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Top Car Picks for 2009

Consumer Reports has released a list of cars and trucks that received a coveted “top pick” rating for 2009 in its annual April Autos issue. The results include the following categories:

Best Midsized SUV

Top pick: Toyota Highlander
Price: $26,000 to $41,000
Consumer Reports verdict: The Highlander is a very refined and versatile vehicle. It provides a comfortable and quiet ride, a nicely finished interior, three rows of seats, and decent fuel economy for its class. The Highlander Hybrid’s fuel economy, 24 mpg overall, is among the best of any SUV in Consumer Report’s Ratings. First-year reliability has been excellent.

Best Family Sedan

Top pick: Honda Accord

Price: $21,000 to $31,000
Consumer Reports verdict: The Honda Accord is a roomy, well-rounded sedan that’s easy to live with and enjoyable to drive. It offers a comfortable ride, agile handling, and efficient, refined four- and six-cylinder powertrains. Electronic stability control is standard, and crash-test results are impressive.

Best Small SUV

Top pick: Toyota RAV4

Price: $23,000 to $30,000
Consumer Reports verdict: Thanks to a larger and more powerful four-cylinder engine and other upgrades for 2009, Toyota’s RAV4 narrowly outscored the Subaru Forester to remain our Top Pick for the third straight year. It provides agile handling, a roomy and quiet interior, a comfortable ride, and an optional third-row seat. The four-cylinder version gets the best fuel economy of any automatic, non-hybrid SUV we have tested.

Best Minivan

Top pick: Toyota Sienna

Price: $26,000 to $38,000
Consumer Reports verdict: Toyota’s Sienna minivan offers a spacious, versatile, and comfortable way to carry up to eight people. Consumer Reports found that the quiet, well-finished interior rivals that of some luxury sedans. Electronic stability control is standard. This is the only minivan available with all-wheel drive.

Greenest Car

Top Pick: Toyota Prius

Price: $22,000 to $24,000
Consumer Reports verdict: Despite the arrival of more gas/electric hybrids, the Prius leads this category for the sixth straight year. The base model’s 44 overall mpg is the best Consumer Reports has measured in any five-passenger car. The interior is roomy and versatile, and reliability remains excellent. A redesigned Prius will arrive in the early summer.

Most Fun to Drive

Top pick: Mazda MX-5 Miata
Price: $22,000 to $29,000
Consumer Reports verdict: Mazda’s MX-5 Miata is a true sports car at a reasonable price. With quick, precise steering, a crisp-shifting manual transmission, and balanced handling, it virtually tied the Porsche Boxster in test scoring, but it costs about half the price.ny five-passenger car. The interior is roomy and versatile, and reliability remains excellent. A redesigned Prius will arrive in the early summer.

Best Upscale Sedan

Top pick: Infiniti G37 (formerly G35)
Price: 33,000 to $36,000
Consumer Reports verdict: One of the highest-rated sedans tested, the G37 (formerly the G35) combines sportiness and luxury in a very appealing package. It has a very lively powertrain, agile handling, and a comfortable ride.

Best overall vehicle

Top pick: Lexus LS 460

Price: $64,000 to $77,000
Consumer Reports verdict: With a road test score of 99 out of 100, the Lexus LS 460 is Consumer Reports’ highest-scoring vehicle. It provides a luxurious, uncompromising driving environment, with a supremely comfortable ride.

Best pickup truck

Top pick: Chevrolet Avalanche

Price: $36,000 to $47,000
Consumer Reports verdict: The Chevrolet Avalanche full-sized crew cab is one of the most versatile and comfortable pickups that Consumer Reports has tested. Its unified bed and cab helps give it a solid feel and a comfortable, quiet ride. Its innovative partition, between the cab and the bed, can be folded to allow longer cargo to extend into the back of the cab.

Best Small Sedan

Top pick: Hyundai Elantra SE

Price: $18,695
Consumer Reports verdict: The Hyundai Elantra SE is a comfortable, roomy small car that provides good fuel economy, a quiet and nicely finished interior, and plenty of features for the money. Only the SE version comes with standard electronic stability control, which is absent on many other small cars.

John Paul Strong

John Paul Strong combines his two decades of automotive marketing experience with a team of more than 150 professionals as owner and CEO of Strong Automotive.

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