Serving as a buying guide for millions of consumers looking for reliable transportation choices each year, the Consumer Reports’ 2012 Top Picks is an eagerly-awaited announcement.

To garner a Top Picks spot, vehicles have to be the best all-around models in their categories, selected from among 260 that are evaluated in comprehensive testing for road tests, reliability and safety.  The best of the crop, by category, in this year’s 2012 Top Picks, are as follows:

  • Family Sedan: 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid – Redesigned for 2012, the 2012 Toyota Camry Hybrid offers 38 mpg combined fuel economy, which is not only best in class but also better than smaller hybrids lacking the Camry Hybrid’s performance.  Other highlights include a nicer interior, quiet and roomy cabin, quick acceleration and a comfortable ride.
  • Affordable Family Sedan: 2012 Hyundai SonataThe four-cylinder version of the 2012 Hyundai Sonata garnered Top Pick status as affordable family sedan for its thrifty 27 mpg overall fuel economy, roomy and quiet cabin offering good rear-seat room, stylish good looks and other attributes.
  • Family Hauler: 2012 Toyota SiennaThe up-to-eight-passenger 2012 Toyota Sienna has all the practicality, features, roomy interior, decent fuel economy and comfortable ride families could want, although handling is rather “lackluster.” Still, the Sienna is the only minivan available with all-wheel drive.
  • Small SUV: 2012 Toyota RAV4Versatile, responsive, good ride, excellent reliability and good fuel economy are hallmark reasons why the 2012 Toyota RAV4 wins Top Pick in the small SUV category.
  • Family SUV: 2012 Toyota HighlanderCalling the 2012 Toyota Highlander a “refined, comfortable and quiet” SUV, Consumer Reports remarks that the Highlander consistently ranks above average in reliability.
  • Green Car: 2012 Toyota PriusThe publication says the 2012 Toyota Prius “still sets the standard for its blend of fuel-efficiency, practicality, and affordability.” The Prius V wagon easily tops its class with 41 mpg overall. Crash test results for the Prius are excellent.
  • Small Car: 2012 Subaru ImprezaWith standard all-wheel drive, 27 mpg combined fuel economy, nimble handling and impressive ride rivaling that in some luxury sedans, the 2012 Subaru Impreza is the clear Top Pick in the small car category.
  • Sporty Car: 2012 Ford Mustang Buyers can choose from briskly-accelerating V-8 or punchy, fuel-efficient and refined V-6 power, but either version of the 2012 Ford Mustang delights with agile handling, good fit and finish, and a decent ride. Those rear seats, however, are still tight for adults.
  • Sports Sedan: 2012 Infiniti G – Winning a spot on the Top Picks list for the sixth consecutive year, the 2012 Infiniti G37 offers “blistering acceleration,” agile handling and well-crafted interior. Even the less-expensive G25, while not as quick, is an inviting choice – and gets 3 mpg better fuel economy.
  • Pickup Truck: 2012 Chevrolet AvalancheEditors said the Avalanche provides “the best combination of utility and versatility” of any pickup they’ve tested and also highlighted the innovative partition in the rear of the cab, the three-piece bed cover and lockable cargo area. Best to get the optional back-up camera, though, to help navigate blind spots.

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