I hate to do this to you folks because it seems like a perpetual Groundhog's Day whenever I post something of this nature, but bearing a (bull?) logo on my shirt, I have to take pride in the inconceivable denial to fall from grace. Just a year after a full fledged and customer-scaring Toyota issued recall for safety concerns (which as you know by now were later discredited; thanks ABC), Toyota's brand confidence is back in full tow and earning top marks in many models and as an overall make for 2012.
Headlining the pack, Toyota comes out swinging with Consumer Reports' best family car to buy: the Camry Hybrid. Surprisingly it's not the Camry family, mind you, but the Camry HYBRID. After having sat in and video taped a 2012 Camry Hybrid XLE, the new top of the line Camry Hybrid for 2012, I can obviously attest that it's a heck of a car for both family, speed freaks (with 200 HP; in a HYBRID), and all the bells and whistles one can want in a modern day car.
Followiing up the Camry Hybrid, Toyota earned nods in the small SUV category for the 2012 RAV4, the family hauler category for the 2012 Sienna minivan, and of course the best green car in the Toyota Prius, refined yet again in its fourth generational form as the Prius IV.
Below, here are choice excerpts from USA Today online's update on the soon to release March 6, 2012 Consumer Reports magazine (source: USAToday.com, February 28, 2012).
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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.