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A Good Car Doesn't Have to Cost More Money -- and Here's Proof

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author photo by Doug DeMuro March 2017

Automotive experts at Consumer Reports recently revealed their latest list of today's top car brands -- and the results may surprise you. The list, which is compiled based on predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, and road-test performance, includes several "mainstream" car brands near the top, beating out several high-end luxury automakers and proving that you don't necessarily have to spend more to get a good car.

Admittedly, luxury-car brands took the top-four slots in Consumer Reports' list of the best brands. Audi topped the list, with Porsche, BMW and Lexus trailing just behind. Audi's overall score was an 81 out of 100, while the other three finished in the high 70s.

But the brands that take the next few spots on the Consumer Reports list aren't the ones you'd probably expect. It's not high-end marques like Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Volvo or even Acura, but rather Subaru, Kia and Mazda. Luxury automaker Tesla comes next, in eighth place, but Honda, Buick, Toyota and Hyundai round out the top 12. In fact, the majority of the top brands in the Consumer Reports list are mainstream brands -- and not the luxury automakers you'd probably assume you'd find near the top.

What's the reason? Since Consumer Reports factors in reliability, many luxury brands falter due to high levels of new technology -- some of which isn't as reliable as the simple features offered by mainstream automakers. Likewise, owner satisfaction is a component -- and drivers of luxury cars likely give stronger opinions than those who drive mainstream models.

But regardless of the reasons why luxury brands may not live up to expectations, there's a silver lining for shoppers interested in finding a good car without paying a fortune: Since many of today's most popular brands rank highly on Consumer Reports' list, it's clear that you don't necessarily need to spend a lot in order to get a good car.

Indeed, while many shoppers likely equate spending more money with getting a better experience, the latest Consumer Reports survey seems to show otherwise. As a result, we suggest that you shouldn't spend more on a new car just because you think you have to. Instead, buy the car you like at an affordable price -- and it may just turn out to be a better experience than a luxury model after all.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
A Good Car Doesn't Have to Cost More Money -- and Here's Proof - Autotrader