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How Consumer Reports’ auto information is different

Our unique tests and reliability set us apart from the competition

Last updated: February 2014

Consumer Reports has been covering cars since 1936 and now conducts the most comprehensive auto-test program of any U.S. publication or website. Here's how CR's auto information and tests differ from those of other auto reviewers:

General

  • Consumer Reports is the only major automotive-testing publication that does not accept advertising. Its independent, unbiased reviews don't pull punches to please an advertiser.
  • Our 2013 Annual Auto Survey, which went out to subscribers in the spring of 2013, yielded information on 1.1 million vehicles spanning the 2004 to 2013 model years. By looking at this for past model years, we can predict how current models are likely to hold up. The Consumer Reports National Research Center also collects data from hundreds of thousands of car owners to provide Owner Satisfaction Ratings.
  • Consumer Reports maintains a continually updated list of recommended models—one in which performance, reliability, and safety are factored in—and an easy-to-reference list of the Ratings of all tested vehicles.

Auto testing

  • Consumer Reports anonymously buys all the vehicles it tests from dealerships, just as you would. Last year, it spent $2.2 million on test vehicles. Other auto reviewers borrow test vehicles from the automakers.
  • Consumer Reports' auto tests are conducted by a full-time 20-person staff consisting of experienced auto and tire engineers and their support staff. Many tests and evaluations are performed at a dedicated, specially equipped 327-acre auto-test facility.
  • Instead of the one or two weeks of driving that is common with other reviewers, each vehicle that Consumer Reports tests is evaluated for months and typically driven about 6,000 miles.
  • More than 50 individual tests and evaluations are performed on every vehicle. Many tests, such as real-world fuel-economy, an accident-avoidance maneuver, and a specially designed antilock-brake test are not typically performed by other auto publications.
   

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