speed automatic. A non-turbo six-cylinder engine will debut later. Nov. 2010 The 5 Series Gran Turismo visually registers as a hatchback. The base model seats five; more luxurious versions seat only four. An AWD version is available, along with a less expensive six-cylinder version, both mated to an 8-speed automatic. — The new 7 Series has improved controls, including the revised iDrive system. The car is very quiet and has a steady ride. The 400-hp turbocharged V8 moves the car briskly. A hybrid version is also available. The cabin is very roomy and comfortable with excellent seats. — The X3 has a 6-speed automatic, a strong 3.0-liter, six-cylinder engine, and a nicer interior than in past models. Handling is agile, but the ride is still a bit stiff and choppy. The interior is quiet and roomy enough. A redesign is around the corner. Jan. 2007 The X5 has a stiff and choppy ride, particularly at low speeds. Handling is capable and secure. Both gas engines deliver ample acceleration. The transmission is smooth, but the complicated shifter is frustrating. The interior is impeccably trimmed. The diesel version got 22 mpg overall, but the gas versions are more refined. Dec. 2009 Based on the X5, the X6 features standard all-wheel drive. It seats only four passengers and is a coupelike SUV, but with four doors. Most versions are powered by a turbocharged 3.0-liter turbo sixcylinder. A 4.4-liter V8 is also offered. A hybrid is new. — The Z4 is a convertible with a power-operated hard top. Power comes from smooth six-cylinder engines, and the 7-speed automated manual works very well. The electric steering falls short on feedback. The cabin is tight and the price can easily reach $60,000. — This large SUV has three rows of seats and can seat eight. It uses a smooth 3.6-liter V6 and six-speed automatic. The ride is comfortable and quiet. Handling is agile and secure. The third-row seat is roomy enough for adults, and fit and finish is excellent. July 2009 The LaCrosse features two modern V6s, with a four-cylinder engine also available. Rear seat room and interior fit and finish are impressive, and AWD is available. The interior is quiet, the ride is supple, and handling is responsive. Visibility is not a strong suit. Oct. 2010 The Lucerne comes with a standard coarse and thirsty V6; a more refined 4.6-liter V8 is optional. Braking and handling are below par, but the ride is comfortable. Rear seat room is good. June 2007 The new Regal is powered by a 2.4-liter four-cylinder, with a sixspeed automatic. A turbocharged 2.0-liter engine is also offered. Handling is agile and the car steers well. The ride is supple and controlled, and wind noise is well suppressed. The interior is nicely furnished with good seats, but the rear is rather tight. Oct. 2010

New

New

NA

&V &V

BMW X5

BMW X6

NA

BMW z4

NA

■ Buick d Enclave
Buick LaCrosse

&C

New

■ Buick d Lucerne
Buick Regal

&C
New

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Cadillac CTS

Predicted reliability

&B &V &V

Description/with last road-test date
The CTS has direct and precise steering, and the ride is firm yet supple. The standard 3.6-liter V6 is smooth and refined. The cabin is quiet and the front seats are comfortable, but the rear is snug. Wagon and coupe versions are new, and the 556-hp CTS-V is available. Feb. 2010 The DTS is a large front-wheel-drive sedan powered by a smooth 275-hp, 4.6-liter V8. Accommodations are ample and luxurious, and the rear seat roomy and comfortable. The ride is quiet and comfortable, but handling is clumsy. Mar. 2008 The luxurious Escalade uses a powerful 6.2-liter V8 engine. Acceleration is strong but fuel economy is just 13 mpg. The interior is quiet and the ride is comfortable, but handling is clumsy and braking distances are long. An extended-length model, a crew-cab pickup, and a hybrid version are available. Nov. 2006 The SRX has agile and sporty handling, and the ride is firm yet supple. The 3.0-liter V6 feels underpowered and gets just 17 mpg. The six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. The interior is well finished and the front seats are supportive, but the rear is snug. The controls are relatively straightforward. July 2010 The rear-drive STS uses a 3.6-liter V6 or the 4.6-liter Northstar V8. The V6 is quick and responsive and both engines are smooth. AWD is optional. The ride is firm yet supple. Handling is taut and agile, and the cabin is quiet, but the rear seat is snug. Mar. 2008 The Avalanche is a full-sized pickup with a unified bed and crew cab. This allows for a partition that can be folded down to extend the cargo bed into the cab. The ride is comfortable and quiet. The 5.3-liter V8 provides decent acceleration but is thirsty at 13 mpg overall. There is a very large rear blind zone. Feb. 2007 The Aveo sedan and hatchback handle clumsily. Acceleration and fuel economy are unimpressive for an economy car. The ride is jittery, noise is constant, and the seats are uncomfortable. Reliability is below average. Mar. 2009 The Camaro’s base 3.6-liter V6 is powerful, and the 6.2-liter V8 makes it very quick. Handling is capable, but so-so steering and the car’s size and weight hurt agility. Braking is excellent and the ride is taut and controlled. Visibility is severely hampered, some controls are hard to decipher, and the rear seat is cramped. Oct. 2010 The Colorado’s five-cylinder engine is unrefined and has worse fuel economy than competing V6s. Handling is sound but unexceptional. The ride is unsettled, and the body constantly quivers. ESC is standard. Overall, it trails the competition. July 2005 The Corvette delivers impressive performance. The ride is comfortable, and handling is capable but less agile than other sports cars. The interior is roomy for a sports car. The sportier Z06 has a 7.0liter, 505-hp V8 and much better handling. A supercharged ZR1 with 638 hp is available and delivers super car performance. Oct. 2005 This new, small sedan offers a 1.4-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder and a 1.8-liter four-cylinder. Both the automatic and manual transmissions are six-speed units. The interior trim is much better than in past small GM sedans. The cabin is relatively roomy for the class. —

Cadillac DTS Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac SRX

New

Cadillac STS Chevrolet Avalanche

&B &V &B

Chevrolet Aveo Chevrolet Camaro

New

Chevrolet Colorado Chevrolet Corvette

&B &V

Chevrolet Cruze

New

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Model
Chevrolet Equinox

Predicted reliability
New

Description/with last road-test date
The Equinox has a taut and controlled ride, with responsive and secure handling. The V6 model has good steering. Interior materials are improved and cabin access is good. The 2.4-liter fourcylinder got 21 mpg but is not particularly brisk. The optional 3.0-liter V6 is more civilized but gets just 18 mpg. Nov. 2009 The HHR has easy access and a flexible cargo space. Handling is secure but not agile. We got 24 mpg overall with the noisy 2.4-liter engine. Performance is adequate. Visibility is less than ideal, the driving position is cramped, and interior quality is unimpressive. Aug. 2009 The large Impala is dated and unimpressive. Handling is clumsy and the ride unsettled. The 3.5-liver V6 manages 20 mpg overall. The rear seat is skimpy for a car this size, and fit and finish is secondrate. Aug. 2010 The Malibu is very competitive. It is quiet, rides well, and has responsive and secure handling. The interior is roomy and mostly well put together. The V6 is quick and refined, and the four-cylinder gets 25 mpg with the six-speed automatic. ESC is standard. Jan. 2009 The Chevrolet Silverado is a well-rounded pickup with optional fulltime 4WD and a generous payload capacity. Ride quality is decent and handling is secure. The six-speed automatic slightly improves fuel economy. Reliability has been average. May 2009 The Suburban can tow a heavy trailer and swallow more cargo than most minivans. There is room for up to nine people, but typical versions seat seven. The third-row seat sits too low and is uncomfortable. The standard 5.3-liter V8 is just adequate and returned 14 mpg overall. Side and curtain air bags are standard. Aug. 2007 The Tahoe’s ride is supple, but handling and braking are so-so. Trailer-towing capability is impressive. There is little cargo space behind the cramped third-row seat. We got 14 mpg with the 5.3-liter V8. The six-speed automatic improves fuel economy. Dec. 2010 The Chevrolet version of GM’s large car-based SUV can seat seven or eight people comfortably. Handling is responsive, the ride is comfortable, and the well-finished interior is quiet. The 3.6-liter V6 engine returned 16 mpg overall, but the six-speed automatic sometimes hesitates to downshift when needed. July 2009 The 2011 Volt is essentially an electric car with a 1.4-liter gasoline engine to charge its battery. Range is claimed to be 40 miles. It is a nicely equipped compact four-seater. Recharge times are said to be about three hours with a 220-volt supply, about eight hours with 110 volts. Government tax breaks reduce the $41,000 list price. — The RWD 300 offers two V6 engines and a powerful V8. Interior materials aren’t impressive. The claustrophobic cabin and limited outward visibility are detractions. A long-wheelbase version is available. An extensive freshening is due out in early 2011. Jan. 2005 The Sebring isn’t competitive with most family sedans. We found the 2.4-liter four-cylinder noisy and unrefined. The 3.5-liter V6 is better. The ride is unsettled and handling is ungainly, but secure. Interior panels are cheap and don’t fit well. A hardtop convertible is available. Updates are planned for 2011. Mar. 2007

■ Chevrolet d HHR
Chevrolet Impala

&C &C &C &C &B &V &C

■ Chevrolet d Malibu ■ Chevrolet d Silverado
1500 Chevrolet Suburban

Chevrolet Tahoe

■ Chevrolet d Traverse
Chevrolet Volt

New

Chrysler 300 Chrysler Sebring

&V &B

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Model
Chrysler Town & Country Dodge Avenger Dodge Caliber Dodge Challenger

Predicted reliability

&B &B &C &C &C &V &B &B &B &C

Description/with last road-test date
Chrysler’s minivans have a buoyant highway ride, but low-speed ride comfort is OK. Handling, fit and finish, acceleration, braking, and fuel economy are all unimpressive. Flat-folding second- and third-row seats are still available. Some updates are due for 2011. Jan. 2008 The unimpressive Avenger offers a noisy 2.4-liter four-cylinder and a more refined 3.5-liter V6. Handling is ungainly and the ride is stiff and unsettled. The styling compromises rear-seat access and visibility. Updates are planned for 2011. Feb. 2008 The Caliber is a four-door hatchback with a raised seating position. The 2.0-liter engine is noisy and fit and finish is mediocre. Handling is lackluster but ultimately secure. Fuel economy wasn’t impressive. There are better hatchbacks available. Sep. 2006 The Challenger is a large and heavy car that comes up short on sporty credentials. It is very quick in a straight line and is a fairly comfortable and effortless cruiser. Handling lacks agility, but it is ultimately secure. Good controls, decent interior quality, and the ability to seat five are pluses. Oct. 2009 The Charger sedan has a very powerful 5.7-liter V8. The 3.5-liter V6 is adequate but returned just 17 mpg. The ride is stiff, and frequent ride motions make the car feel unsettled. The overly light steering demands constant attention. The roomy rear seat has marginal head room. An extensive freshening is due in early 2011. Mar. 2006 The Dakota offers a V8 engine and impressive towing capacity. The ride is buoyant, the truck lacks agility, and body roll is pronounced. Interior quality could be better. ESC is not available. July 2005 The Dodge minivan is disappointing. Ride comfort is improved, but handling, fit and finish, acceleration, braking, and fuel economy are all unimpressive. Flat-folding second- and third-row seats are available. Updates are due for 2011. Jan. 2008 The Journey has seating for 5 passengers, with an optional third row. The noisy 2.4-liter engine and a four-speed automatic are standard, with a 3.5-liter V6 optional. AWD is available with the V6. The ride is a bit unsettled and handling lacks agility, but it is ultimately secure. Aug. 2008 The Nitro’s 3.7-liter V6 engine returned 16 mpg in our testing. The Nitro lacks agility and the ride is stiff and snappy. The foot wells are extremely narrow. ESC and curtain air bags are standard. Visibility is poor. Reliability has been well below average. May 2007 The Ram’s coil-spring rear suspension delivers a very good ride for a big pickup truck. The 5.7-liter Hemi V8 has plenty of power. Handling is secure. The cabin is quiet. Interior quality and comfort are good, with a roomy rear seat in the crew cab. ESC and curtain air bags are standard. May 2009 The Viper’s V10 engine was loud and the clutch heavy. Handling was capable but lacked finesse. Cornering limits are very high, with lots of grip, but the harsh ride, noise, poor driving position, and lack of creature comforts take their toll. Viper production has ceased. Oct. 2006

Dodge Charger

Dodge Dakota Dodge Grand Caravan Dodge Journey

Dodge Nitro

■ Dodge Ram d 1500
Dodge Viper

NA

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Ford Edge

&C

Description/with last road-test date
The Edge uses a 3.5-liter V6 engine mated to a six-speed automatic. AWD is available. The ride is good, and the powertrain is quite strong but lacks refinement. The Edge isn’t very agile, but handling is secure. Interior fit and finish is unimpressive. 2011 brings a new interior, upgraded V6s, and a turbocharged four-cylinder. Aug. 2007 The Escape has a roomy interior, spacious rear seat, and good cargo space. Fit and finish is unimpressive and the car is noisy. The V6 provides strong acceleration, while the four-cylinder is adequate. The hybrid works well, returning 26 mpg overall. May 2009 The Expedition has a good interior and an independent suspension. The comfortable third-row seat folds into the floor. The noisy V8 felt sluggish and returned 13 mpg overall. Handling is relatively responsive, and towing capacity is generous. ESC and three-row curtain air bags are standard. Aug. 2007 The Explorer’s V6 engine returned 15 mpg overall and the V8 14 mpg. Handling is secure thanks to standard ESC, but the ride is stiff. The 4WD system is permanently engaged. A new car-based version goes on sale in early 2011. July 2006 The F-150’s 5.4-liter V8 has strong acceleration, but the engine still sounds coarse. Otherwise, the cabin is very quiet with a very roomy rear seat. Handling is secure and braking performance has been vastly improved. The ride remains stiff and jumpy. May 2009 The Fiesta subcompact is about the size of a Honda Fit, and available as a sedan or four-door hatchback. It drives nicely, with agile handling and a controlled ride. Interior fit and finish and equipment level are impressive for a vehicle in this class. — The Flex combines SUV-like versatility with carlike driving dynamics. The 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic get 17 mpg overall. The optional turbo V6 is quick and doesn’t hurt fuel economy. It rides comfortably and quietly, and has very good fit and finish. Handling isn’t that agile, but is responsive and secure. Sep. 2010 The Focus is fairly agile but handling isn’t that crisp. Cabin access is easy. The ride is firm yet supple but the car is noisy and interior quality is lackluster. ESC is standard. A new global version of the European Focus replaces it in early 2011. July 2008 This sedan has sharp handling, a good ride, and strong acceleration. Varieties include four-cylinder and V6 versions, front- or allwheel drive, and a 34-mpg-overall gas-electric hybrid that can drive up to 47 mph on electric power. The cabin stays mostly quiet, but the four-cylinder is fairly loud when accelerating. Sep. 2009 The Mustang is available as a coupe or convertible, but the rear seats are small. New engines include a 3.7-liter V6 that performs decently or a much more powerful 5.0-liter V8. The manual transmission gains a sixth gear. The ride is a bit jiggly, but not punishing. Handling is nimble and the Mustang steers well. Oct. 2010 The dated Ranger has a stiff and choppy ride. The V6 engine is rough and inefficient. The seats are thin and low, and the rear of the SuperCab is suitable for cargo only. Side air bags and ESC are both standard. July 2009

■ Ford Escape d ■ Ford d Expedition
Ford Explorer

&C &C &C &C

■ Ford F-150 d
Ford Fiesta

New

■ Ford Flex d ■ Ford Focus d ■ Ford Fusion d ■ Ford d Mustang
Ford Ranger

&C &M &N &C &C

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Ford Taurus

&C &V &B &C

Description/with last road-test date
The Taurus is a large, roomy, and quiet car with good ride and handling. The turning circle is wide. The 3.5-liter V6 is smooth and returned 19 mpg overall. The interior has plush materials and soft-touch surfaces, but rear visibility is compromised. AWD is optional. Jan. 2010 This large car-based SUV can seat seven or eight comfortably. Handling is responsive, the ride is comfortable, and the interior is quiet. The 3.6-liter V6 returned 16 mpg overall, but the six-speed automatic sometimes hesitates to downshift. July 2009 The Canyon’s five-cylinder engine is unrefined and has worse fueleconomy than competing V6s. The ride is unsettled, and the body constantly quivers. Overall, it trails the competition. Reliability has been below average. Curtain airbags are standard. July 2005 The GMC Sierra is a well-rounded pickup with optional full-time 4WD and a generous payload capacity. Ride quality is decent and handling is secure. The six-speed automatic improves fuel economy and acceleration. Reliability has been average. May 2009 The Terrain has a taut and controlled ride, with responsive and secure handling. The V6 model has good steering. The interior materials are improved and cabin access is good. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder got 21 mpg but is not particularly brisk. The optional 3.0-liter V6 is more civilized but thirstier, getting 18 mpg. Nov. 2009 The Yukon has a supple and controlled ride. Interior quality and the seats are both good. It has impressive towing capability, but the powertrain is a bit unrefined. There is little cargo space behind the cramped third-row seat. ESC is standard, but handling and braking are so-so. The hybrid version got 19 mpg. Dec. 2010 The Accord has a roomy cabin, agile handling, and a steady, compliant ride. We got 23 mpg with the four-cylinder and 21 mpg with the V6. The interior is roomy and visibility is impressive. ESC is standard. Feb. 2008 The Crosstour is a raised Accord with optional AWD and a hatchback. We liked the high seating position, spacious cabin, and comfy seats, as well as the smooth 3.5-liter V6 engine. When pushed hard it feels bulky and handles clumsily. The coupelike styling blocks the view to the rear, and also diminishes the cargo volume. Sep. 2010 The Civic has responsive handling and a compliant ride. Road noise is pronounced. The 1.8-liter engine returned 28 mpg with the automatic, and 31 mpg with the manual. The hybrid returned 37 mpg overall. Standard safety equipment includes ABS and curtain air bags, but ESC is only available on the EX-L, Hybrid, and Si. Feb. 2006 The Si is available as a coupe and a four-door sedan, and uses a smooth, powerful 197-hp, 2.0-liter four-cylinder. The manual transmission shifts crisply. Handling is nimble, with tenacious tire grip. But the electric steering feels vague. The ride is stiff and choppy, and road noise is pronounced. June 2006 The CR-V’s four-cylinder returned 21 mpg overall. The five-speed automatic is smooth and responsive. Handling is fairly agile and secure, and the ride is firm, yet supple. Road noise has been reduced. The rear seat is roomy and the flat floor enhances leg room. July 2010

GMC Acadia

GMC Canyon

■ GMC Sierra d 1500
GMC Terrain

New

GMC Yukon

&V &M &M &N &M &N

■ Honda d Accord ■ Honda d Accord
Crosstour

■ Honda Civic d ■ Honda Civic d Si ■ Honda d CR-V

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Model
Honda CR-z

Predicted reliability
New

Description/with last road-test date
The CR-Z is a sporty two-seat hybrid based on the Insight hybrid. It uses the same 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine producing 122-hp and 128-ft-lbs of torque, mated to a 13-hp electric motor. It is available with a choice of a six-speed manual transmission or a continuously variable unit. Electronic stability control is standard. — This boxy, small yet spacious SUV has responsive handling, but the ride is very stiff and choppy, and road noise is pronounced. The large roof pillars compromise visibility, and the driving position is awkward. The Element scores too low to be recommended. Feb. 2007 This small four-door hatchback offers easy access and very good visibility, and has an amazing amount of interior room. While not overly powerful, the Fit feels responsive, with a smooth and willing engine, and agile handling. The ride is a bit choppy. ESC is only available with the optional navigation system. Mar. 2009 This five-passenger Insight is snug and has awkward rear access. The ride is stiff and choppy and road noise is pronounced. Handling lacks agility and can be tricky at the limits. ESC is glaringly absent in the base LX, but is standard on the EX. Aug. 2009 The outgoing Odyssey has good interior flexibility and impressive fit and finish. Handling is agile and precise, and the ride is steady. The V6 is smooth and quiet, but road noise is pronounced. Reliability has been above average. Crash-test results are impressive. A redesigned Odyssey went on sale in fall 2010. Mar. 2005 The Pilot has impressive functionality, but trails better SUVs. It offers seating for eight, and the powertrain is smooth, and ride and handling are sound. However, acceleration, braking, and interior fit and finish aren’t very impressive. Road noise is very pronounced. Crash-test results are impressive. Nov. 2008 This crew-cab pickup has a supple and steady ride and agile handling. Its cargo bed features an all-weather, lockable trunk. The 3.5-liter V6 is quiet, smooth, and responsive, and it can tow up to 5,000 pounds. Electronic stability control is standard. July 2005 The Accent sedan and a two-door hatchback has a relatively quiet and compliant ride. It is powered by a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. Despite the standard curtain air bags, the Accent scored a poor in the IIHS side-impact test. It may be hard to find a model with ABS. Dec. 2006 The Azera has a smooth 3.8-liter V6. The interior is well-finished and quiet, with straightforward controls. The ride is comfortable and steady, and handling is fairly responsive. IIHS side-crash tests were only acceptable. 2011 models get more power and a 6-speed automatic. Jan. 2010 The Elantra has a comfortable ride, but it isn’t particularly agile. Expect 27 mpg overall on the sedan. Interior fit and finish is very good. ESC is standard on the SE trim and Touring wagon, which have better grip and braking. A redesigned Elantra goes on sale late 2010. July 2008

Honda Element

&N &N &N &M &M &N &M &M &N

■ Honda Fit d
Honda Insight

■ Honda d Odyssey ■ Honda Pilot d ■ Honda d Ridgeline
Hyundai Accent

■ Hyundai d Azera ■ Hyundai d Elantra

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Model
Hyundai Equus

Predicted reliability
New

Description/with last road-test date
Hyundai’s flagship is based on the Genesis, and uses a smooth 4.6-liter V8 mated to a six-speed automatic. Features include rearand front-view cameras, an adjustable suspension, adaptive cruise control, and a lane-departure warning system. A four-seat option includes a reclining rear seat with footrests. — The Genesis is very impressive, with a refined V6 that delivers quick acceleration and gets 21 mpg overall. Handling is responsive and secure, but the ride is somewhat nervous. The roomy interior is very quiet and well finished with a large rear seat. Most controls are very straightforward. Nov. 2010 The Genesis coupe is quite different than the sedan. Handling is quite capable and nimble, and the 3.8-liter V6 is punchy and powerful. The 2.0-liter turbocharged engine is somewhat noisy, and the manual transmission is stiff and imprecise. The ride is very stiff and can be unsettled over bumps. Oct. 2009 The Santa Fe’s V6 is more refined than the 4-cylinder engine. Steering response is fairly quick, and the interior is well-finished and quiet. We found the ride compliant and well controlled, but suspension noise is pronounced. The seats are comfortable, but head room is a bit tight for tall drivers. July 2010 The Sonata is powered by a 2.4-liter 4-cylinder that gets impressive fuel economy. The new car handles more responsively and the ride is more settled. The rear seat is quite roomy, and despite the swoopy styling, visibility is good. A turbocharged four-cylinder is due soon, and a hybrid version arrives in late 2010. Aug. 2010 The redesigned Tucson handles securely and responsively, but the ride is stiff and road noise is pronounced. The smooth 2.4-liter fourcylinder returns 22 mpg, and the six-speed automatic is responsive. The interior is spacious but the low rear seat lacks thigh support. The styling limits cargo space and the view to the rear. July 2010 This seven-passenger SUV has a smooth 3.8-liter V6 engine. The ride is comfortable, but suspension noise is evident. Handling is secure but not particularly agile. The interior is very quiet and well-finished. Controls are simple. Aug. 2007 The EX is essentially a G35 wagon. It has agile handling, but this small pseudo-SUV is quieter and has a slightly more comfortable ride. The rear seat is very snug and the cargo area is tiny. Styling has compromised rear visibility somewhat. Sep. 2008 The FX has bold styling, an eager powertrain, and responsive handling. The 3.5-liter V6 provides plenty of power and 18 mpg overall. Body roll is well suppressed, but the ride is quite stiff. Outward visibility and cargo capacity suffer from the styling. July 2009 The G has a powerful 3.7-liter V6 and a seven-speed automatic. It is very quick, yet returns 21 mpg. Handling is agile and predictable, with a compliant ride. The interior has easy-to-use controls, but the cabin is snug and the trunk is small. AWD is optional on both the coupe and sedan. A hardtop convertible is available. June 2009

