You'd think that Consumer Reports magazine's "Five Popular Cars to Avoid" would hit heavy on big American metal: Buicks, Chryslers and the like. Instead, one of the five is a Toyota Prius, and another is the ever-popular Honda Civic, long a CR favorite.
In the September issue, CR takes aim at the five models that "may be on a lot of buyers' shopping lists, but we suggest you steer clear." Reason: They didn't perform all that well in testing, or they have lousy reliability. Or both.
Here are CR's choices and a synopsis of the magazine's criticism:
•Honda Civic. Honda "took too many shortcuts in the latest redesign." The subcompact has a choppy ride, noisy cabin, vague steering and mediocre interior. At least it's reliable.
•Toyota Prius C. The C is the least expensive Prius hybrid, getting 37 miles per gallon in the city and 43 mpg on the highway. It's not to be confused with the mainstay Prius that has earned Toyota its well-deserved mileage-leader reputation in the past decade. The C "suffers from a stiff ride, noisy cabin, slow acceleration and cheap-looking interior trim." Buy a Honda Fit, a non-hybrid, instead, the magazine recommends.
•Jeep Liberty. The small, rugged crossover earned one of CR's lowest road test scores. It can go off-road, but the ride suffers on pavement. It only gets 16 mpg overall.
•Ford Edge. Nice styling, but it had much-worse-than-average reliability ratings from CR readers and has the "complicated and unintuitive" MyFord Touch infotainment system.
•Dodge Grand Caravan. This venerable minivan is "versatile, comfortable and well-equipped," but it suffers from squeaks, rattles, interior trim and sliding-door trouble. It's overall 17-mpg in testing didn't help matters.
By Chris Woodyard