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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.
Toyota Sienna (V6)
This versatile minivan fits the bill nicely for families looking for a comfortable, roomy interior, plenty of features, and the ability to carry up to eight people. Among its high points are lively performance, decent fuel economy, and a comfortable ride, although the handling is rather lackluster. The Sienna is the only minivan available with all-wheel drive. But that version has had below-average reliability, according to our latest survey, so we recommend only the front-wheel-drive version.
Price: $34,225 to $37,225
With its inviting blend of luxury and driving fun, the G37 stands out from the crowd. Its agile handling, blistering acceleration, and comfortable, well-crafted interior make it one of our highest-scoring sedans and have earned the G a spot on this list for the sixth straight year. This sports sedan feels at home whether tackling a twisty back road or cruising on the highway. A snug cabin and small trunk are the only notable weaknesses. The less expensive G25 model isn't as quick, but it shares much of the G37's inviting package and provides 3 more mpg. Both are available with rear- or all-wheel drive.
Price: $26,750 to $28,217
In this dawning age of automotive electrification, the Prius still sets the standard for its blend of fuel efficiency, practicality, and affordability. The 44 overall mpg we measured in the hatchback is still the highest of any five-passenger, non-plug-in vehicle we've tested, and the 41 mpg of the new Prius V wagon easily tops its class. Moreover, its roomy interior, comfortable ride, and hatchback versatility make it easy to live with. Crash-test results are excellent. New electric cars have gotten the energy equivalent of higher mpg figures, but they're less practical and affordable.
Redesigned for 2012, the all-wheel-drive Impreza is a well-rounded sedan with nimble handling and a compliant, absorbent ride that rivals some luxury sedans. Fuel economy of 27 mpg overall is impressive for an AWD car. The roomy interior includes a relatively spacious rear seat, simple controls, and refreshingly good visibility. The only real shortcoming is so-so noise isolation. Based on the previous Impreza, we expect above-average reliability. Last year's pick, the Hyundai Elantra, remains an excellent alternative that costs several thousand dollars less and provides slightly better gas mileage but no AWD.
The Avalanche provides the best combination of utility and versatility of any pickup we've tested. Its unified bed and cab help give it a steady, comfortable ride, and the cabin is quiet. The innovative partition in the rear of the cab can be folded down, so longer cargo can extend into the back of the cab. A three-piece bed cover provides a weather-tight and lockable cargo area. We recommend getting the optional backup camera to compensate for the large rear blind zone.
Price: $38,578 to $47,255
The Highlander returns to our list after last year's pick, the V6 Kia Sorento, dropped to below average in predicted reliability. This refined, comfortable, and quiet SUV has consistently ranked near the top of its class in our road-test scores and has had above-average reliability. Its interior is nicely finished and versatile, with a roomy second-row seat but a tight third row. The V6 version delivers a decent 18 mpg overall, and the hybrid model tops all SUVs at 27.
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When i saw the Topic of the Review, i knew where the results of CR so-called Review would end. To avoid been labeled "Toyota PR Magazine" they just included few American models and of course no European cars made it to their "Top Ten". To say that Camry is the best of the Sedan is just plain silly. No Motor Brand has had Problems more than Toyota yet the are better than FORD, BMW and even Cadillac's.
You need to have your head offside down to believe CR silly claims of independent, What makes Camry better? Better Fuel Millage? Isn't safety any more worth considering?
In aesthetics, the Bland Camry never comes near the Hyundai Sonata nor the new BMW 5 Series or even the cadillac, yet these people have the gut to tell lies every year. May be when we know the source of their Funding we will know more about their so called independent report. FORD and other American as well as European Models are far better than Toyota that CR Worships.
I will never trade my VW TOUREG for a RAV or HIGHLANDER. Neither will those silly Writers tell me to drop my BMW 3 Series for Camry.
Gas mileage is not all there is to pick when buying Vehicles. Safety comes first and this Toyota has failed woefully.
One day when the story of Detroit is told, the shameful acts of Consumer Report Magazine and their contribution to their decline in what American Produce would be told.
Each one should buy what he knows is Ok! CR annual Report is nothing but yearly attempt to help Toyota sell their ugly machines that has industry's worst safety Record.
Is the avalanche even considered a pickup truck? Not where I come from.
Come on CR get a clue!
I have never purchased anything Consumer Reports has deemed good to buy. Matter of fact I usually end up with the products they say to stay away from and have never been disapointed.
Kick backs? I would say so.
Very few people trust Consumer Reports today when it comes to vehicle ratings, lacking credibilly and bias reporting!