■ Hyundai d Genesis
Hyundai Genesis Coupe

&M

New

■ Hyundai d Santa Fe
Hyundai Sonata

&M

New

Hyundai Tucson

New

■ Hyundai d Veracruz ■ Infiniti EX d ■ Infiniti FX d ■ Infiniti G d

&C &M &M &M

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Infiniti M

&M

Description/with last road-test date
The redesigned 2011 M has a new 330-hp, 3.7-liter V6 and a sevenspeed automatic. The M56 is powered by a V8 engine that delivers 420 hp. In our tests the new M37 is quick, strong, and agile with a roomy and well designed interior. Nov. 2010 The redesigned QX is available with either rear- or all-wheel drive, and gets a 400-hp, 5.6-liter V8 with a seven-speed automatic transmission. The luxurious interior offers seating for up to eight in three rows of seats. Electronic safety aids include lane departure and blind-spot warning systems. Dec. 2010 The XF drives very nicely, with agile handling, a comfortable ride, and quick steering. The base V8 provides effortless acceleration, but is no quicker than some six-cylinder competitors. We got 20 mpg overall. The interior is nicely trimmed in wood and leather, but the coupelike styling hurts rear-seat room and access. Feb. 2009 A taller, roomier 2010 XJ brings styling cues from the XF sedan and newer, more powerful engines. The interior is nicely trimmed in leather, wood, and suede, but the styling impedes cabin access front and rear. — The XK has a powerful 4.2-liter V8 and smooth six-speed automatic. Handling is athletic and capable. The ride is very supple and controlled. The soft-top convertible roof is well-insulated. The touch screen for HVAC, radio, and navigation washes out in sunlight and operates very slowly. Oct. 2006 This small car-based SUV got 22 mpg overall with the 2.4-liter engine and CVT. Ride and handling are not impressive. Interior fit and finish has slightly improved and there are some clever interior features, but the driving position is narrow. Small windows, a deep windshield, and thick roof pillars compromise visibility. Feb. 2007 The redesigned Grand Cherokee has a fully independent suspension for the first time. The engine choices include a new V6 and a HEMI V8. Safety systems include adaptive cruise control, blindspot detection, and a forward-collision warning system. Dec. 2010 The Liberty has clumsy handling but overall is secure. Its noisy 3.7-liter V6 feels lethargic and returned just 16 mpg overall. We found the cabin rather narrow and access awkward. The ride is more steady than the similar Dodge Nitro. Aug. 2008 Our Patriot got 22 mpg overall with the noisy 2.4-liter engine and CVT. Acceleration is slow. The ride is okay but handling lacks agility. The driving position is narrow and visibility is inhibited. An optional off-road package allows basic off-road capability. May 2009 The Wrangler has a stiff but steady ride, with vague steering and low cornering limits. The 3.8-liter V6 delivers dismal fuel economy. Offroad capability remains extremely impressive. Reliability has been well below average. IIHS side-crash-test results without the optional side airbags are unimpressive. Jan. 2007 Kia’s midsized SUV has a strong 3.8-liter V6 that got 16 mpg overall. A 4.6-liter V8 is optional. Steering is responsive. Emergency handling can be disconcerting, but ESC keeps it secure. The ride is stiff and punishing. Interior room is generous. The Borrego is no longer in production. July 2009

Infiniti QX

New

Jaguar XF

&B

Jaguar XJ

New

Jaguar Xk

NA

Jeep Compass

&C

Jeep Grand Cherokee Jeep Liberty Jeep Patriot Jeep Wrangler

New

&V &M &B

kia Borrego

NA

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Model
kia Forte

Predicted reliability
New

Description/with last road-test date
The new Forte sedan has a taut suspension and is nicely equipped. A coupe version called the Koup is also available. Both are roomy for the class and the control layout is intuitive. Handling is responsive, but the ride is stiff. The engine is loud under acceleration. Jan. 2010 The Optima is pleasant and a good value, with a roomy back seat. The ride is fairly comfortable but handling is not particularly agile, though ultimately secure. The four-cylinder got 25 mpg overall, while the V6 got 22 mpg. Interior materials are high quality, but the driver’s seat lacks lumbar support. A redesign is due this fall. Sep. 2009 The Rio sedan and Rio 5 hatchback have a relatively pleasant 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. Fuel economy is good but trails the class leaders. The ride is comfortable and quiet. Handling isn’t particularly agile. Curtain air bags are standard, but IIHS sidecrash-test results are poor. Dec. 2006 The Rondo offers an impressive amount of room, with seating for seven. The base engine is a 2.4-liter four-cylinder. We got 21 mpg with the 2.7-liter V6. Fit and finish is very good and the ride and handling are sound. Stability control is standard. The Rondo is no longer in production. Dec. 2007 The Sedona has a roomy, flexible interior. The 3.8-liter V6 and fivespeed automatic were refined, but fuel economy was only 17 mpg. Body lean is somewhat pronounced, and the steering is vague, but the standard electronic stability control kept it secure. Sep. 2006 The redesigned Sorento is vastly improved. Its optional third-row seat, though tiny, extends seating to seven in a pinch. The ride is stiff but handling is responsive and secure. The optional 3.5-liter V6 delivers good power and acceptable fuel economy. The seats are comfortable and give a good view out. July 2010 The Soul has very easy access, abundant headroom, and a spacious rear seat. The 2.0-liter engine returned a so-so 25 mpg overall. Expect a noisy interior and a stiff ride. Handling is fairly nimble and secure with standard ESC. Front and side visibility is good, but thick rear roof pillars create rear blind zones. Aug. 2009 A redesign of the Sportage goes on sale this fall. It is more stylish inside and out, but that comes at the expense of visibility. A fuel efficient 2.4-liter four-cylinder is the only engine offered. A turbocharged version will join the line at a later date. The LR2 provides good off-road ability. The ride is firm but steady and the car benefits from good steering. In our accident-avoidance test, the LR2 disconcertingly lifted two wheels at its handling limits, reducing driver confidence. The controls are confusing. Sep. 2008 The LR4 is roomy and quiet, with a luxurious interior. The recent bump in engine size and power made it quicker, yet more fuel efficient. The LR4 retains its traditional off-road ability and is able to traverse rough terrain easily. Handling is not a strong suit but is ultimately secure. Controls can be confusing. June 2010 The Range Rover delivers smooth, strong acceleration and a very comfortable ride, but isn’t agile. It features a height-adjustable air suspension and luxury amenities. The seats are very comfortable, and the wood and leather interior is upscale. More powerful engines arrived in 2010. —

■ kia Optima d
kia Rio

&M

NA

■ kia Rondo d
kia Sedona

&M &V

kia Sorento

New

kia Soul

New

■ kia Sportage
Land Rover LR2 Land Rover LR4

New

&B

New

Land Rover Range Rover

NA

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Model
Land Rover Range Rover Sport Lexus CT 200h

Predicted reliability
NA

Description/with last road-test date
The Sport is biased towards on-road handling, but isn’t as agile as some competitors. The ride is quite stiff. The 300-hp V8 works hard to do the job. Visibility is very good, and the rear seat is accommodating. The interior is luxurious, but the controls are frustrating. The 2010 model year brought more powerful engines. Dec. 2008 The CT 200h is powered by a 1.8-liter, four-cylinder coupled with an electric motor and nickel-metal-hydride battery. Pricing is expected to start at around $30,000. Driving modes include EV for electricity-only driving, Normal, Eco for fuel economy, and Sport for a snappier throttle and steering response. — The ES 350 sedan has a punchy powertrain that delivers 23 mpg overall. The ride is very comfortable. Handling is not sporty but is ultimately secure. Fit and finish is impressive, and the car is very quiet. We suggest getting the optional backup camera. June 2007 The GS isn’t as sporty or engaging as some of its competitors. A 3.5-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8 are offered. The hybrid is quick, but returns 23 mpg overall. The interior is quiet and the ride comfortable, but less so in the hybrid. Passenger room is very tight, and the driving position is flawed because of the tight headroom. Nov. 2007 The GX 460 is very quiet and quick, but handling is ungainly and clumsy. The powertrain is slick and refined, the ride is comfortable, and the cabin is plush. Average fuel economy of 17 mpg isn’t too shabby for the 4.6-liter V8 engine. The third row seat is tiny but folds neatly into the floor when not in use. June 2010 The HS hybrid uses the powertrain from the hybrid Camry. In our tests we got 31 mpg overall. It is well finished inside, but the cabin is narrow and the protruding center console takes up room. The ride is jiggly and both wind and drivetrain noise are intrusive. The steering feels vague, but handling is very secure. Feb. 2010 Lexus’s small sedan has secure, but not very sporty, handling and the ride is jittery. The 2.5-liter V6 got 24 mpg overall. The optional 3.5-liter V6 is very strong. AWD is optional on the IS 250. The cabin is tight, and the rear seat is extremely cramped. The hardtop convertible has little trunk space. May 2006 The LS is luxurious and highly refined, with a comfortable and serene ride. The spacious cabin is exceptionally quiet, and controls are user-friendly. Handling has been improved, but the LS is still not an engaging driver’s car. The powertrain is very smooth and responsive. A hybrid is available but costs over $100,000. Nov. 2007 This luxury SUV is based on the Toyota Land Cruiser. The 5.7-liter V8 is strong and the ride is comfortable. The LX has an off-road crawl mode that manages throttle and braking over tough terrain. A power-folding third-row seat is new, but it folds up to the sides of the interior, limiting cargo space. — The RX is refined and quiet. The ride is comfortable, but handling is lackluster. The 3.5-liter V6 provides strong acceleration and an impressive 21 mpg overall. The RX 450h hybrid does even better and gets 26 mpg. The rear seat is roomy. Rear visibility is impaired by the sloped styling, which also reduces cargo volume. July 2009

New

■ Lexus ES d ■ Lexus GS d
Lexus GX

&M &M

New

■ Lexus HS d Hybrid ■ Lexus IS d ■ Lexus LS d
Lexus LX

&M &M &N &M &N

■ Lexus RX d

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Model
Lincoln MkS Lincoln MkT

Predicted reliability
New

Description/with last road-test date
This large sedan has a 3.7-liter V6 that provides good power but isn’t particularly refined. Top-level models use a turbocharged V6. Front- and all-wheel drive are available. The ride is comfortable but not always settled. Handling is secure but lacks agility. Feb. 2010 The MKT has a very roomy interior and offers many luxury amenities, but visibility is compromised. Base models are powered by a 3.7-liter V6; the uplevel engine is a turbocharged V6. The ride is comfortable but stiffer than that of the Flex, and handling lacks agility. The MKT is cumbersome at its cornering limits. June 2010 This upscale version of the Ford Edge uses the same unrefined 3.5-liter, V6 engine and six-speed automatic. Fuel economy is unimpressive. The ride is reasonably comfortable but handling lacks agility. Interior materials are disappointing and many buttons are difficult to read at night. IIHS crash tests are impressive. July 2007 This luxury family sedan has sharp handling, a good ride, and strong acceleration. Power comes from a 3.5-liter V6 and can be had with front- or all-wheel drive. The cabin stays mostly quiet, but it isn’t furnished as well as it should be for the price. A hybrid version will go on sale soon. Jan. 2010 The Navigator comes in standard and long versions, the latter 15 inches longer for increased cargo space. The V8 is sluggish and thirsty. The third-row seat is power-operated, folds flat into the floor, and is as comfortable as the second-row seats. Threerow curtain air bags and ESC are standard. July 2007 This lightweight midengined roadster is superquick. Power comes from a high-revving four-cylinder from Toyota. The interior is spartan and the cabin is difficult to access. Cornering limits are very high, but the car is hard to control once past them. The Exige is a more powerful coupe version of the Elise. Oct. 2005 The CX-7 has responsive handling and secure cornering, but the ride is stiff. The turbocharged four-cylinder has ample mid-range power, but there is a lag at low revs. Fuel economy is just 18 mpg. The interior is well put together, but the rear seat is not very roomy and is too low. A nonturbo, front-wheel-drive version is available. Jan. 2007 This three-row SUV is quiet and has a nice interior. The third-row seat is small but easy to access. Power comes from a 3.7-liter V6. Handling is agile and the ride is firm, yet comfortable. Curtain air bags and ESC are standard. Nov. 2008 The base Miata has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder mated to a five-speed manual. The six-speed manual feels crisp and precise. Handling is super agile and balanced, with direct steering. The ride is reasonable but interior space is tight. A power hard top is available. ESC is optional only on high-end models. May 2010 The RX-8 coupe revs exceptionally smoothly, and the ride is impressive. Handling is agile and the steering is communicative. The rotary engine is smooth, but fuel economy is disappointing. The rearhinged rear doors ease back-seat access. Dec. 2003 The Tribute has a roomy interior, spacious rear seat, and good cargo space. Fit and finish is unimpressive and the car is noisy. The V6 provides strong acceleration and got 19 mpg. The four-cylinder has adequate acceleration and 21 mpg. Braking performance is improved and electronic stability control is standard. May 2009

New

Lincoln MkX

&V &N &C

■ Lincoln d Mkz ■ Lincoln d Navigator
Lotus Elise

NA

Mazda CX-7

&V &C &M

■ Mazda CX-9 d ■ MazdaMiata d MX-5
Mazda RX-8

NA

■ Mazda d Tribute

&C

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Model
Mazda2

Predicted reliability
New

Description/with last road-test date
The Mazda2 is a small hatchback about the size of the Honda Fit or Toyota Yaris. Power comes from a 100-hp, 1.5-liter four-cylinder. A five-speed manual is standard, with a four-speed automatic optional. — The Mazda3’s standard 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine is relatively quick and sparing with fuel; the 2.5-liter is strong and refined. Handling is precise and sporty. Interior quality is very good. ESC is included on most trim lines. The Mazdaspeed3 is fast and sporty. Aug. 2009 This six-passenger small minivan provides the utility of a minivan with easy maneuverability, all at an affordable price and with good fuel economy. The second- and third-row seats can be folded flat. Reliability has been average. ESC is standard. Sep. 2010 The Mazda6 is quite nimble, with nice steering and a supple and controlled ride. Road noise is pronounced. Interior fit and finish is acceptable. The four-cylinder got 24 mpg overall in our tests. The thirsty 3.7-liter V6 got 20 mpg. The rear seat is relatively roomy, but the low roofline impedes access. Jan. 2009 The C-Class has a smooth and strong 3.0-liter V6 that got 21 mpg overall. AWD is offered only on the C300. Handling is capable, but the steering is overly light. The snug cabin is quiet, and the seats are supportive. The controls are better than in other Mercedes models, but some are not very logical. Mar. 2008 This coupe version of the S-Class is just as fast, comfortable, and luxurious. It comes with the latest in safety and high-tech features. There is room in the back for two adults to sit comfortably. The 5.5-liter V8 supplies an abundance of acceleration, never mind the twin-turbocharged V12 engine in the more powerful CL600. — The CLS sedan has a swoopy roof and seating for just four passengers. Rear-seat room is tight, and the angle of the roof limits head room. The sedan is luxurious and comfortable, with strong performance and agile handling. A new CLS goes on sale this Fall. Oct. 2006 The E-Class is very quiet, with impressive fit and finish. The ride isn’t as comfortable as in the previous generation. The V6 returned 19 mpg overall. Handling is capable and secure, but the steering lacks communication. The new coupe is based on the C-Class. A convertible, wagon, and diesel-powered sedan are also available. Feb. 2010 This SUV uses the same platform as the M-Class, but has seating for seven. The 4.6-liter V8 returned 15 mpg, while the more economical diesel V6 returned 19 mpg. It is very quiet, with a comfortable ride and responsive handling. The third-row seat is roomy enough for adults. Some controls are overly complicated. Dec. 2009 The GLK uses a smooth, refined 3.5-liter V6 and seven-speed automatic. The ride is good when cruising, but unsettled at low-speeds. Handling is nimble, but doesn’t shine at its limits. Legroom in the rear is stingy and the wide door sills impede access. The controls are better than in some Mercedes, but still aren’t logical. Sep. 2009

■ Mazda3 d ■ Mazda5 d ■ Mazda6 d ■ Mercedesd Benz
C-Class MercedesBenz CL

&M &C &C &C

NA

MercedesBenz CLS MercedesBenz E-Class MercedesBenz GLClass

NA

New

&B &N

■ Mercedesd Benz GLkClass

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

MercedesBenz M-Class MercedesBenz R-Class

&C &B &C

Description/with last road-test date
The M-Class has responsive handling and a firm, yet supple ride. The smooth V6 returned only 16 mpg overall and the seven-speed automatic doesn’t always shift at the appropriate moment. A diesel is available. Major controls can be confusing. An ML450 hybrid version is available for lease only. Nov. 2005 The three-row R-Class shares the same platform with the M-Class. Access is easy but the long rear doors easily bump into adjacent vehicles. The ride is comfortable and quiet, but handling is not sporty. A 3.5-liter V6 and a diesel are the only engines offered. — Mercedes-Benz’s large sedan is roomy, quiet, and luxurious, with agile handling and a very comfortable ride that is among the best we’ve ever tested. The vast cabin is comfortable, with plenty of room in the rear seat. A hybrid version is new. Nov. 2007 This coupe/convertible uses a power folding hard top. The V8 is smooth and powerful, the AMG model even more so. The ride is very comfortable, and noise levels are low. The controls are overly complicated. The SL comes with an extensive list of safety and high-tech features. Oct. 2006 The SLK features a retractable hard top. The seats are very comfortable, and the optional seat-mounted vents blow warm air. The 3.5liter V6 is strong. The manual shifter and clutch are user-friendly. Handling is agile, yet the ride is relatively comfortable. Oct. 2005 The Mini has agile handling but the ride is choppy. The base fourcylinder has adequate response; the turbocharged Cooper S is much quicker. The controls are confusing and the rear seat is very tight. Fuel economy is excellent, ranging from 29 to 33 mpg depending on the version. The Clubman adds some cargo and rear seat room. Sep. 2008 The Eclipse lacks agility, but is ultimately secure. The 2.4-liter fourcylinder is noisy, and the manual transmission is clunky. The V6 and automatic are more pleasant. The driver’s seat lacks support, and visibility falls short. The rear seat is unusable for adults. May 2008 The Endeavor midsized SUV uses a 3.8-liter V6 that returns 17 mpg overall on premium fuel. All-wheel drive is optional. The ride is reasonably good, but cornering isn’t particularly agile. The rear seat is spacious and the seatback is easy to fold. Aug. 2003 The Galant is a sound car. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine is spirited but noisy, and returns 23 mpg. The ride is choppy and stiff even on smooth pavement. Handling is secure but not agile. A wide turning circle makes parking awkward. May 2000 The Lancer is fairly agile and has an acceptable ride. The 2.0-liter four-cylinder tends to moan at high revs. The cabin has drab plastics but the controls are simple to use. The sporty Ralliart has more agile handling but has a stiff ride. The automated manual transmission is annoying to use. Standard ESC is a plus. Oct. 2007 The Outlander’s smooth 3.0-liter V6 returns 19 mpg overall, and the four-cylinder gets 22 mpg. Handling is fairly agile and it is secure at its limits. The ride is fairly stiff. Interior fit and finish is disappointing and the optional third-row seat is tiny. The split rear tailgate works well, and cargo capacity is generous. Aug. 2008

■ Mercedesd Benz
S-Class MercedesBenz SL

NA

■ Mercedesd Benz SLk ■ Mini Cooper d
Mitsubishi Eclipse Mitsubishi Endeavor Mitsubishi Galant Mitsubishi Lancer

&C &C &M

NA

NA

NA

■ Mitsubishi d Outlander

&M

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Model
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport

Predicted reliability
New

Description/with last road-test date
Considerably shorter than the Outlander, the Sport is a mini SUV designed to appeal to young urbanites as an alternative to a small sedan or hatch. It goes on sale this fall. Power comes from a 2.0liter four-cylinder engine, rated at 148 hp. Front- and all-wheeldrive versions will be offered, mated to a CVT. — The Altima has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder that got an impressive 26 mpg in our tests, and an optional 3.5-liter V6 that got 24 mpg overall. The Hybrid got 32 mpg in our tests, but the trunk is small. Interior quality has been improved, but rear-seat room is tight. The 2.5 S has good handling and absorbs bumps better than the jittery V6 model. ESC is standard. Aug. 2010 This large SUV has seating for eight. Power comes from a 5.6-liter V8 engine mated to a five-speed automatic. Two- and four-wheel drive versions are available, and it features an independent rear suspension. Handling is relatively responsive, but the ride is quite stiff. Interior quality is so-so. Rear cargo space and towing capacity are generous. Mar. 2004 The Cube is tall and boxy, with an enormous amount of space. Acceleration is slow from the 1.8-liter four-cylinder, and returned 28 mpg. It rides fairly comfortably, but handling is rather clumsy and the steering is vague. Wind and road noise are pronounced. Stopping distances are disappointing. Nov. 2009 We found the Frontier quick and nimble, with a stiff but tolerable ride. The 4.0-liter V6 is smooth and feels like a V8. It gets 15 mpg. Base models use a 2.5-liter four-cylinder. Rear-seat room is tight in the crew cab. A longer bed is also available. Side and curtain airbags are standard and V6 models get standard ESC. July 2005 The Juke mini SUV is smaller and less powerful than the Rogue, with a starting price below $20,000. It is an alternative to a small sedan. Power comes from a 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder. A six-speed manual is available on front-wheel-drive models, and the AWD versions employ a CVT. — The Nissan Leaf is a new five-seat, electric-powered hatchback. Nissan claims it will have 100-mile range. The Leaf will be able to charge to 80 percent in 30 minutes with a quick charger at a public charging station, or fully charge from a 220-volt home outlet for eight hours. It starts at about $33,000 before federal tax credits. — The highlight of the Maxima is its smooth, powerful 3.5-liter V6 that gets 22 mpg overall but requires premium fuel. Acceleration is very quick. The steering is overly light at low speeds and firms up rather abruptly, which takes away from the car’s handling. The ride is comfortable enough and the cabin is quiet. A low roof line inhibits rear access and visibility. Feb. 2009 The Murano has a nice interior and a comfortable ride, and is quiet inside. The powerful 3.5-liter V6 delivers strong performance and 19 mpg overall. The CVT transmission is one of the best on the market. Handling is responsive and secure. The rear seat is roomy and comfortable. But limited rear visibility and required premium fuel are drawbacks. Sep. 2008

