SKOKIE, Ill., Nov. 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Thirty-two vehicles and seven companion models received Best Buy ratings from Consumers Digest magazine out of 268 total for the 2006 model year. The ratings, published in CD's December issue (on sale November 1), span eight categories: Small Cars, Family Cars, Luxury Cars, Sporty Cars, Trucks, Vans, Compact/Midsize SUVs and Luxury/Full- Size SUVs. The Best Buys -- based on behind-the-wheel testing, safety ratings, ownership costs, warranty, purchase price, comfort, ergonomics, styling and amenities -- reflect CD's assessment of which 2006 vehicles offer the most value for the money. Five "Small Cars" received Best Buys: Chevrolet HHR, Honda Civic, Kia Spectra, Scion xB and Volkswagen Jetta. Six "Family Car" Best Buys are: Dodge Charger/Magnum, Ford Five Hundred, Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mercury Montego and Toyota Camry/Solara. Four "Luxury Cars" received Best Buy ratings: Acura TL, Cadillac DTS, Chrysler 300C and Toyota Avalon. Among five "Sporty Cars" receiving Best Buys are Acura RSX, Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, MINI Cooper and Scion tC. Three "Trucks" and four "Vans" earned Best Buys. Ford F-150, Honda Ridgeline and Nissan Frontier are the top pickups, and Chrysler's Town & Country, Dodge's Caravan, Honda's Odyssey and Nissan's Quest are recognized as the best van values. SUVs are divided into compact/midsize and luxury/full-size models. Of the former, seven Best Buys include: Chevrolet Equinox, Ford Escape, Ford Explorer, Mazda Tribute, Mercury Mariner, Mercury Mountaineer and Toyota Highlander. Luxury/full-size SUV Best Buys include Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Yukon, Mercedes-Benz ML350/ML500 and Volkswagen Touareg. "'Value,' as we see it, is based on purchase price and ownership costs relative to more subjective factors, like comfort and design," says Randy Weber, CD's publisher. Design factors include ergonomics, seating, accessories and cargo space. Performance characteristics evaluated comprise starting and acceleration, shifting, steering and handling, braking, ride quality and fuel economy. Twenty of 39 Best Buy models are new to the list for this year. CD views this positively -- a reflection of auto-industry shifts in perspective on design, quality, performance and value. "It appears automakers are more willing to invest in new designs that set aside convention to satisfy consumer desires," says Rich Dzierwa, managing editor. The Best Buys section of the issue includes photos, "list" and "invoice" prices, features and performance traits that support the models' Best Buy selection in the collective opinion of CD's veteran automotive editors: Jim Gorzelany, Kevin Kelly, Jim Mateja and Matt Nauman. "Few purchases are more important, or require more research, than buying a new vehicle," says Weber. "Our analyses underscore our commitment to ensure consumers are as satisfied with their auto purchase years after making it as they were on the day they drove off the lot." Consumers Digest, launched in 1959, is designed to inform and educate readers so they can buy with confidence, no matter the product or service. The magazine is committed to providing practical advice, factual evaluations and specific recommendations, leading consumers to exceptional values in today's complex marketplace.
SOURCE Consumers Digest