The top picks for 2009 include the Hyundai Elantra SE as the best small sedan, the Toyota Highlander as the best mid-size SUV, the Chevrolet Avalanche as the best pickup, and the Lexus LS460 as the best overall vehicle.
Consumer Reports' data is based on over 6,000mi (9,600km) of general driving and rigorous tests. The Top Picks winners are Consumer Reports overall choices for a category of vehicle, and reflect the best overall combination of features, performance reliability and value according to the publication's 50 criteria analysis.
Other category winners include the Mazda MX-5 as the most 'fun to drive' car, the Infiniti G37 as the best upscale sedan, the Honda Accord as the best family sedan, and the Toyota Prius as the perennial winner of the 'green car' category. The Prius' 44mpg actual efficiency is the best of any five-passenger vehicle tested by Consumer Reports.
In other evaluations, the most reliable cars were chosen, and again the Japanese excelled in these tests, with Honda putting cars on the winners list in in every category (small car, family car, minivan, small SUV, and mid-sized/large SUV). Toyota was the only carmaker to match that feat, while Subaru nailed four of the five categories (they don't build a minivan) and Nissan and Mazda both getting picks in two categories each.
Finally, in the overall 'automaker report card' scoring, Honda took top honors with 78 of 100 points, followed by Subaru (75) and Toyota (74). Mazda ranked fourth (73) and Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, BMW, and Volkswagen all tied at 72 points. Ford and GM scored 63 and 57 points overall, respectively, despite strong entries in the form of the F-150 and Chevrolet Malibu, both of which rank near the top of their classes.