If you were shopping for a small SUV and read about the Jeep Compass in the Detroit Free Press, you'd probably move it to the top of your list. "Four stars out of four," the paper gushed. "It's a new kind of Jeep, and a successful one."
But if your research led you to Car and Driver, you'd probably strike the Compass from your list.
"The name says Jeep, but the vibe says cheap," sneered the magazine, which complained about an interior "with all the passion of a rubbish-bin lid."
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Whom to believe? That's where the U.S. News car and truck rankings come in. Even though an automobile is one of the most expensive products most people will ever buy, car reviews are notoriously subjective.
Now, U.S. News is taking the bias out of the advice, with a unique ranking system that distills information from numerous reviews into a single numerical score between 1 and 10.
The scores allow us to rank virtually every mainstream car on the market, from best to worst in 23 categories—while giving consumers an invaluable new tool for doing head-to-head comparisons of every vehicle on their shopping list. We've done the research so you don't have to.
The data we have on our website, rankingsandreviews.com, provide a trove of useful information for shoppers and enthusiasts alike. The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are tied for No. 1 as the highest-ranked midsize sedans, for instance, but they're still markedly different cars.
The Accord has an edge in performance, a subcategory we measure, while the Camry offers better exterior and interior styling—the kind of information that can help buyers find the car that best meets their personal tastes.
And anybody seeking a hybrid should be advised that the Camry version, fairly new to the market, outranks the Toyota Prius, long the favorite of environmentally conscious consumers.
Since we also include pricing data, our rankings serve as a tipsheet on good values and rising or fading brands. Two models from Kia, the aggressively priced South Korean nameplate, have broken the top three in their categories: the Sorento SUV and Sedona minivan.
The Cadillac Escalade preserves some street cred for the domestic automakers, besting Mercedes and Land Rover as the top large luxury SUV.
The new Toyota Tundra full-size pickup edges the Ford F-150—long Detroit's king of the road—but still trails the Chevy Silverado.
As for the Jeep Compass, the experts, on the whole, side with Car and Driver: Out of 20 entrants in its category, it's tied for last.
Affordable Small Cars
Honda places first and second in the Affordable Small Car class, with the Civic and the Fit. Both cars impress critics with a combination of quality, versatility, and value. The fun-to-drive Mazda3 nabs third place.
|1||Honda Civic||$14,810-$24,590||$13,644-$23,174||23 city/38 hwy|
|2||Honda Fit||$13,850--$15,970||$13,357--$15,392||31 city/38 hwy|
|3||Mazda MAZDA3||$13,895--$20,845||$13,022-$19,502||25 city/35 hwy|
Affordable Midsize Cars
Combined, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry account for almost 1 million cars sold in a year—and they tie for No.1 in Affordable Midsize Cars.
The Accord has a long history of reliability and a new, more upscale design, while the Camry offers similar reliability and a smooth, comfortable ride. The Ford Fusion slides into third as an affordable, well-rounded sedan that has impressed auto writers nationwide.
|1 (tie)||Honda Accord||$20,360-$30,360||$16,890-$26,717||21 city/31 hwy|
|1 (tie)||Toyota Camry||$18,470-$28,020||$16,898-$24,937||22 city/34 hwy|
|3||Ford Fusion||$22,935-$24,020||$21,096-$22,073||19 city/26 hwy|
Upscale Midsize Cars
As a top seller, it's no surprise that the BMW 3-Series ranks No.1 in Upscale Midsize Cars (also called the "Entry Luxury" class). Camry's up-market twin, the Lexus ES, comes in at No.2, with a ride so quiet that some call it Zen-like. The new Infiniti G37 takes third, with BMW-like driving performance at an un-BMW price.
|1||BMW 3-Series||$32,400-$40,800||$29,810-$37,535||19 city/29 hwy|
|2||Lexus ES||$33,470-$33,470||$29,676-$29,676||21 city/30 hwy|
|3||Infiniti G37||$34,250-$35,550||$31,497-$32,668||18 city/24 hwy|
Affordable Compact SUVs
In the popular Compact SUVs field, the Honda CR-V outperforms the Kia Sorento and Toyota RAV4. The CR-V gets ahead with its strong combination of quality and value. The RAV4 gets knocked into the No.2 spot because of small problems like an awkward rear door.
|1||Honda CR-V||$20,600-$28,000||$19,184-$26,027||22 city/30 hwy|
|2||Toyota RAV4||$20,950-$26,520||$19,378-$24,132||21 city/30 hwy|
|3||Kia Sorento||$19,995-$26,195||$19,050-$24,370||17 city/23 hwy|
Affordable Midsize SUVs
Despite an aging design, the Honda Pilot is the top-ranked affordable midsize SUV because of its usual Honda-mix of practicality and good road manners. Sportier driving characteristics are the #1 Nissan Murano's claim to fame, while the Buick Enclave impresses with its comfortable, luxurious and quiet interior.
|1||Honda Pilot||$27,095-$35,445||$24,544-$32,089||17 city/24 hwy|
|2||Nissan Murano||$27,750-$31,850||$25,519-$29,289||19 city/25 hwy|
|3||Buick Enclave||$32,055-$36,255||$29,971-$33,898||16 city/22 hwy|
Luxury Midsize SUVs
With typical Lexus quality, style and cachet, the Lexus RX 350 wins the #1 spot among Luxury Midsize SUVs.
The Infiniti FX uses its good performance and excellent reliability to come in at #2. The Acura MDX take the #3 spot.
|1||Lexus RX 350||$37,400-$38,800||$33,099-$34,338||17 city/23 hwy|
|2||Infiniti FX||$13,850--$49,850||$34,750-$45,796||14 city/23 hwy|
|3||Acura MDX||$39,995-$47,795||$36,266-$43,325||17 city/22 hwy|