As 2015 becomes history, Consumer Reports reflects back on the models that are the highest-scoring vehicles in their class, looking at road test scores. Reviewing these best-in-class results, it's clear that you don’t have to spend a ton to get a good performing, reliable car.

All the models on this list are recommended, which means they excelled in our testing, haven’t failed any crash tests, and have at least average reliability.

To present these best-in-class cars without fear or favor, we include both reasons to buy one and reasons not to. Click through the car names to read the complete road test and check Ratings for reliability and owner satisfaction, among other things.  

The Honda Fit is a best-in-class car, says Consumer Reports

Subcompact: Honda Fit

Price range: $15,790-$21,065
Why buy one:

• Lots of space in a small footprint, including a relatively spacious rear seat
• Very versatile interior with unique seat folding configurations
• Excellent fuel economy
• Good handling
• Comes with lots of equipment

Why not buy one:
• Slow
• Noisy
• Hard riding
• Frustrating audio system on most trim levels

Runner-up: Chevrolet Sonic

Read the complete Honda Fit road test.


Compact: Subaru Impreza

Price range: $18,295-$23,595
Why buy one:

• Standard all-wheel drive; the only small sedan that offers it
• One of the cheapest and most fuel-efficient all-wheel-drive cars you can buy
• Comfortable ride, especially for a small sedan
• Spacious rear seat
• Good visibility and simple controls make it easy to live with
• Excellent IIHS crash test results
• Available EyeSight active safety features

Why not buy one:
• So-so fuel economy compared to some other small sedans
• Lacks the quietness and solid feel of the Chevrolet Cruze, Ford Focus, and Volkswagen Golf

Runner-up: Kia Forte

Read the complete Subaru Impreza road test.


Subaru Legacy

Midsized: Subaru Legacy

Price range: $21,745-$29,945
Why buy one:

• By far the most affordable all-wheel-drive midsized sedan
• Little or no price premium for all-wheel drive
• Comfortable ride with responsive handling
• Excellent driver visibility
• Easy controls
• Well-calibrated continuously variable transmission aids fuel economy without the usual racket
• Fully up-to-date infotainment system
• Scores "Good" in IIHS crash tests, helping earn it Top Safety Pick+ status
• Optional EyeSight options package includes comprehensive electronic safety features

Why not buy one:
• Bland styling that looks a lot like the previous generation
• Leisurely acceleration
• Clock and outside temperature displays are tiny and hard to pick out

Runner-up: Toyota Camry Hybrid

Read the complete Subaru Legacy road test.


Large car Chevrolet Impala

Large: Chevrolet Impala

Price range: $27,095-$40,810
Why buy one:

• Very roomy interior with a great rear seat and huge trunk
• Comfortable cruiser, with a plush ride and a very quiet cabin
• Surprisingly agile handling
• Intuitive controls
• Lots of car (with lots of features) for the money
• Readily available and attractively priced advanced electronic safety features

Why not buy one:
• Rear visibility is limited

Runner-up: Kia Cadenza

Read the complete Chevrolet Impala road test.


Luxury Compact car BMW 328i

Luxury Compact: BMW 328i

Price range: $33,150-$63,200
Why buy one:

• Fun to drive, thanks to engaging handling and responsive powertrains
• Fuel efficient with either the gasoline or diesel four-cylinder engines (the diesel model actually scores 2 points higher, but most will be satisfied with the gas engines)
• Rides well
• Very comfortable and well-finished cabin
• You can still get a manual transmission!
• Available as a wagon, which is rare in this segment
• Free maintenance for four years

Why not buy one:
• Gets rather pricey with common options
• Piecemeal options are expensive
• Rear seat not roomy enough for some families
• Controls and automatic shifter are complicated
• Some diesel clatter in the 328d

Runner-up: Buick Regal

Read the complete BMW 328i road test.


Minivan Honda Odyssey

Minivan: Honda Odyssey

Price range: $29,275-$44,750
Why buy one:

• Very flexible interior, with comfortable seating for eight and a large cargo area
• Best fuel economy of any minivan
• One of the most child-seat friendly vehicles available, easily fitting up to three car seats side-by-side in the second row
• Standard electronic safety equipment, including forward-collision and lane-departure warning systems, on higher-trim versions
• Handles better than other minivans and many SUVs
• Very comfortable ride and reasonable levels of noise
• Clever features, like a cooled beverage compartment
• Offers a unique built-in vacuum cleaner

Why not buy one:
• Confounding up-level radio controls
• No all-wheel drive
• Fit and finish is not particularly plush for the price
• Only way to get blind-spot monitoring is on the top Touring Elite trim

Runner-up: Toyota Sienna

Read the complete Honda Odyssey road test.


Small SUV: Subaru Forester

Price range: $22,395-$33,795
Why buy one:

• Class-leading fuel economy
• Extremely practical package, with a roomy rear seat, simple controls, and spacious cargo area
• Unusually good view out, especially for a modern car
• Easy access
• Very capable all-wheel-drive system, with some limited off-road ability
• Well-equipped for the money
• Scores "Good" in IIHS crash tests, helping earn it Top Safety Pick+ status
• Optional EyeSight options package includes comprehensive electronic safety features
• Available manual transmission
• Contemporary touch-screen infotainment system

Why not buy one:
• Ride isn't as cushy as previous Foresters
• Cabin can get noisy
• Fairly basic and Spartan interior
• You can only buy a Forester with all-wheel drive, whether you want it or not
• No blind-spot monitor system available

Runner-up: Toyota RAV4

Read the complete Subaru Forester road test.


Midsized SUV Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid

Price range: $29,990-$50,485
Why buy one:

• Accommodating interior and simple controls make it easy to live with
• Lots of features for the money, including a standard backup camera
• It's likely to be reliable
• Hybrid version provides excellent fuel economy
• Comprehensive and easy-to-use infotainment system

Why not buy one:
• Effective safety technologies such as blind-spot monitoring and forward-collision warning are only available with the top-of-the-line Limited trim
• Limited and Hybrid versions seat only seven
• Some interior trim looks a bit low-rent
• Not as quiet or plush-riding as the previous-generation model

Runner-up: Kia Sorento

Read the complete Toyota Highlander road test.


Large SUV: Dodge Durango

Price range: $30,495-$44,145
Why buy one:
• It's comfortable, refined, and very quiet inside, with lots of luxury features
• Handles better than you'd expect for such a big SUV and feels surefooted when pushed
• Towing capacity is higher than most other SUVs, and it tows very well
• Chrysler's excellent Uconnect touch-screen control system is among the best
• Available V8 engine is unusual in this class

Why not buy one:
• Fuel economy won't win any prizes
• Maneuvers and parks like, well, a large SUV
• Rear visibility is so-so

Runner-up: Chevrolet Traverse/GMC Acadia

Read the complete Dodge Durango road test.


Compact Luxury SUV: BMW X3

Price range: $38,950-$46,800
Why buy one:

• Retains BMW's trademark agility despite being a SUV
• Combines strong acceleration and good fuel economy
• Free maintenance for four years
• Impeccable fit and finish
• Comfortable seats
• Good combination of size and utility

Why not buy one:
• Stiff run-flat tires compromise low-speed ride
• So-so rear visibility but a rear camera is optional
• Controls take some getting used to
• Gets expensive, especially once you start adding options

Runner-up: Audi Q5

Read the complete BMW X3 road test.