Not all cars are created equal

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Japanese carmakers take all five top spots in Consumer Reports’ list of “who makes the best cars.” Those winning companies are Acura, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru, and Toyota.

But not all Japanese cars earn accolades at the Consumer Reports test track.

One car that really disappointed Consumer Reports was the Acura RLX. The luxury sedan costs $55,000, and it’s just not competitive. For $16,000 less, Consumer Reports says the Chevrolet Impala delivers a much more comfortable ride and handles better.

Another Japanese car that Consumer Reports does not recommend is the Honda Crosstour. It aims to have the comfort of a sedan, the flexibility of an SUV, and the cargo space of a station wagon. The problem is it doesn’t really do any of that well.

Some small Nissans also score too low for a Consumer Reports recommendation. The Nissan Sentra is good on gas, but handling isn’t agile, it’s noisy inside, and the front seats are uncomfortable. The subcompact Nissan Versa has those same drawbacks, and it hasn’t proved very reliable.

Consumer Reports also doesn’t recommend Toyota’s least-expensive car, the Yaris. Though the Yaris is very reliable and fuel efficient, it just feels extremely cheap and unpleasant to drive. For the same money, about $16,000, Consumer Reports says you’re better off with the Hyundai Accent.

Two other Japanese carmakers, Mazda and Subaru, have an excellent record at Consumer Reports’ test track. Almost all of their models are recommended. Though Japanese cars often earn top scores and are often quite reliable, Consumer Reports says it’s not a sure thing.

Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports’ website.

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