If you were shopping for a small SUV and read about the Jeep Compass in the Detroit Free Press, you'd probably move it to the top of your list. "Four stars out of four," the paper gushed. "It's a new kind of Jeep, and a successful one."
But if your research led you to Car and Driver, you'd probably strike the Compass from your list. "The name says Jeep, but the vibe says cheap," sneered the magazine, which complained about an interior "with all the passion of a rubbish-bin lid."
Whom to believe? That's where the U.S. News car and truck rankings come in. Even though an automobile is one of the most expensive products most people will ever buy, car reviews are notoriously subjective. Now, U.S. News is taking the bias out of the advice, with a unique ranking system that distills information from numerous reviews into a single numerical score between 1 and 10. The scores allow us to rank virtually every mainstream car on the market, from best to worst in 23 categories—while giving consumers an invaluable new tool for doing head-to-head comparisons of every vehicle on their shopping list. We've done the research so you don't have to.
The data we have on our website, rankingsandreviews.com, provide a trove of useful information for shoppers and enthusiasts alike. The Toyota Camry and Honda Accord are tied for No. 1 as the highest-ranked midsize sedans, for instance, but they're still markedly different cars. The Accord has an edge in performance, a subcategory we measure, while the Camry offers better exterior and interior styling—the kind of information that can help buyers find the car that best meets their personal tastes. And anybody seeking a hybrid should be advised that the Camry version, fairly new to the market, outranks the Toyota Prius, long the favorite of environmentally conscious consumers.
Since we also include pricing data, our rankings serve as a tipsheet on good values and rising or fading brands. Two models from Kia, the aggressively priced South Korean nameplate, have broken the top three in their categories: the Sorento SUV and Sedona minivan. The Cadillac Escalade preserves some street cred for the domestic automakers, besting Mercedes and Land Rover as the top large luxury SUV. The new Toyota Tundra full-size pickup edges the Ford F-150—long Detroit's king of the road—but still trails the Chevy Silverado. As for the Jeep Compass, the experts, on the whole, side with Car and Driver: Out of 20 entrants in its category, it's tied for last.
The rankings on the following pages represent a small sampling of all the data available free on the U.S. News Best Cars & Trucks website. These are the best vehicles in their class, but buyers have many other options that might be cheaper, sexier, or a longtime favorite. So test-drive our data and keep the keys handy—this might just be the only automotive website you'll ever need.