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Who Makes The Best Cars? Subaru Is Consumer Reports Top Mainstream Brand

The 2020 Subaru Forester and Legacy are Consumer Reports' Top 10 Picks of 2020 and Subaru is CR’s #1 mainstream brand winner. How does the scoring help car shoppers?

Who makes the best cars? According to Consumer Reports’ “Which Car Brands Make the Best Vehicles?” 2020 report, Subaru is the number one mainstream automaker and not far behind luxury brands Porsche and Genesis. Subaru scores an 81 in the scoring while Genesis gets 84 points and Porsche 86 points. The 2020 Subaru Forester and Legacy are also the best vehicles in CR’s “Top 10 Picks of 2020” scoring.

What does CR’s scoring mean for car shoppers? Based on CR testing and owner surveys, the top brands score highest in road tests (more than 50), reliability (in 17 areas), safety (crash test results from IIHS), and owner satisfaction (would owners purchase the same car again?). CR says the best brands on the list tend to have more vehicles in their 2020 model year vehicle lineup that consistently performed well.

2020 Subaru Forester2020 Subaru Forester is a Top 10 Pick of 2020

Subaru has 7 out of eight models scoring highest in the tests and owner surveys. The Subaru WRX is the only model that falls short because of “predicted reliability” according to the report. The 2020 Subaru Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, Impreza, and BRZ all score high, with the 2020 Subaru Forester and Legacy models rating best in the lineup.

Subaru outscored other popular Japanese brands like Toyota (73), Honda (72), and Nissan (70), and did better than luxury brands Lexus (77), Audi (77), BMW (75), and Tesla (73). It’s important to note the top two automakers Porsche and Genesis, each had only 3 models tested while Subaru had 8 models in its lineup run through CR’s tests.

2020 Subaru ForesterThe Subaru lineup scores high overall

Subaru would likely have been the number one best brand overall if not for the sport-tuned Subaru WRX and performance-tuned WRX STI scoring below-average in predicted reliability. Subaru Corp has been hit with a number of engine lawsuits recently for the STI 2.5-liter turbo engine, and WRX has had issues with its clutch in 6-speed manual gearbox models.

Can you trust Consumer Reports?

A report from Media Bias/Fact Check says you can. In addition to predicted reliability, owner satisfaction, road test scores, and safety, CR also scores the vehicles in overall fuel mileage, acceleration, braking, routine and emergency handling, ride and interior noise.

The newly-redesigned 2020 Subaru Forester and Legacy all-wheel-drive models score the best in its lineup, with Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, Impreza, and BRZ scoring high in all areas.

You Might Also Like: New 2020 Subaru Outback and Forester Headlights Should Become The New Normal

Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. All of his reports are archived on our Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Subaru Report. Check back tomorrow for more Subaru news and updates at Torque News!

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Photo credit: Subaru USA


Stan Grant (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 7:45AM

Quit bragging about Subaru,my daughter in law bought a 2017 Subaru Forester standard shift because l believed by your reports it would be a good vehicle, it was not,it burnt oil from day one ,after one year of fighting with the dealership they finally replaced the engine,l truly believe in what you do,but you dropped the ball on this one

Mark Day (not verified)    February 25, 2020 - 3:11PM

In reply to by Ronald J Chase (not verified)

“Anecdotes are not data.” But a record number of class action lawsuits and recalls is. Consumer Reports has not published most of the consumer reported problems with Subaru vehicles. The reason remains a misery, but the lack of candor has not been helpful to consumers. While a good number CR ratings are useful, I ignore their Subaru information.

William (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 3:39PM

In reply to by Stan Grant (not verified)

You can't believe Consumer Reports. It seems like every other month there's another Subaru recall. Corroded brake lines, PCV failures, Burning Oil, CVT, Windshield, you name it. How can this brand be considered at the top???

Rob Gardner (not verified)    June 23, 2020 - 9:33PM

In reply to by Stan Grant (not verified)

I’m on my third Subaru and couldn’t be happier! I bought a 2014 Forrester which was motor trans car of the year and I agree. I have over 150,000 miles on it and I’ve had almost nothing go wrong. That is, until I hit a bear! I was given three different rentals to drive while my car was being fixed.
Dodge journey gets an F. Volkswagen Tiguan A C+ (Horrendous suspension!!) and Nissan Rogue a surprising B (very comfortable driver’s seat!). But nothing compared to my Forester. I was extremely happy to have it back! Not only is it the safest car on the road, it’s also the most fun to drive and has the best acceleration if you know how to drive a CVT. Oh, and I forgot; my Audi sucked! Always in the shop.

Marc Colbanks (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 8:02AM

I 'was' strongly considering the Outback as my next vehicle, to replace my Honda Accord.

I really would like to try their AWD out in the winter, to give me some extra confidence in really bad weather. Yes, i have snow tires, but I'd like that extra awd grip.

