It's the end of one year and the beginning of a new one, so of course automotive lists are everywhere. Not all lists are created equal, however. The folks at Consumer Reports certainly do some of the toughest, most fair-minded auto tests out there. So let's pay close attention to the consumer nonprofit's recommendations for the 10 best cars of 2015.
As you look down the list, you'll notice a decidedly German accent. Six of the 10 vehicles are designed in Deutchland. But in a hopeful sign for the resurgence of American car manufacturers, four of the slots went to U.S. makes. No Japanese or Korean models made this year's list. Perhaps that's because vehicles from those countries excel at lower price points than the ones Consumer Reports rates highest. And it is indeed a pricey list. The most budget-minded is the Chevy Impala, which still costs nearly $28,000 at the low range of its MSRP for the base model. At the top of the cost spectrum, including all options, is the cool quarter-million you'd pay for the Mercedes S550. Whoa.
"The least expensive is the Chevy Impala, at nearly $28K."
A note about methodology: Consumer Reports says it buys all its test cars anonymously and puts them through their paces at a test track in Connecticut. In total, the consumer advocate agency does more than 50 tests. Consumer Reports claims that "no one tests cars like Consumer Reports. And when we say these cars the best, we have the data to prove it."
Here is the list, from top to bottom, with the lowest range of Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price listed:
1. Tesla Model S P85D - $105,000
One of two Teslas in this year's list. The editors of Consumer Reports cite some of the stunning stats this electric car racks up: "The performance geek in us loves that it rockets to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds," the editors effuse, "while delivering 1.02 g's of horizontal accelerative force in less than a quarter-second. No other street-legal car can achieve that."
2. Tesla Model S - $70,000
American-made Tesla took both top spots. Consumer Reports boils down its enthusiasm for this vehicle this way: "Look past its slick styling, futuristic controls, rapid-fire acceleration, and superb handling, and you've still got a car that gets the equivalent of 84 mpg."
3. BMW M235i - $44,150
Giving BMW the nod as the top German car on this year's list might surprise car enthusiasts who have seen the Bavarian reputation for excellence take a hit in recent years.
4. Mercedes-Benz S550 - $95,650
As the editors of Consumer Reports note, the back seat of this sedan is especially fancy, given that if you can afford one, you likely will have a driver too.
5. Porsche 911 - $88,400
Consumer Reports especially liked how this generation of the classic sports car handles corners.
6. Mercedes-Benz E250 Diesel - $52,650
This luxury sedan can go 800 miles between fill-ups.
7. Chevrolet Corvette Stingray - $56,395
Boy, do the car reviewers at Consumer Reports love this vehicle. "General Motors' all-American sports car keeps getting better," they write of the 455-horse power current model.
8. Audi A8 - $81,500
Like the Mercedes E250, the editors loved this vehicle for long road trips.
9. Chevrolet Impala - $27,970
No, that isn't a typo. Consumer Reports gives high marks to this domestic sedan. The consumer agency writes that "the Impala feel[s] more like a German performance sedan than old-school Detroit cruiser."
10. Audi A6 - $46,200
Consider an asterisk to this choice, as the editors note that the diesel hatchback version, the A7, has lost its recommendation because of Volkswagen's emissions scandal. Several Audis use the same engine that VW altered so it could cheat on pollution tests.
So there you have them, the very best cars of 2015 according to Consumer Reports. Whether you drive one of these beauties or something a bit more practical, it's important to keep up with regular scheduled maintenance by bringing your ride in to your local car repair shop.