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In addition to the Camry and Highlander, two other new picks are the Hyundai Sonata and the redesigned Subaru Impreza. The other selections are returning models: the Chevrolet Avalanche, Ford Mustang, and Infiniti G.
Toyota's ability to maintain its competitive lead among hybrids and SUVs is a big factor in its strong presence on this year's list. But another factor is today's weaker minivan field. The current Sienna scored lower in our tests than its predecessor, but the front-wheel-drive version is the only minivan that didn't have below-average reliability in our latest survey. So it's the only minivan we recommend.
Our Top Picks are the best all-around models in their categories, chosen from the more than 260 vehicles we've recently tested. For car shoppers, they are a great place to start. To see the best & worst 2012 cars and best new-car car values, go to Consumer Reports' annual auto issue hub.
How We Decide
Top Picks must meet our criteria in three areas:
- Road test: Each must rank at or near the top of its category in overall test score.
- Reliability: Each must have earned an average or better predicted-reliability Rating, based on the problems Consumer Reports subscribers reported on 1.3 million vehicles in our latest Annual Auto Survey.
- Safety: Top Picks must perform well if included in crash- or rollover tests conducted by the government or the insurance industry.
Each model's report card shows its overall road-test and predicted-reliability Ratings, as well as its overall fuel economy in our tests. If multiple Ratings are displayed, they apply to different versions of a model. Prices reflect the sticker prices when we bought our test cars. You can find more details on all of the Top Picks in our vehicle ratings.
Toyota Camry Hybrid
With its 2012 redesign, the Camry Hybrid jumped to the top of the family-sedan category. One eye-opener for a car of this size is its impressive 38 mpg overall fuel economy, the best in class and even better than some smaller hybrids that lack the Camry's performance. Other high points include a comfortable ride; a roomy, quiet cabin; fairly quick acceleration; and for 2012, a nicer interior and somewhat crisper handling (although the Camry is still no sports sedan).
Price: $28,880 to $43,880
The heart of this iconic sports car has always been its strong acceleration and rumbling V8 power. And the 5.0-liter V8 in our GT coupe and convertible test cars doesn't disappoint, providing scorching acceleration, a great exhaust sound, and good fuel economy for this class. Even the 3.7-liter V6 is punchy and refined, and it's more fuel efficient than the V8. But now there's more to the Mustang than power. Agile handling, a decent ride, comfortable front seats, and very good fit and finish make the current version an inviting package. The rear seat is tight but usable in a pinch.
Affordable Family Sedan
With last year's family-sedan pick, the Nissan Altima, due for a redesign soon, we chose the four-cylinder Sonata as a more affordable alternative to the Camry Hybrid. For less than $22,000, the Sonata provides a roomy, well-equipped cabin, supple ride, nimble handling, and thrifty 27 mpg overall. And despite its swoopy, coupelike styling, the Sonata still provides decent rear-seat room and rear visibility, unlike many other cars today.
Price: $25,405 to $30,328
With its inviting blend of performance, fuel economy, and versatility, the RAV4 continues to set the pace among small SUVs. It also provides a roomy interior, comfortable ride, and responsive handling, as well as excellent reliability. With a four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 delivers some of the best gas mileage in its class. The spirited V6 version accelerates as quickly as many sports sedans and gets only 1 mpg less than the four-cylinder model. Its optional third-row seat is small but useful.
**A runner-up is the Subaru Forester.
Must-See on MSN
1) Stealing ideas.
2) Saving face.
Still owe over $20 billion in loans, but gave out over $400 million in bonuses last year, recalled the Volt, the car the government has to bribe people to buy with a $7,500 rebate, funded by tax payers and then claim they're now profitable??
Real easy to be "profitable" when you don't repay your loans and Obama sells Hummer to the Chinese.
Ho NOO I!
I know a lot of car execs , (manufacturers, dealer ship owners, auto writers and critics that would be honored to learn at the feet of a master such as yourself!
I have owned my 04 Chevy Avalanche since Feb. of 06. The best truck/SUV I ever owned (been driving since 1960). The Avalanche has been one of Chevy's most innovative designs in terms of providing additional truck functionality. Specifically, it is the only light truck that has a fold down mid-gate and removable rear window. I believe it was the first light truck to have saddlebags and a factory included weatherproof cargo box covered by three removable hard covers. With its unique fold down mid-gate it can accommodate loads up to 8 feet long out of the weather. With the mid-gate closed the truck's interior is that a full sized comfortable SUV with tons of interior room and amenities. Add 6,000 pounds plus towing capacity, V8 power, and 4 wheel drive, with a real selectable low range, and you have a real do it all go anywhere truck, with a real truck frame. I have hauled and towed just about everything with ease.
Nothing wrong with Ford F150 or 250, or the Chevy Silverado, I would gladly own either, I just like the Avalanche’s unique features more.
As for reliability, I wouldn’t be as favorable as CR. While the Avalanche’s driveline and engine are solid, lots of accessories have needed repair (e.g. power window motor, gas tank sending unit, spare tire hoist, plastic tailgate handle, windshield wiper control module, etc.). But the worst is the significant amount of frame rust, brake lines bursting unexpectedly due to rust, front wheel bearing hub assemblies failing due to rust, rear backing plates rotting away, and brake rotors prematurely rusting. Great vehicle but my Avalanche may go to the grave before this old retired guy does.
PS. I live in NePa where brine and road salt are dumped on the roads at the mere mention of snow.
Perhaps you can tell us all what"WHAT A HECK THAT THOSE MEAN" (your words) means.
I own car dealershps ,not car dealers(your words)
Don't bother answer me(your words) BAD ENGLISH ,MY FRIEND!
And you have the nerve to critisize my spelling. You got a lot to learn, little man (or is it boy?)
You make no sense. I'm not claiming to know all. I'm not claiming any kind of knowledge in the auto industry. I'm a customer and everything I have said is quoting the survey report and personal experience.
If you go up you will see that I pasted part of the report in my last post.
You are the big shot that is claiming to be so knowledgeable.
If you are such a big shot that owns car dealers and franchises, please explain what "Guarentee" means, and "Want to buyer a car, see me". Your words!
What a heck those that mean? Believe me, When I want to BUY a car, you won't see me.
You own dealerships? I don't think so! Don't bother answer me is time to close.