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  • Each of the following models (listed in alphabetical order) meets all three of the following criteria: 2012 model; designated a "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; received a 5-star overall crash-test rating from the NHTSA. For each, we highlight specific standard or optional safety features.

  • Each of the 2012 models listed below (in alphabetical order) meet all three of the following criteria: can be purchased for less than $25,000; is rated a "Top Safety Pick" by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety; and received  a 5-star overall crash-test rating from the NHTSA.

  • Midsize vans arrived on the scene in the mid-1980s with the debut of the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager. The 7-passenger "mini" vans were smaller, more comfortable, and much more fuel efficient than the truck-based vans that had roamed the roads decades earlier. Unlike their predecessors, which were built on heavy-duty truck frames with heavy-duty truck suspension components, the new "minivans" were based on significantly lighter car platforms that featured independent suspensions and resulted in a much smoother and more comfortable ride.

  • The best-selling model in North America isn't a car-it's a full-size pickup. In fact, the Ford F-150, which sells more units than any other model in the U.S., sold 39,308 units (combined total for light- and heavy-duty models) in April 2010, easily surpassing the 27,899 units sold by the best-selling passenger car, the Toyota Camry.
    Full-size pickup trucks offer cargo utility and towing capabilities that appeal to businesses and private owners alike. Unlike passenger cars, which are often limited to a few manufacturer-selected configurations, full-size pickup trucks can be ordered nearly bare to the frame-or heavily optioned to the point where it closely resembles a luxury vehicle.

  • The high cost of fuel today has many families rethinking their transportation strategies. While the average sport utility vehicle offers towing capacity, off-road prowess and highly configurable cabins, most households with children simply may not need all of those capabilities. In fact, some families are finding that a variety of fuel-efficient, front-wheel-drive, midsize 4-door sedans-the heart of the U.S. car market-fit the bill quite nicely.
    The midsize sedan segment is comprised of nearly 20 models, including the Buick LaCrosse, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler Sebring, Subaru Legacy, Kia Optima, Mercury Milan, Mazda 6, Volkswagen Passat, Mitsubishi Galant, Suzuki Kizashi, Honda FCX, Suzuki Verona, and the Saturn Aura and Pontiac G6 (2009 was the final model year for the Aura and G6).

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