Consumer Reports magazine rates the 2014 Chevrolet Impala as the most improved redesigned or re-engineered vehicle it has recently tested.
The Impala’s overall test score skyrocketed 32 points from 63 in previous testing to 95 on a 100-point scale. The Hyundai Accent hatchback, up 20 points; Audi A6, up 14; Land Rover LR4, up 13; and Mazda6, up 12, round out the magazine’s five most improved redesigned vehicles.
Scores are based on more than 50 road tests and evaluations, including emergency handling, fuel economy, interior, braking, control and acceleration.
Vehicles are tested on a set course to determine overall performance.
The Impala went from being a “dated and inferior rental car option to contemporary, roomy, comfortable and enjoyable to drive. In other words, one of the very best cars on the road today,” Consumer Reports said in a statement.
The magazine says it tests about 80 new vehicles a year and in some cases it has been several years since a vehicle was last tested.
Here are the most improved redesigned vehicles recently tested according to Consumer Reports, with comments from the magazine.
Hyundai Accent hatchback (Previous score: 52; current score: 72)
“The 2012 redesign helped escalate the Accent to near the top of our subcompact ratings. The hatchback has responsive handling, relatively roomy accommodations, decent refinement levels, and good fuel economy -- 32 mpg overall with the manual transmission.”
Audi A6 (Previous score: 79; current score: 93)
“The latest redesign  of the A6 helped the vehicle jump from good to impressive in our ratings. The A6 is agile, quiet and quick with impeccable interior fit and finish, commendable fuel economy and a variety of high-tech features.”
Land Rover LR4 (Previous score: 60; current score: 73)
“The  LR4 was an effective freshening of the LR3. The larger and more powerful V-8 engine provides effortless acceleration and better fuel economy than before. Braking performance controls, and interior quality improved, as well.”
Mazda6 (Previous score: 73; current score: 85)
“Making a big leap, the redesigned 2014 Mazda6 made a number of noteworthy improvements that helped boost its test score. The 6 has class-leading fuel economy at 32 mpg and is a sporty alternative to conventional mid-sized sedans.”
Ford Escape (Previous score: 64; current score: 75)
“The latest redesign of the Escape helped propel it to the top tier of our small SUV ratings, joining the Honda CR-V, Mazda CX-5, Subaru Forester, and Toyota RAV4. The  Escape is fun-to-drive, agile and quiet, plus it has an impressively supple and composed ride. But it isn’t cheap.”
Honda Accord (Previous score: 80; current score: 90)
“The four-cylinder  Honda Accord jumped up 10 points … to take over the top spot among mainstream mid-sized sedans. The car is roomy, nice to drive, well equipped and very fuel efficient at 30 mpg overall.”
Kia Rio hatchback (Previous score: 53; current score: 63)
“The most recent update  to the Rio brought more power, interior space, and improved handling, which helped it join the better cars in this segment. Plus, it has plenty of equipment for the price.”
BMW 328i (Previous score: 77; current score: 86)
“The  BMW 3 series has always been the quintessential sport sedan with agile, sporty handling and a smooth, quick and refined powertrain. The redesign helped improve fuel economy to 28 mpg overall, and the rear seats picked up some breathing room.”
Buick LaCrosse (Previous score: 70; current score: 78)
“The latest  LaCrosse is a sophisticated and thoroughly modern sedan. Quiet, roomy and luxurious, it offers responsive handling and a steady ride, qualities not normally associated with past Buicks.”