How Long Does It Take Consumer Reports to Test a Car?

Consumer Reports is well known for its in-depth reviews and evaluations of cars. In many cases, the review site tests dozens of vehicles before ever releasing any detailed information. But how long does Consumer Reports take with each vehicle?

A Porsche Macan driving on a test track at the Porsche factory in Saxony, Leipzig
A Porsche Macan driving on a test track | Jan Woitas/picture alliance via Getty Images

How does Consumer Reports get its vehicles?

For many review sites, they make a deal with the manufacturer, and then a vehicle is lent to them for a short period of time. This allows reviewers to go through some steps, like testing speed and fuel mileage, to see how it stands up to what the manufacturer reported.

This is also a great time to get a feel for the car, like figuring out if the seats are comfortable, getting used to the controls, and seeing how it performs on smooth and rough surfaces.

Consumer Reports doesn’t go this route. Instead, the review site actually purchases each vehicle it tests directly from the dealership. In fact, last year, Consumer Reports spent more than $2 million on the vehicles that it tested. 

There are several benefits to this, such as having time to get really in-depth. There also isn’t any pressure from the automaker to come back with a shiny new review. 

How long does it take to test each vehicle?

Unfortunately, Consumer Reports doesn’t give an exact timeline. It’s impossible to do so, as each vehicle is different. 

Some may take only a few weeks to test. This is the case for vehicles that haven’t gone through any major updates in years. For a major overhaul or a brand-new vehicle, Consumer Reports will obviously spend more time testing the vehicle.

On average, each vehicle is put through over 50 different tests before any reviews or recommendations are made. This also includes putting major mileage on the vehicle to see how it handles normal wear and tear. 

Each vehicle is driven 2,000 miles to break the vehicle in. If this is a test for reliability, then it is driven over 100,000 miles. If there are any major issues, then they will most likely come to light during this test.

What types of tests do Consumer Reports perform?

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What Do Consumer Reports’ Car Reliability Ratings Mean?

One of the major tests that Consumer Reports puts each vehicle through is driving it on tracks, and later on winding roads. The Consumer Reports headquarters is located on 327 acres in rural Connecticut, which gives them the chance to really get to know how the vehicle performs on a variety of terrains.

Other tests are for measurements, such as how long it takes the car to come to a complete stop on both dry and wet roadways. The review site also checks for child-seat protection, amongst several other tests.

According to Consumer Reports, “Because your safety is always our first priority, we evaluate headlights on moonless nights and use carlike targets to check automatic braking systems. We also use infotainment systems thoroughly and share our experience.”

Consumer Reports doesn’t just rely on the tests it performs itself. Each year, there are several surveys released to owners, asking them for detailed information about the vehicle. This could range from how the owners rank reliability, if they feel like the vehicle is worth the money they paid for it, and requests information about any potential safety issues to name a few.

If you’re interested in a new or used vehicle, then it’s crucial to do your research before buying. Consumer Reports is a great source for information, as it really digs in deep with each vehicle it purchases to discover whether this vehicle is truly reliable, or if it’s just another decent vehicle in a market full of them.