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Toyota Prius Touring tops 2009 Consumer Reports ratings

Feb. 26. 2009 -- Consumer Reports has identified the best new-car values in nine categories, from small cars to SUVs, and named the Toyota Prius Touring as the best overall value among 300 cars, according to its 2009 Annual Auto Issue.

To determine which cars are the best values, CR looked at overall road-test scores, five-year owner-cost estimates, and predicted reliability ratings for more than 300 recently tested vehicles. CR then divided each vehicle's five-year owner cost by its overall road-test score to get the cost of each test-score point -- the lower the cost per point, the better the value.

2009 Toyota Prius Touring is Consumer Reports top pick for overall value.The Prius Touring provides the best overall value because of its comparatively low owner-cost estimate of $26,250 over five years -- and a relatively high road-test score of 80 points out of 100.

CR highlights the best new-car value vehicles in nine vehicle categories -- small cars, family cars, upscale cars, hatchbacks/wagons, sporty cars, minivans, small SUVs, midsized SUVs, and pickup trucks.

Top picks for 2009 in midsize SUV and pickup truck categories

Also in its annual auto issue, CR has named its Top Picks for 2009, which includes two new models -- the Toyota Highlander and the Chevrolet Avalanche, as top choices for mid-sized SUVs and pickups.

Having proven reliable in its first year since a major redesign, the top-rated Toyota Highlander dethroned the Hyundai Santa Fe, last year's winner in the mid-sized SUVs category, while the improved reliability of the new Chevrolet Avalanche helped it to replace the Chevrolet Silverado as top pickup.

The most reliable used cars

Value-minded consumers know that buying a reliable used car is often the best choice, but that finding one takes research. To help simplify the process, CR has identified the most and least reliable used cars for 10 years -- from model years 1999 to 2008.

Reliability data was compiled from the magazine's Annual Auto Survey, which generated responses about more than 1.4 million new and used vehicles. Toyota and Honda dominated the majority of the categories, demonstrating consistent reliability and performance, but some recent domestic models are also worthy choices.

The report also features a list of 'Used Cars to Avoid' and the 'Worst of the Worst,' which names vehicles with multiple years of much-worse-than average reliability.

Automaker report cards

For the third consecutive year, Honda has earned class-leader status for building the best all-around vehicles for American drivers, according to the Automaker Report Cards published in Consumer Reports' Annual Auto Issue.

At the opposite end of the annual ranking is Chrysler, which fared even worse than last year. The company's poor-performing products and sinking reliability results have kept all Chrysler-, Dodge-, and Jeep-badged vehicles off CR's Recommended list.

European automakers, traditionally great performers overall, have lagged in reliability but there have been notable improvements with several models. Mercedes-Benz showed the most significant improvement, moving up in the overall ranking (72) to tie with BMW and Volkswagen. Reliability was greatly improved across most of the Mercedes-Benz model line, with 67% of tested vehicles now recommended compared to none in the prior year.

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