Critics of Consumer Reports often argue that the magazine is predisposed to rank foreign cars -- specifically those from Japanese automakers -- higher than their competitors from Detroit.
If you count yourself in that number, take note, because Consumer Reports has judged two major Japanese models -- the 2014 Lexus IS 250 and the 2014 Infiniti Q50 -- to be such underachievers, the magazine doesn't recommend that shoppers buy either.
The lackluster reviews may have been brought on by the models' predecessors, which set a fairly high bar. For example, according to Consumer Reports' Jake Fisher, "The Infiniti G has been one of Consumer Reports’ highest-rated sedans for many years, but after its 2014 redesign and transition to the new Q designation, this car seems to have lost its way."
Although the Q50 nailed a "Very Good" score on its road test, it still came up short when compared to other vehicles in its category like the BMW 328i, Lincoln MKZ 2.0 EcoBoost, and Mercedes-Benz C250. The magazine said that the Q50 doesn't offer an especially smooth ride, nor is its cabin very quiet (or well-appointed). Marks were also taken off for the sluggish performance of its InTouch infotainment system.
Perhaps most damning of all, Consumer Reports said that the Q50 "isn’t as much fun to drive as the G37". Although it's quick, the car's steering was judged "dull", unlike its zippy predecessor.
The Lexus IS 250 fared worse, scoring just a “Good” on Consumer Reports' road test. It's the first Lexus sedan in years to receive such a low grade. Other quibbles with the IS 250 included:
The good news -- at least for Infiniti fans -- is that the Q50 could earn an upgrade from Consumer Reports in the future. Though its test scores were underwhelming, they weren't so low as to disqualify it for a "Recommended" rating. To earn that, however, vehicles must fare well in reliability, and the Q50 is too new for Consumer Reports to gauge that.
The IS 250's problems run deeper, so it has a longer row to hoe -- though in its defense, the sedan did score a five-star crash rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So there's that.
Consumer Reports will publish complete reviews of the Infiniti Q50 and Lexus IS 250 in its December issue.
(c) 2013, High Gear Media.