'U.S. News' Site Ranks Vehicles, Has Kind Words For GM

In the midst of a season that is crowded not only by car deals but by best- and worst-of lists, comes a new one, by U.S. News & World Report's new consumer research site, RankingsandReviews.com.

Actually, the site, which launched in October, isn't so much a new ranking as much as it is a meta-ranking of current professional opinion: a consensus of bests and worsts from experts, product reviews, government safety ratings, reliability stats and the like, resulting in a 1-10 score.

The site had some kind words for General Motors, which it said shows the greatest of improvement of any automaker this year. Like other rankings and reviews, U.S. News gives high marks to GM's new Malibu, Cadillac CTS and Buick Enclave. The 2008 CTS was Motor Trend Car of the Year.

The firm ranked Malibu No. 6 out of 25 mid-size cars for performance, exterior styling and affordability. The CTS was No. 4, and Enclave was No. 3 out of 23 midsize SUVs.

The Chevy Tahoe, Silverado and Cadillac Escalade also posted strong results, as did Nissan's Infiniti G37, Mazda's CX-9, and Chrysler's Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans.



Still, Honda took top honors in several of the publisher's categories: top economy car for its Fit compact, and the Accord for mid-sized cars. Honda's CR-V was top compact SUV, and Honda Pilot won for mid-size SUV.

Also, the report notes that hybrids from Japan outrank American hybrids from GM and Ford, including the Saturn Aura and Vue hybrids, Chevy Tahoe hybrid, and Ford Escape/Mercury Mariner hybrids. The firm says they don't--yet--get the fuel economy of Toyota's Prius and Camry hybrids.

Chad Smolinski, vice president of U.S. News' RankingsandReviews.com, says automakers take the results seriously, not least because of the U.S. News brand, particularly where rankings are concerned. "We certainly expect we will have the same credibility and following in the car and trucks category as U.S. News has in colleges and hospitals, for example," he says.

"There has been significant interest in advertising on the site, and [automakers] are consistently monitoring the site to see where they are ranked in the various categories."

He says the site has been approached by automakers interested in using the results and U.S. News brand as a third-party endorsement in ads.

"In a competitive business like the auto industry, automakers certainly want to be able to tout a positive review/ranking and utilize the strength and credibility behind the U.S. News brand. And the auto industry has been eager to advertise on the site. Presently, the RankingsAndReviews.com site is virtually sold out." Smolinski says the site is completely independent and based solely on analytics.

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