November 11, 2004

Consumer Reports recommends Toyota Highlander, Subaru Outback

Yonkers, New York – Consumer Reports tested a diverse group of six wagons and car-based sport-utility vehicles for the December issue and found one that performs very well overall – the Toyota Highlander.

The Highlander, which received a “Very Good” overall rating, ranks among the top-rated wagons and sport-utility vehicles tested by Consumer Reports in this price range. It ranks fourth in CR’s ratings, behind the 4-cylinder and V6-powered Volkswagen Passat wagons and the Honda Pilot SUV.

The Highlander was last tested by CR in 2001, when it also performed very well overall. For 2004, the Highlander received a larger V6 engine, and improved electronic stability control system, and a small third-row seat.

Three of the vehicles tested, the Subaru Outback, Mazda6, and BMW X3, also received “Very Good” scores and placed mid-pack in CR’s ranking of 14 wagons and SUVs. The Volvo V50 and Dodge Magnum finished near the bottom of the pack with “Good” overall scores.

“The Toyota Highlander is quicker, has better fuel economy, and handles more securely than the version we tested in 2001,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports’ Auto Test Centre in East Haddam, Connecticut. “The ride is very comfortable and the quiet interior has impressive fit and finish.”

Consumer Reports is recommending two of the six vehicles in this test group, the Highlander and the Outback. CR will only recommend vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s surveys of its subscribers, and have performed adequately if crash tested or included in government rollover tests. Reliability has been below average for the Mazda6. CR does not have sufficient reliability information yet on the X3, Magnum, and V50.

Full tests and ratings of the six wagons and car-based SUVs appear in the December issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale November 9. The complete report is also available to subscribers of

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