Car companies spend millions of dollars to redesign a vehicle but it's not always money well spent. Recent tests have turned up a half dozen redesigns that come up short.

Consumer Reports auto engineers assess every aspect of the vehicles they test -- everything from how well the car handles to how well the interior is laid out.

Recent tests show the Toyota 4Runner, along with five others vehicles, weren't improved when they were redesigned from earlier models.

"The 4Runner doesn't handle very well. It basically bobs down the road. We'd also like a nicer interior for over $37,000. Plus, when you're driving, it's pretty loud inside," said the consumer watchdog's Tom Mutchler.

Turns out the redesigned BMWX5 has poorer visibility. But of the six, the Volkswagen Jetta was the biggest disappointment.

"The Jetta used to be really fun to drive and had a very nice interior. But this car has lost its agility, and the interior looks downright cheap," Mutchler said.

Consumer Reports' tests show the Toyota Sienna, the Mercedes E350, and the Honda Odyssey - while still very good performers - are not quite as good as the vehicles they replaced.

Consumer Reports says overall this is a troubling trend.

"Two areas where we often see a decline are in vehicle handling and controls. Now both of these can affect safety, so you want them to get better, not worse," Mutchler said.

If you're interested in one of these vehicles, look for an earlier model. An added bonus is that the price will be lower too.

So what are some top vehicles according to Consumer Reports?

  • Among sporty cars -- it gave top marks to the Ford Mustang.
  • And among sports sedans, the Infiniti G37 scored highest with testers.
  • For SUVs the Toytoa Rav4 came out on top in the small SUV category.
  • And the Kia Sorento among larger family sized SUV's.
  • The Nissan Altima was the top family sedan and
  • The Chevy Avalanche took top honours in the pick up truck category.

Not all redesigns are a disappointment. Several new ones tested are significantly improved, including the 2011 Hyundai Sonata, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Kia Sportage.

With a report from CTV British Columbia's Chris Olsen