For car-searching consumers, Edmunds.com serves as a valuable resource of information to aid in the decision-making process. Edmunds offers the viewpoints of both our editors and those of real-world car owners like you. The breadth and regimentation of our editorial reviews and ratings are complemented by observations and insights from actual vehicle owners uniquely qualified to provide their own ratings and reviews.
In Edmunds.com's Consumer Ratings and Reviews, owners are invited to write and submit reviews of their recently purchased vehicles and provide satisfaction ratings in eight important categories. Once a year we tally the results from these ratings to see which cars and trucks most satisfied our visitors. The 2009 Edmunds.com Consumers' Top Rated Awards features 19 categories, covering the automotive spectrum from Sedan Under $15,000 to SUV Over $45,000.
Edmunds.com's 2009 Consumers' Top Rated® vehicles are those that received the highest average rating from our visitors as of April 30, 2009. All 2009 vehicle models that received the required minimum number of consumer ratings were eligible. We use the lowest available base MSRP (i.e., the price of the least expensive trim level, without any options) for each vehicle as of April 30, 2009 to determine each vehicle's price category.
Coupe Under $25,000: Mini Cooper
If the goal is to have fun while getting 30 miles to the gallon, we can't think of a better choice for Coupe Under $25,000 than the Mini Cooper. Evidently, consumers agree. Even the base Cooper -- which starts at around $19,000 -- offers peppy pickup, go-kartlike handling and too-cute styling. And the turbocharged S variant adds the thrill of boosted acceleration for a starting price under $24,000. Consumer reviewers gush with praise over the latest Cooper: "Great gas mileage while [being] a blast to drive. I am looking forward to hitting the back roads and putting it through its paces. The six-speed is really easy to drive. This Mini is a great improvement over the '03 I sold two years ago." And in addition to its diminutive park-it-anywhere size, the Mini has a likewise small appetite for fuel, even when worked hard: "I drive my Mini aggressively and no matter what I do, my gas mileage in the city is 30 mpg."
Coupe $25K-$35K: Nissan 370Z
Browse through our consumer reviews for the 370Z and you'll keep noticing one word: value. At a base price of about $30,000, the reinvigorated Z offers more performance for the buck than just about any coupe around. Sixty mph arrives in 5.1 seconds, and the quarter-mile blurs by in 13.4 seconds at almost 105 mph. On our slalom course, the Z broke the magical 70-mph barrier, a feat accomplished by only a handful of generally far more expensive sports cars. On public roads, the Z's combination of minimal body roll and massive grip makes it a remarkably confident canyon-carver. In short, we're not surprised that consumers are going gaga over Nissan's new two-seater. Owners' complaints are mostly directed at the poor gauge legibility, excessive road noise and disappointing lack of engine refinement -- issues we've raised ourselves during our long-term test of a 2009 370Z Touring. Overall, though, if prodigious performance is what you're after and you don't mind sacrificing some civility to get it, the 370Z has few peers.
Coupe $35K-$45K: BMW 3 Series
There are some curious picks on this list, but the BMW 3 Series is definitely not one of them. Not only are the 328i and 335i coupes a Consumers' Top Rated winner in this category, but the 3 Series has strong sales numbers and heaps of praise from our editors to complement its victory. Since being redesigned for 2007, the 3 Series coupe has impressed with its sleek styling, high-quality interior, engaging driving dynamics, long-distance comfort and a pair of potent six-cylinder engines. The twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-6 found in the 335i is particularly worthy of praise, although most consumers will find the 328i provides plenty of punch. Consumers complimented the dramatically improved iDrive electronics interface for 2009, the iPod integration and the free scheduled maintenance, and were universally in love with the styling. Owners of the all-wheel-drive xDrive models were pleased with the ability to have all-weather traction in a powerful, sporty coupe. Complaints were few, but included poorly designed cupholders, a lack of interior storage, no standard security system and the run-flat tires criticized for riding rough and being loud and expensive to replace. None of these were enough to sway the warm feelings owners felt toward their BMW 3 Series coupes.