■ Nissan d Altima ■ Nissan d Armada
Nissan Cube

&M &C

NA

■ Nissan d Frontier
Nissan Juke

&C

New

Nissan Leaf

New

■ Nissan d Maxima ■ Nissan d Murano

&M &C

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141

Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Nissan Pathfinder

&C &M

Description/with last road-test date
The Pathfinder features a strong 4.0-liter V6, independent-rear suspension, and third-row seat. Expect 15 mpg overall. A V8 engine is optional. The ride is stiff, though handing is responsive. The second- and third-row seats are tight for adults, and the rear door handles are too high for kids to reach. Cargo room is generous. Stability control is standard. Nov. 2005 Based on the Sentra, the small Nissan Rogue SUV is compact, pleasant, and competitive in the small SUV class. The 170-hp, 2.5liter engine gets a bit raspy at high revs. Expect 22 mpg overall. The ride is supple and handling is fairly nimble and secure. Electronic stability control and curtain air bags are standard. Aug. 2008 The Sentra has a 2.0-liter, 140-hp four-cylinder engine mated to a CVT. We got 26 mpg overall. The rear seat is significantly roomier than in the old model, and ride and handling are much better. However, the Sentra tended to fishtail at its handling limits without ESC, which is standard for 2011. Mar. 2010 The Titan is powerful and has a comfortable ride. The engine is strong but loud, and the crew cab is smaller than the competition. Payload capacity is finally on par with other full-sized trucks. ESC and curtain air bags are standard. A long wheelbase version is available. July 2004 The Versa packs a relatively spacious interior in a short body. The engine is civilized but not overly powerful. Fuel economy isn’t impressive for a subcompact, however. It has a comfortable ride and roomy rear seat. Handling isn’t particularly nimble. The antilock brakes are standard on all trims with the 1.8-liter engine and ESC is standard on the SL trim. Mar. 2010 The Xterra has good off-road capability but is relatively civilized. The 4.0-liter V6 delivers quick acceleration but just 17 mpg. The 4WD system is still part-time. The interior looks rugged and is wellassembled. The off-road trim line has a hill-descent control. ESC and head-protection air bags are standard. Aug. 2005 The Z two-seater shares mechanical components with the Infiniti G coupe, including a wonderfully strong and smooth V6. The sixspeed manual shifter is a bit notchy but is easy to use. The Z has a well-finished, upscale interior with improved materials. Road and tire noise are constant and the two-seater cabin is cramped. A convertible version is also available. Oct. 2009 The 911 is fun to drive, with agile handling and a supple ride. Acceleration is quick and braking is phenomenal. An upright seating position and large windows provide good visibility. Radio controls are complicated. Porsche added a new seven-speed sequential transmission in 2010. Oct. 2006 The Boxster has excellent tire grip and precise, communicative steering. It has a firm, well-controlled ride that isn’t punishing. The power top is easy to operate and works at speeds up to 30 mph. Both the base and S versions received a seven-speed sequential transmission. Oct. 2005

■ Nissan d Rogue ■ Nissan d Sentra ■ Nissan d Titan ■ Nissan d Versa ■ Nissan d Xterra
Nissan z

&C &C &C &C

NA

■ Porsche 911 d
Porsche Boxster

&N &V

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Porsche Cayenne

&C &N

Description/with last road-test date
The Cayenne SUV comes with a choice of V6 and V8 engines. Lowrange gearing and advanced electronics provide some off-road capability. Towing capacity is impressive, and handling is sporty and agile. Some controls are overly complicated. The 2011 freshening includes a hybrid version. Dec. 2008 Porsche used the Boxster platform as the basis for the Cayman coupe. Power comes from a midmounted, 2.9-liter, flat-six engine that produces 265-hp. The higher-performance Cayman S has 320 hp. The fixed-roof coupe seats two passengers and uses a hatchback design that increases the rear storage area. — Porsche’s four-door luxury sedan is powered by a 400-hp V8 or a 500-hp turbocharged version. Rear- and all-wheel drive are available. The interior is fitted with a button-dominated center stack for the climate, navigation, and entertainment systems. — The 9-3 trails competing sports sedans. The turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is relatively powerful and quiet. Handling is secure but not sporty. The ride is stiff with road and wind noise. IIHS crash-test results are impressive. May 2006 The new 9-5 uses a 2.8-liter V6 and comes with all-wheel drive. Front-wheel-drive-only versions with a turbocharged four-cylinder arrive in the fall. The car uses the basics of the chassis found in the Buick Regal and LaCrosse. — The tC coupe uses a 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine. It drives nicely but isn’t very sporty. Rear-seat room is generous. The Scion tC is not recommended due to the lack of ESC and unimpressive IIHS crash tests. A redesign is due in early 2011. Dec. 2005 The xB’s 2.4-liter four-cylinder returns just 23 mpg overall. The ride is compliant, and handling is responsive. The radio controls are confusing. The rear seat and cargo area are enormous and cabin access is easy. Low windows and thick roof pillars hurt visibility. Curtain air bags and stability control are standard. Oct. 2007 The small xD is nimble, but has a jittery, unsettled ride. The 1.8-liter four-cylinder is adequate, but gets 29 mpg overall with the automatic and 34 with the manual. The cabin is noisy and the driving position is awkward. The rear is roomy for two adults. Electronic stability control is standard for 2010. June 2008 This tiny two-seater features a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder engine that does a decent job putting along with traffic. We measured 39 mpg overall. The ride is harsh, handling is clumsy, and the transmission shifts slowly, causing the car to pause and heave. ESC and curtain air bags are both standard. Nov. 2008 The Forester is sensible, practical, and affordable. The base 2.5liter four-cylinder is adequate; the XT’s turbocharged one is more powerful. They return 22 and 20 mpg overall, respectively. The ride is comfortable, handling is good, and visibility is excellent. Seats in the base model are short on lumbar support. Aug. 2008

Porsche Cayman

Porsche Panamera

New

■ Saab 9-3 d
Saab 9-5

&C

New

Scion tC

&N &M &N &V &N

■ Scion xB d ■ Scion xD d
Smart ForTwo

■ Subaru d Forester

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Subaru Impreza

&N &C

Description/with last road-test date
The Impreza has adequate acceleration, but the four-speed automatic isn’t very slick. The standard AWD hurts performance and fuel economy, just 24 mpg overall. The ride is compliant and handling remains agile. The cabin is relatively roomy, particularly the rear seats. Impressive crash-test scores are a plus. June 2008 The WRX sedan and hatchback have a powerful turbocharged engine and the suspension is well-tuned. The car is more refined and roomier than before, but not quite as sporty. The STi is more powerful and sportier, but less raw than before. Oct. 2009 The Legacy has a sluggish and noisy four-cylinder, while the six-cylinder is more powerful but less efficient. It has an impressive ride and is quiet inside. Handling is less crisp than before, though it’s still responsive. We found the standard ESC kicks in a bit late. Dec. 2009 The Outback is the wagon version of the Legacy with SUV-like ground clearance. The cabin is quiet and there is good rear-seat and cargo space. Handling becomes sloppy at the limits. Acceleration is adequate with the noisy 4-cylinder, but fuel economy is quite good. The six- cylinder is quieter and quicker, but not as fuel efficient. Nov. 2009 The Tribeca has an impressive ride and handling, but a cramped interior. The six-cylinder engine returns 16 mpg overall. Handling is quite agile, with nice steering feel and restrained body lean. The ride is supple and very well controlled. Fit and finish is very good. Some controls are hard to see. Jan. 2008 The Grand Vitara has unibody construction and a fully independent suspension. The 2.4-liter four-cylinder was noisy and sluggish and got just 19 mpg. The more powerful V6 has been discontinued for 2011. Handling is reluctant but ultimately secure. The ride is stiff and jittery. May 2009 The Kizashi is sound and capable. It has a snug cabin and tight rear seat. The ride is taut and controlled, but a little stiff. The front seats are well-shaped and comfortable. Fuel economy is pretty good but acceleration is leisurely from the 2.4-liter four-cylinder. Aug. 2010 This small car has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder that got 24 mpg overall in the AWD hatchback and 26 in our FWD sedan. The engine drones on the highway. Access and visibility are excellent. Handling is nimble, but the ride is stiff and the cabin is noisy. ESC is optional Mar. 2010 The Tesla is a very quick and agile pure electric car. The ride is slightly less jarring than that of the Elise. Getting in and out of the tight cabin requires some athleticism. Range is said to be 240 miles, but spirited driving will lower that. — The 4Runner is best for towing and off-roading. The 4.0-liter V6 is relatively fuel-efficient, but sounds rough. The ride is unsettled and handling is mediocre at best. The body leans and bobs a good deal in corners. The 4WD system in SR5 trim is part-time only. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder and a third-row seat are also available. Dec. 2010 The 2011 Avalon has a more contemporary interior. Like the current car, the Avalon is powered by a 3.5-liter V6. A six-speed automatic is standard. This powertrain gives quick acceleration and impressive fuel economy for such a large car. Jan. 2010

■ Subaru d Impreza ■ Subaru d Legacy

WRX/STi

&M &N &C

■ Subaru d Outback ■ Subaru d Tribeca
Suzuki Grand Vitara Suzuki kizashi

NA

New

■ Suzuki SX4 d
Tesla Roadster Toyota 4Runner

&M

New

New

Toyota Avalon

&M

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Model
Toyota Camry

Predicted reliability

&M &M &N

Description/with last road-test date
The Camry is roomy and quiet, has a comfortable ride, and is refined. The base 2.5-liter four-cylinder got 26 mpg, while the hybrid returned 34 mpg. The 3.5-liter V6 got 23 mpg. Handling is responsive and secure. The interior is spacious. Controls are simple to use, but some fit and finish details fall short. Dec. 2009 The bland Corolla is a good small sedan. The 1.8-liter engine got an impressive 32 mpg overall in our tests. A 2.4-liter four-cylinder is found in the XRS trim. The interior is put together well, although hard plastic panels and trim are abundant. Curtain air bags and electronic stability control are standard. July 2008 The FJ is superb off road. Visibility is compromised by the thick roof pillars and small windows, and the rear doors are awkward to use. The V6 is smooth, but fuel economy is just 17 mpg. Electronic stability control is standard. Crash-test results are excellent, but the FJ scores too low in our testing to be recommended. Jan. 2007 The Highlander is refined, with a quiet interior, comfortable ride, and roomy second-row seat. Its 3.5-liter V6 delivers solid performance and 18 mpg overall. The hybrid model gets 24 mpg. The third-row seat is tight. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder with a six-speed automatic is available on FWD models. Jan. 2008 Toyota’s flagship SUV uses a powerful 5.7-liter V8. The Land Cruiser is quiet and refined, with a comfortable ride, but is not agile. The interior is roomy and well-finished. Off-road ability is impressive. The third-row seats fold into the cargo area, taking up room. Dec. 2008 The Matrix has easy cabin access, a roomy rear seat, and good cargo room. Both engines provide impressive fuel economy. Engine and road noise are pronounced. Handling and ride are competent. The driving position is awkward, and fit and finish is unimpressive. June 2008 The Prius averaged 44 mpg overall in our tests. Highway fuel economy has improved, but city mileage has fallen a bit. The ride is firm and steady, the driving position is more versatile, and the rear seat is roomy. Handling is very secure but not agile. Nov. 2009 The RAV4 has a flexible, well-designed interior. Handling is agile and secure. The rear seat is roomy. A tiny third-row seat is optional. The optional 3.5-liter V6 is quick and returns 22 mpg. The fourcylinder gets 23 mpg overall. The tailgate swings open to the side, requiring a lot of access room. May 2009 The big eight-passenger Sequoia offers a 4.6-liter V8 with a fivespeed automatic. The 5.7-liter V8 gets a six-speed unit. The independent rear suspension allows the third-row seat to fold into the floor, and ride and handling have improved. Standard safety features include electronic stability control. Nov. 2008 The redesigned Sienna minivan has the same 3.5-liter V6 as before. A 2.7-liter four-cylinder is new. Both use a smooth six-speed automatic. Fuel economy has improved slightly. The ride is very comfortable, handling is lackluster, and the van is relatively noisy inside. Interior fit and finish isn’t as impressive as before. Sep. 2010

Toyota Corolla

Toyota F J Cruiser

Toyota Highlander

&M

Toyota Land Cruiser Toyota Matrix

NA

&M &N &N &M

■ Toyota d Prius
Toyota RAV4

Toyota Sequoia

Toyota Sienna

New

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Predicted reliability

■ d

Toyota Tacoma Toyota Tundra

&M &C &C &N &N &V &N

Description/with last road-test date
The Tacoma has a strong 4.0-liter V6. The ride trails some competitors and the driving position is too low. Payload capacity is small. Electronic stability control and curtain air bags are standard. Crash-test results are impressive. July 2005 The Tundra has responsive handling, but the ride with the TRD package is stiff. The 5.7-liter V8 is very powerful. ESC is standard, but disengages in 4WD mode. It’s a long reach to some controls. The tailgate is easy to raise and lower. Sep. 2007 The Venza has easy cabin access and the rear seat is roomy. The rear hatch and large cargo floor aid cargo flexibility. The strong 3.5-liter V6 got 20 mpg overall. Handling is secure but the ride is jittery and the steering lacks feedback. Visibility is impaired by the styling. Crash-test results are impressive. June 2009 The Yaris is fuel efficient, but doesn’t offer much more. The automatic sedan got 32 mpg overall; the hatchback got 30 mpg. The ride is compliant and handling is reasonably responsive and secure. ESC is now standard. The driving position is flawed, fit and finish is cheap, and the center-mounted gauges are annoying. Mar. 2010 The CC is enjoyable to drive, with agile and responsive handling. The taut ride is composed, particularly on the highway. The 2.0liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine pulls strong and returns 24 mpg; a 3.6-liter V6 and all-wheel-drive are optional. Some controls are awkward to use or hard to read. June 2009 This four-seat convertible has a folding metal hard-top that offers a sunroof setting. Handling is fairly agile and the ride is comfortable. The 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder delivers punchy acceleration and a good 25 mpg overall. Interior fit and finish is impressive. Wind noise with the top up is pronounced. May 2008 The Golf’s 2.5-liter five-cylinder is responsive, but got just 24 mpg. Steering is responsive and quick, and body lean is well-suppressed. The ride is supple and controlled. Interior quality is impressive and feels solid. The front seats are supportive, but the rear is cramped. The diesel version got an impressive 38 mpg with the manual. Mar. 2010 The GTI is agile and quick, with a gutsy turbocharged 2.0-liter fourcylinder. Handling is taut and precise, and the ride is fairly civilized and relatively quiet. Fit and finish is very good, and the seats are comfortable. Clutch-pedal travel is a bit too long, which impacts the driving position. May 2010 The Jetta has a well-finished interior and a composed ride. Handling is agile and confident. The five-cylinder engine is noisy and returned just 24 mpg in our sedan. The diesel got 33 mpg overall and a stellar 47 mpg on the highway. A redesigned sedan arrives this fall; the wagon continues with the old body style. Jan. 2009 The Passat’s turbocharged four-cylinder engine has excellent performance. Handling is agile and responsive. The front seats are comfortable and supportive. Crash tests are very good for the sedan. There won’t be a 2011 Passat. Mar. 2006 The Routan is a Chrysler Town & Country with a tauter suspension and a somewhat plusher interior. High points include a pleasant ride and a reasonably powerful 4.0-liter engine. Handling is clumsy and fuel economy is mediocre. Nov. 2009

■ Toyota d Venza
Toyota Yaris

■ Volkswagen d CC
Volkswagen Eos

■ Volkswagen d Golf ■ Volkswagen d GTI ■ Volkswagen d Jetta ■ Volkswagen d Passat
Volkswagen Routan

&C &C &C &B

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Model

Predicted reliability

■ d

Volkswagen Tiguan Volkswagen Touareg

&C &B &C

Description/with last road-test date
The Tiguan is quiet, offers a roomy rear seat, and has excellent fit and finish. Handling is agile and secure, and the ride is comfortable. The turbocharged four-cylinder is smooth and got 20 mpg. All-wheel drive is optional. Crash-test results are impressive. Sep. 2008 Volkswagen’s midsized SUV is capable off road. The V6 is thirsty and underpowered. A turbodiesel is also available. The interior is elegant but not very roomy. A freshened Touareg goes on sale in late 2010 and will include a hybrid version. Sep. 2008 The Volvo C30 is a two-door hatchback that is based on the S40 and V50. Power comes from the turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine that delivered good performance and 25 mpg overall. Although the C30 steers nicely, handling isn’t particularly sporty. Oct. 2008 The C70 has a metal folding top that’s power-operated and works well. It comes only with a turbocharged 2.5-liter, five-cylinder engine. Handling is sound but unexceptional. The ride is somewhat stiff. The interior is well-finished. The C70 includes standard stability control and curtain air bags that deploy from the doors. May 2008 The S40 sedan and V50 wagon corner fairly nimbly, but the ride is stiff. The standard 2.4-liter engine sounds raspy. A stronger turbocharged engine powers the T5. The interior is well-finished. The front seats are supportive, but the rear seat is very tight. All-wheel drive is available. Nov. 2004 The 2011 redesigned S60 sold in the U.S. will be all-wheel-drive T6 models with a turbocharged six-cylinder and a six-speed automatic. Lesser versions with front-wheel drive will follow later. A new pedestrian detection system will be standard. — The S80 offers a smooth V8 on AWD models and a six-cylinder on FWD ones. A turbocharged six-cylinder is also available. The optional blind-spot monitoring system works well. The rear seat is less spacious than the previous generation. Handling has been slightly improved, but the ride remains a bit stiff. Nov. 2007 The V70 is a wagon version of the S80. The XC70 has AWD and a raised ride height. The powertrain is a 3.2-liter six-cylinder with a six-speed automatic that returns just 18 mpg. A more powerful, turbocharged engine is available. Ride, handling, and interior materials are improved over the previous generation. Sep. 2008 The XC60 has a stiff ride, but handling is responsive and secure at its limits. The 3.0-liter, turbocharged six-cylinder performs well, but fuel economy is just 17 mpg. A 3.2-liter 6-cylinder engine is also available. The interior is nicely finished with high-quality materials. The seats are comfortable but rear leg room is tight. Sep. 2009 The XC90’s best features include a flexible interior and impressive safety features. An adequately powerful 3.2-liter six-cylinder is standard. The smooth 4.4-liter V8 and six-speed automatic return 16 mpg. The ride is a bit stiff at low speeds. Handling is responsive and secure with the effective standard stability control. Nov. 2006

■ Volvo C30 d ■ Volvo C70 d
Volvo S40/ V50

&C &N

Volvo S60

New

■ Volvo S80 d
Volvo V70/ XC70

&C &V

Volvo XC60

New

Volvo XC90

&V

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T

USED CARS: THE BEST & THE ONES TO AVOID
we compiled from the longer lists. They cover the models for which we have sufficient survey data for at least three years, and have either performed notably well or have been especially troublesome. Consumer Reports considers problems with major engine and transmission components, engine cooling, and drive systems to be more serious, and they are weighted more heavily than other areas. For detailed reliability Ratings on the six latest model years, see the charts starting on page 155.

hese lists guide you to the most reliable vehicles for 10 model years, 2000 through 2009, and alert you to those that have been problematic. Reliable vehicles and vehicles to avoid include all models that showed above- or below-average overall reliability (Used Car Verdicts) in our 2009 Annual Car Reliability Survey, which drew responses on about 1.4 million vehicles. Pay particular attention to the Best of the Best and Worst of the Worst, which

Each of these models earned an above-average Used Car Verdict in our 2009 survey (see page 153). Vehicles are listed by price range and alphabetically by manufacturer. Price ranges (rounded to the nearest $1,000) are approximately what you should expect to pay for a typically equipped model with average miles. Less than $4,000 Acura Integra ’00 Chevrolet Prizm ’00-02 Ford F-150 (V8, 2WD) ’00 Honda Civic ’00 Hyundai Accent ’04 Mitsubishi Galant ’00 Subaru Impreza sedan ’00 Toyota Corolla ’00-01; Echo ’00-02 $4,000-$6,000 Acura CL ’01; Integra ’01; RL ’00; TL ’00 Buick Century ’04; Regal ’03 Chevrolet Tracker ’02 Ford Crown Victoria ’00-03; Explorer Sport Trac (2WD) ’01; Mustang (V6) ’00-02; Ranger (2WD) ’00; Taurus sedan ’04 Honda Accord ’00-02; Civic ’01-02; Insight ’00-01 Hyundai Sonata (V6) ’03-05 Infiniti G20 ’00, ’02; I30 ’00 Lincoln Continental ’01-02 Mazda B-Series (2WD) ’00-01; Protegé ’02 Mercury Grand Marquis ’00-02; Sable sedan ’04 Mitsubishi Lancer ’02-03 Nissan Frontier (2WD) ’00; Xterra ’02 Pontiac Vibe ’03 Subaru Impreza wagon ’03 Toyota Avalon ’00; Camry ’00-01; Camry Solara ’00-02; Celica ’00; Corolla ’02; Echo ’03-05; Prius ’01-02; Sienna ’00-01 Volkswagen Jetta TDI ’01 $6,000-$8,000 Acura CL ’02-03; RL ’02; RSX ’02; TL ’01-02 Buick Century ’05; Regal ’04 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’00; Silverado 2500 (2WD) ’00; Tahoe ’01 Ford Crown Victoria ’04; Escape ’03; Escape (V6, FWD) ’02; Expedition (2WD) ’00; Explorer Sport Trac (2WD) ’02; F-150 (V6) ’00; F-150 (V6, 2WD) ’01; F-250 (2WD) ’00-01; F-250 (turbodiesel, 2WD) ’00; Focus ’05-06; Mustang (V6) ’04; Mustang (V8) ’00-01; Ranger (2WD) ’01-02; Taurus sedan ’05-06 GMC Sierra 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’00; Sierra 2500 (2WD) ’00; Yukon ’01 Honda Civic ’03-04; Civic

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Hybrid ’03; CR-V ’00-02; Element ’03; Odyssey ’01-02 Hyundai Accent ’07; Santa Fe (V6) ’02-03 Infiniti I30 ’01; I35 ’02-03; Q45 ’00; QX4 ’00-01 kia Spectra ’07 Lexus ES ’00-01; IS ’01 Lincoln Town Car ’00-01 Mazda 6 Sedan (4-cyl.) ’03-04; B-Series (2WD) ’02-03; MX-5 Miata ’00; Protegé ’03; Tribute (4-cyl.) ’03; Tribute (V6, FWD) ’02 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (4-cyl.) ’00; E-Class (V6, RWD) ’00 Mercury Sable sedan ’05 Mitsubishi Lancer ’04; Outlander ’04 Nissan Frontier (2WD) ’01-02; Frontier (4WD) ’00; Pathfinder ’00 Pontiac Vibe ’04 Scion xA ’04-05; xB ’04 Subaru Impreza wagon ’04 Toyota Avalon ’01-02; Camry ’02; Camry Solara ’03; Celica ’01-03; Corolla ’03-04; Highlander ’01; Matrix ’03; Prius ’03; RAV4 ’00-01; Sienna ’02; Tacoma ’00-01; Tundra ’00 $8,000-$10,000 Acura MDX ’01-02; RSX ’03-04; TL ’03 BMW z3 ’00-’01 Buick LeSabre ’05 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V6, 2WD) ’02-04; Silverado 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’01; Silverado 2500 (2WD) ’01; Tahoe ’02 Dodge Ram 2500 (turbodiesel, 2WD) ’01 Ford Crown Victoria ’05; Escape (V6) ’04; Expedition (2WD) ’02; Explorer Sport Trac (2WD) ’03-04; F-150 (V6) ’03; F-150

