A CR engineer testing a refrigerator, one of the appliances that receives Consumer Reports' new Overall Score.
CR refrigerator test engineer Joseph Pacella in our fridge lab.
Photo: Brian Finke

Consumer Reports evaluates a variety of factors for every product we test—performance, predicted reliability, and owner satisfaction. Now CR is incorporating data from all these assessments into one Overall Score, as we did with auto ratings two years ago.

The result is a single integrated rating that will make it even easier for you to make a well-informed buying decision. Starting with refrigeratorswashing machines, and dryers—CR will be applying our consolidated Overall Score to all major appliances, many small appliances, and most electronics we test.

By combining the results of performance tests in our labs with the data we collect through surveys of CR members, our new Overall Score gives a holistic picture of product quality.

More on CR's Testing

One result of this is that models from brands with high reliability scores might cluster at the top of the ratings while brands with poor reliability are penalized. We believe that’s a good thing because it more closely reflects your experience with a product. Here’s what goes into CR’s new Overall Score.

1. Survey Ratings

Predicted Reliability
Through our surveys, tens of thousands of CR members who purchased large appliances in the past 10 years tell us about their product experiences.

Then we crunch the data to estimate the likelihood that newly purchased models from a given brand, not under a service contract, will break within five years. Products from brands that rate Fair or Poor for reliability can’t earn recommended status from CR, regardless of performance, because consumers also expect their appliances to last. In cases where we have insufficient survey data to provide a brand-level rating, indicated by a gray dash (−), we assume the model has average reliability.

Owner Satisfaction
The same surveys provide data for this assessment, which asks CR members how likely they’d be to recommend the appliances they purchased. Here, too, a gray dash means insufficient brand data and the model receives the category average.

2. Lab Test Ratings

Our experts test more than 2,000 products a year in 63 laboratories at our Yonkers, N.Y., headquarters and partner labs, and we currently have nearly 8,000 products in our ratings.

A lot goes into testing each product. For example, it takes 28 hours to evaluate a single dishwasher, and we collect 5.4 million temperature readings to score a single refrigerator. (That’s CR refrigerator test engineer Joseph Pacella in our fridge lab.)

We also purchase every product we test—a cornerstone of CR’s policy to remain independent from manufacturer influence.