Coupe Over $45,000: Chevrolet Corvette
For the second year in a row, the Chevrolet Corvette is once again the top-rated high-end coupe by consumers. In addition to being a slice of pure Americana, the Corvette boasts a proven combination of massive performance potential and high value. It's also surprisingly useful as a daily driver thanks to its compliant highway ride, high interior comfort, exemplary fuel economy and large luggage capacity. Oh, lest we forget, there's also the not-so-insignificant attribute of having a thumping V8 under the hood. Even the base coupe has a 6.2-liter V8 that cranks out 430 horsepower. The track-oriented Z06 version boasts 505 hp, while this year's new king-of-the-hill ZR1 has a supercharged V8 good for 638 hp. Gushed one consumer: "Every day when I open my garage door and see this beast sitting there, I get a huge smile." For a coupe that delivers exotic levels of performance at a real-world price, it doesn't get any better than the 2009 Corvette.
Convertible: Smart Fortwo
As defending champion from last year's Consumers' Top Rated, the diminutive Smart Fortwo convertible again surprises us as it takes the 2009 Convertible Under $35,000 crown. Judging by its reception since entering the market in 2008, this high-on-personality and low-on-performance Smart seems to be more than a passing fancy. Since joining our long-term test fleet, our Rally Red Passion Coupe has definitely suffered the slings and arrows from staffers. From the jerky transmission, oddly placed brake pedal and lack of power, the Smart has been one of the least desired cars in our garage. Loyal legions of Smart owners disagree. Garnering their praise was the Smart's feeling of copious interior space, paddle shifters, power windows and locks, easy entry and go-kartlike zippiness. Personality also ranks high, which is evident with the several owner/reviewers who report having named their Smarts. Many also commented on how they enjoy the attention it gets - from questions while fueling up at the gas station to thumbs-up from strangers. If there were any changes desired from owners, it would be the addition of cruise control and yellow body panels for improved visibility for the tiny machine. Other than that, color them happy.
Sedan Under $15,000: Scion xD
Style isn't something you'd ordinarily look for in the humble economy sedan segment, but the Scion xD isn't an ordinary vehicle. Its youthful, energetic sheet metal pulls off quite a feat: It's distinctive without being the least bit polarizing. Of course, there's more to this car than meets the eye. Motivated by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine good for 128 hp and 125 pound-feet of torque, it boasts a trio of attributes that are golden to shoppers in this segment: decent power, pleasant highway manners and outstanding fuel economy. With dealer-installed extras that include a rear spoiler, LED taillights and interior mood lighting in a choice of four hues, the xD also offers myriad opportunities for customization. The car was designed to appeal to younger buyers, but given how much this sedan has to offer, it should come as no surprise to learn that buyers of all ages have joined the party. This Scion isn't perfect -- it has less cargo space and front legroom than some competitors. Overall, though, the xD is an excellent choice for buyers seeking an economy car that transcends blandness.
Sedan $15K-$25K: Ford Fusion
The Ford Fusion snagged top honors for our Consumers' Top Rated Sedan Between $15,000 and $25,000 because of its solid performance, comfort and cutting-edge sound system. One young consumer, who bought the Fusion as his first-ever car, gushed: "I'm pretty sure the Sync system by Microsoft is the coolest option ever." Nearly all consumer reviews say how much fun the Fusion is to drive (offered with both four- and six-cylinder engines) while also praising the interior roominess, steering-wheel-mounted controls, ambient lighting, well-insulated cabin and comfortable seats. Also mentioned by some owners was the sunroof, the appealing dash layout and aggressive acceleration. One owner went so far as to say that the crash scores were high so he felt comfortable letting his grandparents sit in the backseats. No doubt about it, enthusiasm is very high for this solid domestic entry into the ultra-competitive midsize sedan market.
