Tesla Model S
Aram Boghosian for The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesThe Tesla Model S electric car.
By Eric Beech

WASHINGTON -- U.S. electric luxury car Tesla Model S was named by Consumer Reports magazine Tuesday as its overall top pick for 2014, while Japanese models took five spots in the annual rankings, their worst showing in the 18-year history of the ratings.

The Ram 1500 was named the top pickup truck, the first time a Chrysler model has cracked the top picks list since 1998. South Korean automaker Hyundai, and German brands BMW and Volkswagen's Audi also had models topping the 10 Consumer Reports categories.

"The competition in the marketplace has grown fierce.
There was a time when a handful of brands dominated our top picks list, but in recent years we've seen a more diverse group make the cut," Rik Paul, Consumer Reports' automotive editor, said in a statement.

The top picks were chosen from more than 260 vehicles tested by Consumer Reports for reliability, safety and road-test performance.

The battery-powered Tesla Model S was chosen best overall for its "exceptional performance and its many impressive technological innovations," Consumer Reports said, noting it was "pricey" at $89,650.

California-based Tesla Motors (TSLA), which was founded by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk in 2003, said it expects to deliver about 35,000 of the model this year. By comparison, the best-selling car in the United States last year, the Toyota (TM) Camry, sold about 408,000 in 2013.

Consumer Reports hasn't named a best overall since a Lexus model took the top honors in 2010.

Honda Motor (HMC) and Subaru were the only automakers with more than one model in this year's top picks. Honda's Accord won best midsize sedan, and its Odyssey was named top minivan. The best compact car went to Subaru's Impreza, and its Forester model was picked as the top small SUV.

Toyota's Prius hybrid, with its 44 mpg overall fuel efficiency, was named best green car for the 11th consecutive year.

Detroit Brands Rank at the Bottom

The Audi A6 took top honors in the luxury car rankings for the second year in a row, while the BMW 328i was chosen best sports sedan, also for a second straight year.

Japanese automakers, which historically have taken more than 70 percent of the top picks, managed to win only five of the 10 categories, the worst showing since Consumer Reports began publishing the list in 1997.

Consumer Reports also released its annual report card on car brands. It rates each manufacturer's individual brands, with a composite score based on reliability and road testing.

Lexus, Toyota's luxury brand, came out on top for the second straight year, with a score of 79. Honda's Acura was second with 75, followed by Audi with 74.

Consumer Reports said of Lexus: "Its models are usually quiet, comfortable, and fuel efficient, and they're among the most reliable cars made."

Subaru and Toyota tied for the fourth spot. Mazda, Honda, Infiniti, Daimler AG's Mercedes-Benz and BMW rounded out the top 10.

Detroit-based manufacturers fared poorly in this ranking, with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' Jeep tying Ford Motor (F) for worst of the 23 brands listed. Consumer Reports said both Jeep and Ford models had reliability problems.

Fiat Chrysler's Dodge and General Motors' (GM) Cadillac were also among the four lowest-scoring brands.

GM's Buick and GMC tied for 12th, the highest rating for Detroit automakers.

Consumer Reports said it didn't have brand report cards for Fiat, Tata Motors' Jaguar and Land Rover brands, Ford's Lincoln, BMW's Mini, Mitsubishi, Porsche, Fiat Chrysler's Ram, Toyota's Scion, Daimler's Smart and Tesla because of a lack of data.

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Coal fired car.!

February 25 2014 at 4:02 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to jdykbpl45's comment

if anyone believes that an almost 5000lb automobile that runs on 7000 non recyclable batteries is GREEN is delusional. Is it a good car, most likely, green ?…. not do much.

February 25 2014 at 6:34 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

Vehicles like the Tesla are fine as long as you have a relatively short range expectation. (and can afford a $90,00 car). However, in most of the real world the limited range of non-range extended electric cars is a major drawback. I live about 15 miles outside of town - the other day I had to see an individual that lives on the opposite side of town and decided that while I was on that side of ti own I would run a couple or errands. By the time I got back I had driven over 75 miles. Shortly after I got home I had my wife and I had to leave to go to a meeting. By the end of the day I had driven over 125 miles. That is far in excess of the real world range of most electric cars (which is usually significantly less than advertised) . Simply put - unless you drive a very limited distance every day (and who wants to drive a $90,00 10 miles to work) an electric cars is at best a novelty. Expended range electrics, like the Chevrolet Volt, are another story and make much more sense for the average driver.

February 25 2014 at 2:55 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply