Tesla is Consumer Reports’ top pick

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Posted: Wednesday, February 26, 2014 12:00 am

Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors Inc. has earned the ardor of investors and the highest U.S. safety ratings. It can also add the honor of having the best-reviewed car of the year by Consumer Reports.

Tesla’s battery-powered Model S beat the Audi A6, Toyota Prius and BMW 328i in Consumer Reports’ annual ranking, becoming the first U.S. car to receive a “best overall” pick, the independent product-testing magazine said Tuesday. The reviewers singled out the Model S for its “blistering acceleration, razor-sharp handling, compliant ride and versatile cabin.”

“It’s truly a groundbreaking car,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ director of auto testing, who oversaw this year’s review of 260 vehicles. “You get into it, and it really stands out. It’s the very best car I’ve ever driven.”

The Model S is priced from $62,400 to $85,900 on Tesla’s U.S. website. Consumer Reports said the version it tested had a list price of $89,650.

The top model ranking for the youngest U.S. automaker may raise the profile even further for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla, which has said it expects Model S deliveries to increase about 56 percent to 35,000 cars this year. Musk co-founded the all-electric car maker in 2003.

Tesla shares rose about 15 percent Tuesday after Morgan Stanley more than doubled its price target. The shares more than quadrupled last year, making it the second-best performer in the Russell 1000 Index.

Tesla’s current market value is more than half that of General Motors Co.’s.

Consumer Reports tests and evaluates cars for how well they drive, interior-finish quality, safety and reliability.

The Dodge Ram 1500 was selected as the best pickup truck, the first time a Chrysler Group vehicle has led one of the magazine’s 10 “top pick” categories since the 1998 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV, Consumer Reports said.

Japanese cars made by companies such as Toyota Motor Corp., Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd.’s Subaru and Honda Motor Co. had earned 70 percent of the magazine’s best-car spots since 1997. This year, that was down to half.

The magazine also ranked car brands in terms of the overall quality based on their vehicles’ performance in road tests and reliability data from a survey of subscribers.

Luxury brands generally scored the best. Toyota’s Lexus received 79 points out of 100, followed by Honda’s Acura with 75 and Audi with 74.

Consumer Reports’ top vehicles

Best overall: Tesla Model S

Luxury car: Audi A6

Sports sedan: BMW 328i

Midsized sedan: Honda Accord

Green car: Toyota Prius

Compact car: Subaru Impreza

Small SUV: Subaru Forester

Midsized SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe

Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Pickup truck: Dodge Ram 1500

Consumer Reports brand Rankings

1. Lexus

2. Acura

3. Audi

4. Subaru

5. Toyota

6. Mazda

7. Honda

8. Infiniti

9. Mercedes-Benz

10. BMW

11. Volvo

12. Buick

13. GMC

14. Chrysler

15. Kia

16. Hyundai

17. Volkswagen

18. Nissan

19. Chevrolet

20. Cadillac

21. Dodge

22. Ford

23. Jeep

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