Sedan $25K-$35K: Volkswagen CC
Volkswagen is one of this year's few automotive success stories, and the all-new CC is a major reason. Based on the Passat platform, the midsize sedan's combination of generous standard features, seductive exterior styling and high-quality interior is drawing many former luxury car drivers into the VW fold. With a starting price of $27,100, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbo -- producing 207 lb-ft of torque at 1,700 rpm -- is hard to beat. Readers rave about the comfortable two-tone seating, responsive and quiet ride, Dynaudio sound system and three years of free maintenance. When our consumer reviewers knocked the CC, it was for blind spots, the lack of a V6 manual option, lack of a fifth seat, and the sunroof that tilts but won't slide open. Edmunds readers are typical of VW's rabid fan base. One said, "Maybe the designers read my mind? I have no other explanation for why I feel that passionate and irrational about every aspect of the CC. When I drive the car, I am one with it." Another summed it up nicely: "I'm simply speechless that a car can make me feel so good."
Sedan $35K-$45K: Cadillac CTS
For consumers, the Cadillac CTS represents eye-catching curb appeal, sumptuous interior accommodations and generous feature content wrapped in an American flag. As GM continues to deal with its myriad struggles, the CTS certainly isn't one of them. This world-class midsize sedan establishes a new standard for what an American luxury car can be, bringing European-inspired handling prowess and improved perceived quality to a decidedly red-white-and-blue package of ample interior space, comfy ride quality and unmistakable Cadillac styling. There are two V6 engines available, but the direct-injected (DI) one has earned the majority of praise from consumers and our editors alike for its strong power and decent fuel economy. Consumers frequently praised the many luxury goodies, including the hard-drive-based navigation system, real-time traffic, iPod interface, swiveling headlights and cooled seats. At the same time, owners thought all of those goodies came at a very reasonable price, most making reference to sizable rebates and attractive financing rates. Virtually every consumer review mentioned a desire for a back-up camera option, which went hand in hand with the frequent complaints about impeded rear visibility.
Sedan Over $45,000: Cadillac CTS-V
Owners of Cadillac's super sedan seem to be pretty high on their purchases, and we can't blame 'em. We've never been able to duplicate GM's claimed 3.9-second sprint to 60 mph, but given that the CTS-V is a four-door luxury sedan that weighs almost 4,300 pounds, 4.3 seconds to 60 and a 12.4-second quarter-mile at 115 mph ain't too shabby. In fact, those numbers make the automatic-transmission CTS-V the fastest production sedan we've ever tested (the manual transmission is fractionally slower). Equally remarkable is the drama-free way in which the CTS-V piles on that speed. This is no white-knuckled thrillmobile; on the contrary, the CTS-V's supercharged 556-hp V8 is so refined that you might need to glance at the speedometer to appreciate just how quickly you're accelerating -- or turning the rear tires into billows of smoke, as the case may be. With a base price under $60,000, bargains don't get much more screaming than this. We're sure it's scant comfort for the beleaguered brain trust in Detroit, but the CTS-V is among the best all-around performance cars GM has ever made.
Wagon: Mazda Mazdaspeed 3
By most logical analysis, the Mazdaspeed 3 should not be a ratings winner. First of all, wagons, by their very nature, are supposed to be practical. Practicality is hardly the Mazdaspeed 3's top attribute. Secondly, it's getting on in years -- it's in its final year before a 2010 redesign. And lastly, the wagon category for Consumers' Top Rated this year included all wagons, which means the under $25,000 "MS3" was competing against cars potentially costing twice as much. Yet Mazda's hopped-up small wagon defied the odds to top this year's CTR. Not that we're complaining. A longtime favorite of ours, the Mazdaspeed 3 has a turbocharged 2.3-liter engine that cranks out a stout 263 hp and a sport-tuned suspension that makes the car highly enjoyable to drive. In consumer reviews, comments like "fun!" and "blast to drive!" are commonplace. Yet it's still practical and reasonably fuel-efficient on the highway. Sporty, affordable and practical -- sounds like Mazda's got a good formula for winning Edmunds' CTR.
