Toyota models snared coveted “top pick” designations in five of 10 categories in the Consumer Reports annual auto issue, on sale March 6, the magazine announced today in Washington, D.C., at a meeting of the Washington Automotive Press Association.
Last time a single brand so-dominated was Honda in 2003, CR says, noting that no Honda has won “top pick” status this year, making it two of the past three years that the respected Japan brand has been conspicuous by its absence.
CR named the redesigned Camry hybrid the best family car you can buy – not the whole Camry line, just the hybrid. Toyota updated the gas-electric drivetrain for the 2012 model, making it quicker and smoother, and is offering it on a lower price model, so buyers can get one for less than $30,000.
The CR bouquet comes shortly after Toyota took significant honors in a recent J.D. Power and Associates quality report card. Toyota still is nearly delirious after that one, having been battered so long by bad news – safety recalls, earthquake/tsunami devastation in Japan that caused worldwide product shortages, floods in Thailand that dried up supplies of computer chips used in auto computers.
Here are the magazine’s top models in 10 categories:
FAMILY SEDAN: Toyota Camry Hybrid ($29,052). In addition to its impressive 38 mpg overall fuel economy, 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).
SPORTY CAR: Ford Mustang ($28,880 to $43,880). The heart of this iconic sports car has always been its strong acceleration and rumbling V8 power. 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 Mustang delivers good fuel economy (22-24 mpg) for its class.
SMALL SUV: Toyota RAV4 ($24,405 to $30,328). With a four-cylinder engine, the RAV4 delivers some of the best gas mileage in its class (23 mpg). The spirited V6 version accelerates as quickly as many sports sedans and gets only 1 mpg less than the four-cylinder model.
AFFORDABLE FAMILY SEDAN: Hyundai Sonata ($21,800). CR chose the four-cylinder Sonata as a more affordable alternative to the Camry Hybrid. The Sonata provides a roomy, well-equipped cabin, supple ride, nimble handling, and thrifty 27 mpg overall, for just a little bit more money than many small sedans.
FAMILY HAULER: Toyota Sienna V6 ($35,810). The Sienna 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 (20 mpg), and a comfortable ride, although the handling is rather lackluster. It’s the only minivan that has at least average reliability.
SPORTS SEDAN: Infiniti G ($34,225 to $37,225). The G37’s agile handling, blistering acceleration, and comfortable, well-crafted interior make it one of CR’s highest-scoring sedans. The G is on this list for the sixth straight year. The less expensive but equally inviting G25 isn’t as quick, but gets 24 mpg overall, 3 more than the G37.
GREEN CAR: Toyota Prius ($26,750 to $28,217). The Prius sets the standard for fuel efficiency, practicality, and affordability with its overall 44 mpg. Its roomy interior, comfortable ride, and hatchback versatility make it easy to live with. The 41 mpg of the new Prius V wagon easily tops its class.
SMALL CAR: Subaru Impreza ($21,345). Redesigned for 2012, the all-wheel-drive Impreza is a well-rounded roomy 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.
PICKUP TRUCK: Chevrolet Avalanche ($47,435). The Avalanche provides the best combination of utility and versatility of any pickup CR has tested. Its unified bed and cab help give it a steady, comfortable ride, and the cabin is quiet. Its overall mpg is 14.
FAMILY SUV: Toyota Highlander ($38,578 to $47,255). The refined, comfortable, and quiet Highlander has consistently ranked near the top of its class in CR’s road-test scores and has had above-average reliability. The V6 version delivers a decent 18 mpg overall, and the hybrid model tops all SUVs at 27.
Details on Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for 2012, Automaker Report Cards, Best and Worst list and other key findings are available in the April issue of ConsumerReports on newsstands March 6 or at the magazine’s website.
Consumer Reports says its tests are the most comprehensive of any U.S. publication or website. It says that more than 50 individual tests are performed on every vehicle, including evaluations of braking, handling, comfort, convenience, safety and fuel economy.
Roughly 6,000 miles of general driving and evaluations are racked up on each test car during the testing process. CR buys all its test cars anonymously from dealers. Other reviewers base their evaluations on press cars that are hand-picked by the automakers.
Gannett News Service