YONKERS, NY (WWJ) – While Lexus still finished as the top brand overall, American made vehicles are doing a lot better in Consumer Reports annual rankings of top cars and trucks.

“There are three top picks from American name plates,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing. “That’s the first time we’ve seen this in this century.”

And for the first time ever, a domestic brand is in Consumer Reports top 10. Buick jumped past Honda and BMW, with the Buick Regal now displacing the BMW 3-Series as the top

“This is a vehicle that, if you close your eyes, you’d think you’d be driving in something from Audi or BMW,” said Fisher.

Along with the Regal, Chevy’s Impala is Consumer Reports top big car. Top car overall is also American made, but not by one of the Detroit Three. It’s the Tesla Model S.

“The way this car does everything is just pretty amazing,” said Fisher. “It’s extremely energy efficient, being an electric car. But, it’s roomy, it’s comfortable.”

Other brands that showed a lot of improvement were Subaru–with three top picks (Forester, Impreza and Legacy) and Mazda, which is now the second highest rated brand.

Here is Consumer Reports official Top Picks List (with Consumer Reports comments):

  • BEST OVERALL: Tesla Model S ($89,650) For all of the impressive new vehicles released in
    2014, none was able to eclipse the innovation of the Tesla, making it the best overall pick for the second year in a row. It’s a technological tour de force, a high-performance electric vehicle with usable real-world range, wrapped in a luxury package.
  • MIDSIZED SEDAN: Subaru Legacy ($24,837) Years ago, people bought Subarus to be practical and pragmatic. Now, it’s simply a great car with mainstream appeal and impact. The Legacy provides a quiet, comfortable, and roomy package that also has the best ride among its peers. Its 26 mpg might seem lackluster, but that’s with the reassurance of all-wheel drive.
  • COMPACT CAR: Subaru Impreza (sedan, $21,345) The Impreza’s interior packaging is
    outstanding and recent improvements have made it quieter inside. And, Subaru has finally embraced the need for a contemporary infotainment system. It drinks more fuel than its peers, with an overall 27 mpg, but offers the benefit of all-wheel drive.
  • GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius ($29,230) The purity of the Prius’ functional excellence dictate that—although almost at the end of its model cycle—it remains the best green car pick for the 12th year in a row. Nothing can touch the sweet spot of its affordability, stellar fuel economy, smart-packaging, and blue-chip reliability.
  • LUXURY CAR: Audi A6 ($56,295) The A6 pampers drivers with extravagant surroundings, a
    functional, elegant interior, and a plush ride while remaining faithful to its core value of crisp handling on a curvy road. Fuel economy is commendable at 22 mpg when combined with the security of all-wheel drive.
  • SPORTS SEDAN: Buick Regal ($34,485) Surprisingly agile, the Regal defies Buick’s brand
    stereotype and the value-for-the money equation is strong. Because it’s an Opel underneath, it has that Teutonic ride control that provides a Europhile driving experience. The 259-hp, 2.0 liter turbo is sharply integrated with a six-speed automatic and available all-wheel drive.
  • SMALL SUV: Subaru Forester ($26,814) With the Forester, Subaru has nailed the recipe of
    combining practicality, safety, fuel economy, and interior accommodations. It offers outstanding value and visibility is terrific. A vehicle Consumer Reports recommends for families with better crash-test results than most of the field.
  • MIDSIZED SUV: Toyota Highlander ($38,941) The redesigned Highlander has all the versatility and functionality of a minivan, but wrapped in a more macho package – a swagger wagon for the sensible crowd.
  • MINIVAN: Honda Odyssey ($38,055) The redesigned Odyssey, a living room on wheels with
    flexible seating for up to eight, rides and handles better than some family sedans and is enjoyable to drive, taking corners with confidence. An all-wheel-drive version is missing from the lineup, and reliability could be better, but, it’s still one of the best values on the market.

More information is available at ConsumerReports.org/AutosSpotlight.

The rankings are a combination of Consumer Reports testing, and feedback from readers.

The report is a particularly good showing for General Motors.

“Five years after a brush with bankruptcy General Motors continues its forward momentum,” says Kelly Blue Book analyst Karl Brauer. “The automaker has improved every metric within its control.”

It was a rough year for a number of brands, including Infiniti and Mercedes, which fell a number of notches.

Bottom vehicle overall, says Fisher, was the Fiat 500L. Fiat also finished at the bottom of Consumer Reports brand rankings.

“Their vehicles don’t score very well. Their reliability is right at the bottom.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Email: jdgilbert@cbs.com
Facebook: facebook.com/carchronicles
Twitter:@jefferygilbert

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