(V6, 2WD) ’02; F-150 (V8) ’01; F-250 (turbodiesel, 2WD) ’01; Focus sedan ’07; Mustang (V8) ’02; Ranger (2WD) ’03-05; Taurus sedan ’07 GMC Sierra 1500 (V6, 2WD) ’02-04; Sierra 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’01; Sierra 2500 (2WD) ’01; Yukon ’02 Honda Accord ’03-04; Civic ’05; Civic Hybrid ’04-05; CR-V ’03; Element ’04; Odyssey ’03; Pilot ’03; S2000 ’00-01 Hyundai Accent ’08; Santa Fe (V6) ’04; Sonata (4-cyl.) ’06; Tucson ’05 Infiniti Q45 ’02; QX4 ’02-03 kia Optima ’07; Rondo ’07; Spectra ’08 Lexus ES ’02; GS ’00-01; IS ’02; RX ’00-01 Lincoln Town Car ’02-03 Mazda 3 ’04-05; 6 hatchback, wagon ’05; 6 sedan (4-cyl.) ’05; 6 Sedan (V6) ’04; BSeries (2WD) ’04-05; MPV ‘05; MX-5 Miata ’01-02; Tribute (V6) ’03-04 Mercedes-Benz CLk ’00; E-Class (V6, RWD) ’01-02; SLk ’00 Mercury Grand Marquis ’03-05 Mitsubishi Endeavor ’04 Nissan Altima ’03; Frontier (2WD) ’03-04; Frontier (4WD) ’02; Maxima ’03; Pathfinder ’02-03; Xterra ’03 Pontiac Vibe ’05-06 Saab 9-2X ’05 Scion tC ’05; xA ’06; xB ’05 Subaru Forester ’03; Impreza ’05; Legacy (6-cyl.) ’03 Suzuki SX4 ’07 Toyota 4Runner ’00-01; Avalon ’03-04; Camry ’03-04; Camry Solara ’04-05; Celica ’04; Corolla ’05; Highlander ’02; Matrix ’04-05; Prius ’04;

RAV4 ’02; Sienna ’03; Tacoma ’02-03; Tundra ’01-02; Yaris ’07 Volvo S60 (AWD) ’02; V70 ’03 $10,000-$12,000 Acura MDX ’03; RSX ’05 BMW z4 ’02 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’02; Silverado 2500 (2WD) ’02-03 Dodge Caliber ’08; Ram 2500 (turbodiesel, 2WD) ’03 Ford Crown Victoria ’06; Escape (V6, FWD) ’05; Escape Hybrid ’05; Expedition (2WD) ’04; Explorer Sport Trac (2WD) ’05; F-150 (V6, 2WD) ’04-05; F-150 (V8) ’02; F-250 (turbodiesel, 2WD) ’02; Focus sedan ’08; Fusion (FWD) ’06; Mustang (V8) ’04; Ranger (2WD) ’06 GMC Sierra 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’02; Sierra 2500 (2WD) ’02-03 Honda Accord ’05; CR-V ’04; Element ’05; Fit ’07; Odyssey ’04; Pilot ’04; S2000 ’02 Hyundai Elantra ’07; Sonata ’07 Infiniti I35 ’04 kia Optima ’08; Rondo ’08; Sportage ’06 Lexus ES ’03; GS ’02; IS ’03; LS ’00; RX ’02; SC ’00 Lincoln Town Car ’04-05 Mazda 3 ’06; B-Series (2WD) ’06-08; MPV ’06; MX-5 Miata ’03; Tribute (4-cyl.) ’06; Tribute (V6, FWD) ’05 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (V6, RWD) ’03; CLk ’01 Mercury Grand Marquis ’06; Mariner ’06; Mariner (V6, FWD) ’05; Milan (FWD) ’06 Mitsubishi Endeavor ’05 Nissan Altima ’04-06; Frontier (2WD) ’05; Frontier (4WD) ’04; Pathfinder ’04

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Pontiac Vibe ’07 Scion tC ’06; xB ’06 Subaru Forester ’04-05; Impreza wagon ’06; Impreza WRX ’04 Suzuki SX4 ’08 Toyota 4Runner ’02; Camry ’05; Camry Solara ’06; Corolla ’06-07; Highlander ’03; Matrix ’06; Prius ’05; RAV4 ’03-04; Sequoia ’01; Tacoma ’04-05; Tundra ’03-04; Yaris ’08 Volkswagen Jetta TDI ’05; Rabbit ’07 Volvo V70 ’04 $12,000-$14,000 Acura MDX ’04; RL ’04; RSX ’06; TSX ’04 BMW z4 ’03 Buick LaCrosse ’07 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’03 Chrysler Crossfire ’05 Ford Escape ’06; F-150 (V8, 2WD) ’03; Focus sedan ’09; Fusion (FWD) ’07; Ranger (2WD) ’07-08 GMC Sierra 1500 (V8, 2WD) ’03 Honda Accord ’06; Accord Hybrid ’05; Civic ’06-07; Civic Hybrid ’06; CR-V ’05; Element ’06; Fit ’08; S2000 ’03 Hyundai Azera ’07; Elantra ’08-09; Sonata ’08 Infiniti G sedan (RWD) ’03 kia Sportage ’07 Lexus ES ’04; GS ’03-04; IS ’04; LS ’01; RX ’03 Mazda 3 ’07; MX-5 Miata ’04; Tribute (V6) ’06 Mercedes-Benz CLk ’02 Mercury Mariner (4-cyl.) ’07; Milan (FWD) ’07 Mitsubishi Eclipse ’07; Outlander ’07 Nissan 350z ’04 Pontiac Vibe ’08 Scion tC ’07; xD ’08-09

Subaru Forester ’06; Impreza ’07; Impreza WRX ’05; Legacy (4-cyl.) ’05-06 Toyota 4Runner ’03; Camry ’06; Camry Solara ’07; Corolla ’08; Highlander ’04-05; Land Cruiser ’00; Matrix ’07-08; Prius ’06; RAV4 ’05; Sequoia ’02; Sienna ’04; Tacoma ’06; Tundra ’05; Yaris ’09 Volkswagen Rabbit ’08 Volvo S80 (5-cyl.) ’04-05; XC70 ’04 $14,000-$16,000 Acura TL ’04; TSX ’05 BMW z4 ’04 Buick LaCrosse ’08 Chevrolet Malibu sedan (4-cyl.) ’08 Ford Escape (4-cyl.) ’07; Escape Hybrid (FWD) ’06; F-150 (V6, 2WD) ’06; Fusion (FWD) ’08; Mustang (V6) ’07-08 Honda Accord ’07; Accord Hybrid ’06; Civic ’08; Civic Hybrid ’07; CR-V ’06; Fit ’09; Pilot ’05; S2000 ’04 Hyundai Sonata (4-cyl.) ’09; Tucson ’07 Infiniti FX35 ’03; G coupe ’03-04; G sedan ’04 Jeep Patriot ’08 kia Sportage ’08 Lexus GS ’05; IS ’05; LS ’02 Lincoln zephyr ’06 Mazda 3 ’08-09; MX-5 Miata ’05-06 Mercedes-Benz C-Class ’05; CLk ’03; E-Class (V6, RWD) ’03; SL ’00 Mercury Milan (FWD) ’08-09 Nissan Altima ’07; Altima Hybrid ’07; Frontier (2WD) ’07 Pontiac Vibe ’09 Porsche Boxster ’01 Saturn Aura (4-cyl.) ’09 Scion tC ’08-09; xB ’08-09

Subaru B9 Tribeca ’06; Baja ’05; Impreza wagon ’08-09; Outback (4-cyl.) ’06 Toyota 4Runner ’04; Avalon ’05; Corolla ’09; Land Cruiser ’01; Matrix ’09; Prius ’07; RAV4 ’06; Sienna ’05; Tacoma ’07-’08; Tundra ’06 Volkswagen Rabbit ’09 Volvo S60 (FWD) ’06 $16,000-$18,000 Acura MDX ’05; TL ’05; TSX ’06 Chevrolet Corvette ’01-02 Ford F-150 (V6, 2WD) ’07; F-150 (V8, 2WD) ’06; Fusion (FWD) ’09; Mustang (V8) ‘05 Honda Accord Hybrid ’07; Civic ’09; Civic Hybrid ’08-09; Element ’07; Ridgeline ’06; S2000 ’05 Hyundai Azera ’08; Tucson ’08 Infiniti FX35 ’04; G sedan (RWD) ’05 Jeep Patriot ’09 Lexus ES ’05; LX ’00-01; RX ’04 Lincoln Town Car ’07 Mazda 6 sedan (V6) ’09; MX-5 Miata ’07-08 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (V6, RWD) ’04 Nissan 350z ’06; Altima ’08-09; Altima Hybrid ’08; Frontier (2WD) ’08 Subaru Baja ’06; Forester ’07-08; Legacy (6-cyl.) ’06; Outback (4-cyl.) ’07 Toyota 4Runner ’05; Avalon ’06; Camry ’07-09; Camry Solara ’08; Highlander ’06; Prius ’08; RAV4 ’07-08; Sequoia ’04; Sienna ’06 Volkswagen Jetta TDI ’06 Volvo S40 (FWD) ’07; S80 (5-cyl.) ’06; XC70 ’06 $18,000-$20,000 Acura RL ’05; TSX ’07

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BMW z4 ’05 Chevrolet Malibu sedan (V6) ’08-09 Ford Edge (FWD) ’07; Escape Hybrid (FWD) ’07 Honda Accord ’08; CR-V ’07; Element ’08-09; Odyssey ’06; Pilot ’06; S2000 ’06 Hyundai Santa Fe (V6) ’08 Infiniti FX35 ’05; G sedan ’06 Lexus ES ’06; GX ’03; LS ’03; SC ’02 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (V6, RWD) ’06 Mercury Sable sedan ’09 Mitsubishi Outlander ’09 Nissan Maxima ’07; Rogue ’08 Subaru Legacy (4-cyl.) ’09; Legacy (6-cyl.) ’07; Outback (4-cyl.) ’08 Toyota Avalon ’07; Camry Hybrid ’07; Highlander ’07; Sienna ’07; Tundra ’07-08 Volvo S60 ’07 $20,000-$24,000 Acura MDX ’06; RL ’06; TL ’06; TSX ’08 BMW z4 ’06 Chevrolet Corvette ’03-04 Ford Edge (FWD) ’08; Escape Hybrid (FWD) ’08; F-150 (V8, 2WD) ’09; Mustang (V8) ’07-08; Taurus sedan ’09 Honda Accord ’09; CR-V

’08-09; Pilot ’07; Ridgeline ’07; S2000 ’07 Hyundai Azera ’09; Santa Fe (V6) ’09 Infiniti FX35 ’06; G coupe ’06 Lexus GX ’04; LS ’04; LX ’02; RX ’05-06; SC ’03 Lincoln Mkz (FWD) ’07-08 Mercury Mariner Hybrid (FWD) ’08 Nissan Maxima ’08 Porsche 911 ’01 Subaru Forester ’09; Outback (4-cyl.) ’09 Toyota 4Runner ’06-07; Avalon ’08; Camry Hybrid ’08-09; FJ Cruiser ’07; Highlander ’08-09; Highlander Hybrid ’06-07; Land Cruiser ’04; Prius ’09; RAV4 ’09; Sienna ’08-09; Tacoma (V6) ’09; Venza (4-cyl.) ’09 Volvo S60 (FWD) ’08; V70 ’07-08 $24,000-$30,000 Acura RDX ’07-09; RL ’07; TL ’07-08; TSX ’09 Audi A4 (4-cyl.) ’07-08 BMW 328i (RWD) ’07 Ford Edge (FWD) ’09; Escape Hybrid ’09 Honda Odyssey ’09; Pilot ’08; Ridgeline ’08-09 Infiniti EX ’08; FX35 ’07-08;

G ’07; G sedan (RWD) ’08; M ’06-07 Lexus ES ’07-08; GX ’05-06; IS ’06-08; LS ’05-06; LX ’03-04; RX ’07; RX Hybrid ’06; SC ’04-05 Lincoln MkX (FWD) ’07-08; Mkz (FWD) ’09; Town Car ’08 Mercedes-Benz E-Class (V6) ’07; E-Class (V6, RWD) ’06 Mercury Mariner Hybrid ’09 Nissan 350z ’08; Maxima ’09 Porsche Boxster ’06 Toyota 4Runner ’08-09; Avalon ’09; FJ Cruiser ’08; Sequoia ’06-07 $30,000 and up Acura MDX ’07-09; TL ’09 BMW 328i (RWD) ’08 Honda Pilot ’09 Infiniti FX35 ’09; G coupe ’08-09; G sedan (AWD) ’09; M ’08 Lexus ES ’09; GS (RWD) ’08; GS Hybrid ’07; GX ’07; IS ’09; LS ’07-09; LX ’05-08; RX ’08-09; SC ’06-07 Mercedes-Benz CLk ’07; E-Class (V6, AWD) ’08 Porsche 911 ’05, ’07-08; Cayman ’06-08 Toyota Highlander Hybrid ’08-09; Sequoia ’08

worst cars, year by year
This is CR’s list of unreliable vehicles based on our 2009 survey. The vehicles earned belowaverage Used Car Verdicts, meaning they proved worse- or much-worse-than-average for the model years listed.
Audi A3 ’06; A4 (4-cyl.) ’00-05; A4 (V6) ’00-02, ’04; A6 (V6) ’00-05; A6 Allroad ’01, ’03-04; A8 ’05; Q7 ’07; S4 ’01; TT ’08 BMW 135i ’08; 325i (AWD) ’02; 330i (AWD) ’02-03; 330i (RWD) ’01; 335i (AWD) ’08; 335i (RWD) ’07, ’09; 5 Series (V8) ’00-03, ’05; 535i ’08; 7 Series ’00-01; X3 ’07-08; X5 (6-cyl.) ’01-04, ’07-09; X5 (V8) ’01, ’05, ’07-08; z4 ’07 Buick Century ’00-01; Enclave (AWD) ’08; Enclave (FWD) ’09; LaCrosse ’09; Rainier ’06; Rendezvous ’02-04,

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’06; Terraza ’05 Cadillac CTS (V6) ’03, ’06-09; DeVille ’00-04; DTS ’06, ’09; Escalade ’03, ’05, ’07; Seville ’00-03; SRX ’04-08; STS (V6) ’07-08; STS (V8) ’05-06, ’08 Chevrolet Astro ’00-03, ’05; Avalanche 1500 ’03-07; Aveo ’04-06, ’08; Blazer ’00-04; Cobalt coupe ’06; Cobalt sedan ’05-06, ‘09; Colorado (2WD) ’06, ’08; Colorado (4WD) ’04, ’06-08; Corvette ’09; Equinox ’05-07; Express ’01-03, ’06-07; HHR ’06-07, ’09; Impala (V6) ’00-03, ’05-07; Impala (V8) ’06-07; Malibu Maxx ’05-07; Malibu sedan ’06; Malibu sedan (V6) ’00-04, ’07; Monte Carlo ’00-02, ’05-06; S-10 pickup (4WD) ’00-04; Silverado 1500 (V6, 2WD) ’06; Silverado 1500 (V6, 4WD) ’06-07; Silverado 1500 (V8) ’05-06; Silverado 2500 ’04; Silverado 2500 (4WD) ’05, ’08-09; Silverado 2500 (turbodiesel, 4WD) ’06-08; Suburban 1500 ’05-07, ’09; Suburban 2500 ’03, ’05-08; Tahoe ’05, ’07, ’09; TrailBlazer (6-cyl.) ’05-06; TrailBlazer (V8) ’02-08; Uplander ’05-08; Venture ’00-03, ’05 Chrysler 300 (V6) ’05-06; 300 ’07; 300M ’04; Pacifica ’04, ’07; PT Cruiser (nonturbo) ’02-07; PT Cruiser (turbo) ’03-05; Sebring convertible ’00-04, ’06, ’08; Sebring sedan ’01-05, ’07-08; Town & Country ’01-09; Voyager ’01-03 Dodge Avenger ’08; Caravan (4-cyl.) ’02, ’05; Caravan (V6) ’01-07; Charger (V6) ’06, ’08; Charger (V8) ’06-07; Dakota (4WD) ’00-01, ’05-07; Durango ’00-01; Grand Caravan ’01-09; Intrepid ’04; Journey ’09; Magnum ’05-06; Neon ’02-03; Nitro ’07-08; Ram 1500 (2WD) ’02, ’06, ’09; Ram 1500

(4WD) ’00-02, ’04, ’06-08; Ram 2500 ’01, ’03; Ram 2500 (turbodiesel, 2WD) ’06; Ram 2500 (turbodiesel, 4WD) ’05-08; Ram van/ wagon ’00; Stratus sedan ’00-05 Ford Econoline ’05; Edge (AWD) ’07-08; Escape (V6) ’09; Excursion ’04-05; Expedition (4WD) ’06; Explorer (2WD) ’04, ’06; Explorer (4WD) ’02-04, ’06; Explorer Sport Trac (2WD) ’08; Explorer Sport Trac (4WD) ’05, ’07; F-250 (4WD) ’05-06; F-250 (turbodiesel, 2WD) ’05-06; F-250 (turbodiesel, 4WD) ’03-06, ’08; Focus sedan ’00, ’02; Focus wagon ’02; Freestar ’04; Fusion (AWD) ’07; Mustang (V8) ’09; Ranger (4WD) ’05, ’08; Thunderbird ’02; Windstar ’00-03 GMC Acadia ’07-08; Canyon (2WD) ’06, ’08; Canyon (4WD) ’04, ’06-08; Envoy (6-cyl.) ’05-06; Envoy (V8) ’02-08; Jimmy ’00-01; S-15 Sonoma (4WD) ’00-04; Safari ’00-03, ’05; Savana ’01-03, ’06-07; Sierra 1500 (V6, 2WD) ’06; Sierra 1500 (V6, 4WD) ’06-07; Sierra 1500 (V8) ‘05-06; Sierra 2500 ’04; Sierra 2500 (4WD) ’05, ’08-09; Sierra 2500 (turbodiesel, 4WD) ’06-08; Yukon ’05, ’07, ’09; Yukon XL 1500 ’05-07, ’09; Yukon XL 2500 ’03, ’05-08 Honda Passport ’01-02 Hummer H3 ’06, ’08 Hyundai Elantra ’01; Entourage ’07-08; Sonata (V6) ’00; Tiburon ’03; Veracruz ’07; XG300 ’01 Isuzu Rodeo ’01-02 Jaguar S-Type ’00, ’05; XF ’09; XJ ’00, ’04; X-Type ’02 Jeep Commander ’06-08; Compass ’07; Grand Cherokee ’00-07; Grand Cherokee (V8) ’08; Liberty ’06-09; Wrangler ’05-09 kia Optima ’04; Sedona ’02-08; Sorento ’03-05, ’07 Land Rover Discovery ’00;

LR2 ’08; LR3 ’05-06; Range Rover Sport ’06 Lexus GS (AWD) ’07-08; GX470 ’08 Lincoln Aviator ’03-05; LS ’00-01, ’03-05; MkS ’09; MkX (AWD) ’07-08; Mkz (AWD) ’07-08; Navigator ’03-04, ’06 Mazda B-Series (4WD) ’05, ’08; CX-7 ’07; MPV ’02; RX-8 ’04-05; Tribute (V6) ’09; Mazdaspeed3 ’07; 5 ’06 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (4-cyl.) ’03; C-Class (V6, RWD) ’09; CLk ’06; E-Class (V6, AWD) ’00-01; E-Class (V8) ’04, ’08; GL320 ’08; GL-Class (V8) ’07-08; M-Class (V6) ’01, ’04-06; R-Class ’06-08; S-Class ’03-04, ’06; SL ’04-05 Mercury Mariner (V6) ’09; Milan (AWD) ’07; Monterey ’04; Mountaineer (2WD) ’04, ’06; Mountaineer (4WD) ’02-04, ’06 Mini Cooper Clubman ’08; Clubman S ’09; convertible ’05-08; hatchback ’02-04, ’06-07; hatchback S ’05-09 Nissan Armada ’04-06, ’08; Frontier (4WD) ’05; Pathfinder ’05, ’08; Quest ’04-08; Titan (2WD) ’08; Titan (4WD) ’04-06; Versa Sedan ’08; Xterra ’05 Oldsmobile Alero ’00-03; Aurora ’01-02; Bravada ’00; Intrigue ’00; Silhouette ’00-03 Pontiac Aztek ’01, ’03; Bonneville ’00-02; G6 (4-cyl.) ’07; G6 (V6) ’05-07; G8 (V8) ’09; Grand Am ’00-03, ’05; Grand Prix ’00-03; GTO ’06; Montana ’00-03, ’05; Montana SV6 ’05-06; Solstice (nonturbo) ’06-07; Solstice (turbo) ’08; Torrent ’06-08 Porsche Boxster ’05, ’08; Cayenne ’04-05 Saab 9-3 ’02-04, ’06; 9-3 convertible ’00, ’04; 9-5 ’00, ’02-05 Saturn Astra ’08; Aura (V6) ’07; Ion ’06; L300 (V6) ’00-04; Outlook ’07-08; Relay ’05-07; Sky

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(nonturbo) ’07; Sky (turbo) ’08; Vue (4-cyl.) ’03-04, ’08-09; Vue (V6) ’02-03, ’06, ’08-09; Vue Hybrid (4-cyl.) ’07 Smart ForTwo ’08 Subaru Impreza WRX ’08; Legacy (turbo) ’05, ’08; Outback (turbo) ’08 Suzuki XL-7 ’07

Toyota Tacoma (4-cyl.) ’09; Tundra (V8, 4WD) ’09 Volkswagen Cabrio ’00-02; Eos ’07-08; Golf ’02; GTI (4-cyl.) ’02, ’06-07; Jetta (4-cyl.) ’00, ’03-04; Jetta (turbo) ’01-04, ’07; Jetta (V6) ’00-01; New Beetle ’00-01, ’03-08; New Beetle (turbo) ’00-04; Passat

(4-cyl., AWD) ’04; Passat (4-cyl., FWD) ’00-08; Passat (V6, AWD) ’01; Passat (V6, FWD) ’00-04, ’06; R32 ’08; Touareg ’04, ’06, ’08 Volvo S60 (AWD) ’05; S80 (6-cyl.) ’00, ’02; XC70 ’00-01, ’08; XC90 (6-cyl.) ’04-07; XC90 (V8) ’05, ’07

cr best of the best & worst of the worst
BEST OF THE BEST These 2000-2009 models (except where noted) have performed well in our road test and have had several years of better-than-average reliability. WORST OF THE WORST These have had multiple years of much-worse-than-average reliability among 2000-2009 models. All are listed alphabetically. Best of the Best Acura MDX Acura RDX Acura RL Acura RSX Acura TSX Acura TL BMW Z3, Z4 (’00-06) Ford Escape Hybrid Ford Fusion (FWD) Ford Mustang (V6) Honda Accord Honda Civic Honda CR-V Honda Fit Honda Odyssey Honda Pilot Honda Ridgeline Honda S2000 Hyundai Azera Hyundai Santa Fe (V6) Hyundai Tucson Infiniti FX35 Infiniti G Infiniti I30, I35 Infiniti M35 Infiniti QX4 Kia Sportage (’05-09) Lexus ES Lexus GS (RWD) Lexus GX (except ’08-09) Lexus IS Lexus LS Lexus RX Lexus SC Lincoln MKZ, Zephyr (FWD) Mazda3 Mazda 6 (4-cyl.) Mazda MX-5 Miata Mazda Protegé Mercedes-Benz E-Class (V6, RWD) Mercury Mariner Hybrid Mercury Milan (FWD) Mitsubishi Outlander Nissan 350Z Porsche 911 Scion xB Subaru Baja Subaru Forester Subaru Impreza (non-turbo) Subaru Tribeca Toyota 4Runner Toyota Camry Solara Toyota Celica Toyota Echo Toyota Land Cruiser Toyota Prius Toyota Sienna Toyota Tacoma V6 (‘05-09) Volkswagen Rabbit Volvo S60 (FWD) Worst of the Worst Audi A6 Allroad Cadillac SRX Cadillac STS (V8) Chevrolet Aveo Chevrolet Blazer Chevrolet Colorado (4WD) Chevrolet Monte Carlo Chevrolet S-10 Pickup (4WD) Chevrolet TrailBlazer (V8) Chevrolet Uplander Chevrolet Venture Chrysler Sebring Convertible Chrysler Town & Country Dodge Caravan (V6) Dodge Grand Caravan GMC Canyon (4WD) GMC Envoy (V8) GMC Jimmy GMC S-15 Sonoma (4WD) Jeep Commander Jeep Wrangler (four-door) Kia Sedona Lincoln Aviator Mercedes-Benz R-Class Mini Cooper Convertible Oldsmobile Silhouette Pontiac Montana, Montana SV6 Saturn Relay Volkswagen Cabrio Volkswagen New Beetle (turbo) Volkswagen Passat (V6, FWD) Volkswagen Touareg Volvo XC90 (6-cyl.)

