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Tesla tops US best car list for second year

Consumer Reports named the luxury electric Tesla S its top car for the second straight year, calling the market-shaking sedan a "technological tour de force."

[WASHINGTON] Consumer Reports named the luxury electric Tesla S its top car for the second straight year, calling the market-shaking sedan a "technological tour de force."

The annual top-10 ranking, based on independent road performance, reliability and crash tests, also gave top category honours to three Subaru models, a landmark sweep for the small Japanese maker.

But the Japanese overall won only six slots, their lowest tally since the influential consumer ratings magazine began the list 19 years ago.

Instead, three American brands - the Tesla, the Buick Regal and the Chevrolet Impala - held their own in the top 10.

"Detroit vehicles are breaking through in new categories," said Mark Rechtin of Consumer Reports' car ratings team.

"Many have come a long way in performance, technology, and improved reliability." "These are the cars that ignite the gasoline in our veins. That we trust. Respect. And love," the magazine said.

"They also happen to score high in our reliability ratings and shine in automotive crash tests."

The US$80,000-plus plug-in Tesla again captured the magazine's fancy as its overall top pick, and not just for the car's market-beating 426km range without a charge.

Consumer Reports praised the ability to update the Tesla's software over the Internet, and that the company surmounted early technical problems, including a handful of fires that started from objects on the road surface kicking into its underside battery pack.

With those problems aside, Consumer Reports lauded the Tesla S's "magnificence and sheer technological arrogance."

Subaru, whose all-wheel-drive models are popular with both sport driving fans and outdoorists, led three categories of the 10.

The Impreza led the compact car group as a "strong value," and the Legacy was the best midsized sedan (it "exceeds those drab, rental-car expectations... also has the best ride among its peers").

And the Forester grabbed one of the hottest market segments, the small sport-utility vehicles.

"Subaru has nailed the recipe of combining practicality, safety, fuel economy, value, and interior accommodations," said the magazine.

The Audi A6 came in tops for a luxury car, and, unsurprisingly, on the green car side Toyota's hybrid Prius took the honours for the 12th straight year.

Toyota's Highlander was best mid-sized SUV and the Honda Odyssey the winner among minivans.

But the surprise was the inclusion of the Chevrolet Impala as the best large car, beating out the Toyota Avalon and Lexus ES 350.

Only slightly less surprising was the Buick Regal as the leading sports sedan. It is better known elsewhere as the Opel Insignia, with its German roots emphasised by Consumer Reports.

"Close your eyes, and you'll think you're driving an Audi - a very good Audi at that," it gushed.