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Consumer Reports chooses Tesla S electric car as 'best overall'

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Are you looking for a fancy new car? Or, perhaps your thoughts are trained on a truck, a sport-utility vehicle, or maybe even a sporty new sedan?

To help you decide, Consumer Reports has just released its annual Top Picks List, and this year it counts among the selections four new vehicles --- Hyundai Santa sport-utility vehicle, Ram 1500 pickup truck, Subaru Forester SUV and Tesla Model S, a high-price, electric powered luxury sedan.

Among the picks, there were only two manufacturers, Honda and Subaru, who put more than one car on the list. All together, eight manufacturers are represented.

The winners were chosen from more than 260 vehicles tested and based on three criteria --- road tests, reliability and safety.

The categories, winners and prices:

Best overall: Tesla Model S ($89,650). Consumer Reports calls this expensive electric sedan a technological tour de force, with strong acceleration, a comfortable ride, sharp handling and a versatile cabin.

Mid-size sedan: 4-cylinder Honda Accord ($23,270). It was chosen for its competent handling, roominess, numerous features and its ability to get 30 miles per gallon of regular fuel around town and 40 on the highway.

Compact car: Subaru Impreza (sedan, $21,345; hatchback, $22,345). This all-wheel-drive vehicle drew praise for its handling, comfortable ride, versatility, fuel economy and affordable price.

Green Car: Toyota Prius ($26,750). Honored for the 11th year in a row, the Prius was cited for its affordability, practicality, versatility and its 44 mpg fuel efficiency.

Luxury car: Audi A6 ($56,295). Consumer Reports testerswere impressed by the power from its supercharged V-6 engine, its smooth 8-speed transmission, its high quality cabin and numerous high-tech features. They noted that the all-wheel-drive A6 with V-6 engine returned an average 22 mpg and that the diesel-powered version delivered 28 mpg.

Sports sedan: BMW 328i ($43,195). A long-time front runner in the sports sedan category, the 3281 drew plaudits as a fun-to-drive car with excellent handling. Testers also noted that the newest model is roomier, more luxurious than before and more fuel efficient. It returned an average 28 mpg.

Small SUV: Subaru Forester ($26,814). The second top pick from the Japanese manufacturer, the Forester was honored for its efficient design, easy access, excellent visibility and a class-leading 26 mpg overall.

Mid-sized SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe ($36,290). Able to seat up to 7 passengers, the Santa Fe was cited for its comfortable ride, quiet interior, generous cargo area, numerous features and smooth 290-horsepower V-6 engine.

Minivan: Honda Odyssey ($36,830). With room for up to 8 passengers, the Odyssey was called “the most complete family vehicle available.” It was cited for its versatility and its comfortable second- and third-row seats.

Pickup Truck: Ram 1500 ($42,810)The Ram, formerly known as Dodge, put parent Fiat Chrysler among the top picks for the first time in 16 years. With its unique coil-spring rear suspension, the Ram came across as “surprisingly refined and inviting,” and the most comfortable truck in its category.

Full reports on the Consumer Reports Top Picks are available in the annual auto issue, due on newsstands March 4, and on the auto spotlights page at ConsumerReports.org.

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