Just weeks after the first issue of Consumer Reports hit newsstands in 1936, our experts had the idea to borrow the automobiles of their trusting friends and neighbors and take them out for a spin. Since those first reviews 82 years ago, drivers have counted on our independent, evidence-based ratings to help them make smart choices every time they shop for a car. Of course, innovation has revolutionized the auto industry many times over in the decades since then, and our methods have evolved in turn. From the heyday of the Studebaker to the dawn of self-driving features, CR has been there every step of the way to gauge performance, decipher new technologies, and challenge automakers to bring better, safer cars to America's roads.

This month, we're building on that legacy with our Autos Spotlight 2018, covering everything you need to know about the state of the industry. That starts with our exclusive brand rankings—including a new top-ranked manufacturer. We're sharing our 10 Top Picks across a variety of vehicle categories, letting you in on our "best" and "worst" lists of new and used cars, and taking you on a tour of our Auto Test Center, where our experts get behind the wheel on 16½ acres of asphalt to deliver insights you can trust. (Although today we buy—not borrow—every car we test.) As technology makes cars more complex than ever, CR is still ahead of the curve, helping you understand what's next for fuel-saving technology, the latest safety innovations, and everything else you need to ensure a smooth journey for all the miles ahead.

Of course, staying ahead of the curve is about more than just keeping our testing and journalism up to speed—it's also about finding ways to better serve you. CR has always been proud to provide informed, savvy, clear-eyed, passionate readers with the confidence they need to make smart decisions in the marketplace. That's why I'm pleased to announce that, starting now, you can enjoy access to a range of new, personalized CR member benefits at no additional cost. In a world of dizzying changes and sketchy information, these benefits provide an opportunity for you to get even more out of our partnership. Not only that—they also provide you with an opportunity to share your ideas, your input, and your feedback with us so that we can keep our eyes on the challenges and choices that matter most to you.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the April 2018 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.