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auto reliability

153

T

DETAILED AUTO RELIABILITY
their vehicles in any of the trouble spots, included in the following charts, during the previous 12 months. These were considered serious because of cost, failure, safety, or downtime. Because high-mileage vehicles tend to have more problems than low-mileage ones, problem rates are standardized to minimize differences related to mileage. The 2009 models were generally less than six months old at the time of the survey and had been driven an average of about 3,000 miles. Models with insufficient data are noted with a column of asterisks (*).

he charts on the following pages give you a model’s complete reliability picture for both its used versions (2004 through 2009) and the new one currently on sale. These detailed reliability Ratings are based on our 2009 Annual Car Reliability Survey, for which we received responses on about 1.4 million vehicles. The Annual Car Reliability Survey is sent to subscribers of Consumer Reports and ConsumerReports.org. Respondents reported on any serious problems they had with

how to use the charts
MAJOR REDESIGNS A model year in bold identifies the year the model was introduced or underwent a major redesign. TROUBLE SPOTS To assess a used car in more detail, look at the individual Ratings for each of the 17 trouble spots. They will pinpoint a model’s strengths and weaknesses. Ratings are based on the percentage of survey respondents who reported problems for that trouble spot, compared with the average of all vehicles for that year. Models that score a B are not necessarily unreliable, but they have a higher problem rate than the

Average Problem Rates
TROUBLE SPOTS 00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Engine Major Engine Minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

3 3 3

2

1

1 2 2 1 2

1 <1 <1 <1 1 1 1 2 2 1 1 <1 1 <1 <1 1 <1 <1 1 2 2 2 2 1 2 1 1 1 1 1 <1

8 6 5 4 3 6 5 4 4 3 3 3 5 7 5 2 5 2 2 1 2 3 3 3

5 4 3

10 12 9 7

5 4 3 3

7 6 5 4 4 3

9 8 7 6 4 3 3 8 8 7 6 5 4 3 4 3 8 7 2 2 1

1 <1 1 <1 1 1 2 2 2

9 9 8 8 7 6 5 4 2 5 4 4 3 2 2 1

1 <1 <1 <1 <1 5 4 2 5 2 3 3

average model. Similarly, models that score a N are not necessarily problemfree, but they had relatively few problems compared with other models. Because problem rates in some trouble spots are very low, we do not assign a B or V unless the model’s problem rate exceeds 3 percent. If a problem rate is below 2 percent, it will be assigned a M; below 1 percent, it will be assigned a N. USED CAR VERDICTS To check the overall reliability of a used car, look at the Used Car Verdict. This Rating shows whether the model had more or fewer problems overall than the average model of that year. The verdict is calculated

9 9 8 7 6 6 5 9 8 7 7 7 6 5

12 11 10 9 8 6 5 4 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3

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from the total number of problems reported by subscribers in all trouble spots. Because problems with major engine and transmission systems, cooling system, and drive system can be serious and expensive to repair, our calculations give extra weight to them. NEW CAR PREDICTIONS To determine the New Car Prediction, we averaged a model’s Used Car Verdict for the most recent three years, provided the vehicle did not change significantly in that time and hasn’t been redesigned for 2010 or 2011. We have found that several model years’ data are a better predictor than the single most recent model year. One or two years’ data may be used if the model was redesigned in 2009 or 2008, or if there were insufficient data for more years. Sometimes we include a prediction for a model that is new or has been redesigned, provided its reliability history or the manufacturer’s track record has been consistently above average. “NA” means there were insufficient data for a prediction. WHAT THE TROUBLE SPOTS INCLUDE Engine, major: Engine rebuild or replacement, cylinder head, head gasket, turbo or supercharger, timing chain. Engine, minor: Oil leaks, timing

belt, accessory belts, engine mounts, engine knock or ping. Engine, cooling: Radiator, cooling fan, antifreeze leaks, water pump, thermostat, overheating. Transmission, major: Transmission rebuild or replacement, torque converter, premature clutch replacement. Transmission, minor: Gear selector or linkage, coolers and lines, rough shifting, slipping transmission, leaks, transmission computer, transmission sensor or solenoid, clutch adjustment, hydraulics (clutch master or slave cylinder). Drive system: Driveshaft or axle, CV joint, wheel bearing(s), differential, transfer case, 4WD/ AWD components, driveline vibration, traction control, stability control, electrical failure. Fuel system: Check engine light, sensors (includes O2 or oxygen sensor), emission control devices (includes EGR), engine computer, fuel cap, fuel gauge/sender, fuel injection system, engine computer, fuel pump, fuel leaks, stalling or hesitation. Electrical: Alternator, starter, battery cables, engine harness, coil, ignition switch, electrical ignition, distributor or rotor failure, spark plugs and wires failure. Climate system: Blower (fan) motor, A/C compressor, condenser, evaporator, heater system, automatic climate control, refrigerant leakage,

electrical failure. Suspension: Shocks or struts, ball joints, tie rods, wheel bearings, alignment, steering linkage (includes rack and pinion), power steering, wheel balance, springs or torsion bars, bushings, electronic or air suspension. Brakes: Premature wear, pulsation or vibration, squeaking, master cylinder, calipers, antilock brake system (ABS), parking brake, brake failure. Exhaust: Muffler, pipes, catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, leaks. Paint/trim: Paint (fading, chalking, cracking, peeling), loose exterior trim or moldings, rust. Body integrity: Squeaks or rattles, seals and/or weather stripping, air or water leaks, loose interior trim and moldings, wind noise. Body hardware: Windows, locks and latches, tailgate, hatch or trunk, doors or sliding doors, mirrors, seat controls, safety belts, sunroof, convertible top, glass defect. Power equipment and accessories: Cruise control, clock, warning lights, body control module, keyless entry, wiper motor or washer, tire pressure monitor, interior or exterior light, horn, gauges, 12V power plug, alarm or security system. Audio system: Audio systems, entertainment systems, navigation system, backup camera/ sensors, communication system.

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Copyright of Consumer Reports is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

Copyright of Consumer Reports Buying Guide is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

155

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &C &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &C &M &N &M &C &C &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &B &B &V &B &B &M &M &N &N &M &M &N
Better than average M &

Acura MDX

Acura RDX

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &B &M &C &N &M &M

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &N &M &N &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &M &M &N &M * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &C &V &C &M * &M &B &M &N &M * &M &M &N &N &N * &M &M &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &V &M &M &N &C * &N &M &M &V &C * &M &C &C &M &M * &N &V &C &C &V * &V &B &B &V &B * &N &M &M &M &C *
Average C &

Acura RL

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &M &N &C &V &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &C &V &C &C &C &V &M &M &C &M &M &N &M &N &M &M &N

Acura RSX

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &V &V &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &C &C &C &M &C &C &M &M &C &M &M &N &M &M &N &N &V &M &C &V &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M
Better than average M &

Acura TL

Discontinued

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &C &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &C &V &V &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &C &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &C &M &N &M &M &C &C &N &N &M &N &V &M &M &C &M &V &M &M &N &N &M &M
Better than average M &

Acura TSX

Audi A3

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&M &N &N * &C &V &M * &V &N &N * &M &N &N * &M &M &V * &C &M &N * &B &B &M * &B &N &N * &B &B &M * &M &N &N * &M &M &B * &N &N &N * &V &V &M * &C &C &C * &B &V &C * &V &M &C * &C &V &C * &B &C &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&B &C &C &N &N &N &B &V &C &V &N &N &B &B &M &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &B &V &M &M &N &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &B &V &V &C &C &M &B &B &C &M &M &N &C &V &C &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &B &B &C &M &C &M &B &B &C &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &C &B &V &C &M &M &C
Average C &

Audi A4 (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&V &C &N &M &N * &B &B &C &M &M * &C &M &N &N &M * &M &N &N &N &N * &C &C &N &M &M * &B &M &N &N &N * &C &B &C &V &V * &B &C &C &V &C * &M &V &N &M &N * &C &M &N &M &M * &V &C &C &M &C * &M &N &N &N &N * &C &M &M &N &N * &M &M &M &M &C * &M &B &M &C &N * &C &V &B &V &C * &M &B &B &B &V * &V &V &M &C &C *
Average C &

Audi A6 (V6, non-SC)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* &M &N * * * * &N &N * * * * &B &C * * * * &M &M * * * * &N &N * * * * &N &N * * * * &C &M * * * * &B &C * * * * &M &N * * * * &V &N * * * * &M &M * * * * &N &N * * * * &N &N * * * * &C &M * * * * &B &B * * * * &B &B * * * * &B &B * * * * &B &C * * *
NA

Audi A8

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 155

9/14/10 3:14:30 PM

156

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011 Audi Q7

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&M &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &M &N * &V &N * &B &C * &V &N * &M &M * &B &B * &N &N * &N &M * &V &M * &B &C * &B &C * &B &B * &B &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &M &M * &N &N &N &N &M * &C &N &N &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &B &V * &M &C &M &C &M * &M &M &C &V &C * &M &M &C &N &N * &V &V &C &M &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &N &N &N &M &N * &B &V &C &M &M * &V &C &V &M &C * &C &C &C &V &V * &V &C &B &V &M * &C &M &C &V &V *
Worse than average V &

BMW X3

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &N &N &N &N &N &B &M &M &N &M &N &B &C &M &C &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &M &N &B &C &M &N &N &N &M &C &V &B &B &B &C &M &B &V &M &N &V &C &M &B &M &N &V &N &C &N &N &N &V &C &C &C &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &C &N &C &C &C &N &C &C &M &V &M &N &V &B &B &B &V &C &V &V &C &B &V &M &M &V &M &B &B &C &V &C &C &B &V &V
Worse than average V &

BMW X5 (6-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N * * &N &N &B &C * * &C &N &N &B * * &M &N &N &M * * &N &M &M &N * * &N &N &N &V * * &M &N &N &M * * &V &N &V &M * * &N &N &N &M * * &M &B &N &B * * &N &N &N &C * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &M &N * * &N &N &N &B * * &V &M &C &C * * &C &M &C &B * * &C &M &N &B * * &M &N &M &B * *
NA

BMW Z3, Z4

BMW 135i

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Worse than average V &

&N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &B * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &M * &B * &B * &M * &B * &V *

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &M &N &N &N &B &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &B &M &N &M &N &N &V &B &M &M &M &N &M &C &C &M &N &N &N &C &N &M &N &N &B &B &C &C &N &N &C &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &C &C &C &N &M &N &C &M &V &C &N &C &C &C &B &C &C &C &M &N &B &V &C &B &C &C &C &C &M &C
Average C &

BMW 325i, 328i (AWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &C &M &N &B &N &C &C &N &N &V &V &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &M &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &B &B &B &M &N &V &M &N &N &M &N &C &M &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &M &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &C &V &C &C &V &V &M &M &C &N &C &C &M &M &N &C &B &V &V &M &C &N &C &V &C &V
Worse than average V &

BMW 330i, 335i (RWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &N &M &N * &C &V &N &M &N * &N &M &M &N &N * &V &N &N &N &N * &M &V &N &C &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &M &M &N &M * &V &B &B &C &M * &M &C &V &C &M * &M &M &N &M &N * &M &C &C &C &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &M &M &N &N * &C &C &M &N &M * &C &C &C &N &C * &C &V &C &V &C * &B &B &B &B &B * &C &C &C &C &C *
New

BMW 525i, 528i, 530i (RWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N * &N &N &N * &B * &N &M &M * &V * &M &N &N * &V * &N &M &N * &C * &V &V &M * &N * &V &M &N * &V * &M &M &N * &B * &N &C &N * &C * &V &M &M * &N * &M &N &N * &M * &M &C &N * &N * &M &N &N * &C * &C &N &N * &N * &C &M &C * &M * &V &V &C * &C * &V &B &B * &B * &B &B &V * &C * &C &C &M *
NA

BMW 7 Series

Buick Enclave (AWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &C &M &B &M &V &C &V &V &V &C

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 156

9/14/10 3:14:31 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

157

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &V &N &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &C &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &B &B &B &V &M &V &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &C &M &M &V &M &M &C &M &N &M &M &M &C &C &V &C &V &M &N &M &N &M &N &C &C &M &M &V
New

Buick LaCrosse

Buick Lucerne (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &V &C &N &N &C &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &B &V &V &V &C &V &V &C &N &M &C &M &C &C &C &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &C &C &N &N &C &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &B &B &B &V &M &N &C &M &M &V &B &C &C &C &M &M &B &B &B &M &V &C &C &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &C &C &V &C &V &C &V &B &C &C &V &B &M &M &C &V &V &C &V &C

Buick Rendezvous

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &M &N &M &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &V &B &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &N &N &V &V &B &B &M &M &V &C &C &M &M &N &V &V &V &C &C &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &V &V &M &M &N &M &C &C &V &B &B &C &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &C &M &V &M &V &V &C &C &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &C &C &V &V &C &V &C &B &V &C &C &V &V &B &B
Much worse than average B &

Cadillac CTS (V6)

Cadillac DTS

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Discontinued

Worse than average V &

&N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &V &M &M &M &B &C &M &N &M &M &N &M &V &M &M &N &B &V &M &C &M &N &N &N &C &C &M &M &M &C &M &C &C &V &V &B &B &B &B &B &C &C &V &B &V &C &C &B

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &V &M &N &N &N * &C &M &M &N &N * &C &M &M &N &N * &M &N &N &M &N * &B &V &C &M &N * &C &M &N &N &N * &C &V &B &B &N * &B &V &C &C &M * &C &C &M &C &M * &M &M &M &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &B &M &V &C * &M &V &V &B &V * &M &C &M &B &B * &V &B &C &B &B * &B &B &B &B &C * &C &V &C &V &C *
Worse than average V &

Cadillac Escalade

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &B &M &B &M * &B &B &V &C &M * &C &V &N &N &N * &B &B &M &C &N * &V &V &M &M &M * &B &B &B &B &C * &B &B &C &V &M * &B &V &C &V &M * &C &M &N &M &M * &V &B &C &C &M * &V &C &C &B &C * &B &C &M &N &N * &M &V &M &C &M * &V &C &V &V &V * &V &B &B &B &C * &B &B &B &V &V * &B &B &V &V &C * &B &B &V &B &B *
New

Cadillac SRX

Cadillac STS (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&N &N &B &M * &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N * &N &C &M &C * &M &B &B &M * &C &M &B &M * &V &V &B &B * &N &C &M &N * &C &M &M &M * &M &B &B &M * &N &N &N &N * &N &M &N &M * &M &M &C &V * &M &C &M &V * &B &M &V &B * &B &V &B &V * &M &C &B &B *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &V &V &B &C &N * &M &C &B &N &M * &B &B &B &C &N * &V &V &V &C &M * &M &C &M &V &M * &B &V &M &M &N * &B &B &V &M &M * &M &N &M &V &M * &M &N &N &N &N * &C &C &B &V &C * &V &V &C &C &V * &V &C &V &V &B * &C &M &C &V &V * &C &M &C &V &C * &V &V &B &V &C *
Worse than average V &

Chevrolet Avalanche 1500

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&B &V &M &M &N * &C &C &V &V &N * &B &B &M &M &C * &C &N &N &N &N * &B &C &C &M &N * &M &M &B &N &N * &V &C &B &V &N * &C &C &N &C &N * &V &B &V &N &C * &C &V &C &V &C * &C &M &M &C &B * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &B &V &C &M * &B &B &B &V &B * &C &C &B &C &C * &V &V &V &C &B * &C &V &V &M &M * &B &V &V &C &B *
Much worse than average B &

Chevrolet Aveo

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 157

9/14/10 3:14:32 PM

158

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011 Chevrolet Cobalt Sedan

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &B &V &N &N &C &V &C &N &N &N &C &B &M &N &M &V &N &C &C &M &V &M &C &N &N &B &B &B &C &M &V &B &C &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &N &M &B &B &B &B &V &V &C &C &B &V &V &C &C &V &M &V &C &M &M &N &V &V &C &C &B
Worse than average V &

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&V &C &V &M &N * &V &M &M &N &M * &M &N &N &C &M * &N &N &N &N &M * &N &N &N &M &N * &B &B &V &B &C * &B &B &B &B &M * &V &M &V &B &C * &B &B &V &N &C * &C &M &C &V &N * &B &V &M &B &B * &C &M &N &M &N * &B &C &N &V &B * &B &V &V &B &B * &V &V &V &B &B * &B &C &V &B &B * &B &C &V &M &C * &B &C &V &B &B *
Much worse than average B &

Chevrolet Colorado (4WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &B &N &N &N &N &B &V &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &V &M &M &N &M &V &B &N &N &M &C &B &C &N &M &M &C &C &B &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &C &M &N &N &M &V &B &C &V &V &C &M &B &M &C &B &M &C &C &C &C &C &M &V &V &M &M &V &M &C &C &C &C &B
Worse than average V &

Chevrolet Corvette

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &B &V &B &M &M &C &B &V &V &N &C &B &B &M &N &B &B &M &M &C &V &C &V &N &N &B &V &C &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &M &C &N &B &B &B &V &C &M &C &C &M &N &C &V &B &V &M &V &C &V &V &N &V &V &B &C &C
New

Chevrolet Equinox

Chevrolet HHR

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &N &N &M &V &C &N &N &M &C &N &N &B &M &M &V &V &M &N &N &B &B &M &N &B &B &B &V &N &N &N &N &V &M &C &M &B &V &C &M &C &V &M &V &B &C &V &V &C &M &C &N &B &V &C &V

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &C &M &N &N &B &V &V &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &V &V &M &N &N &N &C &V &C &M &N &N &C &C &C &M &M &N &C &M &V &M &M &N &C &V &C &C &M &M &V &B &B &B &C &N &B &B &C &V &C &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &B &C &N &N &C &C &V &C &C &M &M &M &C &C &M &N &V &V &B &B &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &N &C &V &B &V &C &C
Average C &

Chevrolet Impala (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &N &M &C &C &V &N &N &N &B &C &M &C &M &N &V &V &C &M &N &N &M &M &C &C &M &N &B &B &B &B &M &N &B &B &B &B &C &N &B &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &V &N &M &N &C &V &B &V &M &N &V &C &M &C &M &M &B &B &C &V &M &M &V &C &M &V &M &M &V &C &V &V &M &M
Better than average M &

Chevrolet Malibu (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &C &V &B &M &N &N &V &V &C &M &M &N &B &C &M &N &N &N &C &V &C &N &M &N &B &B &B &B &M &N &B &B &V &V &C &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &M &N &V &C &B &V &M &N &M &M &C &C &M &M &V &C &C &C &M &M &C &N &C &N &N &M &C &C &V &C &M &C
Average C &

Chevrolet Malibu (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &M * &N &V &V * &B &C &M * &N &V &C * &M &B &M * &M &V &V * &V &B &C * &N &M &B * &C &C &B * &C &B &B * &V &V &C * &N &N &M * &B &B &C * &M &C &C * &C &C &C * &B &B &B * &M &C &V * &C &B &B *

Chevrolet Monte Carlo

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &C &C &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &C &M &M &M &N &N &B &B &B &V &N &N &C &C &V &M &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &N &C &V &C &M &N &N &B &B &B &M &M &N &V &V &B &V &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &V &M &M &N &C &V &V &C &V &C &M &M &C &V &C &N &C &C &C &C &C &M &C &C &C &M &N &M &C &B &B &C &C &M
Average C &

Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V8, 4WD)

Discontinued

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 158

9/14/10 3:14:33 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

159

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &V &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &C &N &N &B &B &B &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &M &M &C &C &V &M &N &B &B &V &C &N &M &V &B &V &M &N &N &M &M &M &V &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &V &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &B &B &B &V &B &V &V &V &V &C &C &C &V &C &V &C &B &V &V &C &B
Much worse than average B &

Chevrolet Suburban 1500

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &M &C &C &M &N &N &N &M &C &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &V &B &B &C &M &N &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &B &M &N &B &B &C &C &N &N &V &V &C &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &V &M &N &C &C &V &C &V &C &C &C &M &B &B &M &B &V &V &B &C &V &C &C &B &V &M &M &C &V &C &V &C &V
Worse than average V &

Chevrolet Tahoe

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &C &C &C &M &N * &B &V &M &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &M &M &N &N * &V &C &V &C &M * &B &B &B &V &M * &C &V &V &M &M * &V &V &V &M &M * &C &C &M &M &N * &C &M &M &M &M * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &C &V &C &M * &V &V &V &C &C * &C &C &V &B &V * &B &V &C &B &C * &C &V &M &C &M * &C &V &V &C &C *
Average C &

Chevrolet TrailBlazer (6-cyl.)

