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Consumer Reports' top 10 car picks for 2024: Why plug-in hybrids are this year's star

Hybrid vehicles have taken over this year's list of Consumer Reports' top cars, trucks and SUVs.

The research, testing, and advocacy organization looks at safety features, reliability and satisfaction when evaluating choices for its Top Picks report. This year’s list includes one electric car, three hybrid vehicles and three plug-in hybrids, or PHEVs.

"This year is all about plug-in hybrids," Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports senior director of auto testing, told USA TODAY. He highlighted the vehicles' versatility – daily commutes can fit well within their charging range, but drivers can also fill them up with gas for road trips to avoid worrying about a spotty charging infrastructure.

"You don't really have to compromise," Fisher said. "It can be the best of both worlds for a lot of people."

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Here’s the full list from Consumer Reports:

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Subcompact SUV: Subaru Crosstrek

Fisher said the three gas-powered cars that made this year's list offer drivers "a lot of value."

"These are vehicles that you can purchase under $30,000 that offer pretty luxurious and sporty (features) and good handling and safety and all those things," he said.

IIHS' Top Safety Picks for 2024: See the cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans that made the list

With a starting price of just over $25,000, the Crosstrek fits that box. Consumer Reports says the Crosstrek made “evolutionary” advancements for its redesigned 2024 model, with an upgraded infotainment system and improved safety features. While the base engine may be “a bit weak,” upgrading to a 2.5-liter engine will result in a more satisfying ride.

◾ Price: $25,195-$32,195

◾ MPG: 29

The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek.
The 2024 Subaru Crosstrek.

Hybrid/PHEV car: Toyota Prius/Prius Prime

With a sportier look and more horsepower, the latest Prius is a “sensible car,” according to Consumer Reports – even if it's not as spacious as its predecessors.

◾ Price: $27,950-$39,370

◾ MPG: 51 for the hybrid, 43 for the PHEV with a 39-mile EV range.

The 2024 Prius Prime.
The 2024 Prius Prime.

Compact SUV: Subaru Forester

The Forester is a regular on the annual report, now featured 11 times as a top pick. Consumer Reports says its design maximizes visibility, and the compact SUV offers comfortable seats and plenty of space.

◾ Price: $27,095-$37,395

◾ MPG: 28

The 2024 Subaru Forester.
The 2024 Subaru Forester.

Small car: Mazda3

Consumer Reports says the Mazda3 sedan and hatchback are “highly entertaining to drive," with a cost-effective base engine that still packs more than 190 horsepower. One drawback, though, is the “distracting” controls.

◾ Price: $24,170-$36,650

◾ MPG: 30

The Mazda3.
The Mazda3.

Midsized car: Toyota Camry Hybrid

The Camry Hybrid returns to Consumer Reports’ top picks list, boasting 47 mpg and “stellar” reliability and efficiency.

◾ Price: $28,855-$34,295

◾ MPG: 47

The 2024 Toyota Camry.
The 2024 Toyota Camry.

Small pickup: Ford Maverick/Maverick Hybrid

The Maverick offers a roomy interior, easy-to-use controls and “terrific” fuel economy, with the hybrid model getting 37 mpg.

◾ Price: $23,815-$34,855

◾ MPG: 23 in the gas-powered Maverick, 37 in the Maverick Hybrid.

The 2024 Ford Maverick.
The 2024 Ford Maverick.

Electric vehicle: Tesla Model Y

Consumer Reports says the Model Y “makes going electric easy,” thanks to its spacious interior and long driving range.

◾ Price: $43,990-$52,490

◾ 330-mile range

The Tesla Model Y.
The Tesla Model Y.

Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander Hybrid

The Highlander Hybrid is described as a comfortable three-row SUV with an abundance of safety features and a fuel economy that knocks it out of the park, getting 35 mpg.

◾ Price: $40,720-$53,125

◾ MPG: 35

The 2024 Toyota Highlander.
The 2024 Toyota Highlander.

Luxury SUV: BMW X5/X5 PHEV

The X5 PHEV “sets a high standard,” according to Consumer Reports, with a quiet cabin and “supple ride.”

◾ Price: $65,200-$89,300

◾ MPG: 23 for the gas-powered X5, or 21 for the X5 PHEV with a 39-mile electric-only range.

The BMW X5.
The BMW X5.

Plug-in hybrid SUV: Toyota Rav4 Prime

Consumer Reports describes the car as “frisky and frugal,” with a quieter ride than other versions.

◾ Price: $43,690-$47,560

◾ MPG: 34, with a 42-mile electric-only range.

The 2024 Toyota Rav4 Prime.
The 2024 Toyota Rav4 Prime.

Top Brands

Consumer Reports also released its annual Auto Brand Report Card, which ranks car makers based on their vehicles’ road tests, reliability, satisfaction and safety. (Higher scores are better.)

  1. BMW: 82

  2. Subaru: 80

  3. Porsche: 80

  4. Honda: 78

  5. Lexus: 78

  6. Mini: 78

  7. Kia: 77

  8. Mazda: 77

  9. Toyota: 77

  10. Hyundai: 76

  11. Acura: 73

  12. Audi: 72

  13. Buick: 69

  14. Cadillac: 68

  15. Genesis: 68

  16. Infiniti: 67

  17. Ford: 65

  18. Tesla: 65

  19. Nissan: 64

  20. Mitsubishi: 64

  21. Lincoln: 63

  22. Chevrolet: 62

  23. Volvo: 62

  24. Chrysler: 62

  25. Dodge: 61

  26. Volkswagen: 60

  27. Maserati: 56

  28. Alfa Romeo: 56

  29. Mercedes-Benz: 55

  30. Rivian: 55

  31. GMC: 53

  32. Jaguar: 52

  33. Land Rover: 50

  34. Jeep: 46

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Consumer Reports: Best picks for hybrid vehicles include Toyota, Mazda