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2012 models that car owners love

By Tara Baukus Mello ·
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Posted: 6 am ET

If you're car shopping and looking for testimonials from current owners of the models you are considering, look no further than the 2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards. The awards survey more than 75,000 car owners who have owned their 2012 model-year car for 90 days, the largest survey of consumers who own a single model year, rating how happy they are with their cars in 15 areas.

Audi and Mini each received the top brand awards for Premium Brand and Popular Brand, respectively, while Honda/Acura received five individual vehicle awards, followed by General Motors with four, then Chrysler/Jeep and Volkswagen/Audi with three awards.

The 15 key areas that comprised the rating included: exterior styling, exterior size, passenger roominess, cargo space, driver's seat comfort, driver’s seat visibility, info/entertainment technology, interior lighting, power and acceleration, ease of getting in and out, interior storage compartments, ride, handling, safety features, and tires and wheels.

The awards are presented annually by AutoPacific, an auto industry research firm, and Autobytel, an independent car information site.

The individual awards were presented in the following categories:

2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards: Passenger cars

Premium luxury car 2012 Mercedes Benz S-Class
Aspirational luxury car 2012 Audi A4
Large car 2012 Dodge Charger
Luxury midsize car 2012 Acura TSX
Premium midsize car 2012 Volkswagen Passat
Midsize car 2012 Subaru Legacy
Premium compact car 2012 MINI Cooper
Compact car 2012 Volkswagen Golf
Economy car 2012 Honda Fit
Sports car 2012 Chevrolet Corvette
Sporty car 2012 Dodge Challenger
Hybrid/EV car 2012 Nissan Leaf
Source: AutoPacific and Autobytel.

2012 Ideal Vehicle Awards: Light trucks

Large light-duty pickup 2012 Ford F-150
Heavy-duty pickup 2012 GMC Sierra HD
Compact pickup 2012 GMC Canyon
Luxury SUV 2012 Land Rover LR4
Large SUV 2012 GMC Yukon XL
Midsize SUV 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee
Premium luxury crossover SUV 2012 Porsche Cayenne
Luxury crossover SUV 2012 Volvo XC70
Large crossover SUV 2012 Ford Flex
Premium midsize crossover SUV 2012 Honda Pilot
Midsize crossover SUV 2012 Honda CR-V
Compact crossover SUV 2012 MINI Countryman
Minivan 2012 Honda Odyssey
Hybrid/EV truck 2012 Toyota Highlander Hybrid
Source: AutoPacific and Autobytel.

Tara Baukus Mello writes the cars blog as well as the weekly Driving for Dollars column, providing both practical financial advice for consumers as well as insight into the latest developments in the automotive world. Follow her on Facebook here or on Twitter @SheDrives.

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J Youngken
August 09, 2012 at 1:51 pm

The true american manufactures keep the profit and redeveloptment money with the home team. If you feel that a 12dollar an hour non union worker down south really benifits in the long run. you have real denile. And if you think the purchasing patterns of our fellow so-called americans won't hurt the economy. Just look around and smell the toast burning sport..And that b.s. story about the charger is full of more holes than your head.

Carolyn Carol
August 09, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Just bought the Jeep Grand Cherokee and I LOVE IT!

Amnon Govrin
August 09, 2012 at 12:14 pm

D Allen is right. Window stickers of new cars show the percentage made in the US or Canada. When we were shopping for our minivan in 2009 the Chrysler Town & Country was about 70% made in the USA and Canada, whereas the Honda Odyssey was about 80%.

D Allen
August 09, 2012 at 12:13 pm

The Chrysler 300 won a great award, looked great, so my husband bought one. It is lousy. The front end rumbles all over the place. The mechanic tells us that the repair is a safety issue, requires replacement of bushings in ball joints and other work that occurs in all of the Chryslers and Dodge too. They spoke directly with manufacturer who explained that the Chrysler/Dodge manufactures the bushings to last up to 18 months only. The first replacement usually comes under warranty. Replacement is made with manufacturer parts so last only up to another 18 months. Now not under warranty, cost to repair is $3,500. After all the new tires, because the tires don't fit the wheel properly, new brakes and shocks that have already been replaced, we won't buy another Chrysler or a Dodge. The US car manufacturers should be accountable for their own failures--bad product.

D Allen
August 09, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Those who think they are buying American cars should think again. Those who think others are driving foreign cars should think again. Most American cars contain parts made overseas, and may even be partially assembled overseas. Many so-called foreign cars are manufactured in the US by US citizens. Get a clue.

August 09, 2012 at 11:56 am

Charger beat Taurus because Charger is the better car, performance or otherwise. Simple!

jim wilson
August 09, 2012 at 11:26 am

I think your pick Of the autos sucks Iam 68 years old and every car & pickup. I have owned have been a american auto. you need to think about the american economy. Its unamerican to buy foreign thank you

Dennis Sherman
August 09, 2012 at 11:12 am

The Taurus is UGLY!

Dennis Sherman
August 09, 2012 at 11:11 am

The Chevy Equinox is high on all lists and is a GREAT vehicle.
I have owned over 70 vehicles and used to work on many car lots so I know what is a Great rig.

W. Ferrell
August 09, 2012 at 11:06 am

I find it hard to believe that of 75,000 people surveyed, most chose Dodge Charger over the Ford Taurus in the large car element. Was this some sort of a classification error?