Chevrolet Traverse (AWD)

‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &N &B &B &B &M &V &V &V &N &B &B &B &M &V &C &C &M &B &B &B &M &B &B &B &B &N &N &N &N &B &B &B &V &B &B &B &V &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &B &C &M &B &B &B &V
Discontinued

Chevrolet Uplander

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N &N &B &V &C &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &V &N &V &M &C &B &V &B &B &C &B &C &B &C &C &M &N &B &M &M &C &M &V &C &V &V &M &B &V &V &B &M &C &B &V &V &C &M &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &C &C &V &C &M &V &C &C &C &C &C &M &V &M &M &C &M &C &C &M &C &M &V &C &C &B &C
Discontinued

Chrysler Pacifica

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &V &M &C &N * &B &B &V &C &M * &B &C &M &M &N * &N &M &N &C &N * &V &N &M &C &M * &B &B &C &C &N * &B &B &B &B &N * &V &C &C &M &N * &B &B &V &V &N * &B &B &V &M &M * &B &C &V &C &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &C &C &C &M &N * &C &C &M &M &C * &N &C &C &M &C * &M &M &C &C &C * &C &N &M &N &N * &B &V &V &V &M *
Average C &

Chrysler PT Cruiser (non-turbo)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N * &B &C &M &C &N * &C &C &N &B &M * &M &N &C &M &N * &B &C &C &B &N * &C &B &M &C &N * &V &V &B &B &V * &C &M &M &V &N * &B &B &V &C &N * &B &B &M &V &M * &V &B &B &B &B * &B &C &N &N &N * &V &V &M &M &N * &V &V &M &B &M * &M &C &N &B &M * &M &C &C &B &V * &C &N &N &C &B * &V &B &C &B &V *
Much worse than average B &

Chrysler Sebring Sedan

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &B &C &C &N &N &N &B &B &C &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &V &M &M &C &C &N &V &V &C &N &M &N &B &B &C &M &M &N &B &V &C &M &M &N &V &B &B &V &B &C &B &B &B &B &C &M &B &B &B &B &B &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &C &C &M &N &V &V &V &B &V &C &B &B &B &B &B &V &V &B &V &C &B &V &M &C &M &C &B &C &B &B &B &B &B &B
Much worse than average B &

Chrysler Town & Country (extended)

Chrysler 300 (V8)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N * &M &M &C &N * &M &M &C &N * &C &N &M &N * &B &B &B &M * &C &C &M &N * &C &M &V &N * &C &M &M &M * &M &C &N &M * &B &B &C &N * &C &C &V &M * &N &N &N &N * &M &C &M &C * &V &C &M &M * &V &C &C &V * &C &C &C &C * &B &B &V &B * &C &C &V &C *
Worse than average V &

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 159

9/14/10 3:14:33 PM

160

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011 Dodge Avenger

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&N * &N * &N * &N * &M * &M * &N * &C * &N * &C * &V * &N * &C * &V * &C * &B * &B * &B *

Dodge Caliber

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &M &N * &M &N * &C &N * &M &M * &M &M * &B &M * &B &C * &N &N * &C &M * &B &C * &C &N * &C &C * &C &N * &C &M *

Dodge Challenger

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

* &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &N * &C * &M * &M * &M * &C * &C

Dodge Charger (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&M &N &N * &N &M &N * &N &N &N * &N &N &M * &B &B &V * &V &N &M * &C &V &M * &N &N &M * &B &B &C * &B &B &M * &B &M &B * &N &N &N * &M &M &N * &V &M &M * &V &M &C * &C &M &V * &N &N &V * &V &C &V *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &M &M &M &C &N * &C &N &M &M &M * &N &N &N &N &N * &C &B &B &B &M * &B &B &B &B &M * &V &B &V &M &M * &M &M &C &M &M * &V &M &M &M &N * &B &B &B &B &B * &B &B &V &B &M * &C &M &N &N &N * &C &C &C &M &N * &C &V &B &V &M * &M &M &C &C &N * &M &C &M &C &C * &N &M &M &N &N * &C &B &B &B &C *
Worse than average V &

Dodge Dakota (4WD)

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N * &C &M &N &M &N * &C &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &C &C &M &N * &C &V &C &M &N * &C &B &B &M &C * &V &M &V &V &N * &C &B &M &V &N * &C &M &N &C &N * &V &C &V &V &N * &C &M &N &N &N * &B &V &V &N &C * &V &B &C &C &M * &M &M &V &B &V * &V &C &V &M &C * &B &V &C &M &B * &C &C &C &C &M *
Average C &

Dodge Durango

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &B &C &C &N &N &N &B &B &C &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &V &M &M &C &C &N &V &V &C &N &M &N &B &B &C &M &M &N &B &V &C &M &M &N &V &B &B &V &B &C &B &B &B &B &C &M &B &B &B &B &B &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &C &C &M &N &V &V &V &B &V &C &B &B &B &B &B &V &V &B &V &C &B &V &M &C &M &C &B &C &B &B &B &B &B &B
Much worse than average B &

Dodge Grand Caravan

Dodge Nitro

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&M &N * &N &M * &N &N * &N &N * &C &C * &C &N * &C &M * &C &N * &C &C * &M &M * &V &V * &N &N * &B &C * &V &V * &B &B * &B &C * &V &B * &B &V *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &V &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &C &C &M &M &N &B &B &B &B &C &N &B &V &B &B &M &N &M &N &M &V &M &N &C &N &B &N &N &N &B &V &B &B &B &N &V &C &V &V &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &V &M &M &C &C &C &V &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &C &C &B &B &C &N &M &C &M &C &V &C &B &V &V &C
Average C &

Dodge Ram 1500 (4WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &V &N &B &V &B &V &V &M &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &C &V &C &B &N &C &C &C &V &V &M &M &M &C &V &C &C &C &C &C &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &C
Discontinued

Ford Crown Victoria

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 160

9/14/10 3:14:34 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

161

Ford Edge (AWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &B &C &N &B &B &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &V &C &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &C &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &V &V &M

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &V &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &M &V &C &C &V &M &C &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &N &V &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &V &C &C &M &N &N &V &V &V &B &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &V &C &C &V &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &C &M &C &C &B
Average C &

Ford Escape (V6, AWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &N &N &N * &N &C &M &N &M * &N &N &N &N &N * &V &M &M &N &N * &M &M &N &C &C * &B &C &V &M &M * &N &C &C &N &N * &C &C &V &N &M * &B &V &B &V &M * &M &M &M &M &N * &C &M &M &M &N * &N &M &N &N &N * &B &B &B &C &C * &C &B &B &M &M * &C &V &V &B &V * &C &V &C &C &M * &V &V &V &V &B * &C &C &V &C &C *
Average C &

Ford Expedition (4WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &B &V &M &M &M &C &N &N &B &B &B &B &M &N &C &B &C &B &C &V &M &B &N &M &C &V

Ford Explorer Sport Trac (4WD)

Average C &

&N &N * &N &N * &M &N * &M &N * &B &M * &V &N * &C &N * &N &N * &M &N * &M &N * &M &V * &N &N * &N &M * &C &N * &M &C * &M &M * &M &C * &V &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &C &M &N &N &N * &M &N &B &N &N * &V &M &M &N &N * &B &M &B &B &C * &B &B &B &C &M * &M &C &M &M &N * &C &M &M &M &N * &B &V &C &M &M * &V &C &N &M &N * &V &C &C &M &C * &N &N &N &N &N * &B &C &C &M &M * &C &C &C &M &M * &V &C &V &C &C * &V &V &V &C &C * &C &M &M &M &M * &B &C &B &C &C *
Average C &

Ford Explorer (4WD)

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

Ford Five Hundred, Taurus

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &C &V &M &V &N &B &B &B &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &V &V &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &M &C &N &M &M &M &C &N &M &M &C &N &M &C &C &C &C &M
Average C &

Ford Flex

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &V &M &C &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &B &V &C &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &C &C &C &M &M &N &V &V &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &M &M &N &C &C &V &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &C &C &C &M &M &N &C &M &M &M &M &N
Better than average M &

Ford Focus Sedan

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &B &V &N &N &M &M &N &N &V &V &C &M &C &M &C &M &V &N &M &C &B &C &M &B &C &M &N &M &B &B &V &C &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &C &C &C &M &B &V &C &M &B &B &V &V &B &C &V &M &V &C &C &C

Ford Freestar

Ford Freestyle, Taurus X

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &M &N &M &C &N &C &M &C &M &N &C &C &M &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &C &C &M &N &N &V &C &C &V &N &B &B &B &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &C &M &N &C &M &M &C &N &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &C
Average C &

Discontinued

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 161

9/14/10 3:14:35 PM

162

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011 Ford Fusion (V6, FWD)

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &V &C &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &V &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &M &C &M &B &B &B &V &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &V &C &B &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &V &B &V &C &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &C &C &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &C
Average C &

Ford F-150 (V8, 4WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &C &N &M &N &M &N &M &N &C &M &N &V &N &B &V &N &N &M &C &C &B &C &N &N &M &M &C &N &N &M &M &M &C &M &N &M &N &C &M &M &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &M &C &C &M &N &C &V &B &C &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &N &N &C &M &M &C &M &M &M &N &N &M &C &M &M &B
Average C &

Ford Mustang (V8)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &N &C &N &M &M * &N &M &N &N &N * &C &M &N &N &N * &C &C &M &C &M * &B &B &B &B &C * &N &C &C &M &N * &C &M &N &C &N * &N &N &C &N &M * &C &V &V &N &C * &B &B &B &C &M * &M &C &N &N &N * &M &V &N &M &N * &M &M &M &C &B * &M &M &M &C &M * &N &M &N &M &M * &N &N &N &N &M * &M &V &C &C &V *
Average C &

Ford Ranger (4WD)

GMC Acadia (AWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Worse than average V &

&M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &V &M &V &M &N &M &M &N &M &C &N &B &N &N &B &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &B &B &V &B &B &M &B &V &C &B &V &C &B &V &C

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &M &B &N &N * &N &M &M &M &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &M &M &V &M &N * &B &B &B &V &C * &M &M &V &C &B * &B &B &B &V &M * &C &C &V &M &C * &C &C &B &B &B * &C &N &M &N &N * &M &M &M &C &V * &B &B &V &C &B * &V &M &C &C &B * &B &C &V &V &V * &B &C &B &M &C * &C &C &B &C &B *
Worse than average V &

GMC Canyon (2WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &C &N &N &N * &C &M &C &M &M * &V &C &M &N &N * &C &M &M &M &N * &C &N &M &M &C * &V &B &B &B &V * &V &B &B &C &N * &V &B &B &B &N * &B &V &V &M &C * &C &C &C &B &M * &C &M &M &N &C * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &V &B &V &V * &C &V &B &C &V * &B &C &M &B &B * &B &V &V &V &B * &C &V &M &C &V * &V &V &V &B &B *
Much worse than average B &

GMC Envoy (V8)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &C &C &M &N &N &M &V &V &M &C &N &M &M &V &M &M &N &M &N &M &V &N &N &B &B &V &M &N &N &B &B &B &V &N &N &N &V &V &C &C &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &C &M &M &N &C &B &C &C &V &C &N &M &C &C &V &M &C &C &M &M &M &C &C &B &B &M &M &M &C &V &V &C &C &C
Average C &

GMC Sierra 1500 (V8, 2WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &M &C &C &M &N &N &N &M &C &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &V &B &B &C &M &N &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &B &M &N &B &B &C &C &N &N &V &V &C &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &V &M &N &C &C &V &C &V &C &C &C &M &B &B &M &B &V &V &B &C &V &C &C &B &V &M &M &C &V &C &V &C &V
Worse than average V &

GMC Yukon

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &V &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &C &N &N &B &B &B &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &M &M &C &C &V &M &N &B &B &V &C &N &M &V &B &V &M &N &N &M &M &M &V &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &V &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &B &B &B &V &B &V &V &V &V &C &C &C &V &C &V &C &B &V &V &C &B
Much worse than average B &

GMC Yukon XL 1500

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 162

9/14/10 3:14:36 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

163

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &C &M &M &M &B &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &M &M &C &C &V &M &N &M &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &V &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &M
Average C &

Honda Accord (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &C &B &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M
Better than average M &

Honda Accord (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &B &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &C &C &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &B &C &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &C &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &B &V &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &N
Better than average M &

Honda Civic Hybrid

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N
Much better than average N &

Honda Civic Sedan

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &V &B &V &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &B &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N
Much better than average N &

Honda CR-V

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &B &M &M &M &M &M &C &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M
Much better than average N &

Honda Element

Honda Fit

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

*** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** *** ***

Honda Insight

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &B &B &B &M &N &M &V &B &V &V &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &M &M &N &M &V &C &M &B &C &V &V &C &C &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &C &V &C &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &C &M
Better than average M &

Honda Odyssey

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &V &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M
Better than average M &

Honda Pilot

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 163

9/14/10 3:14:37 PM

164

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011 Honda Ridgeline

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &M &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &M

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N * * &N &C &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &B &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &B &M * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &M * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &C &V * * &N &C &M &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &C &M &N * * &N &N &N &N * *
Much better than average N &

Honda S2000

Hummer H3

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Worse than average V &

&C &M &N * &N &N &M * &N &N &N * &M &N &N * &N &N &M * &B &V &C * &M &V &V * &B &M &M * &M &N &N * &M &C &N * &C &C &M * &M &M &N * &M &V &N * &V &M &B * &C &M &B * &V &B &V * &C &M &B * &B &C &B *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N * &N &N * &N &M * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &B &C * &N &N * &V &N * &M &M * &N &N * &N &N * &C &C * &C &V * &C &C * &B &M * &N &M * &N &N * &C &M * &C &N * &N &C * &N &N * &M &M * &N &N * &B &B * &C &N * &C &C * &C &M * &M &M * &N &N * &N &M * &N &M * &N &C * &N &N * &M &C * &M &M *
Better than average M &

Hyundai Accent

Hyundai Azera

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&M &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &B &C &M &N &C &M &N &N &M &V &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &N &M &M &N &N &B &M &C &M &C &M &C &N &M &M &M &N &C &M &M &N

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &C &C &M &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &M &B &M &M &M &V &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &N &N &V &C &V &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &B &V &M &M &M &N &M &M &C &M &M &N &M &M &C &M &M &N &C &M &M &M &M &N &V &M &M &M &M &N &C &C &C &N &M &N
Much better than average N &

Hyundai Elantra

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &V &C &C &V &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &V &M &N &N &M &M &N &C &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &B &V &B &C &M &N &C &M &M &C &C &C &M &M &M &C &M &N &C &V &V &C &M &N &M &M &M &M &C &N &M &C &C &C &M &N
Better than average M &

Hyundai Santa Fe (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &C &C &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &B &C &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &B &B &C &C &M &N &M &M &M &C &M &C &M &M &V &V &C &N &M &V &V &C &C &M &M &M &M &N &M &B &N &M &C &M &M &C
Discontinued

Hyundai Sonata (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &B &N &N &N &N &B &B &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &V &N &M &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &V &C &M &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &C &C &C &B &C &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &B &B &C &C &M &N &M &C &M &C &M &M &V &M &C &V &C &N &M &M &C &M &M &M &B &C &N &N &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &M
New

Hyundai Sonata (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N * &M &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N * &V &C &C &C * &C &V &N &N * &M &V &M &N * &M &M &M &N * &M &M &N &M * &N &N &N &N * &C &V &N &N * &C &M &M &M * &M &M &M &M * &M &C &N &M * &V &V &M &M * &M &C &N &M *
New

Hyundai Tucson

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 164

9/14/10 3:14:38 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

165

Hyundai Veracruz

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &V &M * &C &N * &B &V * &V &M * &N &N * &B &N * &M &M * &N &N * &N &N * &M &C * &C &C * &B &C * &C &B * &V &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &C &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &V &B &B &V &M &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &N &C &M &M &C &M &V &C &C &M &N &V &C &C &V &M &M &C &B &V &B &V &C &V &M &M &M &N &M &M
Better than average M &

Infiniti FX35

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &B &C &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &N &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &B &M &M &C &C &B &M &M &M &M &M &C
Better than average M &

Infiniti G Sedan (RWD)

Infiniti M35 (RWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N * &M &N &N * &N &N &N * &N &N &N * &N &N &N * &N &N &N * &N &N &N * &M &N &N * &N &M &N * &N &M &N * &M &M &N * &N &N &N * &N &M &N * &M &C &M * &M &M &N * &M &M &N * &V &B &V * &N &N &N *
New

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* * &N * &N * * * &N * &N * * * &N * &N * * * &N * &N * * * &N * &N * * * &N * &N * * * &M * &N * * * &C * &N * * * &B * &N * * * &N * &N * * * &V * &M * * * &N * &N * * * &V * &B * * * &C * &M * * * &V * &V * * * &B * &M * * * &B * &B * * * &C * &C *
New

Infiniti QX56

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* &M * * * &N * &M * * * &N * &B * * * &N * &N * * * &N * &B * * * &N * &C * * * &N * &B * * * &C * &N * * * &M * &B * * * &N * &N * * * &N * &C * * * &N * &N * * * &N * &V * * * &N * &C * * * &V * &N * * * &B * &C * * * &B * &N * * * &B * &V * * * &B
Much worse than average B &

Jaguar S-Type, XF

Jeep Commander

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&N &N &N * &C &N &M * &N &N &N * &N &N &N * &B &B &M * &B &C &M * &M &V &M * &V &C &V * &B &B &M * &M &M &N * &B &V &C * &N &N &N * &V &M &M * &B &B &V * &V &B &B * &B &B &B * &B &C &B * &B &V &B *

Jeep Compass

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &B &M * &V &N * &C &N * &N &N * &B &M * &V &V * &N &N * &B &N * &V &V * &M &C * &C &C * &M &N * &V &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &N &M &M &N &C &M &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &V &B &B &M &N &N &B &B &B &B &M &N &C &V &M &C &N &N &C &B &B &C &M &N &B &B &C &C &M &M &C &C &M &C &N &N &B &C &B &C &C &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &M &C &M &M &N &C &V &C &C &C &N &B &V &V &B &M &M &C &V &B &B &B &V &C &B &V &B &B &B &V &B &V &V &B &C
New

Jeep Grand Cherokee (V8)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &N &N &V &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &N &C &N &N &C &M &M &M &C &M &V &V &B &M &M &N &C &C &C &M &N &N &C &M &C &N &M &M &C &V &B &V &M &N &C &C &M &N &N &N &V &V &B &B &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &C &C &M &M &M &C &V &B &B &B &C &C &B &B &B &V &C &M &B &V &V &M &M &C &M &N &B &N &C &C &B &B &V &V
Worse than average V &

Jeep Liberty

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 165

9/14/10 3:14:39 PM

166

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011 Jeep Patriot

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &C &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &V &V &V &V &C &C &C &M &N &V &M &N &C &M &M

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &M &N &N &C &C &C &C &N &N &M &C &N &V &N &N &C &C &V &C &N &N &B &B &B &C &C &M &M &C &C &M &C &N &M &M &V &B &M &N &B &B &B &N &M &N &V &V &B &M &M &N &M &C &V &V &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &B &B &V &V &N &M &C &B &B &B &B &N &M &C &B &B &B &N &M &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &V &B &B &B &B
Much worse than average B &

Jeep Wrangler (2-door)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&B * &N &M &N * &B * &N &M &N * &M * &M &N &N * &M * &N &N &N * &B * &N &N &C * &M * &M &M &N * &C * &B &C &M * &V * &N &N &N * &M * &C &C &N * &C * &V &C &N * &C * &V &M &C * &N * &N &N &N * &B * &B &M &C * &C * &C &C &M * &C * &C &M &C * &B * &B &C &M * &V * &C &N &M * &V * &C &M &M *
Better than average M &

Kia Optima

Kia Rondo

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&N &N * &C &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &V &C * &M &N * &C &M * &C &C * &M &M * &N &N * &N &M * &M &C * &C &M * &M &M * &M &N * &M &M *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&V &C &N &N &N * &B &V &B &C &C * &B &V &N &N &N * &M &C &N &N &N * &V &M &N &N &N * &B &B &V &N &N * &V &V &B &B &C * &V &C &B &V &B * &B &B &B &B &M * &B &V &B &B &N * &B &B &B &V &V * &N &N &N &N &N * &B &B &V &C &M * &V &C &B &B &C * &C &B &B &B &B * &V &V &B &B &C * &C &V &M &N &M * &B &B &B &B &V *
Worse than average V &

Kia Sedona

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&B &M &M &N &N * &B &C &N &M &N * &B &M &N &N &N * &M &M &N &M &N * &M &C &M &N &N * &C &C &C &B &M * &B &B &B &B &V * &C &C &C &N &N * &M &B &B &B &V * &M &M &M &C &M * &C &B &B &B &B * &N &N &N &N &N * &B &B &N &B &V * &M &M &C &C &C * &M &C &V &M &N * &C &B &V &V &C * &C &B &M &N &N * &V &B &C &B &C *
New

Kia Sorento

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* &C &N &N &N * * &M &N &N &N * * &M &M &N &N * * &M &M &N &N * * &M &C &M &N * * &N &M &N &N * * &B &V &V &C * * &C &N &M &M * * &B &V &N &M * * &C &C &M &N * * &M &C &M &M * * &N &N &N &N * * &V &B &V &C * * &V &M &M &M * * &M &M &N &C * * &C &M &V &C * * &M &N &N &N * * &C &C &N &M *
New

Kia Spectra

Kia Sportage

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&M &N &N &N * &V &M &N &N * &M &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &M * &C &N &M &N * &B &M &N &M * &C &N &M &N * &B &M &C &N * &M &N &N &N * &C &M &N &N * &C &N &N &N * &B &C &M &N * &C &N &M &M * &M &N &N &N * &B &V &C &C * &N &N &M &C * &C &N &N &N *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N * * * &M &C * * * &M &C * * * &N &N * * * &M &N * * * &B &C * * * &B &V * * * &C &B * * * &V &V * * * &B &B * * * &B &V * * * &N &N * * * &C &M * * * &B &B * * * &B &C * * * &B &B * * * &B &B * * * &B &V * * *
New

Land Rover LR3

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &V &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &B &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &C &V &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &C &C &M &N &N &N &M &N &M
Better than average M &

Lexus ES

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 166

9/14/10 3:14:39 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

167

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &V &C &N * &C &M &M &M &N * &N &M &M &M &N * &N &N &C &M &M * &M &N &C &B &B * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &V &M &M &N * &M &M &V &V &V * &M &C &V &C &C * &M &N &V &C &N * &N &V &C &V &M * &N &N &C &C &M *
Better than average M &

Lexus GS (RWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &C &M &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &M &N * &V &C &M &B &B * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &C &N &N &N * &C &M &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &M &C &N &N * &N &M &M &N &M * &C &C &M &M &M * &M &M &M &M &M * &V &V &C &V &C * &M &M &N &M &V *
New

Lexus GX

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &M &M * &M &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &B &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &C &V &N * &N &M &N &N &N * &N &N &V &N &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &M &M &B &M &M * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &B &C &N &M * &M &N &C &C &M * &C &M &M &M &N * &M &M &M &M &M * &C &C &V &C &C * &N &N &M &M &M *
Better than average M &

Lexus IS300, IS350

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &V &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &N &M &M &C &M &M &N &C &M &M &M &N &N &V &V &C &V &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N
Much better than average N &

Lexus LS

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &C &N &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N &M * &M &M &M &N &N * &M &N &M &N &M * &C &N &C &N &N * &M &M &M &M &V * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &M &M &N &M * &M &M &N &C &M * &M &M &M &M &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &B &V &V &V &C * &M &N &N &N &M *
Better than average M &

Lexus LX

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &M &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &C &M &N &N &C &C &V &V &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &C &M &N &C &M &C &V &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N
Much better than average N &

Lexus RX

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N * * &N &C &N &N * * &N &C &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &C &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &C &N &N * * &N &N &M &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &V &M &M * * &M &V &M &N * * &C &M &N &N * * &M &N &N &N * * &V &M &M &V * * &N &N &N &N * *
Much better than average N &

Lexus SC

Lincoln MKX (AWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Worse than average V &

&N &N * &V &N * &N &N * &N &N * &C &C * &B &B * &N &N * &M &M * &M &N * &C &N * &V &V * &N &N * &M &M * &V &C * &N &V * &C &C * &C &V * &V &B *

Lincoln MKZ, Zephyr (FWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &V &V &N &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &C &M &N &M &C &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &N &N

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &M &M &N &N * &B &M &M &N &N * &M &N &M &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &C &C &M &N * &C &M &C &N &N * &V &V &M &N &N * &B &V &B &C &N * &V &B &V &V &M * &V &V &V &C &N * &V &M &M &M &V * &M &M &N &N &N * &B &V &C &B &N * &B &C &C &C &M * &B &B &B &B &V * &B &B &C &C &V * &B &B &B &B &M * &V &C &V &C &M *
Average C &

Lincoln Navigator

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 167

9/14/10 3:14:40 PM

168

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &M &N &N * &M &N &M &M &N * &M &M &C &N &M * &V &B &B &B &M * &M &N &N &M &N * &C &M &M &M &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &C &V &V &M &N * &C &V &C &C &V * &V &B &B &C &V * &M &M &V &C &V * &C &M &N &N &M * &M &M &C &M &M *
Better than average M &

Lincoln Town Car

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &V &N &M &N &M &C &N &N &N &M &M &V &C &V &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &V &N &M &M &N &C &C &M &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &M &C &M &N &C &C &C &M &B &B &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &C
Better than average M &

Mazda B-Series (2WD)

Mazda CX-7

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Worse than average V &

&M &N * &V &N * &N &N * &N &N * &M &M * &C &M * &B &V * &M &N * &V &V * &C &N * &M &C * &N &N * &C &M * &C &N * &M &N * &C &M * &C &C * &V &C *

Mazda CX-9

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &C &N &N &C &C &M &N &N &N &C &C &N &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &V &M &C &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &B &C &C &C &N &M &M &N &N &B &M &N &M &M &N &V &C &C &B &B &C &M &N &M &M &N &N &C &V &V &C &N &N &C &C &M &M &M &N &C &M &N &M &N &N &M &C &N &C &M &N

Mazda MPV

Discontinued

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &M &N &N * &N &C &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &N &C &M &N * &B &N &N &N &N * &M &M &C &V &N * &N &B &M &N &N * &N &N &M &C &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &N &N &C &N &M * &B &M &B &B &B * &N &N &C &V &C * &N &N &M &N &N * &C &M &V &V &C * &M &N &M &M &M *
Better than average M &

Mazda MX-5 Miata

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&B &B * * * * &B &B * * * * &V &M * * * * &M &V * * * * &C &N * * * * &N &N * * * * &B &B * * * * &B &B * * * * &B &B * * * * &N &N * * * * &C &M * * * * &B &N * * * * &C &B * * * * &C &V * * * * &M &M * * * * &C &V * * * * &M &M * * * * &B &B * * * *
NA

Mazda RX-8

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &C &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &C &C &N &C &C &N &M &M &N &B &C &M &M &N &M &C &C &V &V &V &C &N &M &N &C &M &C &C &C &V &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &N &C &C &C &M

Mazda Tribute (4-cyl.)

