Every April, Consumer Reports makes a special effort during car buying season to give advice for new and used buyers in their annual auto issue.

This year, a trio of Asian and European names tops the tally: Audi, Subaru and Lexus. They scored an 80, 78 and 76, respectively, on a 100-point scale that measures the overall score, road-test score, and predicted reliability results from the magazine's extensive auto tests. (My beloved Tesla S lacked sufficient test and reliability data to be included in the results!)

Here's a quick rundown of best brands

1. Audi - 80

2. Subaru - 78

3. Lexus - 76

4. Porsche - 76

5. BMW - 76

6. Mazda - 74

7. Buick - 74

8. Toyota - 72

9. Kia - 72

10. Honda - 71

11. Hyundai - 70

12. Volvo - 69

13. Mini - 68

14. Mercedes-Benz - 67

15. Volkswagen - 67

16. Ford - 66

17. Lincoln - 65

18. Scion - 65

19. Acura - 64

20. Chevrolet - 64

21. Nissan - 63

22. Infiniti - 63

23. GMC - 60

24. Cadillac - 58

25. Dodge - 58

26. Chrysler - 58

27. Land Rover - 55

28. Mitsubishi - 51

29. Jeep - 43

30. Fiat - 38

Of course, most people are used car buyers, not new car buyers. And with the average used vehicle costing half what it costs new, and still having 80% of its life left, that would make buying used instead of new a very Clark Smart buy!

Read more: How to buy a used car

If you are buying a car this spring, I recommend you get this April issue of Consumer Reports.

 

Pointers to keep in mind when buying a used car

Arrange your used auto financing first. Look at credit unions, online banks or even traditional banks. Only take dealer financing if it beats any other offer you have. Of course, I would love for you to pay for an affordable used car completely in cash!

Have the used vehicle inspected by an independent mechanic. One of the key things to know about buying a used car is that you buy "as is." CarFax alone is not enough of a check; you need to take this additional step. Never rely on any representations that the salesperson makes about the car, be it a commissioned employee at a dealership or an independent seller in your neighborhood.

Check out your no-haggle buying options. It can be tough to find a diamond in the rough and weed out the lousy deals. Try Carvana.com, which has a 7-day no questions asked return policy. It's kind of like the Carmax of the online used car buying world.