Notable Numbers from “Consumer Reports”

Gary S. Vasilash

Although you sometimes hear automotive enthusiasts decrying the reliance of some consumers on the recommendations in Consumer Reports for what cars and trucks to buy, let’s face it: Consumers Union has done a fantastic job of providing easy-to-understand data for the average person who wants to know whether the vehicle they have in mind is going to be reliable or relentlessly problematic.

The April issue of the publication is the one that new car buyers anxiously await, and it has hit the stands.

One of the lists struck us as being rather interesting. It’s the “Best and Worst Road-Test Scores.” The ranking is on a 100-point scale, based on “more than 50 tests and evaluations.”

Lexus LS 460 L

The best model—with a score of 99—is the Lexus LS 460L. Imagine: 99 out of 100. Amazing.

The worst model is the Jeep Wrangler Unlimited, with a score of 20.

2012 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Arctic

CR critics might find solace in the fact that in 2011 Lexus LS sales were down 22.3% compared to the previous year, to 9,568 units, while Jeep Wrangler sales were up 30% vs. 2010, to 122,460 units.

And let’s face it, while there are owners of the Lexus LS 460L who are certainly satisfied with their selection, Jeep buyers tend to be flat-out brand zealots who evangelize Jeepness.

Another interesting factor is the tie between the Hyundai Genesis 3.8 sedan and the Toyota Camry XLE V6. Both have a score of 92. (As does the Chevrolet Corvette Z06. Go figure.)

The folks at Hyundai like to benchmark their products against competitors, and while Toyota is an on-going bête noire for Hyundai, you can be certain that the Camry is not the car they compare the Genesis sedan with. In case you’re wondering, the base MSRP for the Camry in question is $29,845, and the Genesis starts at $34,200. While there is certainly a difference between what each of the models offers, with the Genesis having more (e.g., like an 8-speed transmission vs. 6), that road test score is certainly something that savvy consumers undoubtedly want to keep in mind.

And here’s something topical: According to the publication, four vehicles tie for worst in the “Overall fuel economy category”: the Cadillac Escalade, Dodge Ram 2500 diesel, Ford Expedition EL, and Lincoln Navigator, all turn in 13 mpg.