The best and the worst used cars for 2015 (and some other years)

Subaru-Legacy-2015
The Subaru Legacy was voted the best midsize sedan among 2015 models by Consumer Reports.
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2015 used cars consumer reports
<strong>Consumer Reports voted The Subaru Legacy the best midsize sedan among 2015 models<strong>

Subaru dominates Consumer Reports’ top picks for 2015 used cars

Ted Laturnus

Thinking of buying a used car that’s eight years old? Well, every year, Consumer Reports publishes its “Best And Worst” automobile issue. This is arguably the most comprehensive automobile guide, taking a hard, cold look at new and used cars and SUVs.

Consumer Reports accepts no advertising, so they have no axes to grind or flags to fly (except their own, perhaps). All the cars tested are purchased by the company and passed from employee to employee while they’re evaluated.

According to the company, each vehicle undergoes 50 tests, including track time, braking tests, accident avoidance, fuel economy, data analysis and extensive driving under various conditions, including commuting. According to CR, they spent $2.7 million on new car purchases in 2015.

As far as CR is concerned, the best car overall in 2015 was the Tesla Model S, despite having only average reliability. If there is a flaw in CR’s approach, it’s that they traditionally put too much emphasis on zero-emission vehicles and tend to ignore the real world. Voting Tesla as the best overall is just sophistry, in my opinion, and irrelevant to most consumers.

Back here on Earth, three of CR’s top 10 picks for 2015 came from Subaru, while Toyota scored well for reliability and affordability. Surprisingly, perhaps, General Motors had two models in the top 10. Anyway, here’s the hit list:

  • Best midsize sedan, Subaru Legacy
  • Best green car, Toyota Prius
  • Best small SUV, Subaru Forester
  • Best large car, Chevrolet Impala
  • Best compact car, Subaru Impreza
  • Best luxury car, Audi A6
  • Best sports sedan, Buick Regal
  • Best mini-van, Honda Odyssey
  • Best midsize SUV, Toyota Highlander

If there’s a best category, there must also be a worst. On that score, the manufacturer with the worst report card for predicted reliability and road test scores was Fiat, followed closely by Jeep.

Best brand for overall reliability and drivability was Lexus.

In terms of cars that owners would buy again, there are some surprises. For example, the subcompact with the highest owner satisfaction rating was the Fiat 500, with the Mazda3, Mazda6, Dodge Charger and BMW 328d all getting top marks in their respective categories.

Least satisfying were the Nissan Versa, Nissan Sentra, VW Passat V6, Buick LaCrosse and Infiniti Q50, among others.

According to CR, some of the most expensive 2015 cars to own and operate are the Hyundai Veloster equipped with a manual transmission, the Kia Soul Plus, Chevy Suburban and Land Rover Range Rover.

Cars that are the least expensive to own and operate include the Toyota Prius C, Honda Civic Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Buick Verano.

For flat-out reliability, the Toyota Yaris topped the subcompact list; the Scion xB was top compact car; the VW Passat 1.8 top midsize sedan; Kia Cadenza top large car; and Lexus IS 350 top luxury compact.

Least reliable were the Ford Fiesta, Fiat 500L, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Impala and Mercedes CLA 250.

The results were based on CR’s annual owners survey.

Here are some used models they recommend:

The 2008 Mazda3, 2005 to 2008 Pontiac Vibe, 2005 Acura TL, 2007 to 2008 Kia Optima (four-cylinder), 2005 Honda CR-V, 2005 Honda Pilot, 2010 Subaru Impreza, 2010 to 2012 Kia Soul, 2006 to 2007 Infiniti G35, 2005 to 2006 Acura RL, and 2005 to 2007 Acura MDX.

Some used cars that should be avoided: BMW 330i/335i, Buick Terraza, VW Tiguan, GMC Acadia, Dodge Grand Caravan, Kia Sedona, Mini Countryman, and Nissan Pathfinder.

Ted Laturnus has been an automotive journalist since 1976/ He has been named Canadian Automotive Journalist of the Year twice and is past president of the Automotive Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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