When you're searching for a new car, Edmunds.com is a valuable resource for information to help in the decision-making process. To give you a well-rounded picture of the cars on the market, Edmunds offers the viewpoints of both our editors and real-world car owners like you. Observations and insights from actual vehicle owners, who are uniquely qualified to provide their own ratings and reviews, complement the breadth and regimentation of our editorial coverage of the cars.
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 2010 Edmunds.com Consumers' Top Rated® Awards features 21 categories, covering the automotive gamut from Coupe Under $25,000 to Large Truck.
Edmunds.com's 2010 Consumers' Top Rated® vehicles are those that received the highest average rating from our visitors as of April 28, 2010. All 2010 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 28, 2010 to determine each vehicle's price category.
Coupe Under $25,000: 2010 Dodge Challenger
A stroll through the consumer reviews of Dodge's retro-styled muscle car reveals that buyers are just as enamored with the big bad Challenger as we are. While only the base V6 engine squeaks under the $25,000 price cap for this category, nearly all of the cherished features from higher trim levels remain. First and foremost to garner praise is the styling. Owners absolutely love the Challenger's sinister look and bad boy attitude. Once they managed to catch their breath, consumer reviewers raved about the Challenger's smooth ride, spacious interior and all-around comfort. Negative comments were few and generally included the desire for more power out of the V6 to make it competitive against the Mustang and Camaro. Also noted more than a few times were the rather large blind spots and low fuel mileage.
Coupe $25K-$35K: 2010 Nissan 370Z
The original Datsun (later changed to Nissan) 240Z offered driving enthusiasts a sexy, agile and spirited sports car. Yes, it was equipped with thin vinyl seats and manual windows, but it was also affordable. Fast-forward 40 years and today's Nissan 370Z offers the same formula of high entertainment at a relatively low price. Of course, today's Z has a lot more in the way of creature comforts, but they don't get in the way of the driving experience. Not only does the 370Z blast to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds and rip through the quarter-mile in 13.4, it can also thread the slalom cones at 70 mph -- a feat usually accomplished only by far more expensive sports cars. In the real world, the athletic 370Z has impressed its owners as well: "This is my third Z and the BEST one. I had a 1991 (300ZX) and a 1994 (300ZX) but this is an awesome improvement. I look forward to driving it every day. It is very fast...and handles well." The few complaints among owners and our staff (we had a long-term 370Z) have centered on excessive road noise, a lack of engine refinement and the poor legibility of some gauges. Small prices to pay for such a performance bargain.
Coupe $35K-$45K: 2010 Audi A5
In the luxury sport coupe segment, style counts for a lot. And the Audi A5 has got style in spades. Elegant, curving character lines, a lack of fussy details and a perfectly proportioned form typify the A5. And the theme continues within, with handsome design executed with top-shelf materials. But the A5 is much more than a pretty face, with owners raving about its accommodating, well-rounded personality. One taller driver stated: "I am 6'2" and appreciate the headroom, about the best in any coupe. Very quiet [while] cruising on the highway. Wonderful Bang & Olufsen stereo." Favorable comments on its performance and handling were abundant as well. Even with the base turbocharged-4, the A5 delivered plenty of gusto for one owner: "All of this and 26-34 mpg in a very powerful four-cylinder with?an incredible 258 lb-ft of torque." While another similarly opined: "Wasn't expecting much out of a four-cylinder engine but this...feels faster than my old V6 and the 0-60 numbers prove it. All I can say is if you have doubts, test-drive the car yourself."
Coupe Over $45,000: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Offering the swept-back coupe roof line of its much more expensive CL-Class brother, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe has been a hit right out of the gate. In addition to the "hardtop" body design — which makes for an airy cabin whether the windows are up or down — all the goodness of the all-new E-Class is here. Our tests have revealed rock-solid build quality, competent handling and a serene highway ride, not to mention plenty of performance. The 268-hp V6 (E350) version offers spirited acceleration with a 0-60 time of 6.8 seconds, while the 382-hp V8-powered E550 is a rocket, sprinting to that speed in just 5.3 seconds. We're generally enamored with the new E and judging from the consumer reviews it received, actual owners are, too: "So far the E350 has performed above my expectations. The handling and power are matched well to the car's size. The interior design and fit and finish are superb. The rear seat room is far superior to the C300 and close to the S550." Another voiced similar praise: "The ride is smooth yet the handling is awesome. I can get in and out comfortably unlike [with] my partner's BMW 335 coupe. Nav worked great. Sound system is superb. It's just an all-around FUN car to drive and turns lots of heads."
