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Honda Accord edges past Toyota Camry in Consumer Reports testing of family sedans

Posted Friday, June 30, 2006

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Hyundai Azera gets “Excellent” rating in CR’s tests; Cadillac DTS rated “Very Good, while Buick Lucerne rated “Good”

Yonkers, NY — The freshened Honda Accord retained its position as Consumer Reports top-rated family sedan following a showdown between the Accord and the redesigned Toyota Camry for the August issue. The difference in scores is razor thin, and both vehicles are rated “Excellent” overall.

Honda and Toyota have consistently set the standard for well-rounded, reliable family sedans with the Accord and the Camry. Along with the Volkswagen Passat, they regularly trade places as CR’s top-rated family sedan.

The Accord was named Consumer Reports’ Top Pick in the family sedan category for 2006 in the magazine’s Annual April Auto Issue.

“The top-rated Accord is a refined and comfortable family sedan that offers a slightly sportier edge than its competitors,” said David Champion, senior director of Consumer Reports' Auto Test Center in East Haddam, Connecticut.

For the August issue, Consumer Reports pulled together a group of four family sedans and three large/luxury sedans for testing. CR purchased a V6 Honda Accord EX and three versions of the new Camry—a six-cylinder XLE, a Hybrid, and a four-cylinder LE. CR also purchased for testing a Hyundai Azera, Cadillac DTS, and Buick Lucerne.

The Accord, Camry XLE, and Camry Hybrid all achieved “Excellent” overall scores in Consumer Reports' tests. The Camry LE received a “Very Good” overall score.

Among the large sedans, the Hyundai Azera rated “Excellent” overall, coming in second place behind the previously-tested Toyota Avalon. The showing is one of the most impressive for a Hyundai in Consumer Reports testing during recent years. The Buick Lucerne, a replacement for both the LeSabre and Park Avenue, scored “Good” while the Cadillac DTS, an update of the DeVille, garnered a “Very Good” overall score.

Full tests and ratings of the family and large sedans appear in the August issue of Consumer Reports, which goes on sale July 4. The complete report is also available to subscribers of www.ConsumerReports.org.

Consumer Reports recommends four of the cars in this test group, the Accord EX, and all three trim lines of the Camry—the XLE, Hybrid, and LE. The Azera and Lucerne are new vehicles and so reliability is unknown. Reliability of the DeVille was below average; it remains to be seen what it will be for the DTS. Consumer Reports only recommends vehicles that have performed well in its tests, have at least average predicted reliability based on CR’s Annual Car Reliability Survey of its own subscribers, and performed at least adequately if crash-tested or included in a government rollover test.

The Accord combines sportiness and all-around capability, which helps it maintain its top rating among family sedans. The ride is pleasingly firm and handling is nimble with its standard electronic stability control. Road noise is CR’s biggest complaint about this vehicle. The Accord EX ($27,850 Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price as tested) is powered by a 244-hp, 3.0-liter V6 that is smooth, quick, and relatively frugal, delivering 23 mpg overall in CR’s own fuel economy tests. The five-speed automatic is smooth and responsive. The Accord’s brakes perform very well.

The Camry is capable, quiet, and well rounded in all three test versions but is not as exciting to drive as the Accord. Handling is sound, but not sporty; the ride is comfortable. All powertrains are refined and economical; the V6-powered XLE, the top-rated of the three, is very quick, while the Camry Hybrid combines good performance with impressive fuel economy—34 mpg overall. MSRPs for the Camrys varied from $21,080 for the LE to $29,839 for the XLE, and $30,677 for the Hybrid. The brakes on the XLE and LE trim lines perform very well. Braking distances were somewhat longer on the hybrid version.

The Azera is a well-finished large sedan with a generous back seat, impressive interior and lots of standard features. It is comfortable, refined, and has a powerful V6 engine. The ride is comfortable and handling is sound—much improved over previous Hyundai sedans. The Azera Limited ($30,075 MSRP as tested) is propelled by a 263-hp, 3.8-liter V6 and five-speed transmission that delivers excellent acceleration. Stopping distances are very short.

The Lucerne is a comfortable sedan that delivers a soft ride and good isolation from road noise. However, braking and emergency handling are lackluster, and the V6 trails competitors in refinement and performance. The Lucerne CXL ($30,680 MSRP as tested) is powered by a 197-hp, 3.8-liter V6 that provides just adequate performance. The four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is only fair.

The DTS isn’t as stylish or sporty as other Cadillacs. It’s roomy, with a large rear seat and a soft, quiet ride. Handling is clumsy and braking distances are long. The DTS Luxury II ($47,395 MSRP as tested) is powered y a 275-hp, 4.6-liter V8 that is refined and lively. The four-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. Braking is only fair.

Consumer Reports is one of the most trusted sources for information and advice on consumer products and services. It conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or Website; the magazine’s auto experts have decades of experience in driving, testing, and reporting on cars. To subscribe to Consumer Reports, call 1-800-234-1645. Information and articles from the magazine can be accessed online at www.ConsumerReports.org.

 
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