We often share insights about new car models based on Consumer Reports findings. But how much do automotive consumers know about what goes into some of these ratings and vehicle predictions? What does the Consumer Reports team look for in their test drives? How do they assign scores and model rankings?
Let’s dive into Consumer Reports processes for evaluating vehicles, including what they look for and how points are assigned. During the team’s rigorous testing process, some insights may be new to you. For example, did you know Consumer Reports tests cars on a former drag strip?
How Consumer Reports defines itself and its mission
So, what does Consumer Reports do, and what is the primary mission behind the group? As it self-describes online, Consumer Reports is independent of any other organization and is a nonprofit membership service. Its three pillars of service are fairness, transparency, and truth in the marketplace.
Founded in 1936, the Consumer Reports team has sought to provide authentic information to empower consumers to make their wisest purchasing decisions. Consumer Reports helps facilitate those efforts by dedicating resources, time, and a large workforce to test and evaluate vehicles. Over the years, the organization has also inspired change in manufacturing and regulatory practices based on its findings and consumer-driven surveys.
Test driving newly released models on a former drag strip
According to Consumer Reports, every vehicle the team tests goes through evaluations, including several driving simulations at its Auto Test Center in East Haddam, CT. As Fox 61 reports, many consumers don’t realize that the 4,100-foot straightaway and 3,100-foot road course, which once used to be the home of the Connecticut Dragway, were made famous for drag strip races between 1960 and 1986. The Consumer Reports teams perform more than 50 tests on each model vehicle every year, including top speeds, braking distances, and “fit and finish” touches.
In addition to the former drag strip pavement, there are two skid pads and a two-acre paved area for testing in wet and dry conditions. Buildings and video facilities dot the property, where the team of about 30 staff splits off to conduct their tests—one 5,000-square-foot building alone just for testing headlights on new model vehicles. Overall, the Consumer Reports testing property spans more than 327 acres.
Some of the top-performing 2022 models Consumer Reports tested
So, now that you know what goes into a Consumer Reports recommendation, including the rigorous testing on that former drag strip, you might be wondering which 2022 models the Consumer Reports team considers to be top performers.
In one Consumer Reports list, ten new models take the cake. The Nissan Sentra earns the top nod in the small car segment, the Nissan Rogue comes out on top of the subcompact SUV class, and the Subaru Forester wins the contest for the small SUV category.
The midsized sedan segment is owned by this year’s Honda Accord. In the hybrid running, the Toyota Prius and Prius Prime are still top contenders. Toyota also makes this Consumer Reports top 10 list as the best performer in the two-row SUV category with its RAV4 Prime. The remaining models on the list include the Kia Telluride, the Honda Ridgeline, the Ford Mustang Mach-E, and the Lexus RX.
Consumer Reports will continue to be one of the leading consumer groups out there with their comprehensive testing and data-driven recommendations. Now all you have left to do is decide which Consumer Reports endorsed vehicle to buy next.