Convertible Under $35,000: 2010 Ford Mustang
The Mustang just keeps getting better, year after year. The lineup received numerous changes and upgrades for 2010, with styling being the most obvious of the changes. The new interior is a big hit with our consumer reviewers, as is the wonderful V8 soundtrack and its accompanying wallop of horsepower and torque. Sync voice activation also ranks highly on owners' lists of favorite features, as does the optional MyColor customizable lighting. Of the complaints, poor interior storage seems to be one that pops up more than anything else. Some performance-oriented consumers would also like to see more competent brakes and bemoaned the antiquated solid rear axle. Some owners of the V6-powered 2010 Mustangs made mention of the engine's weak output, which has been remedied with the 2011 V6 power plant that cranks out 305 horsepower as opposed to the previous model's 210 hp. As expected, Mustang owners are a loyal bunch, and rank their beloved pony car above the competing Camaro and Challenger muscle cars. For the drop-top crowd, though, the Mustang is the only choice. Still, we tend to agree with these owners, as we've ranked the Mustang higher in every recent comparison test.
Convertible Over $35,000: 2010 Lexus IS 350 C
All of the owners who submitted their 2010 Lexus IS 350 C reviews gave their sun-loving drop tops incredibly high ratings. Not surprisingly, the hardtop convertible received high marks for its ability to weather storms, while also accommodating some cargo (a golf bag) when in suntan mode. Drivers appreciated the IS 350's sporty nature, with a few noting that the similar but smaller-engined Lexus IS 250 C was simply not up to the task. Other features making the grade include the 350's quiet ride (top down included), heated and cooled seats and the electronic bells and whistles -- with the navigation system and Bluetooth leading the way. Consumer reviewers did have some gripes, with the most prevalent being a lack of internal storage spaces. And not everyone was happy with the IS 350's tires: One criticized the Bridgestone Turanzas, and another wished that the front and rear tires were the same size to even out wear with rotation.
Sedan Under $15,000: 2010 Kia Forte
The new-for-2010 Kia Forte sedan is quickly making a name for itself in a class that has been dominated by Honda and Toyota since seemingly forever. With styling penned by a former Audi designer, the handsome Forte is undoubtedly one of the best-looking small cars on the market. Its interior's not as interesting to behold, but it's solidly constructed, and a wealth of features can be crammed into it. Even the base car comes standard with an iPod interface and a Bluetooth system that automatically downloads your cell's phone book. There are two engines available. Standard on the LX and EX trims is a 2.0-liter, 156-hp four-cylinder that is class-competitive in terms of acceleration and fuel economy. Stepping up to the SX trim not only gets you a larger 2.4-liter motor good for 173 horses, it features a sport-tuned suspension that transforms the little Forte into arguably the most fun-to-drive vehicle in its class. True, that model may cost more than $15,000, but for a bit more, you get a lot of fun, a lot of features and, as with all Fortes, a lot of value.
Sedan $15K-$25K: 2010 Volkswagen Golf
OK, so it's not really a sedan. The Volkswagen Golf is quite obviously a hatchback, but as such, this four-door compact is far more practical because of it. Along with being rechristened Golf after a generation known as the Rabbit, the 2010 version has been thoroughly updated in a number of ways to make it more appealing. For one, the interior has been improved to once again raise the bar in this price range for interior materials and construction. The Golf always feels more expensive (to behold and drive) than it actually is. Two engines are available (though a third can be found in the related VW GTI). A 2.5-liter five-cylinder that produces 170 hp provides ample motivation for the relatively heavy Golf, and fuel economy is on par with similarly powerful cars in the class. We would recommend the Golf TDI's clean-burning diesel engine, though, which produces 140 hp and more importantly, 236 pound-feet of torque. This engine is quite peppy around town and during highway passing, while achieving a fantastic 34 mpg combined.