What I don't like reading about are the continuing lawsuits surrounding the ongoing cracking windshields. Only to be replaced by another spontaneously cracking windshield. Of course when that happens, the eyesight has issues.
It's fairly obvious to me that there is a major design flaw in either the windshields they're using, or the car frame itself. These are not isolated incidents that Consumer Reports should be factoring into their score.
As it stands, I wouldn't want to put up with that ongoing hassle.

Paul Beining (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 10:06AM

In reply to by Marc Colbanks (not verified)

You're right to be cautious, and as an owner of both Toyota and Suburu, my Toyotas are probably a bit more reliable, but it isn't a huge difference. I've never had a problem with a windshield so I'm not really sure about that angle, but I had quite serious problems with both my 2004 Outback and my 2012 Legacy. Head gasket and transmission, respectively. Both very expensive repairs. As for wanting "that extra awd grip," that's why I keep buying Suburus. Nothing drives like a Suburu in the snow. Nothing. If you put snow tires on a Suburu, you can't even tell that there's snow on the road until you get to about 6 inches. They don't have the clearance of a pickup truck, so deeper snow can be pretty inconvenient, but the handling, acceleration and turning in snowy conditions can't be beat. It's shocking how well these cars handle in snow. That's why I always own a Suburu.

My daily driver, however, is a Prius. I drive for a living and the mpg of a Prius will also blow your mind if you're doing mainly city driving.

KL (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 10:16AM

The amount of recalls on Subaru is making me reconsider. I've an '05 Legacy turbo wagon. Love her. But the models in the past 5 years don't seem as good as the older models. My Aunt, a lifelong Subaru owner, has an '18 Forester and wishes she went with a Honda. Said it's not as refined as it once was. The devil is in the details. Said it feels cheaper than any other she's had. Already been in the shop twice for repairs. She prefers her '04 Forester to the '18 and drives it more often! Does CR ever read forums to hear what folks are saying? I wonder.

Mike J (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 10:33AM

My wife and I bought a 2015 Subaru Forester. It is a great car has had 2 recalls and another possible safety concern. The first recall was for a brake light switch, the second for an air bag switch and the possible safety concern is for the rear coil springs. All this on top of hearing about several lawsuits filed over cracked windshields. I don't think that I will be buying another one.

Mary (not verified)    March 1, 2020 - 5:55PM

In reply to by Mike J (not verified)

I get that there have been recalls on Subarus. I’ve had some of them myself. I also had to replace a windshield on my 2016 Subaru shortly after buying it but several months later when Subaru identified that there was a problem, I was sent a check to reimburse me for what I had paid toward the deductible. In my opinion, Subaru took action long before most of the manufacturers take action for known issues. I truly believe there are more recalls for Subaru only because they react sooner and take responsibility far more than other car manufacturers. In my experience with other brands, it has practically taken an act of Congress for them to issue a recall. They deny there was a problem until they are forced. With Subaru, that has not been my experience.

Jonas (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 11:52AM

Consumer reports
Always the same
Subaru Toyota

Never listing the many truths
Escape piece of junk
Ford pickups sell well / just as many problems

S. K. (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 7:40PM

We are on our 4th Subaru. Our son has #2 and our daughter in law has #3. Traded #1 in. It was a 2003 model year and time to go. Snow predicted here overnight . Glad to know the family will be driving in safe cars in the snowy morning commute. Happy the recalls are issued to resolve problems rather than ignore or fight them. Have not had a windshield problem as of yet. We would buy another Subaru.

PBurman (not verified)    February 24, 2020 - 9:44PM

My personal opinion is all car manufacturers cut corners on their products. They make them as cheaply as possible and sell for as much as possible. As a consumer it's trying to find the lesser of the evil. I think customer service is most important given the lack of reliability of cars. Subaru Canada has not replied to my dispute that I made in December 2019. Three months later still nothing. I have rust on all four doors on a four year old car. The rust is on the INSIDE of the doors, where there is little exposure to the elements. Every place I have been says there is no guarantee on rust repair, so I asked for replacement. Nothing. So I went back to the dealership and wanted to move forward with the repair. The service manager closed the file even after having a conversation with me about keeping it open until I had my dispute dealt with. I called to find out about the status of the repair two weeks after and the manager rudely said that he had more "hoops" to jump through and he closed it because he has so many open files. Then told me he would get back to me. Four weeks later nothing. Subaru might make ok cars but they rust too early and customer service is non-existent.

Speedbump (not verified)    March 2, 2020 - 3:33PM

2014 Forester with 85000 miles ... burns some oil, rear shocks both broke, brake light and park sensors broke, transmission replaced

BP (not verified)    July 8, 2020 - 11:09PM

2019 Subaru Outback - I'm very pleased so far. Better mpg than listed, no problems so far (16k miles, 1.3 yrs old), very safe, fun to drive. I got burned by a Toyota frame recall - they descaled the frame and recoated it but it came off in 6 months, they did it again and it failed again to which they said they fulfilled their recall. The steering rack and diff cover also rusted out and leaked. Every Toyota that we've had (three) had multiple recalls.