Why Doesn’t Consumer Reports Include Car Advertisements on Its Website?

When you head to the Consumer Reports website, you expect to see certain things. For example, there are libraries of reviews for various vehicles based on test drive results and rankings. You’ll also see ratings based on member surveys and details rooted in actual ownership experience.

However, what you won’t find when you explore Consumer Reports online are vehicle advertisements or flashy pop-ups. In fact, you won’t see ads for any products throughout the entirety of the site. There’s a good reason behind this organizational decision. Here’s why the CR website is and will continue to remain ad-free.

Consumer Reports is an independent consumer group

Of all the automotive industry critics and online reviews, Consumer Reports is one of the largest entities. The CR team operates one of the world’s largest and most sophisticated auto testing centers, too, according to the Consumer Reports “About Us” bio. Annually, the organization estimates it evaluates more than 50 vehicles, driving them collectively more than 500,000 miles.

Consumer Reports is a non-profit organization bound by the strict transparency regulations and financial disclosures of these entity types. It aims to provide unbiased ratings and reviews of a host of products, not just cars. It’s that dedication to remaining independent that helps Consumer Reports position itself as an organization for the consumers, identifying concerns and sharing test results and experiences consumers need to know before making any purchasing decisions.

So, an organization this big, with substantial website traffic, must be loaded with advertisers and brand sponsorships, right? Wrong.

The reason you won’t ever see ads on the Consumer Reports website

A pedestrian walking past a car advertisement for the Audi Q2 in Hong Kong, China
A pedestrian walking past a car advertisement for the Audi Q2 | Budrul Chukrut/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Consumer Reports doesn’t just claim to be impartial in evaluating cars. It also takes the necessary steps to eliminate any impropriety or appearance thereof that its teams of judges and panels of experts have a bias toward or against any vehicle contender. Ads might be intended to influence website visitors and consumers. However, the CR staff could essentially be swayed. Additionally, the company could appear to be showing favoritism based on what automakers buy ads on its platform. So, you’ll never see ads on the website. Consumers can rest assured that CR doesn’t ever endorse or support one brand over another.

To learn more about Consumer Reports’ official position and effort to remain independent, you can review the financials and policies available on the CR website. The group has a “No Commercial Use Policy” in place, pledging that consumers can rely on its ratings and findings, knowing results are factual and in context.

The company maintains its independence in acquiring vehicles, too

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Taking its unbiased independence even further, the Consumer Reports team takes special care to remain objective even when acquiring testing vehicles. While some other industry reviewers allow automakers to send over cars and trucks to test for free, CR does it differently. In an effort to experience the car-buying journey just as consumers do, the team will venture out to dealerships and buy vehicles for testing directly. 

Consumer Reports says that last year alone, its teams spent more than $2 million to buy cars to evaluate. The consumer group can maintain anonymity during the transaction but will handle securing new models for testing entirely independently and internally. Once procured, Consumer Reports puts every vehicle through its barrage of testing, evaluating reliability, driving dynamics, safety, and ownership satisfaction.

So, if in your quest to explore new vehicles to buy online, you get overwhelmed with constant ads and annoying pop-ups, you can always find an ad haven on the Consumer Reports website. Of course, you’ll also enjoy unbiased reviews, rankings, and vehicle details. It’s another reason why CR remains a reliable resource for car buyers today.