Sedan $25K-$35K: Volkswagen CC
Though it may not sell in the numbers of other vehicles in this price range, the Volkswagen CC is nevertheless a sedan that scores highly among consumers and our editors alike. It all starts with its sleek styling, which not only sets the CC apart from other Volkswagens, but from its often bland competitors as well. With its radically raked roof line and frameless doors, the CC is in many ways a cross between a sedan and a coupe. There is a downside, though: The backseat can only seat two people. There are two available engines. VW's familiar 200-hp turbocharged "2.0T" provides a good balance between acceleration and fuel economy. The available 280-hp "VR6" engine (available with front- or all-wheel drive) offers more robust power, but its higher price tag elevates the CC into the same territory as vehicles from Audi and BMW. While the CC's beautifully detailed interior and ample feature content may in theory make it possible to compete in that class, this is still a people's car after all. Not surprisingly, most consumers have opted for the 2.0T, and judging by their comments, they love it.
Sedan $35K-$45K: 2010 Lexus ES 350
As we mentioned in our model review of the Lexus ES 350, "For every person interested in a sport sedan, there are probably three luxury sedan buyers more interested in 'wood trim,' 'comfortable ride' and 'easy to drive.'" These are the buyers who the ES 350 has won over for years. An owner summed it up best in his consumer review when he said, "I don't drive for the thrill of it, so a couch-on-wheels feel is what I wanted and got. I don't want to feel or hear the road, and this car does that perfectly." Other shoppers in this segment certainly agree. This year the ES 350 beat out last year's pick, the Cadillac CTS. Owners love the ES 350's quiet interior, smooth ride and back-up camera on navigation-equipped models. Some of their suggested improvements included a heated steering wheel, AWD and more distinctive body styling.
Sedan Over $45,000: 2010 Audi S4
Though some purists will lament the loss of the 4.2-liter V8 offered in the 2009 version, it certainly didn't stop the 2010 Audi S4 from becoming this year's Consumers' Top Rated Sedan Over $45,000. Our editors initially found the S4's value proposition questionable relative to the BMW 335i. But after back-to-back evaluation drives, we noted that the "S4 is a car that's both faster at the track and discernibly sharper in real-world driving -- and it's got a nicer interior, a roomier backseat and better fuel economy to boot." In their consumer reviews, a few owners wanted a bit more visual distinction from the standard A4, but our editors agree that the understated look is part of the S4's appeal. Other owners noted that a lack of memory seats for a vehicle in this price range was a glaring omission. One of our consumer reviewers offered this advice to prospective S4 buyers: "A driver's car with addictive torque -- don't test-drive unless you're ready to write a check."
Wagon Under $35,000: 2010 Chevrolet HHR
The boxy, compact wagon segment is filled with lots of choices (think Honda Fit, Kia Soul, Nissan Cube, Scion xB, the outgoing Chrysler PT Cruiser), but our consumer reviewers have rated the retro-styled 2010 Chevrolet HHR tops. A peppy engine choice, lots of usable interior space for a compact vehicle and comfortable driver seat are consistently mentioned by owners as their favorite features. One owner is so happy with his purchase of a Chevy HHR, he had this to say: "I tell my children if I had money, I'd have one in all the colors for each day of the week." Our consumer reviewers have found a few gripes, though. They'd like a tilt-and-telescoping wheel to make it easier to find a comfortable driving position, awkward cupholder placement was criticized by more than one owner, and the premium audio system was found to be disappointing. But for the most part, owners love their HHRs.
