Driving the Reviews: How Consumer Reports Tests and Rates Vehicles

Asian beautiful woman driving car portrait

There is a healthy demand for new and used cars and trucks. Of course, the Internet plays an important part in the process despite final sales taking place on location. People seek answers to the particulars of models of interest. Over the years, sources have built reputations on providing consumers with great feedback. Consumer Reports is amongst the best. But what do they do to come up with their results?


Of course, manufacturers tantalise consumers with reports of acceleration. Consumer Reports places a device on the dashboard and races the car from 0-30, 60, and then runs it for a quarter mile. Trucks and SUVs are a bit different for consumers are interested in knowing how models will handle loads and tow. Additionally, testers observe how well cars and trucks will ‘avoid’ accidents.


Gearheads are interested in knowing more about what’s under the bonnet of a Ram 1500. Transmission delivers power to the wheels so testers observe responsiveness and seamless gear shifting. For manual transmission models, engineers get gritty in testing shift action, clutch engagement, gear ratios, and more.


Drivers are taught the same safety techniques yet not all cars respond the same. Engineers test to see how well a car or truck will respond to braking at speeds of 60 mph. Testers vary the road conditions and how hard they press on the brake. GPS devices measure stopping distances to the inch.


Comfort is something taken for granted or not thought about in depth by some. However, it’s of vital importance for those who will be working long hours behind the wheel or need a car or SUV to service small children and larger families. Engineers survey whether the ride is smooth or bumpy, if turns are sharp or circular, etc.


Handling is an integral component for those who will be using a car or truck for commercial purposes. Engineers take models on 30-mile rides, embarking on highways, back roads, residential streets, and every type of road in between to provide genuine feedback. Basically, engineers are getting a feel for the synergy between the car and the driver, paying attention to how the wheel feels, the gas responds, etc.


Obviously, there are moments every driver wants to avoid yet can be inevitable in emergency situations. Engineers test cars and trucks for the most intense situations, creating custom pathways that require sharp turns emulating on-highway swerving experiences. How well can a car or truck avoid oncoming traffic? Most car retailers are not going to discuss such ludicrous situations that unfortunately can be a reality.


Fuel can be a money pit for some consumers who don’t do enough research on a given car or truck. Consumer Reports uses a measuring device that assesses the fuel economy of a model on highways at 65 miles per hour and on custom tracks that necessitate acceleration, deceleration, and idle resting. How much ‘green’ will remain in your pocket if you invest in that energy efficient car?