SUV Under $25,000: Volkswagen Tiguan
A bit of a ringer, V-Dub's cute-ute narrowly makes the category with only the base Tiguan S zipping under the $25K wire. All-wheel-drive versions of the range-topping Tiguan SEL start at $32,940, but there's much to recommend in all trims of this spunky little SUV. A 2008 IIHS Top Safety Pick, even base Tiguan models sport a host of standard features (heated mirrors, full power accessories, air-conditioning, an eight-speaker sound system), and Edmunds editors noted the interior's soft-touch surfaces and muted design elegance. Most importantly, according to our readers, the Tiguan is fun. That tag is complements of frisky handling, a compliant ride and VW's overachieving turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, with the only downside being a thirst for premium fuel. Owners called the Tiguan sure-footed in the snow and a real hoot to drive ("the GTI of the CUV segment"), highlighting the quiet interior and simple controls in the right places. Some questioned the Tiguan's limited cargo space, but reinforcing the playful rep, one intrepid owner proclaimed: "I fit nine full-size cases of beer in the cargo area." How's that for fun? For shoppers in this segment, the Tiguan is an upscale option for those who place a premium on refinement.
SUV $25K-$35K: Kia Borrego
Kia's first seven-passenger SUV won the hearts of Edmunds readers by delivering on its promise of excellent value. Consumers praised the midsize truck-based SUV's roominess, excellent visibility, fuel economy and extensive standard features for the price. Kia's standard 10-year/100,000-mile warranty doesn't hurt, either. Starting at $26,245, the 3.8-liter V6 LX features top-notch crash test scores and lots of safety equipment, the ability to tow 5,000 pounds (with integrated tow hitch) and an audio system with CD/MP3/SAT, USB port and auxiliary jack. The more powerful 4.6-liter V8 version tows a class-leading 7,500 pounds, and all trims have optional 4WD. Impressive technology and luxurious interior touches, reasonably priced option packages, plus a 60/40-folding second row and 50/50-split third row, make the Borrego a family-friendly SUV that can do the work of a larger, less fuel-efficient truck. While editors noticed the Borrego's sluggish throttle response and upshifts -- a result of its bias toward fuel-efficiency -- few owners complain about this in their reviews. (EPA fuel-economy estimates range from 19 combined for the RWD V6 and 17 for the 4WD V8.) Owner comments like "Really underrated" and "Exceeded my expectations" show that even in a crowded category of worthy contenders, it's still possible to hit the sweet spot.
SUV $35K-$45K: Audi Q5
Wrap handsome Audi styling around a reasonably sized crossover sporting the brand's typically sumptuous cabin and power it with a muscular 270-hp V6 and you have the all-new Audi Q5. Based on the agile A4 platform, the Q5 comes standard with Audi's competent Quattro all-wheel-drive system. More an SUV for folks wanting a sporty, sure-footed family vehicle than a trail-busting rig, the Q5 has thoroughly impressed consumers with its multifaceted personality. One enthusiastic owner elaborates: "One [test-drive] was all it took to blow me away. The Q5 drives and feels like a sport sedan, as handling and acceleration are excellent. The build quality is phenomenal [and the] seats are extremely comfortable." Other feedback was just as complimentary, as from this owner, who switched from a BMW to the Audi: "It's small enough for urban driving/parking, but is roomier and built more intelligently than the X3 that it replaced." Lastly, this owner was impressed with the Q5's performance and looks: "The 270-hp V6 has enough punch to easily set you back in your seat. The shifting is very smooth and so is the ride. The Q5 also turns heads."
SUV Over $45,000: Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
For 2009, the Mercedes-Benz GL-Class emerges victorious as the top rated SUV Over $45,000. For those shoppers looking for a luxury SUV, the big Benz wins with a smooth ride, plenty of power and excellent build quality. Owner-recommended Premium packages augment the already generous features list, but also carry a hefty price tag. For instance, the bells-and-whistles Premium I package (at $6,600) includes a power liftgate, parking sensors with a rearview camera and a hard-drive-based navigation system with voice activation, plus a Harman Kardon surround-sound system with satellite radio, HD radio and real-time traffic and Zagat restaurant reviews. The $8,800 Premium II package adds adaptive bi-xenon headlights, tri-zone climate control and rear air-conditioning. Consumers heap accolades on the Bluetec diesel models that make towing duties a snap, running boards to assist child passenger access and the updated COMAND interface. Complaints were few and included some owners who would like easier access to the third-row seats, adaptive cruise control, and more cupholders and storage bins.