Wagon Over $35,000: 2010 Lincoln MKT
Don't call it a rebadged, less functional Ford Flex, say owners of the 2010 Lincoln MKT, citing the Lincoln's more luxurious interior, ultra-quiet ride and impressive high-tech features like Active Park Assist and Sync. In their reviews, owners mention that, after cross-shopping the MKT against its Japanese and European competitors, they decided on the Lincoln because it offered just as much car, but for less money. They praise the MKT's adaptive cruise control, smooth ride and impressive power from the EcoBoost engine. And while they have lots of good things to say about their vehicles, they do have some suggested improvements. Passenger space in the third row is tight, especially in the headroom category, thanks to the MKT's slanted rear roof. The lack of a center armrest for the second-row bench seat also received some jeers. But overall, MKT owners are quite smitten with the luxury wagon/crossover.
SUV Under $25,000: 2010 Mazda CX-7
The fact that it's been voted our Consumers' Top Rated SUV Under $25,000 means that Joe and Jill Public are finally beginning to take notice of the Mazda CX-7, and this is a very good thing -- we can't think of a crossover in this category that's more deserving of broader success. The CX-7 isn't as well known as competing models from more popular brands like Honda and Toyota, and that's a shame; with its sophisticated good looks and sporty handling, this Mazda is a genuinely exciting choice in a segment known for being anything but. The CX-7's overall refinement will have you doing a double-take at its relatively modest price tag -- "Nothing else in this price range compares to it," says one reader. Another consumer reviewer astutely points out: "You'd have to buy a BMW, Infiniti or Lexus to meet or beat this thing." Its cargo capacity is below average relative to that of others in this segment, so if you and your family have pack-rat inclinations, the CX-7 isn't the best choice. But shoppers who appreciate value and performance -- and who don't need the roomiest choice in the segment -- will enjoy this suave, polished Mazda.
SUV $25K-$35K: 2010 Toyota Highlander
Toyota's recalls have gotten so much airtime that one could be forgiven for losing sight of the fact that pretty much every brand currently on the market has suffered at least a recall or two. Thankfully, the savvy voters in our Consumers' Top Rated awards haven't allowed the negative publicity surrounding the manufacturer's setback to impair their perspective or cloud their judgment: They've voted the very worthy Highlander as their top-rated SUV in the $25,000-$35,000 price range. Favorite features include the SUV's moonroof, powerful engine, thoughtful interior layout and handy power liftgate. Proclaims one owner: "Roomy! Love the ride!" Another notes: "When it came time to purchase a midsize SUV, the Highlander was at the top of my list. Even after all the media hype, it is still better than the competition." With a versatile cabin, seating for up to seven passengers and a gutsy V6, the Highlander is the definition of what a family hauler should be.
SUV $35K-$45K: 2010 Infiniti FX35
The car that you drive can speak volumes about you. By this line of reasoning, the folks who bought the Infiniti FX35 and then rated it on our site as the Consumers' Top Rated SUV in the $35,000-$45,000 price range are performance fiends who'd gladly sacrifice cargo capacity to get their jollies behind the wheel. The talented FX35 is one of the most performance-oriented and least spacious choices in this segment. With its chorus of curves, this Infiniti also takes some chances when it comes to exterior design. It's one of the most distinctive -- and polarizing -- picks in a category dominated by predictable Mom-mobiles. Says one owner: "The FX35 has a bold look, and you will either love or hate it. However, I can testify that the car is a head-turner." The crossover's ride, power and athleticism are all big hits with our readers. "This [SUV] offers a unique combination for the discriminating purchaser," reports one satisfied owner. "I test-drove the [choices from] Acura, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and others, and came away with this as the clear winner for me and my mission statement."
SUV Over $45,000: 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
Repeating as the top-rated SUV Over $45,000, the 2010 Mercedes-Benz GL-Class has once again won over consumers with its remarkable combination of spacious luxury, practicality and carlike handling. This full-size seven-seat SUV has been roundly praised by editors and consumers alike. Many owners highly recommend the Premium packages, which add content but also a fair amount to the sticker price, though the least expensive GL-Class ($59,950 for the GL350 Bluetec) is also the most frugal at the pump. "The Bluetec diesel is just amazing," enthused one owner, claiming a combined 26 mpg. Also lauded was the GL's carlike ride quality ("very composed and solid ride"), passenger accommodations ("enough space in the third row for adults") and all-wheel-drive traction ("The AWD feels secure on snowy and wet roads.") One of the few consistent knocks on this lux-laden SUV was the lack of a sliding second-row bench to ease access to the third-row seating.
