After a 10-year absence, both BMW and Audi earned their way back onto the list. Audi's A6, redesigned last year, was named the best luxury car, called "agile, quick, and a joy to drive" with a "sumptuous" cabin. Meanwhile, the BMW 328i was named the best sports sedan.
Lexus was named the top all-around brand, and the twin Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ speedsters also made the list as the best sports cars, which the magazine said were "fun to drive, low-priced and fuel-saving."
CR's annual rankings and regular in-depth car reviews influence the decisions of millions of car buyers across the US.
The company, independent of marketers and advertising and supported only by subscribers and donations, reviewed 280 cars, weighing their own road and safety tests together with reliability reports based on surveys of 1.2 million subscribers.
Overall, several European brands were cited for "inconsistency," with Volkswagen being singled out for "well-below-average reliability" for its Touareg SUV and the New Beetle.
On the bottom of the European pile was the Mini, the brand ranking 20th of all 26 brands reviewed.