February 28, 2006

Acura and Volkswagen rate tops on Consumer Reports’ family sedan test

Yonkers, New York – The newly-redesigned V6-powered Volkswagen Passat has earned an “Excellent” rating with Consumer Reports, following tests of nine different family sedans in the magazine’s March 2006 issue. The 2006 Passat is now rated second overall behind the Acura TL in the “family sedan” category.

The Ford Fusion and its twin, the Mercury Milan (a model not sold in Canada) were also tested as part of the group and achieved a “Very Good” overall rating, ahead of such vehicles as the Nissan Maxima, Chrysler 300 and Mazda6. Beginning with its March issue, Consumer Reports will break its family sedan ratings into price categories, one for US$25,000 and under, and US$25,000 and over.

The most recent test group included four- and six-cylinder versions of the Passat, Fusion/Milan and Hyundai Sonata, along with V6 and V8 versions of the Dodge Charger and a V6-powered Chevrolet Impala. The four- and six-cylinder versions of the Sonata and the Fusion/Milan achieved “Very Good” scores; the Impala scored “Very Good”, and both the V6 and V8 versions of the Charger were rated “Good”.

Among the vehicles tested, Consumer Reports recommends only the all-new Chevrolet Impala; to be recommended, a vehicle must perform well in Consumer Reports’ tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on a survey of subscribers, and perform at least adequately if crashed-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The magazine’s editors found the new Passat roomier, more powerful, and with better fuel economy than the previous generation, but with ride comfort and interior quality “not as good” as the previous vehicle. The Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan both scored higher than the Mazda6, upon which they are based. The editors said the redesigned Sonata “mimics the top-selling (Toyota) Camry in many respects, but costs less”; however, they said “it’s less agile than the Toyota.”

Regarding the Impala, the editors said it “sports new styling, engine upgrades, better rear seating and an improved interior. These improvements keep this large sedan competitive, but there are better choices.” They called the Dodge Charger “a big, rear-wheel-drive sedan with a muscular design,” but said “those burly looks take a toll on visibility, headroom, and ease of access, while the rest of the car lacks the refinement of some competitors.”

Connect with Autos.ca