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Who Makes the Best Cars? Subaru Is Now The Top Mainstream Brand Winner

Which car brand makes the best cars? According to Consumer Reports, Subaru is now the best non-luxury automaker in 2023. Check out the new ranking report here.

Who makes the best cars you can buy today? A new ranking from Consumer Reports now has Subaru as the best mainstream (non-luxury) lineup of vehicles for 2023. Last year, Subaru was the best brand overall among all automakers. This year, Subaru dropped a spot, and BMW is now the best overall, but Subaru won the best mainstream car brand.

Subaru is still tops in the Consumer Reports annual report card, ranking thirty-two car brands to claim the best mainstream brand title in 2023. Subaru scores ahead of its main rivals Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundais, and even luxury brand Lexus.

2023 Subaru Forester
photo credit: Patrick Subaru

Subaru has a top mainstream brand score of 79, followed by Mini (79), Honda (77), Toyota (76), Mazda (75), Kia (73), Hyundai (71), Dodge (68), Volkswagen (64), and Nissan (63) round out the top 10 best car brands.

What do the scores tell new car shoppers?

Each car brand's overall score for individual models is based on four key factors: the road test, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety. Subaru's lineup has eight Consumer Reports recommended models now. Top picks are the 2023 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, Ascent, Impreza, Legacy, BRZ, and Solterra.

2023 Subaru Forester
photo credit: Schumacher Subaru

The 2023 Forester gets even more honors and is a top-10 car of 2023 and the best overall in its small SUV class. You can read the complete report here.

CR says, "This is Forester's 10th consecutive appearance as a Top Pick, underscoring how well this small SUV has honed its winning formula over time. Key to its appeal is the basic design, crafted to provide solid crash protection, a spacious cabin, a generous cargo area, and terrific outward visibility. The shape provides excellent access, with tall, wide-opening doors and hip-height seats. The controls are simple to use and easy to reach. The 2.5-liter four-cylinder and CVT yield 28 mpg, among the best in its class. Handling is responsive, and the ride is supple. In addition, Subaru's EyeSight suite of safety features benefits from a wider field of view and updated software for 2023."

What sets the Subaru brand apart?

In addition to getting the highest road test scores, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety, all Subaru vehicles come standard with the brand's Symmetrical all-wheel-drive. In addition, the Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and Ascent have 8.7 inches of ground clearance, the SUVs have X-Mode for additional all-weather performance, and Forester and Outback now have the rugged Wilderness trim levels for outdoor enthusiasts.

What do owners say?

Seventy-nine percent of 2023 Forester owners answered "definitely yes" to the question asked by the Consumer Reports Annual Auto Survey "Considering all factors (price, performance, reliability, comfort, enjoyment, etc.), would you get this car if you had to do it all over again?" Seventy percent of 2023 Outback owners said they would buy the exact vehicle again.

In addition to getting the highest road-test scores, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety, Subaru vehicles are affordable, get the best fuel efficiency of any gas-powered lineup, and retain their value better than other brands. As a result, the 2023 Subaru Forester, Outback, Crosstrek, and other all-wheel-drive models help the automaker score the number one mainstream car brand in the 2023 Consumer Reports annual report card of "Which Car Brands Make the Best Vehicles?"

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Denis Flierl has invested over 30 years in the automotive industry in a consulting role working with every major car brand. He is an accredited member of the Rocky Mountain Automotive Press. Check out Subaru Report, where he covers all of the Japanese automaker's models. More stories can be found on the Torque News Subaru page. Follow Denis on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Photo credit: Subaru


Elizabeth (not verified)    February 17, 2023 - 11:17AM

I'm not sure how you decided Subaru is the best pick. In 2005, I purchased a Subaru Forrester for my first baby, I did lots of research and the car was amazing. However, I later purchased a Subaru Legacy, terrible, scratches easy, the leather seats are pleather, I have 3 rips from normal wear and it is past warranty of 3 years. I have a leak in Piston ring and am currently trying to get Subaru take responsibly for it. My mechanic at dealership says I dont have a problem, working with Subaru Corp and they are still trying to pack the buck. My personal mechanic says I need a new engine. I have to keep adding oil and 'dont have a problem'. Drastic change in my first experience. I am NOT purchasing a subaru next time

Merlin Obillos (not verified)    February 19, 2023 - 11:14AM

I own a 2014 Subaru Outback, my only major expenses since day one other than the usual maintenance items was a set of four tires and a brake job after 100k.
The body is in excellent condition and I intend to drive it until it falls apart.