As the Toyota Recallathon fades further into the past, the automaker has returned to its usual dominating position in the annual Consumer Reports list of “Top Picks,” earning fully half of this year’s spots; no other automaker earned more than one place in the rankings.
The Toyota Camry Hybrid made for an interesting choice as the No. 1 Family Sedan, with the victory reflecting a growing public acceptance of hybrids as mainstream vehicles. Naturally, the Toyota earned kudos for its high fuel-efficiency marks, but what’s really impressive is that Consumer Reports was praising the Camry Hybrid’s real-world fuel economy, not its stellar EPA ratings. The publication earned 38 mpg in combined driving during its road tests, a mark that was “best in class and even better than some smaller hybrids.” Also lauded by CR were the vehicle’s comfortable ride, large and quiet cabin, more upscale interior appointments, relatively peppy performance, and improved handling. (Note: The Hyundai Sonata won the Affordable Family Sedan segment, but the Camry Hybrid’s starting point of $25,900 is not uncompetitive with that of well-equipped, traditional mid-size sedans.)
In the Small SUV category it was the Toyota RAV4 that scored highest honors, a slightly surprising feat since there are some newer choices on the market, including the redesigned Honda CR-V. Nonetheless, Consumer Reports loved the little-ish crossover and specifically called out its “inviting blend of performance, fuel economy, and versatility.” Readers should be aware, however, that this may be stretching the point slightly: A number of segment rivals, including the CR-V and especially the new Mazda CX-5, can do better. In fact, the Mazda owns a 5-mpg advantage over the RAV4 in combined driving.