Compact Truck: 2010 Nissan Frontier
The 2010 Nissan Frontier has wrestled this title away from the Toyota Tacoma, a two-time winner, in being named this year's Consumers' Top Rated compact pickup truck. The Frontier is sold in a wide range of setups, bed lengths and trim levels so you can perfectly suit the truck to your needs. Many consumer reviewers were impressed by the Frontier's carlike ride coupled with its tough pickup truck performance on- and off-road. Also popular was the strong acceleration from the 4.0-liter V6 engine, the smooth-shifting transmission and surprisingly solid fuel-economy numbers. The most often cited popular features were heated leather power seats, Bluetooth capability, tie-down cleats, bed extender, steering-wheel-mounted controls and extendable sun visors. Some consumers opted for the 2.5-liter inline four-cylinder engine with a manual transmission and were left wanting more power. One reader complained about a wider-than-expected turning radius on U-turns. Still, most owners found the Frontier to be a reliable and practical pickup truck for a wide range of duties.
Large Truck: Ford F-150
A vehicle doesn't earn best-selling status three decades straight without getting most things right year after year. The Ford F-150 has ruled the sales roost in the U.S. and dominated the truck category for good reason, and the latest version of the popular pickup has given people who cross-shop or have owned competing models more reasons to join the F-150 fold. So it's no great shock that the iconic pickup finished first in Consumers' Top Rated in the large truck category for 2010. Even though the F-150 faces tough competition (particularly from the recently redesigned Dodge Ram and Ford's truck is at a definite disadvantage when it comes to available power, it more than makes up for it with other features and amenities in the minds of the people who bought, own and drive the pickup. Recent consumer reviews of the F-150 are rife with compliments on the truck's smooth and quiet ride, its great looks and cutting-edge in-cabin technologies such as Sync. Frequent complaints include the lack of a telescoping steering wheel and grab handles to help hoist drivers and passengers into the cab. But those minor quibbles haven't kept the F-150 from remaining the top-selling vehicle, again topping our Consumers' Top Rated and flying off dealers' lots.
Minivan/Van: 2010 Chrysler Town and Country
Garnering praise both from first-time minivan buyers and minivan veterans alike, the 2010 Chrysler Town & Country takes the top spot in the Minivan/Van category of Consumers' Top Rated this year. Owner/reviewers love this people-mover's many useful features, including its quiet ride, Stow-n-Go second-row seats and optional entertainment system. Front seat comfort and a smooth ride also rate high. In his review, a new Town & Country owner calls the minivan "comfort at its best." Value is also at the top of owners' lists. After comparison-shopping SUVs and other minivans against the T&C, one buyer said the Chrysler van's high level of feature content for a "very acceptable price" was his deciding factor. Like a lot of these consumers, our editors have held the Chrysler minivans in high regard -- in the past. But after spending a year with the Town & Country's corporate twin, the Dodge Grand Caravan, through our long-term road test program, we found its materials and build quality to be seriously lacking. Only time will tell if owners will eventually join us in this assessment.
Hybrid: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
We're starting to notice a trend in the Hybrid "top picks" category. The Toyota Prius had this category locked down for a number of years. Now it seems as though consumers want a vehicle that looks like an everyday car, while delivering the fuel economy of a hybrid. This year consumers favored the 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid over the Toyota Camry Hybrid as an excellent alternative for consumers turned off by the Prius' styling. During our Fuel Sipper Smackdown 2, the Fusion Hybrid became one of the favorites to drive among our editors. The Fusion Hybrid has also managed to bring back a number of lapsed Ford buyers and a few who had never considered a Ford. As expected, most consumer reviewers praise the car's fuel economy. But they are also quick to point out the many high-tech features, such as Sync, Blind Spot Detection and the animated "Efficiency Leaves" as favorites. Owner complaints were few and were mostly focused on the small trunk, lack of a HomeLink system and the inability to fold down the rear seats.