Consumer Reports' experts talk midsized SUVs

Toyota Highlander gains recommendation, three others lose it

Published: April 08, 2014 01:00 PM

Toyota Highlander
The redesigned SUV earned an Acceptable overall score in the IIHS small overlap test.
Photo: IIHS

Recently, we've heard a frequent question: When will we finish testing the redesigned-for-2014 Toyota Highlander? Talking Cars with Consumer Reports Episode 29 finally answers that question.

Turns out the Highlander scores very well, rising to the top of our midsized SUV Ratings. Another bonus is that the Highlander received an "Acceptable" in the difficult IIHS small overlap test. Not all mid-sized SUVs can claim that, with three models—Honda Pilot, Kia Sorento, and Mazda CX-9—earning a "Poor" in that test. That means Consumer Reports has dropped the recommendations for those SUVs.

Auto Test Director Jake Fisher and Senior Auto Engineers Gabe Shenhar and Tom Mutchler discuss the implications of these tests and all of the factors that go into a CR recommendation, as well as buyer considerations when faced with a newly-designed model.

Speaking of new models, we then discuss our first impressions of the totally redesigned Chrysler 200. A clear improvement over the outgoing 200 and Dodge Avenger, the 200 can't "out-practical" sedans like the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry, but it instead gives buyers a stylish, lavishly-equipped alternative. We'll hold our final thoughts until we get more time with a production 200, especially the four-cylinder version.

Finally Tom gives his thoughts in a new feature, "One Minute Rant," about Jimmy Fallon's choice of the not-on-sale-yet 2015 Ford F-150. Trucks have been in the news recently with the Ram 1500 outselling the Chevrolet Silverado in March, a very unusual happening and another bit of bad news for beseiged General Motors.

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