Liz Doll, a real estate agent in Connecticut, had little interest in the highly rated Hyundai Elantra when shopping for a new car this year.
She instead went with a Volkswagen Passat (PSAT) that has drawn mixed reviews.
“The handles on the Hyundai felt cheesy and cheap,” said Doll, a 37-year-old mother of three. “Everything you touched felt like it was going to fall off. I didn’t have that experience with the Passat.”
Models such as Volkswagen AG's Passat and Honda Motor Co.'s Civic, which lost Consumer Reports' coveted recommended status in August 2011, are among some of the biggest gainers in the U.S. auto market this year. The disconnect shows that buyers can be more forgiving in showrooms than testers are in labs as industrywide quality gains bring automakers closer to parity.