Consumer Reports’ Testing Director Picks Favorites

DETROIT (Los Angeles Times/TNS) —

Jake Fisher knows cars. As the automotive-test director for Consumer Reports, he evaluates nearly every new vehicle in everyday driving and on the magazine’s test track in Connecticut.

Fisher goes to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit every year to get an advance look at what’s headed for the U.S. market and learn about advances in technology and design.

We caught up with Fisher at the Ford Motor Co. stand and asked him to name his three favorite vehicles of the show — and also the biggest dud.

Here are his picks.

The Ford GT supercar: “It is exciting and … gorgeous. Most importantly, it looks better than the original. I like the way Ford has done things with advanced materials that couldn’t be done before, and how the GT showcases Ford’s 3.5-liter V-Ecoboost engine.”

The Volvo XC90 seven-seat sport utility vehicle: “Geely, the new owners of Volvo, are really working out. They are giving Volvo the cash it needs to develop really good products. The XC90 has a really great interior, and the whole vehicle looks top notch.”

The Buick Avenir concept car: “Buick surprised us all with a striking concept that could be the new face of Buick. Long, low and distinctive — it is another signal that Detroit is back and ready to compete with the best.”

There were a few vehicles that did not impress Fisher. Hyundai’s Santa Cruz crossover-truck concept vehicle topped the list.

“Other automakers have tried this before,” Fisher said. “People didn’t want it then, they won’t want it now. Consumers are going to stick to trucks.”

Fisher said he was struck by the fact that none of the major automakers introduced any core products at the show. There were no mainstream sedans or small crossovers. But there were exotic sports cars, large, luxury SUVs, convertibles and the oddball Santa Cruz.

“This was a show of dreams and desires,” Fisher said, “not of needs.”

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