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &V &C &C &M &M &M &M &N &C &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &V &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &C &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &C &M &N &C &M &N &C &C &C &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &B &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &C &C &N &M &M &N &N &M &M
Better than average M &

Mazda3 Sedan

Mazda5

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &M &M &C &C &V &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &B &B &B &N &V &B &V &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &M &N &B &V &V &N &B &M &M &C &C &N &M &N &M &M &C &M &V &C &C &C

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 168

9/14/10 3:14:41 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

169

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &C &M &M &N &C &B &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &M &M &V &M &M &N &C &V &M &C &M &N &N &V &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &C &M &B &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &V &M &N &M &C &C &M &V &C &N &M &M &C &M &C &N &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &C &C &C &C
Average C &

Mazda6 Sedan (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &V &M &N &N &N &V &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &V &B &N &M &N &C &M &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &C &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &B &C &M &C &M &C &V &V &M &C &N &N &M &M &V &M &M &C &C &N &N &N &N &N &B &V &N &B &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &B &C &M &M &V &M &C &C &M &M &C &C &B &C &N &C &V &C &C &M &M &C &C &V
Average C &

Mercedes-Benz C-Class (V6, RWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &N &M &N * &V &B &B &M &M * &C &N &N &N &N * &M &M &B &N &N * &V &M &M &N &M * &M &N &N &M &N * &M &M &N &N &V * &V &M &M &N &N * &V &B &B &N &M * &M &M &N &N &N * &M &M &M &V &M * &M &N &N &N &N * &C &N &C &M &C * &B &C &M &N &B * &B &V &B &C &V * &B &C &M &N &B * &M &B &B &B &C * &C &C &V &M &C *
Discontinued

Mercedes-Benz CLK

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &M &M &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &N &M &C &M &N * &C &V &C &N &M * &N &N &N &M &N * &N &V &M &C &N * &V &V &N &N &M * &B &C &B &C &M * &M &C &M &N &M * &M &B &C &C &V * &N &C &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &M &N &M &N * &C &N &M &N &M * &V &B &C &M &B * &B &B &B &B &B * &M &C &M &M &C *
New

Mercedes-Benz E-Class (V6, RWD)

Mercedes-Benz GL-Class (V8)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&N &N * &M &C * &N &N * &N &N * &M &N * &C &C * &C &N * &M &B * &V &V * &B &B * &V &V * &N &N * &M &N * &M &N * &B &B * &B &B * &B &B * &V &B *

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &M &N &N &V &M &C &M &M &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &B &B &B &M &M &N &C &B &B &N &N &N &M &V &C &C &M &N &B &V &C &N &C &N &M &B &B &C &N &M &B &C &V &M &N &N &B &C &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &B &B &M &N &N &N &C &C &C &M &C &N &C &V &B &C &V &N &C &C &B &C &V &M &N &B &C &C &C &C &V &V &B &M &C &C
Average C &

Mercedes-Benz M-Class (V6)

Mercedes-Benz R-Class

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&C &N &N * &C &V &N * &M &M &N * &C &N &N * &V &M &N * &B &M &C * &V &B &M * &M &B &B * &B &V &N * &V &V &N * &V &C &N * &N &N &N * &M &C &M * &B &M &C * &B &B &B * &B &B &B * &B &B &B * &B &B &B *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N * &N &N &N * &C * &V &C &M * &M * &M &N &N * &N * &N &N &N * &M * &B &V &N * &N * &B &N &N * &N * &M &C &M * &V * &B &M &N * &V * &B &V &N * &B * &B &M &C * &C * &M &V &V * &C * &N &N &N * &M * &M &N &N * &C * &N &C &M * &C * &C &M &C * &B * &B &C &B * &B * &B &B &C * &V * &B &C &C *
Average C &

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* &C &B &N * * * &B &V &N * * * &M &C &N * * * &C &N &N * * * &C &M &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &C &N &B * * * &M &M &B * * * &B &B &N * * * &V &N &N * * * &N &N &C * * * &C &N &N * * * &V &C &N * * * &C &C &C * * * &M &C &V * * * &B &M &B * * * &B &C &V * * * &C &C &C * *
Average C &

Mercedes-Benz SLK

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &N &M &N &N &N * &M &M &C &C &M * &M &M &M &V &N * &B &V &B &V &V * &M &N &N &M &N * &N &M &M &N &M * &C &M &N &N &N * &C &V &C &B &N * &C &C &C &V &V * &M &M &M &C &V * &C &C &C &C &C * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &M &M &C &C *
Average C &

Mercury Grand Marquis

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 169

9/14/10 3:14:42 PM

170

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011 Mercury Mariner Hybrid (AWD)

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &C &M &M &N &M &C &V &N &C &M &M &N &C &C &N &N &C &B &V &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &M &N &C &C &C &C &C &N &C &M &C &N &C &V &N &M &C &C &C &M

Mercury Milan (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &C &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N

Mercury Montego, Sable

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &C &V &M &V &N &B &B &B &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &V &V &M &M &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &M &C &N &M &M &M &C &N &M &M &C &N &M &C &C &C &C &M
Average C &

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &M &C &B &N &N * &B &M &M &N &N * &B &B &B &B &M * &B &V &M &M &N * &C &M &M &N &C * &C &V &C &M &M * &B &B &C &N &C * &M &M &N &M &N * &V &M &C &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &B &B &C &N &N * &C &C &C &V &M * &B &C &B &V &V * &V &V &B &M &V * &V &C &M &N &C * &B &C &V &M &C *
Average C &

Mercury Mountaineer (2WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &N &N &N &N &N &C &B &C &C &M &N &B &B &B &B &N &N &B &C &C &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &V &N &N &N &V &M &C &B &M &N &C &C &M &C &M &N &M &V &V &M &N &N &B &C &M &M &N &N &C &C &N &C &N &N &B &N &N &C &N &N &N &M &C &N &M &N &B &C &C &B &C &N &B &C &M &B &B &V &C &M &C &M &V &M &N &N &N &C &M &N &V &C &B &B &C &C
Average C &

Mini Cooper Hatchback

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &C &N &N &C &B &B &C &M &C &B &B &B &M &N &N &C &B &B &V &N &N &M &C &V &M &N &N &C &N &M &M &N &N &M &B &V &B &V &C &N &N &M &C &N &N &C &C &C &M &M &N &B &C &C &M &N &N &M &N &M &C &M &N &C &N &N &C &C &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &V &V &B &B &V &M &C &B &V &C &C &V &M &V &N &C &N &N &N &N &C &C &V &B &B &V &V
Worse than average V &

Mini Cooper Hatchback S

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N * * * &C &N * * * &N &N * * * &N &N * * * &N &N * * * &C &N * * * &C &M * * * &N &C * * * &B &B * * * &N &M * * * &M &C * * * &N &N * * * &B &B * * * &V &C * * * &C &M * * * &M &C * * * &C &M * * * &M &M * * *
NA

Mitsubishi Endeavor

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &M * * &N &N &N &N * * &M &M &N &N * * &M &N &N &N * * &M &C &N &M * * &M &N &N &C * * &N &M &N &V * * &M &C &M &N * * &N &N &N &C * * &V &M &V &M * * &C &N &N &N * * &M &V &N &N * * &M &M &N &N * * &M &N &N &N * * &M &C &N
Better than average M &

Mitsubishi Outlander

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &C &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &M &N &C &V &C &B &M &M &V &V &M &N &M &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &C &C &C &B &V &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &M &N &C &C &C &C &V &M &M &M &M &M &V &M &N &N &N &V &V &C &M &N &M &M &C &N &M &M &M &C &C &M
Average C &

Nissan Altima (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N &N &N &V &M &N &M &N &N &V &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &B &C &M &N &N &N &B &B &C &M &M &N &C &M &N &N &M &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &V &C &C &B &V &N &C &N &N &M &N &N &V &V &M &N &M &N &C &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &N &N &C &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &M &M
Better than average M &

Nissan Altima (4-cyl.)

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 170

9/14/10 3:14:43 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

171

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &M &N &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &C &M &N &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &V &N &N &N * &M &B &C &N &N * &M &C &C &C &C * &V &B &M &M &N * &V &B &V &C &B * &M &C &V &M &C * &B &B &B &B &B * &B &V &M &N &N * &C &B &M &C &N * &B &B &B &B &B * &B &B &V &B &V * &V &V &B &C &B * &B &V &C &M &V * &V &B &V &C &V *
Average C &

Nissan Armada

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &C &N &N &N * &M &N &C &N &N * &N &C &N &N &N * &M &N &N &M &N * &N &C &M &N &M * &C &B &C &M &C * &M &B &B &C &M * &M &C &M &M &M * &C &C &N &M &M * &M &M &M &N &N * &M &C &M &C &V * &V &M &N &N &N * &B &V &C &V &M * &V &B &M &V &V * &M &V &M &M &C * &M &C &C &C &C * &M &M &N &M &N * &M &V &C &C &C *
Average C &

Nissan Frontier (4WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &C &V &C &V &N &N &V &B &V &M &N &N &V &C &C &C &N &N &V &V &B &C &C &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &B &B &B &M &N &N &C &C &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &V &M &C &M &C &N &C &C &C &M &M &M
Better than average M &

Nissan Maxima

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &B &C &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &V &C &M &M &M &C &V &M &C &C &C &M &M &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &C &C &V &B &V &N &N &N &M &M &C &C &M &C &C &M &B &B &C &M &C &C &C &C &B &V &C &M &C &C &C &C

Nissan Murano

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &N &N &N &N * &V &M &M &N &M * &N &M &N &N &N * &N &M &N &N &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &M &B &V &M &N * &C &B &B &B &C * &N &M &V &C &N * &N &V &C &C &C * &M &M &M &C &N * &C &C &M &C &C * &V &M &N &N &N * &N &B &B &C &M * &N &B &C &M &V * &M &C &C &V &B * &M &C &C &M &B * &C &C &M &N &M * &M &V &C &C &V *
Average C &

Nissan Pathfinder

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N * &B &C &C &M &M * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &C &N &M &N &C * &M &C &V &C &N * &M &M &V &C &C * &C &B &C &V &N * &M &B &C &B &C * &V &V &N &C &N * &B &B &B &B &C * &M &C &B &N &N * &C &B &B &C &V * &B &B &B &V &M * &B &B &B &B &B * &V &B &V &C &C * &B &V &B &V &N * &V &B &B &V &V *
Worse than average V &

Nissan Quest

Nissan Rogue

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &V &N &N &N * &V &C &M &N &N * &N &M &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &C &M &M &M &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &B &B &C &M &N * &B &B &C &N &M * &M &V &M &M &N * &M &M &M &V &M * &C &C &V &B &B * &C &N &N &N &N * &V &V &V &M &M * &V &C &C &M &V * &M &M &M &C &C * &M &M &M &C &V * &V &V &V &N &N * &C &C &C &C &C *
Average C &

Nissan Sentra

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &M &N &N * &M &M &N &M &M * &M &M &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &C &M &N &N &N * &B &B &B &C &M * &C &M &M &M &N * &M &M &M &V &M * &M &B &B &N &M * &C &V &N &M &M * &B &B &V &B &B * &B &B &M &N &N * &V &B &B &C &C * &B &C &V &V &C * &C &C &C &N &C * &C &V &V &N &M * &M &C &M &N &C * &V &B &V &C &C *
Average C &

Nissan Titan (4WD)

Nissan Versa Hatchback

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &B &M &C &M &N &C &C &N &C &M &M &M &C &C &N &N &N &C &C &M &V &B &C &M &M &N &B &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 171

9/14/10 3:14:44 PM

172

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N * &B &M &C &N &N * &V &N &N &N &N * &N &M &M &N &N * &M &M &N &N &N * &M &B &C &M &M * &M &B &B &C &C * &C &C &M &M &N * &C &M &M &C &M * &M &N &N &M &N * &M &C &M &C &M * &N &M &N &M &N * &B &V &M &C &M * &C &B &C &M &C * &M &C &N &N &C * &M &C &C &C &V * &C &M &N &M &M * &C &V &C &C &C *
Average C &

Nissan Xterra

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &M &M &N &N * &N &N &M &C &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &C &N &N &N * &V &M &M &V &N * &N &N &N &M &N * &N &C &N &C &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &N &M &N &N &N * &V &N &M &V &M * &C &C &M &N &C * &N &N &N &C &N * &V &M &V &M &M * &C &C &M &M &N * &B &V &V &V &M * &M &M &M &M &M * &V &V &M &N &M * &M &C &M &C &N *
NA

Nissan Z

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &M &N &N &N &C &V &C &N &N &V &V &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &C &V &V &M &C &C &C &M &C &N &C &M &C &C &N &V &V &V &M &V &B &B &B &B &V &C &V &V &V &B &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &N &V &C &V &C &C &M &M &N &N &M &C &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &V &M &C &C &C &C &C
Discontinued

Pontiac Grand Prix

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N * &M &N &C &N * &N &N &C &N * &N &N &N &N * &N &N &M &N * &C &V &C &N * &C &M &M &M * &V &C &C &N * &M &C &M &N * &B &B &B &V * &B &B &B &B * &N &N &M &N * &C &V &C &N * &B &B &B &B * &M &C &B &B * &B &C &M &C * &V &V &M &N * &V &B &B &C *
Worse than average V &

Pontiac G6 (V6)

Pontiac Solstice (non-turbo)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much worse than average B &

&N &N * * &C &N * * &N &C * * &B &N * * &B &N * * &B &B * * &N &C * * &N &N * * &C &N * * &N &C * * &N &M * * &N &N * * &N &M * * &C &B * * &M &B * * &N &C * * &C &N * * &B &B * *

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &B &V &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &C &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &C &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &B &V &V &C &M &C &M &M &C &M &C &C &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M
Better than average M &

Pontiac Vibe

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* &M &N &N &C * * &B &N &C &V * * &B &M &B &V * * &B &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &C * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &C &N &V * * &N &M &N &N * * &N &M &N &N * * &N &V &N &B * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &M &N * * &B &M &N &M * * &V &B &B &N * * &N &N &N &V * * &M &C &N &N * * &V &M &C &B *
Worse than average V &

Porsche Boxster

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &N &M &C &N &N &V &B &N &N &C &N &V &V &C &B &V &C &M &B &B &V &B &V &B &V &N &C &N &N &M &M &C &N &N &N &N &C &N &C &V &C &V &M &M &B &B &C &B &B &B &V &V &C

Porsche Cayenne

Average C &

&N * &M * &M * &N * &N * &N * &M * &N * &M * &N * &V * &N * &N * &M * &N * &C * &M * &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &B &N * * &N &B &N &N * * &N &C &N &N * * &B &N &B &N * * &N &C &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &B &V &B &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &C &M &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &M &C &N * * &N &N &C &M * * &N &B &V &N * * &N &B &N &M * * &M &C &M &N *
Much better than average N &

Porsche 911

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &V &M &N &N &N * &C &M &B &M &N * &M &N &M &N &N * &B &N &N &N &N * &C &N &C &N &N * &B &N &B &C &N * &V &C &B &B &N * &V &M &M &N &N * &B &V &C &M &N * &V &C &C &B &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &B &B &V &M &N * &B &C &C &M &C * &B &B &V &C &C * &B &B &V &V &V * &B &B &B &C &C * &B &C &B &C &M *
Average C &

Saab 9-3

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 172

9/14/10 3:14:44 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

173

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &V &N &N * * &B &C &N &C * * &B &B &M &N * * &N &M &N &N * * &M &C &M &N * * &M &M &C &C * * &B &C &M &M * * &B &B &V &B * * &B &B &C &N * * &N &V &C &M * * &M &M &N &N * * &M &N &M &N * * &V &B &M &N * * &C &C &V &C * * &C &V &C &M * * &B &C &V &C * * &N &N &B &M * * &V &B &C &C * *
New

Saab 9-5

Saturn Outlook (FWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &V &M &N &B &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &B &B &C &B &V &M &V &C &M &B &C &M &V &V &M

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &V &B &B &V &M &N &M &C &N &M &C &N &M &N &C &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &B &V &B &V &V &B &C &N &V &B &B &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &C &M &M &B &B &B &B &V &M &M &C &C &C &C &B &C &C &M &C &B &C &M &C &V &M &V &C &C &C &V &C &B &B
Much worse than average B &

Saturn Vue (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &B &C &V &M &M &B &B &V &C &M &B &C &C &C &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N

Scion tC

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &M &N &C &B &N &N &N &M &C &C &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &B &C &C &M &V &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &V &N &M &M &N &N

Scion xA, xD

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &B &V &C &C &C &C &V &C &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N

Scion xB

Better than average M &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &C &M &C &B &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M

Smart ForTwo

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Worse than average V &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &B &N &M &N &V &M &V &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &C &V &C &M &N &M &C &B &C

Subaru B9 Tribeca, Tribeca

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N * &N &N &N * &N &N &N * &N &N &N * &M &C &V * &M &N &N * &M &N &N * &M &M &N * &C &C &M * &V &C &C * &M &M &N * &N &N &N * &M &M &N * &M &C &V * &M &M &M * &C &V &N * &C &B &M * &M &C &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &M &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &M &M &N &C &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &V &C &C &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N
Much better than average N &

Subaru Forester (non-turbo)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &C &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &C &N &M &B &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &M &N &V &C &M &N &N &N &C &C &C &M &V &N &C &M &C &M &C &V &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &V &M &M &M &M &N &M &N &M &M &N &N
Much better than average N &

Subaru Impreza Wagon (non-turbo)

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 173

9/14/10 3:14:45 PM

174

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &C &N * &N * &C &M &C * &M * &C &M &N * &N * &M &M &B * &C * &C &C &N * &C * &M &N &N * &N * &M &M &B * &N * &N &N &N * &N * &V &V &M * &V * &N &N &N * &C * &M &M &C * &C * &M &N &N * &N * &B &M &C * &B * &M &N &C * &C * &N &M &M * &M * &N &N &M * &M * &N &N &N * &V * &M &N &C * &V *
Worse than average V &

Subaru Impreza WRX

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&B &N &N &N &N &N &V &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &C &N &N &C &C &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &N &M &M &M &C &N &N &C &M &V &M &M &N &B &C &N &M &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &M &C &C &V &C &C &N &N &M &M &C &C &M &M &C &M &M &C &N &M &N &N &C &N &N &C &M &M &C &C &N
Better than average M &

Subaru Legacy (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &N &C &B &M &M &N &N &C &M &C &N &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &B &M &C &M &M &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &V &C &C &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &N &N &C &C &M &C &M &N &C &M &N &N &V &C &C &M &N &C &C
Better than average M &

Subaru Legacy/ Outback (6-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&B &N &N &N &N &N &V &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &B &C &M &N &N &V &C &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &M &V &C &M &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &V &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &C &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &M &M &N &C &M &N &M &M &N &C &C &M &N &N &M
Much better than average N &

Subaru Outback (4-cyl.)

Suzuki SX4

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&N &N * &M &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &M &N * &V &N * &M &N * &V &N * &M &N * &M &M * &N &N * &N &C * &M &N * &N &N * &C &C * &C &M * &M &M *

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &B &V &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &C &C &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &M &N &M &M &M &M &M
Better than average M &

Toyota Avalon

Toyota Camry Hybrid

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &V &C &M &N &M &M &N &M &N &C &C &M &M &N &M

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &V &M &C &M &C &C &M &C &C &M &M &M &C &C &M &N &M &M &M &C &N &M &C &V &N &N &N &N &N
Discontinued

Toyota Camry Solara (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &V &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &V &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &C &M &N &M &M &N &B &V &V &M &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &M &N &C &N &N &M &M &C &V &M &N &N &N &C &C &C
Average C &

Toyota Camry (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &C &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &V &N &N &N &N &M &M &M
Better than average M &

Toyota Camry (4-cyl.)

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 174

9/14/10 3:14:46 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

175

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &V &C &N &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &C &C &C &N &M &C &M &M &C &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M
Better than average M &

Toyota Corolla

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &C &N &M &N &C &M &N &M &V &C &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N

Toyota Echo, Yaris Hatchback

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N

Toyota FJ Cruiser

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &N &N * &M &N * &N &N * &V &N * &N &M * &M &N * &N &N * &M &M * &N &N *

Toyota Highlander Hybrid

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Better than average M &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &C &M &C &M &N &N &N &N &B &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &C &C &N &N &M &M

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M
Better than average M &

Toyota Highlander (V6)

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &C &C &V &M &N &N &M &C &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &V &M &M &C &M &C &C &M &M &C &V &M &N &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M
Better than average M &

Toyota Matrix

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &M &N &B &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N
Much better than average N &

Toyota Prius

Toyota RAV4 (V6)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &V &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &C &C &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &B &B &M &N &C &M &N &N

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &M &N &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &V &V &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N
Much better than average N &

Toyota RAV4 (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &C &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &C &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &C &V &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &C &M &N &M &M &M &C &V &B &B &C &C &C &B &V &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &M &M &M
Better than average M &

Toyota Sequoia

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 175

9/14/10 3:14:47 PM

176

CONSUMER REPORTS BUYING GUIDE 2011

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &C &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &M &N &M &C &C &M &M &M &B &B &B &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &C &M &V &B &V &M &M &M &M &M &M &M
New

Toyota Sienna (FWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &M &C &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &V &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &N &M &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &V &M &V &C &M &N &C &M &M &M &C &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &B &N &N &N &M &N &M
Better than average M &

Toyota Tacoma (V6, 4WD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &V &M &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &M &C &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &C &C &B &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &V &N &M &M &M &N &M &N &M &M &C &N &V &N &M &N &V &V &C &N &N &N &C &M &B
Average C &

Toyota Tundra (V8, 4WD)

Toyota Venza (V6)

‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &C &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &M &C &C &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &N &M &C &V &M &N &N &N &N &N &N
New

Toyota 4Runner (V6)

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

Volkswagen CC (4-cyl.)

