Do Car Reviewers Actually Buy the Cars That They Review?

Being an automotive journalist has a lot of perks. Admittedly, one of the most fun and important benefits of the job is being able to test new cars on a regular basis. And while many auto journalists, like myself, receive cars from the manufacturers – also known as press cars – for testing purposes, some readers are left wondering if we journalists ever buy the cars we drive. Here is your answer.

Auto journalists buy cars when they want to or when necessary

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While many of the auto journalists that you read or watch on YouTube receive press cars to review, some of them actually buy the cars. For example, Doug Demuro – a well-known automotive YouTuber – is known for purchasing some of the cars that he has reviewed over the years. Most of the time, the cars that Demuro purchases are notoriously unreliable, like a Hummer H1 and a couple of Land Rovers, but he does it for the sake of reporting on the maintenance and reliability issues along the way.

Another automotive outfit that is known for purchasing its cars is Consumer Reports. According to the website, Consumer Reports purchases all of its test cars from dealerships just like the average consumer. In fact, they even spent over $2 million buying cars last year. Why? They do it so that they can test the lower and mid-trim levels that most people buy, as opposed to the top-trim vehicles that the manufacturers typically send journalists.

Another advantage that Consumer Reports has by buying the cars is they get to put 2,000 break-in miles on the cars before running them through 50 different tests. That way, the testing procedures are more accurate and consistent. And when then miles add up, then it’s possible for them to test the car’s reliability as well.

Most car reviewers get press cars

A 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid press car
A 2021 Toyota Corolla Hybrid press car | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

On the other hand, most car reviewers that you read and see online obtain press cars for testing purposes. Most of the editors here at MotorBiscuit receive press cars to review – typically for one week at a time. There are obvious benefits to this arrangement, the most important of which is bringing our readers fresh and informative reviews, but it’s also fun to drive different cars every week.

Don’t get me wrong, a few of us have purchased our own cars as well – like a Fiat 500, a BMW M3, and a Ford Mustang with a ridiculous amount of miles on it. Those cars were mainly purchased for personal driving, however, they also serve as good topics for more interesting content. After all, who wouldn’t want to read a story about installing a short shifter in a high-mileage New Edge Ford Mustang? Believe it or not, many enthusiasts do.

Speaking of enthusiasts, there are other auto journalists like That Dude in Blue, who test drives other people’s cars. By doing this, he gives viewers an interesting look into fully customized cars and the stories behind them. It’s like watching an old issue of Import Tuner come to life.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it

My personal Honda S2000 that I have included in too many stories. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit
My personal Honda S2000 that I have included in too many stories. | Joe Santos, MotorBiscuit

Ultimately, some auto journalists, like Consumer Reports, purchase their test cars to remain unbiased and report their findings as fairly as possible. While other, like us and many other outfits, mainly receive press cars to report our findings. Either way, it’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

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