A Toyota RAV4 Prime electric car is recharged October 3, 2022 at a charging station at the town hall in Charlotte, Vermont.
Robert Nickelsberg | Getty Images
After years of being touted as a smarter option for car buyers seeking better fuel efficiency and lower costs, hybrids and EVs are getting a big endorsement from Consumer Reports.
The 2023 Consumer Reports 10 Top Picks for cars, trucks and SUVs includes seven models that are either hybrid or fully electric.
“This really just shows how the market is changing,” said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. “Electrification, not just battery electric vehicles, but just electrification, is changing the market and making a lot of really great options.”
Consumer Reports selects top models at a variety of price points based on its testing of new vehicles, with an emphasis on affordability and safety. For 2023, the selection of hybrids and EVs highlight two advantages those types of vehicles often have over models with internal combustion engines: fuel efficiency and reliability.
“With hybrids, you’re kind of being really easy on the engine, being really easy on the brakes, because you’re actually using the generator and the battery to kind of soften everything,” Fisher told CNBC. “There are less brake problems, less transmission problems, everything is kind of muted. Plus, when you look at the hybrids and who’s producing these hybrids, they generally are from very reliable automakers who have been using this technology for a long time.”
Consumer Reports’ top auto picks for 2023
Toyota Corolla Hybrid
Toyota Corolla Cross
Toyota Camry Hybrid
Ford Maverick Hybrid
Hyundai Santa Fe Hybrid
Tesla Model 3
Source: Consumer Reports
That explains why Toyota builds four of the 10 models chosen for 2023 Top Picks, including the Toyota Corolla Hybrid, Toyota Camry Hybrid and Lexus NX 350h.
Those models are part of a wave of hybrids that have helped establish Toyota as the leader in this category. Last year, one out of every four vehicles Toyota sold in the U.S. was a hybrid. In the U.S., hybrids and EVs accounted for just over 10% of all vehicles sold last year, according to the auto research firm Edmunds.
Styling and performance of hybrids and EVs now make them more appealing than a few years ago.
“Today, you can really have it all. You can have something roomy, something comfortable, something fuel efficient,” Fisher said. He pointed to the Ford Maverick Hybrid which gets 37 miles per gallon as an example of a hybrid that is changing perceptions. “You don’t have to compromise as much as you had to do in the past.”
Tesla, which sells two out of every three EVs in the U.S., is back on the Top Picks list after being off it last year. Consumer Reports selected the Tesla Model 3 and the Lexus NX 350h as the best choices for vehicles priced between $45,000 and $55,000.
Meanwhile, Consumer Reports ranks BMW as the No. 1 auto brand, followed by Subaru and Mini.
“BMW builds many high-performing, full-featured and reliable models, so it’s not surprising to see it at the top of our brand rankings,” Fisher said in a release outlining Consumer Reports’ selections.