Compact Truck: Toyota Tacoma
For the second year in a row, the Toyota Tacoma has been our Consumers' Top Rated Compact Truck, and it definitely deserves it. The Tacoma is available in a number of body styles, cab lengths and trim levels, which let you tailor the truck to your needs. Affectionately named the "Taco" by many owners, this truck has such a dedicated following that many have owned multiple Tacomas in their lifetime. Our readers loved the Tacoma's powerful V6 and smooth ride. The features that garnered the most attention were the traction control, iPod connectivity, back-up camera and the fuel economy of the 2.7-liter four-cylinder engine. Our editors and a few owner-reviewers note that the driver seat is mounted too low and doesn't lend itself well to extended drives. Other minor complaints ranged from wanting air-conditioning vents in the rear to the spongy feel of the brake pedal. Despite these shortcomings, owners and editors agree that the Tacoma remains one of the best bets in the compact truck segment.
Large Truck: Ford F-150
Ford's F-Series truck has been the best-selling vehicle in America for most of the last 30 years. So it's no surprise that the F-150, which was redesigned for 2009 and faces steep competition (the Dodge Ram was also all-new this year), takes the top full-size truck spot in our Consumers' Top Rated this year. The F-150 wins owners' hearts with its fuel-economy improvements, a more comfortable ride and better front-seat comfort, an upscale interior and additional power. Our editors agree that these traits make the F-150 a great truck for commuters who also need the utility of a full-size truck. When asked to list elements of the truck they thought could be improved, the vast majority of owner-reviewers mentioned the desire for a telescoping steering wheel and complained of the extreme forward angle of the new head restraints. Several also wished for even more power, a sentiment echoed by our editors, as the F-150 remains the least powerful truck in the category, even with its recent horsepower gains.
Minivan/Van: Mazda Mazda 5
Last year's CTR champ, the Mazda Mazda 5 continues its winning streak as Top Rated Minivan/Van for 2009. Considerably smaller than a full-size minivan, with an appropriately smaller price tag and best-in-class fuel economy (owners report getting up to 30 mpg on the highway), the Mazda 5 can seat six in relative comfort or carry a surprising load of stuff when all rear seats are stowed. Built on the sporty Mazda Mazda 3 platform, it's also a lot more fun to drive than traditional family vans, a trait that wins big points with owners. Easy-opening dual-sliding doors and a diminutive size make parking lot forays a snap. Mazda 5 owners also praise the minivan's many available features -- like heated seats, steering wheel controls, MP3 capability and automatic climate control -- for a family hauler priced less than $23,000 for the top trim level. The handful of items owners wish to improve include more useful front-seat interior storage cubbies, tinted windows to cut down on heat buildup in the Mazda 5's large greenhouse, a more powerful engine and an additional seating position like the one available in the Japanese version of the little van.
Hybrid: Toyota Camry Hybrid
The Toyota Camry Hybrid may not have the pop culture appeal of the Prius, but our consumer reviewers have rated it as the best hybrid in the 2009 Consumers' Top Rated Awards. We have a good idea why this car is so popular among owners, who rated the Camry Hybrid quite a bit higher than our editors have. The Camry Hybrid is easy to drive, has a quiet ride and offers plenty of high-tech features. In a recent road test review, our editors wrote: "Unlike the Prius, it never gives you the sense that you're driving a science experiment. The Camry Hybrid is every bit a Camry, except it uses less gas." Although its fuel economy isn't the highest in the hybrid segment, many owner-reviewers noted that they were able to get fuel-economy numbers well above 40 mpg. A few owners considered buying a luxury sedan, but ultimately decided on the Camry Hybrid. All of them were happy with their decision.