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Press Release

Consumer Reports' Top Auto Picks

03/18/97


The Best of the Best--Consumer Reports' Top Picks: These Cars, Trucks,
and Vans Pull Away from the Pack; Categorically Magazine's Top -
Choices List Taps Mercedes E320 "Best Regardless of Price"


YONKERS, NY - Again in this year's annual Auto Issue, Consumer Reports
magazine has focused special attention on vehicles that stand out in
certain categories, earning them the distinction: "Best of the Best."
Yet, surprisingly, one of the cars thus anointed - a gas-sipping
Toyota Tercel - doesn't even make it onto the magazine's list of
"Recommended" models.

Some of this year's top picks are new models; some are carryover
models.  All, however, possess qualities that set them apart from
their brethren.  As Consumer Report's overall standard of excellence,
the Mercedes-Benz E320 blends strong acceleration with modest fuel
consumption, and responsive handling with a quiet, composed ride.  At
$44,800, the E320 is the magazine's choice for Best Regardless of
Price.  The Cadillac Catera, Lexus ES300, Mercedes C-Class and BMW
3-series perform nearly as well overall, Consumer Reports says, but
sell for some $10,000 less. Other top picks:

-Best Family Sedan: The Toyota Camry.  Extensively redesigned for
1997, the reliable Camry has for years been a Consumer Reports top
pick among moderately priced sedans.

-Best Small Sedan: The Mazda Protege.  With an unusually roomy rear
seat for a small car, the Protege provides the comfort and refinement
of a larger, heavier and more expensive car, along with reliability.

-Best Sport-Utility Vehicle: The Toyota 4Runner.  It offers the best
combination of overall performance and cargo space.

-Best Small Sport-Utility Vehicle: The Toyota RAV4.  Despite minimal
bumper protection, this small SUV gets the nod thanks to its carlike
ride and handling, good fuel economy, excellent cargo access and
full-time-all wheel drive.

-Best Pickup Truck: The Ford F-150.  Consumer Reports was impressed
with its smooth ride and handling, as well as with its "workhorse
cargo capacity".

-Best Compact Pickup Truck: The Ford Ranger and the Mazda B-series.
The extended cab is especially recommended.  The two wheel drive
versions of these similar vehicles have proved reasonably reliable;
not so the four-wheel drive.

-Best Minivan: The Chrysler Corp. twins, Dodge Caravan and Plymouth
Voyager.  Consumer Reports recommends only the short-bodied versions,
which have been more reliable than the long versions.  According to
the magazine, they "drive with the refined road manners of a good
sedan"

-Best Entry-Level Car: A young person's first car is likely to be a
used model.  Among those under $6000, the 1989 Honda Civic is good
bet, says Consumer Reports.  It offers safe handling, a relatively
comfortable ride and good fuel economy.

-Most Fuel-Efficient Car: Averaging about 39 mpg in mixed city and
highway driving--the best figures Consumer Reports has recorded in
years--the 1995 Toyota Tercel takes this prize.  Yet its cramped
interior and unimpressive scores, overall, in Consumer Reports' tests
keep it off the magazine's list of "Recommended" models.  Still, if
extraordinary fuel economy is all you want in a car...

The April issue of Consumer Reports will be available March 25
wherever magazines are sold.  To order this report by fax through
Consumer Reports by Request, at a cost of $7.75 per report, call
1-800-419-9824 and specify code 959.  This report will also be
available March 25.