Toyota models snared "top pick" designations in five of 10 vehicle categories in the Consumer Reports annual auto issue, on sale March 6, and announced today.
Last time one brand so-dominated the catgory picks was in 2003, CR says, noting that no Hondas won "top pick" status this year. It's the second time in the past three years that honda has been conspicuous by its absence.
Consumer Reports named the redesigned Camry hybrid the best "Family Sedan" -- not the whole Camry line, just the hybrid. Toyota updated the gas-electric drivetrain
Toyota dominates the 'best' list in the Consumer Reports annual auto issue, on sale Mar. 6. for the 2012 model, making it quicker and smoother, and is offering it on a lower price model, so buyers can get one a bit less than $30,000.
Our Test Drive column about the 2012 Camry re-do took special note of the hybrid model. You can read that Test Drive column here.
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.
CR's criteria for naming top picks include ranking at or near the top of their category on overall road test scores, average or better predicted-reliability ratings in CR's subscriber survey and high performance in government or crash tests. Here are the magazine's top models in 10 vehicle 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
Consumer Reports says its tests include more than 50 individual tests 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.