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April 2008
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Top Picks 2008
The best models for 2008

This year’s Top Picks in 10 categories include four new models. For the first time since 2005, a U.S. model, the redesigned Chevrolet Silverado, made the list as our choice in pickup trucks. And for the first time ever, a South Korean automaker is represented: The Hyundai Elantra SE and Santa Fe are our top small sedan and midsized SUV, respectively. The fourth new entry is the Lexus LS 460L, the highest-scoring vehicle we’ve tested and best among luxury sedans.


Choosing the Top Picks

Our Top Picks are the most well-rounded models in their categories. Each must meet these stringent requirements:
  • Road tests: Each Top Pick scores at or near the top of its category among more than 260 vehicles we’ve recently tested at our Auto Test Center.
  • Reliability: Each has an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on the problems subscribers reported on almost 1.3 million vehicles in our Annual Car Reliability Survey.
  • Safety: Top Picks have performed adequately in overall safety if tested by the government or the insurance industry. Starting this year, they also must provide a critical safety feature, electronic stability control (ESC), either as standard equipment or as a readily available option. To see how other models compare, consult the Vehicle Ratings charts, (available to subscribers).

Green car - Toyota Prius
Small sedan - Hyundai Elantra SE
Family sedan - Honda Accord
Upscale sedan - Infiniti G35
Luxury sedan - Lexus LS 460L
Fun to drive - Mazda MX-5 Miata
Small SUV - Toyota RAV4
Midsized SUV - Hyundai Santa Fe
Minivan - Toyota Sienna
Pickup truck - Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
 
Toyota Prius
Green car Toyota Prius
The gas/electric Prius hybrid retains its lock on this category for the fifth straight year. Despite a wave of new hybrid models, the Prius’ 44 mpg overall is still the best we’ve measured in any five-passenger car. The interior is roomy and versatile, and the Prius has been very reliable. Price: $24,000.
 
Hyundai Elantra SE
Small sedan Hyundai Elantra SE
Redesigned for 2007, the Elantra is a well-rounded small car. It provides good fuel economy, a comfortable ride, and an interior that’s quiet, roomy, and well equipped. It also has standard electronic stability control, a proven safety feature that’s absent on many other small cars. The Honda Civic EX and Mazda3 are more fun to drive, but lack ESC on more affordable versions. Price: $18,000.
 
Honda Accord
Family sedan Honda Accord
Redesigned for 2008, the Accord is a well-rounded, roomy sedan with a comfortable ride, agile handling, and smooth, refined powertrains. Electronic stability control is standard on all models, and crash-test results are impressive. Although the Nissan Altima edged out the Accord in our Ratings, most versions of the Altima lack ESC, a requirement to be a Top Pick. The Accord is priced at about $22,000 to $31,000.
 
Infiniti G35
Upscale sedan Infiniti G35
One of the highest-rated sedans we’ve tested, the G35 successfully blends sportiness and luxury to offer an inviting overall package. Available in rear- or all-wheel drive, it has an exuberant powertrain, agile handling, and a well-crafted interior. Price: $33,000 to $35,000.
 
Lexus LS 460L
Luxury sedan Lexus LS 460L
With a score of 99 out of 100 in our road test, the LS is our highest-rated vehicle. It provides a no-compromise environment of comfort and roominess, coupled with an isolating quietness. It also delivers quick acceleration and relatively good fuel economy. This car is brimming with electronic amenities, but the controls are easy to use. Price: $77,000.
 
Mazda MX-5 Miata
Fun to drive Mazda MX-5 Miata
With its balanced handling, quick and precise steering, and crisp-shifting six-speed manual transmission, the Miata is a true sports car. It virtually tied the Porsche Boxster in our test scoring, but at about $27,000, it’s roughly half the price. The manual top can easily be lowered or raised with one hand from the driver’s seat. If you want an affordable, fun-to-drive car with the practicality of a four-door hatchback, consider the Mazdaspeed3.
 
Toyota RAV4
Small SUV Toyota RAV4
The impressive RAV4 is versatile, comfortable, and roomy enough for a small third-row seat. The spirited V6 version accelerates quickly (the same as a Mazda Miata from 0 to 60 mph), yet delivers an excellent 22 mpg overall. The four-cylinder version gets 23 mpg, the best of any nonhybrid SUV we’ve tested. Price: $23,000 to $30,000.
 
Hyundai Santa Fe
Midsized SUV Hyundai Santa Fe
Redesigned for 2007, the much-improved Santa Fe edged out the Honda Pilot in our tests. It provides a quiet and roomy interior, excellent fit and finish, a refined powertrain, a relatively good ride, and an optional third-row seat. Standard ESC helps provide secure handling. Price: $22,000 to $31,000.
 
Toyota Sienna
Minivan Toyota Sienna
The Sienna is our pick for the second year in a row. Its spacious, quiet, and refined interior is on par with some luxury sedans. And its V6 engine is powerful and fuel efficient. It is also the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. Price: $24,000 to $37,000. The Honda Odyssey, on the other hand, is more agile and, dare we say, fun to drive for a minivan.
 
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
Pickup truck Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
The redesigned Silverado is considerably improved. It achieves a nice balance between work attributes and livability, including a generous payload rating, a comfortable ride, improved interior quality and steering feel, and easy access. ESC is standard on all crew-cab models. Price: $27,000 to $39,000. The GMC Sierra is virtually identical to the Silverado. The redesigned Toyota Tundra outscored the Silverado in our tests, but first-year reliability of the 4WD, V8 version was below average.