‘09

Much better than average N &

&N &N &N &N &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N

Volkswagen Eos

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Worse than average V &

&M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &C &N &N &N &N &B &C &M &C &N &V &B &N &N &N &N &N &C &B &N &N &N &N &M &N &N &B &B &V &B &B &C &V &V &M &V &V &M &V &B &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* * * &N &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &N &M &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &C &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &N &N &N * * * &M &N &N * * * &C &N &C * * * &N &M &C * * * &N &M &N * * * &C &C &M * * * &N &M &N
Much better than average N &

Volkswagen Golf, Rabbit

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

* * &B &M &N &N * * &B &C &M &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &M &N &N * * &C &N &V &C * * &N &C &N &N * * &B &B &M &N * * &B &M &N &N * * &B &B &N &M * * &M &N &N &N * * &M &M &N &M * * &N &N &N &N * * &N &M &M &N * * &V &B &V &C * * &C &M &M &C * * &M &C &M &N * * &B &B &C &N * * &V &B &M &C
Average C &

Volkswagen GTI (4-cyl.)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M &N &M &N &N &N &C &M &M &M &N &N &B &V &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &V &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &B &V &V &C &N &M &B &C &C &N &M &N &M &V &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &C &N &N &M &M &M &B &M &C &M &M &N &N &N &N &M &M &N &M &N &N &C &C &M &M &C &M &B &V &V &M &M &C &V &V &V &V &C &M &M &C &C &M &M &N &V &C &C &C &M &C
Better than average M &

Volkswagen Jetta (4-cyl., 5-cyl.)

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 176

9/14/10 3:14:48 PM

AUTO RELIABILITY TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

177

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &C &V &C &N &N * &B &M &V &M &N * &V &B &N &N &N * &B &N &V &M &N * &M &N &B &N &N * &B &M &B &B &C * &B &B &M &B &C * &M &M &B &M &N * &M &N &M &M &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &M &N &M &M * &V &V &V &C &C * &B &B &B &B &B * &B &V &B &B &B * &C &B &V &M &C * &B &V &B &V &V *
Worse than average V &

Volkswagen New Beetle

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &C &N &N &N &N &B &B &V &M &N &N &V &C &V &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &V &M &N &N &B &V &V &M &N &N &B &B &B &B &B &N &B &B &B &V &M &C &M &V &B &B &N &N &C &V &V &V &N &N &C &M &C &V &V &N &M &N &N &N &N &N &C &C &M &N &M &N &C &M &C &M &C &M &V &C &B &C &C &N &C &V &B &V &C &M &M &N &B &V &V &N &B &B &B &V &V &M
Average C &

Volkswagen Passat (4-cyl., FWD)

Volkswagen Tiguan

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

Average C &

&N &N &N &N &M &N &M &M &N &N &C &N &N &N &C &M &N &C

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &N &N * &N * &V &V &C * &N * &C &N &N * &N * &V &N &N * &N * &M &M &M * &N * &B &C &B * &N * &B &B &M * &V * &B &B &V * &B * &C &V &C * &B * &C &N &M * &C * &B &B &B * &B * &V &N &N * &N * &C &N &C * &M * &C &N &V * &B * &V &C &B * &B * &B &B &B * &B * &B &B &B * &B * &B &C &B * &B *
Much worse than average B &

Volkswagen Touareg

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &C &V &N &N &N &B &N &V &N &N &N &B &C &C &V &M

Volvo C70

Average C &

* &N &N * * &N &N * * &M &N * * &N &N * * &N &N * * &N &C * * &C &M * * &N &N * * &N &N * * &V &C * * &N &N * * &N &N * * &M &N * * &B &B * * &B &B * * &V &V * * &B &M * * &C &C *

TROUBLE SPOTS
Engine, major Engine, minor Engine Cooling Trans. Major Trans. Minor Drive System Fuel System Electrical Climate System Suspension Brakes Exhaust Paint/Trim Body Integrity Body Hardware Power Equip. Audio System USED CAR VERDICTS NEW CAR PREDICTION

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N * * &C &C &C &N * * &M &N &N &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &M &M &N &N * * &C &M &M &N * * &B &V &C &N * * &B &V &B &V * * &V &B &B &V * * &M &C &M &N * * &V &C &M &N * * &N &N &N &N * * &C &M &N &N * * &V &M &V &N * * &C &C &V &N * * &V &V &B &M * * &M &B &C &M * * &C &C &C &N * *
Much better than average N &

Volvo S40, V40/V50 (FWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &V &C &N &N &N * &C &C &V &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &C &N &N &N &N * &M &C &N &N &N * &C &C &M &C &M * &C &N &M &N &C * &C &N &C &M &M * &V &V &M &C &N * &M &M &N &N &M * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &V &C &N &N * &C &M &M &M &C * &M &C &M &M &C * &C &V &M &M &C * &C &C &M &N &N * &C &C &M &N &M *
New

Volvo S60 (FWD)

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&M * &B * &M * &N * &M * &M * &C * &M * &M * &V * &M * &M * &V * &C * &M * &C * &V * &C *

Volvo S80 (6-cyl.)

Average C &

&N &N * &N &N * &M &M * &N &N * &V &N * &N &M * &C &N * &C &M * &N &N * &B &M * &C &N * &N &N * &M &N * &B &C * &B &V * &B &M * &V &C * &C &C *

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&N &N &N &N &N * &C &N &N &N &N * &C &V &M &N &N * &N &N &N &N &N * &M &N &N &N &N * &C &B &C &C &M * &N &C &V &M &C * &M &M &N &N &N * &N &C &M &C &M * &V &V &C &C &V * &M &M &M &M &M * &N &N &N &N &N * &N &N &N &M &M * &M &M &M &M &B * &N &M &C &V &V * &M &M &M &C &V * &M &M &M &V &C * &M &C &M &C &V *
Worse than average V &

Volvo XC70

‘04‘05‘06‘07‘08‘09

&C &M &N &N &N * &V &V &V &N &M * &V &M &M &N &N * &B &B &N &N &N * &B &M &N &M &N * &B &B &B &B &N * &C &M &N &N &N * &M &N &C &N &N * &C &M &B &V &N * &B &B &M &B &M * &B &C &V &V &B * &M &M &N &N &N * &M &M &V &C &N * &B &C &M &C &C * &V &C &B &C &B * &C &C &V &V &B * &B &B &B &B &V * &B &B &V &B &C *
Worse than average V &

Volvo XC90 (6-cyl.)

BG11 AUTOS FOR.indd 177

9/14/10 3:14:49 PM

Copyright of Consumer Reports is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

Copyright of Consumer Reports Buying Guide is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.

178

consumer reports buying guide 2011

Tires
Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

Brand & model

Overall score

Three-season driving Dry braking Wet braking Handling Hydroplaning

Winter Comfort driving Ride Ice braking Snow traction Rolling resistance Tread life Noise

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

All-SeASOn S- And T-Speed rATed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26
Michelin HydroEdge Continental ProContact ECOPLUS + Michelin Energey Saver A/S Hankook Optimo H727 Pirelli P4 Four Seasons Goodyear Assurance TripleTred Pirelli Cinturato P5 Kumho Solus KR21 Maxxis Escapade MA-T1 Toyo Extensa A/S Toyo Versado LX Cooper GFE BFGoodrich Traction T/A T General Altimax RT Yokohama Avid TRZ Dayton Quadra LE Cooper CS4 Touring Uniroyal Tiger Paw Tour SR Yokohama Avid Touring-S Cooper Lifeliner GLS Yokohama Avid T4 Bridgestone Turanza EL400 Falken Sincera SN828 Dunlop SP 60 Sumitomo HTR T4 Firestone FR710
84 82 82 82 80 80 78 78 76 76 76 76 74 74 74 74 72 72 70 68 66 66 64 64 64 60

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

&M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &C &M &C &M &C &M &C &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &C

&N &M &M &M &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &C &M &N

&M &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &M &C &C &C &M &C &C &C &C &V &C &C &C &V &C &V &C &C

&M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &M &C

&V &C &V &M &V &C &V &V &V &C &M &C &C &V &V &C &M &C &V &M &V &V &B &C &C &B

&C &M &C &M &M &C &M &C &C &M &C &C &C &V &V &C &C &C &C &C &V &C &C &M &V &C

&C &C &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &M &C &C &M &C &M &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C

&C &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &C &M &C &M &M &M &B &C &C

&C &N &N &C &V &C &V &C &C &C &C &M &V &C &V &C &V &N &M &M &C &C &C &V &M &C

&N &C &C &C &V &C &C &M &M &C &N &V &C &C &C &C &C &V &M &V &V &V &B &M &V &M

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 178

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tires
Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

179

Brand & model

Overall score

Three-season driving Dry braking Wet braking Handling Hydroplaning

Winter Comfort driving Ride Ice braking Snow traction Rolling resistance Tread life Noise

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

perfOrmAnCe All-SeASOn h-Speed rATed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Michelin Primacy MXV4 Falken Ziex ZE912 Nokian WR G2 Yokohama Avid H4s Kumho Solus KH16 Continental ContiProContact Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S Falken Ziex ZE512 Cooper CS4 Touring General Altimax HP Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max Pirelli P6 Four Seasons Hankook Optimo H418 Fuzion HRi
84 80 80 78 76 76 76 74 72 70 70 68 68 64

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

&M &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &C &M

&M &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M

&M &M &M &M &C &M &C &N &C &M &C &C &C &M

&M &M &M &N &C &M &M &N &M &N &M &M &M &M

&C &V &C &B &C &C &C &V &C &C &C &C &C &V

&M &V &C &V &C &C &C &V &C &V &C &C &C &C

&M &C &M &C &N &M &C &C &C &C &C &M &M &C

&C &M &C &C &M &C &M &C &M &M &C &M &M &V

&N &V &M &V &C &M &C &C &C &C &N &V &M &B

&M &B &V &V &C &C &C &B &V &V &V &B &V &V

Quick Picks
All seAson Tires s- And T-sPeed rATed Best for three season (non-winter) driving and long tread life: 1 Michelin HydroEdge 8 Kumho Solus KR21 Best for all weather conditions: 2 Continental ProContact ECOPLUS + 4 Hankook Optimo H727 6 Goodyear Assurance TripleTred PerformAnce All seAson H-sPeed rATed Best for three season (non-winter) driving and long tread life: 2 Falken Ziex ZE912 4 Yokohama Avid H4s Best for all weather conditions: 1 Michelin Primacy MXV4 3 Nokian WR G2 5 Kumho Solus KH16

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 179

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180

consumer reports buying guide 2011

Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

Brand & model

Overall score

Three-season driving Dry braking Wet braking Handling Hydroplaning

Winter Comfort driving Ride Ice braking Snow traction Rolling resistance Tread life Noise

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

perfOrmAnCe All-SeASOn v-Speed rATed
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S Firestone Firehawk GTv Bridgestone Turanza Serenity Dunlop Signature Toyo Versado LX General Altimax HP Yokohama Avid V4s Continental ContiProContact Goodyear Eagle GT Bridgestone Potenza G019 Grid Goodyear Eagle ResponseEdge Kumho Ectsa LX Platinum Pirelli P6 Four Seasons Hankook Optimo H418 Fuzion VRi
84 82 80 80 78 78 76 76 76 74 74 72 70 70 70

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

&N &N &N &N &N &C &N &M &M &N &M &C &C &C &M

&M &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M

&M &N &N &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C

&M &M &M &M &M &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M

&C &C &V &C &V &V &B &C &V &V &V &V &C &C &C

&C &V &V &C &C &V &B &V &C &V &V &C &C &M &C

&C &M &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &V &C &C &M &M &C

&M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &V &M &M &M &M &V

&V &V &V &V &V &V &V &C &V &B &V &V &V &C &V

&C &V &V &C &V &V &B &V &B &C &V &V &B &V &B

Quick Picks
PerformAnce All seAson V-sPeed rATed Best for three season (non-winter) driving and long tread life: 2 Firestone Firehawk GTv 3 Bridgestone Turanza Serenity 5 Toyo Versado LX 6 General Altimax HP Best for all weather conditions: 1 Michelin Pilot Exalto A/S 4 Dunlop Signature

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 180

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tires
Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

181

Brand & model

Overall score

Three-season driving Winter Comfort driving Dry braking Wet braking Ride Dry handling Wet handling Ice braking Hydroplaning Snow traction Rolling resistance Tread Life Noise

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

Uhp All-SeASOn
1 Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season 2 Sumitomo HTR A/S PO1 3 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus 4 Continental Extreme Contact DWS 5 Sumitomo HTR + 6 BFGoodrich g-Force Super Sport A/S 7 Nitto Premium NT850 Potenza 8 Bridgestone Position RE960AS Pole 9 Goodyear Eagle F1 All Season 10 Goodyear Eagle GT 11 Falken Ziex ZE912 12 Kumho Ecsta ASX 13 Yokohama Advan S.4. 14 Dunlop SP Sport Signature 15 Maxxis Victra Z4S 16 Nitto Neo Gen 17 Nexen N7000
Ratings Key
82 82 80 80 78 78 78 76 76 76 76 74 74 72 72 70 70

&M &M &M &N &M &C &C &C &M &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &M &N &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &N &M &M &N &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &V &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &B &M &M &M &M &M &V &C &C &M &C &C &N &N &N &M &N &B &V &C &C &V &B &M &C &M &M &M &C &C &M &M &V &V &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &M &C &C &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &V &N &M &N &M &M &M &N &C &M &V &V &B &C &V &C &B &V &V &V &V &V &C &C &V &V &C &V &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &M &C &C &C &C &M &C &C &V &V &M &V &V &V &M &C &C &C &C &V &V &V &V &V &C &C &V &C &B

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

Quick Picks
UHP All-seAson Tires Best for all weather conditions: 1 Pirelli P Zero Nero All Season 2 Sumitomo HTR A/S PO1 other very good choices: 3 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus 4 Continental Extreme Contact DWS Best for long tread life: 3 Michelin Pilot Sport A/S Plus

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 181

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182

consumer reports buying guide 2011

Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

Brand & model

Overall score

Three-season driving Dry braking Wet braking Dry handling Wet handling Hydroplaning

Comfort Ride Rolling resistance Tread Life Noise

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

Uhp SUmmer
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 Continental Extreme Contact DW Hankook Ventus V12 evo Pirelli P Zero Dunlop SP Sport Maxx TT BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDW Kumho Ecsta SPT Bridgestone Potenza RE050A Pole Position Nitto NT 05 Dunlop Direzza Sport Z1 Star Spec Bridgestone Potenza RE760 Sport Yokohama Advan Sport BFGoodrich g-Force Sport Sumitomo HTR ZIII Maxxis Victra MA-Z1 Nitto iNVO Falken FK-452 Fuzion Zri Yokohama S.drive
82 82 82 80 80 78 78 78 78 78 78 78 76 76 76 74 74 72 70 70 70

&N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N &N

&N &M &N &M &N &C &C &C &V &N &M &N &M &C &V &V &C &B &N &N &M &M &C &V &V &V &V &N &M &M &C &N &C &M &V &V &N &N &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &N &M &M &N &C &N &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &V &C &C &M &V &M &C &V &V &V &V &C &C &C &V &C &C &V &C &B &V &V &V &V &B &V &C

&N &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M

&M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &N

&N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M

&N &M &N &N &M &M &N &N &N

&C &C &M &C &C &C &C &C &C

&M &M &M &M &M &C &V &B &C

&C &M &M &C &C &V &C &V &C

&B &C &B &V &V &B &V &C &B

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

Quick Picks
UHP sUmmer Tires Best UHP summer tires overall: 1 Goodyear Eagle F1 Asymmetric 2 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx GT 3 Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 other good choices: 4 Continental Extreme Contact DW 5 Hankook Ventus V12 evo

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 182

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tires
Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

183

Brand & model

Overall score

Winter Three-season driving Comfort driving Dry braking Wet braking Ride Ice braking Handling Snow traction Hydroplaning Noise Rolling resistance

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

WinTer TireS
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
Michelin X-Ice XI 2 General Altimax Arctic Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5 Michelin Primacy Alpin PA3 Nokian Hakkapeliitta R Continental ExtremeWinterContact Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 Pirelli Sottozero 210 Series II Dunlop Graspic DS-2 Hankook Winter i*Pike Gislaved Nordfrost 5 Toyo Observe G-02 Plus Yokohama ice Guard iG20 Goodyear Ultra Grip Ice Firestone Winterforce Cooper Weather-Master S/T 2 Hankook icebear W300
84 78 78 76 74 74 72 70 70 70 68 64 62 62 58 54 50

&N &N &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &B

&N &M &M &C &M &M &M &V &N &C &C &M &M &C &C &V &C

&B &B &B &C &V &C &V &V &B &B &C &B &B &B &B &V &V

&V &M &C &M &C &V &V &M &V &C &C &V &V &V &C &C &M

&V &V &V &C &C &C &C &C &B &C &V &B &V &B &B &V &M

&V &M &M &N &C &V &C &N &C &N &C &C &V &N &N &N &M

&N &C &C &N &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &C

&M &C &V &M &M &M &C &C &C &V &C &B &B &C &B &V &C

&M &V &N &M &M &C &C &V &M &C &C &M &M &V &V &B &V

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

Quick Picks
WinTer Tires Best for severe winter conditions: 1 Michelin X-Ice XI 2 2 General Altimax Arctic 3 Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 183

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184

consumer reports buying guide 2011

Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

Brand & model

Overall Score

Winter Three-season driving Comfort driving Ice Dry braking Wet braking Snow Ride Handling Hydroplaning Noise Rolling Resistance

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

perfOrmAnCe WinTer
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15
Nokian WR G2 Hankook Winter i*cept evo Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3 Nokian Hakkapeliitta R Goodyear Ultra Grip Performance 2 Continental ContiWinterContact TS830P Dunlop SP Winter Sport 3D Bridgestone Blizzak WS60 Vredestein Wintrac Xtreme Toyo Snowprox S952 Bridgestone Blizzak LM-60 Nokian Hakkapeliitta 5 Pirelli Sottozero Winter 240 Series II Yokohama W.drive Nitto Winter SN1
76 76 76 74 74 74 74 74 72 72 72 72 72 70 70

&N &M &N &N &N &M &N &N &M &N &N &N &N &M &C

&M &M &M &N &M &M &C &N &M &C &N &M &C &C &M

&C &C &C &B &C &C &C &V &C &V &B &B &V &V &V

&C &M &C &V &C &M &M &V &C &C &V &V &C &C &C

&M &M &M &V &C &C &C &B &C &C &V &B &C &C &C

&C &M &M &C &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &M &M &M

&M &M &M &M &M &M &C &C &C &M &C &C &M &M &M

&C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &V &V &C &V &V &C

&M &C &N &N &M &C &C &M &M &M &C &N &C &M &C

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

Quick Picks
PerformAnce WinTer Best for severe winter performance: 1 Nokian WR G2 2 Hankook Winter i*cept evo 3 Michelin Pilot Alpin PA3

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 184

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tires
Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

185

rt Rolling Resistance

Brand model

Overall Score

Three-season driving Dry braking Wet braking Handling Hydroplaning

Winter Comfort driving Ride Ice braking Snow traction Rolling resistance Tread life Noise

Noise

C C C C C

C

C C C V V C V V C

&M &C &N &N &M &C &C &M &M &M &C &N &C &M &C

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

All-SeASOn TrUCk
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
General Grabber HTS Continental CrossContact LX Kumho Road Venture APT KL51 Cooper Discoverer CTS Michelin LTX M/S Yokohama Geolandar H/T-S G051 Firestone Destination LE Bridgestone Dueler H/L Alenza Dayton Timberline HT II Pirelli Scorpion STR A Goodyear Wrangler SR-A Dunlop Radial Rover A/T Hankook DynaPro AS RH03 Goodyear Fortera TripleTred Toyo Open Country H/T Nitto Dura Grappler Highway Terrain Dunlop Grandtrek AT20 Uniroyal Laredo Cross Country BFGoodrich Rugged Trail T/A Falken Ziex S/TZ-04
80 73 72 68 67 67 66 66 66 65 64 63 63 63 62 61 58 55 53 50

&N &N &N &M &C &M &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &C

&M &V &C &C &N &C &C &M &V &M &V &V &V &V &C &M &C &V &C &M &C &N &C &C &C &C &C &V &V &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &C &M &C &C &C &C &M &M &N &B

&N &M &M &C &V &C &C &C &C &C &V &V &C &C &V

&N &M &M &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &M &M &M &M

&M &M &M &M &N &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M &M

&C &C &C &M &N &M &M &M &C &C &N &M &V &C &N

&V &V &V &V &M &V &C &C &C &V &C &C &V &V &V

&M &C &C &C &C &C &M &C &M &C &M &M &M &C &C

&M &M &M &N &C &N &C &C &M &M &M &M &C &M &M

&C &C &C &V &C &V &V &C &V &B &M &V &C &C &C

&V &C &B &C &M &C &B &V &B &B &C &C &C &V &C

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

Quick Picks
All-seAson TrUck Tires Best for three season driving: 1 General Grabber HTS 2 Continental CrossContact LX for longer tread life: 2 Continental CrossContact LX 4 Cooper Discoverer CTS

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 185

9/14/10 3:22:31 PM

186

consumer reports buying guide 2011

Within types, in performance order. Gray key numbers indicate Quick Picks.

Brand & model

Overall score

Three-season driving Dry braking Wet braking Handling Hydroplaning

Winter Comfort driving Ride Ice braking Snow traction Rolling resistance Tread life Noise

0

100 P | F | G | VG | E

All-TerrAin TrUCk
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Pirelli Scorpion ATR Yokohama Geolandar A/T-S Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo Michelin LTX A/T 2 Toyo Open Country A/T Kumho Road Venture AT KL-78 Firestone Destination A/T Nitto Terra Grappler All Terrain Cooper Discoverer ATR Fuzion XTi Kelly Safari Trex Dayton Timberline AT II Goodyear Wrangler SilentArmor General Grabber AT 2
79 73 71 68 68 66 66 65 63 61 58 55 51 50

Ratings Key

NExcellent MVery good 3Good 2Fair 1Poor

&N &M &M &C &M &M &M &M &C &M &C &C &C &B

&M &N &C &V &V &V &V &V &V &C &V &V &V &V

&C &C &C &M &M &C &C &C &C &C &V &C &C &C

&M &N &N &N &N &M &M &M &N &M &C &M &C &N

&C &C &M &C &C &N &C &M &C &C &C &V &M &M

&V &B &V &V &B &V &C &C &V &V &M &B &B &B

&C &C &C &C &M &C &M &C &V &C &M &C &C &M

&M &C &M &C &M &V &N &C &C &C &M &M &C &B

&B &V &V &C &V &V &V &V &V &V &V &V &B &B

&C &V &V &N &V &V &C &C &V &V &C &V &M &C

Quick Picks
All-TerrAin TrUck Tires Best for three season driving: 1 Pirelli Scorpion ATR 2 Yokohama Geolandar A/T-S 3 Bridgestone Dueler A/T Revo for longer tread life: 1 Pirelli Scorpion ATR

guide to the ratings
overall score is based on 12 to 14 tests, with braking, emergency handling, and hydroplaning resistance weighed most heavily for most tires. Snow traction and ice braking weigh more heavily for winter tires. Braking tests on dry pavement are from 60 mph; on wet pavement, from 40 mph; and on ice, from 10 mph. Handling combines how well a tire did in wet and dry cornering grip, steering feel, and an emergency handling maneuver. Wet handling and wet cornering grip for UHP tires is evaluated by driving the car through a wet slalom course. Hydroplaning denotes a tire’s ability to resist skimming along the surface of standing water and causing loss of steering ability. snow traction tests denote how far a vehicle has to travel to accelerate from 5 to 20 mph on flat, moderately packed snow. ride and noise are evaluated subjectively, on rough and smooth roads. rolling resistance, as measured on a dynamometer, is a factor in fuel economy. Tread life is an indicator of wear potential from CR’s driving test.

178-186 Tire Ratings BG11.indd 186

9/14/10 3:22:31 PM

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Copyright of Consumer Reports Buying Guide is the property of Consumers Union and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use.