Pushing vehicles to their limits, evaluating how well they do in an emergency situation, and how they handle everyday driving are some of the 50-plus tests Consumer Reports puts vehicles through at its test track to find the best performers. But that's not all.
"To be a Top Pick, the vehicle also has to be reliable because you don't want to spend time taking your vehicle to the shop and all the money that might cost," said David Champion, senior director of the Consumer Reports Automotive Test Center.
And the vehicles have to perform well, if they've gone through industry or government crash tests.
"Toyota is back this year," said Champion.
Out of the 10 top picks, Toyota took five of them, including the Camry Hybrid for top family sedan.
"The redesigned Toyota Camry Hybrid is much more engaging to drive, gets an impressive 38 miles per gallon, and has a nice plush interior," said Champion.
In the family SUV category, the Toyota Highlander is the top pick. And the Toyota Prius is the top pick green car.
"Toyota in the past has had some issues with reliability and lots of recalls. But our reliability data shows that they're very good in terms of reliability and they've tested well," said Champion.
Ford and Chevy each got a top spot. The Chevrolet Avalanche is the 2012 top pick for pickup trucks. And the Ford Mustang muscled its way to the top pick sporty car. Unlike others in its class, the Mustang is comfortable and gets pretty good fuel economy.
The two other Toyotas that Consumer Reports named top picks are the Toyota RAV4 for small SUV and the Toyota Sienna for family hauler.