This car offers excellent safety (Top PIck IIHS), plenty of utility with pick-up truck like ground clearance, and plenty of room inside. The six cylinder also has a tow rating of 3000 pounds. All Wheel Drive and ABS are standard on all Subarus, as usual. Another nice thing about the Outback is the proven durability and excellent resale value. It's new redesign is selling like hotcakes, and it is no wonder why Subaru was setting sales records when most every other car maker was suffering from our country's economic woes. I would suggest that anyone considering a new car to give the Outback serious consideration.
Best minivan: Toyota Sienna AWD
I like the Sienna and it's excellent safety ratings from the IIHS. I give it the nod over the Honda because I like the fact that it's the only minivan with All-Wheel Drive as an option. This is extra utility and an extra safety feature that is no small deal! This AWD feature really helps keep the expected resale value high- and above Toyota's competition. The Sienna also benefits from a quieter ride over the Odyssey.
Best large SUV- Toyota Sequoia 4wd
I like the Sequoia because it is derived from the capabable Tundra pick-up, with superior safety ratings- over its closest competition from GMC , Chevy and Nissan. Sequoia offers an optional 5.7liter V-8 engine that offers an amazing 380 hp and 401 Ft. pounds of torque. This easily trumps the competition- and allows for some very respectable hauling capability. Should you consider taking your SUV out in the snow or off the paved road you will appreciate having more ground clearance (10") than most of the competition. Ford (8.7), Chevy (9.1") GMC (9.1"), Nissan Armada has 10.4". The Sequoia offers seating for up to 8 people, with rear seats that now fold into the floor when not in use. I believe Toyota still clearly has the upper hand on quality over all its competitors.
Best Full Size Truck- (For real trucking) Ford F-250 and F-350
Ford has excellent safety ratings with this truck from the IIHS, which puts to shame anything from GM and Dodge. With that said, I still really like the Isuzu designed Dura-max diesel engine in the Chevy and GMC and I like the Allison Transmission offered by GM. If only GM got serious and finally offered a truck that protected its drivers and passengers better -and did so with less gremlins I would recommend it. Dodge has a trusted and proven Cummins diesel engine and the only diesel truck here that doesn't require additional chemicals to be added on service visits to keep it burning clean. Unfortunately, it's noisier engine won't be appreciated by your neighbors and it's redesign couldn't keep it's formally good safety rating from IIHS. While the engine is noisier it doesn't keep up with the power offered by the diesels from Ford or GM.Ford has made an apparent turn around, ditching the problem plagued Navistar diesel with a diesel made by Ford. The result is more mpg's than the competition and for 2011 models the most hp and torque of the group, not to mention the quietest diesel engine and most comfortable ride of the group*. Ford also offers a unique anti-sway device for trailer pulling, a very nice safety feature to have (really helps prevent white-knuckle driving). The most comfortable ride was formerly held by GM for several years up until this point. Ford has had their issues with their transmissions (getting overheated and failing), hopefully this redesign has addressed this issue. If not, adding a better transmission cooler yourself and perhaps a timer (after warranty) should help this issue. With all things considered it appears to offer more good and less bad then the competition, only time will tell how well executed the new design and new engine work, so enjoy the truck and consider buying the extended warranty. * ( Due to the extreme competition between the truck brands, performance ratings with diesel trucks are subject to change)
Best Fuel Sipper: 2009-2010 VW Jetta TDi Sportswagen
There are other cars out there that deliver good mpg's, but none like the Jetta TDi Sportswagen. First off, I mention the Sportswagen because I really like the added utility and what's better then getting great mpg's? The answer getting great milage and being able to carry lotsa stuff! Aside from the extra utility value, I belive that the wagon version aka "Sportswagen" may get slightly better milage over the sedan, based on tests I've seen and from my own experience. The real benefit of this car over other fuel sippers is that you stretch your fuel while enjoying a real driver's car (with great safety ratings) and you're not hauling around a heavy, expensive battery everywhere you go. This car is a fun to drive car and even the base TDi feels well equipped. It also beats the Prius over the head with it's own battery in performance and handling, not to mention that the Jetta TDi holds the World's Record for best continuous fuel mileage. Do yourself a favor and test drive one if you are in the market for a good car with great mpg's. My experience was with the DSG automatic Sportswagen, getting an easy 47 mpg over 8000 troublefree miles driving mostly highway 101. Other advantages are no spark plugs to change (diesel) and recommeded oil changes every 10,000 miles. It's also legal to fuel your own diesel car in Oregon at gas stations, not so with any other fuel type.
*The new redesign is about to be released, but from what I have read and know thus far I think I prefer the 09' and 2010 model years. Besides, buying a first year redesign is almost certainly going to place you at the dealer's service area sipping bad coffee more then you care to think about. The existing TDi models (especially TDi Sportwagens) are almost always in short supply, so don't wait too long, if you're considering.