Subaru, recommended and made famous by Crocodile Dundee B-list celebrity Paul Hogan in the 1990s, has moved well beyond celebrity pitching to the head of its class, according to the Automaker Report Card published in Consumer Reports’ 2010 Annual Auto Issue.  It earned an A+ on their scale , a 77 out of 100 points and thus the recognition as best all-around vehicle for American drivers.  Yes, the New York City Subaru Legacy driver stuck in traffic on 42nd Street and the crossing a muddy swamp are both winners with this announcement. 

Subaru tied for first in the prestigious rankings with perennial powerhouse Honda, while Toyota, despite its recent troubles and the percentage of vehicles Consumer Reports recommends dropping nearly in half due to recalls, followed with a score of 74.  Next were Hyundai (73), Nissan (72), and Volkswagen (72).  Ford and GM finished middle of the pack, yet are still considered to be on the upswing with more and more of their tested vehicles being recommended by Consumer Reports each year.  Occupying the bottom of the rankings was Chrysler, who is faring much worse than its Motor City brethren in the Detroit revival narrative taking place and spending more time on the wrong end of the Consumer Reports spectrum than it would like.

As for determining the rankings, the score for each automaker is calculated by the average of its vehicles’ overall scores in Consumer Reports’ road tests and their average predicted-reliability ratings from Consumer Reports’ Annual Auto Survey.  Manufacturers were eligible for a report card only if 5 or more of their vehicles were tested.

Notable models in the testing were the redesigned 2010 Outback crossover wagon and Legacy sedan, which scored very well for Subaru, as did the Santa Fe SUV and Optima sedan for Hyundai/Kia.  The Fusion and the Flex did well for Ford, while the Chevy Malibu and Equinox and Buick Enclave, among others, rated highly for GM.  

So, while seeing an older model in acan you write an essay in 3 hoursdealer’s lot or on the road might still remind some folks of Paul Hogan, his Australian shtick, and the 1990s, no doubt moving forward the Outback, Legacy, and Subaru itself will be thought of as simply first-class.