The Best Minivan- The Toyota Sienna AWD. No other minivan offers the versatility and extra safety of AWD. The Sienna has a strong engine and the AWD really puts the power to the pavement delivering the best all around performance, utility and safety.
The Best large SUV- While there are some worthy new and redesigned contenders in this field, no other offers the reliability, utility, ground clearance, power and fuel efficiency of the
Toyota Sequoia 4WD. Another alternative to the Sequoia is the Nissan Armada, with even slightly better ground clearance, but with lower mpg.
The Best Full-Size Pick-Up - I was considering the F-150 for this spot. However when compared to the Toyota Tundra the Toyota still offers better occupant protection in IIHS tests than the other makes, provides more ground clearance and more believable towing figures. When the other makes adapt the comprehensive J2807 Universal Towing Standards (within a year or so) that Toyota has been using for years I expect to see advertised tow ratings dropping most everywhere, even significantly in certain makes and models. With this in mind, among other issues, the Toyota Tundra is the best gasoline powered truck for 2012.
The Best (diesel) Pick-up- Last year I chose the Ford F-250 & F-350 4x4 diesels, this year I feel even stonger about that pick. These rigs have the quietest and frequently the most powerful diesel engine offered. All this while also delivering the top mpgs and the best ride of the bunch. The competition was really leapfrogged by Ford with their last engine, transmission and truck redesign. GM is my next choice with the bulletproof Isuzu designed Duramax Diesel and Allsion Transmission combo. Dodge, even though they upped their power in their diesel trucks to be competitive, still run louder and drive harsher than all their competition. That sounds macho at first, but quickly gets old after spending any real time behind the wheel.
The Best Fuel Sipper- I chose the VW Sportswagen TDi last year and I still believe it to be superior to the current Jetta TDi Sedan in almost everyway. I however do recognize not everyone wants a fun to drive, safe, classy looking wagon. If this describes you than feel free to include the still fun VW Golf TDi or the new, roomier Passat TDi Sedan mentioned in the first "Best" category. VW has managed to deliver superior fuel milage in an Audi like passenger cabin, with top notch safety and good reliablity with these clean diesels.
* Engine performance figures are subject to change at any moment throughout the year.