Hyundai Kona going through the avoidance test for its overall score.

No single attribute makes a car truly great. That’s why Consumer Reports has always rated each car using a variety of assessments, both data-driven and drawn from the experiences of our testers and members.

Parsing through all of that information can be demanding, especially for a car shopper short on time. CR combines its test and survey findings into a convenient Overall Score to help our members quickly find the best cars, SUVs, and trucks to suit their needs.

“Our Overall Score is the only way to see the full picture of how a car stacks up,” says Jake Fisher, director of auto testing for Consumer Reports. “This makes it easy to see which cars are the best and the worst. On top of that, we’ve seen the industry make their cars better based on our test findings and our ratings, and all consumers are the beneficiaries of that work.”

Overall Score Factors

Every car we test gets a score that encapsulates four key factors: Road Test, Reliability, Owner Satisfaction, and Safety.

1. Our road-test program looks at real-life performance. We run roughly 50 new cars and trucks each year through more than 50 tests at our 327-acre test facility in Colchester, Conn. Those tests include acceleration, braking, emergency handling, and fuel economy, among others. We also evaluate controls, fit and finish, headlights, noise, ride, and safety systems.

2. We survey Consumer Reports members to gauge the reliability of cars on the road today. Every year, we collect detailed information on their experiences with hundreds of thousands of cars. The data is presented online for 17 key trouble areas, alongside insights from members in their own words. We also use the data to calculate a predicted reliability score for new vehicles on the market. 

3. Owner satisfaction is based on whether a survey respondent would buy the same car again, effectively measuring whether a car lived up to its owner’s expectations. Owners also rate their cars in other areas: driving experience, comfort, and value.

4. Safety ratings include crash-test data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). We give extra credit to vehicles that have the advanced safety systems that have been shown to reduce crashes, injuries, and deaths when they are offered as standard equipment across all trim levels. We deduct points if a vehicle gets a Poor rating in a federal or industry crash test. And we deduct points if the gear selector lacks fail-safes (such as automatically returning to Park or engaging the parking brake when the engine is shut off), is difficult to operate, and/or can be confused with other controls.  

Learn more about how CR rates cars.


Consumer Reports' Overall Score can help you find your next car.
Illustration: Thomas Porostocky

The Consumer Reports Overall Score not only helps car buyers sort the good vehicles from the bad but also holds the automotive industry to the highest possible standards. We want to help shoppers buy a great car today, and we want to make sure an even better, safer, and more reliable car is available the next time they’re in the market.

The Overall Score is not static. As new testing, reliability, owner satisfaction, and safety data become available, the scores will be updated on ConsumerReports.org. That means members can always access the most current assessment of what makes the best-driving, most reliable, most satisfying, and safest cars.

See the latest CR car ratings.

Hybrids are rated by Overall Score.