Subaru’s 2012 redesign breathed new life into the all-wheel-drive Impreza. Both sedan and hatchback versions are good, sensible cars, with nimble handling and a compliant, absorbent ride that rivals some luxury sedans. Fuel economy is impressive for an AWD car. And the roomy interior, spacious rear seat, simple controls, and refreshingly good visibility make it easy to live with. OK, noise isolation is so-so, but that’s no deal-breaker. Sedan $21,345; hatchback $22,345.
Redesigned for 2012, the A6 is agile, quick, and a joy to drive. It surrounds you with a sumptuous, impeccably finished cabin that’s brimming with the latest high-tech features. Its potent supercharged V6 engine, super-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, and comfortable ride add to the business-class feel. And it returns respectable gas mileage, even with all-wheel drive. Some controls are complicated, so be ready to cozy up with the owner’s manual. $56,295.
With redesigns of the Toyota RAV4 and Subaru Forester just arriving, the CR-V has taken over as our top small SUV. Virtues include a smooth, responsive powertrain, good fuel economy, a compliant ride, excellent braking, a roomy rear seat, and outstanding reliability. It’s also one of the more competitively priced choices in the class. $26,455.
The Highlander is for people who want the practicality of an SUV with the refinement of a good sedan. It provides a quiet, well-finished cabin, as well as a cushy ride, sound handling, and a smooth powertrain. The Highlander has also consistently maintained above-average reliability. The V6 model delivers a competitive 18 mpg overall, and the hybrid model tops all SUVs at 27 mpg. $38,578 to $47,255.
The 3 Series is legendary for its handling prowess and fun-to-drive character. With its recent redesign, it has also become roomier, more luxurious, and more fuel efficient. Ride comfort and fit and finish are impressive. And its 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivers quick acceleration, while posting the best gas mileage in its class. Sure, the rear seat is snug and the start/stop system is a bit abrupt. We’ll live with it. $43,195.
Reliability of the Odyssey has improved, and it has earned our top spot among family haulers. It provides a comfortable ride and a roomy, quiet, and versatile cabin. The rear seat is generous and easy to access. The V6 engine performs well and delivers a competitive 19 mpg. And a backup camera—a great safety feature—is now standard on all models. $36,830
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