• Jan 6th 2008 at 1:04PM
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Another installment of Consumer Reports annual automotive issue is close at hand. The yearly car issue crowns Top Picks in a variety of categories as well as offering up some solid alternative choices. Last year, we had the opportunity to peek behind the curtain at CR's huge auto test facility in Connecticut, and we were psyched to find out there's real car guys behind all those filled-in circles. Here's a sample of what CR's crew is likely up to right now, expending a huge amount of labor on careful research and evaluation. In a couple of months, we'll be able to raise a fuss when CR yet again passes over our favorite car and anoints something far more reliable and better built their favorite. Oh well, there's always next year.

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  • 26 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      "I gave up on CR when my parents bought a dryer, washing machine and a fridge that were ranked pretty high by CR but died within two years and/or had all sorts of problems"

      Amen,
      I bought CR`s top rated washer. it lasted five years with repairs that came close to purchase price.
      CR is only good as a reference to what products are out there. As ratings go they suck.
      I now have one of their lower rated washing machines and its 10 times better. Salesman reconmended it as the best they had.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I don't trust salesmen, they always try to push the crap that doesn't sell well, with BS praise. Maybe the ones that don't work on commission are a good source, but other then that meh.
      • 7 Years Ago
      For all those who accuse CR of testing cars in a biased way that supports only Japanese manufacturers or for those who say CR doesn't take into account evaluating the charming idiosyncrasies of a car, I have one question for you:

      How would you evaluate cars for the average American consumer?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Their tests are targeted toward mindless point-A to point-B, humdrummer, car handling stuff. They cannot begin to test/report in a worthwhile manner on the intangibles of sports cars, trucks, etc. Quirky, lovable characteristics that stylists can impart on a car are lost on these guys. A quirk stands out...it must be smashed; they'd say. A car should also never be a status symbol to these guys. Boring.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I think you'd find the exact opposite were you to actually talk with the folks at CR. They're car people, through and through. Their MO is different than the buff books, and apparently some people don't like that. Whatevs.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've always found that CR is a reliable source of information when you want to make an informed purchase decision.

      CR is derided continually because their objective approach to testing has confirmed what most consumers have come to know, and that's mostly to do with domestic vehicles lagging behind foreign automakers in a variety of aspects.

      It's a shame that people would deride CR rather than expect domestic automakers to do better than they have been doing. An all too loyal customer bas was what lead domestic automakers to get lazy and outdated in the first place.

      Rather than spread the same old propaganda about CR, people should appreciate the service they offer and demand more out of domestic automakers. Even without CR, consumers are moving away from domestics because they just don't cut it right now.

      I like when they present their results in a video format though. It's hard to deny that the Jeep Wrangler and the FJ Cruiser clearly outperformed the Ford model. Even then, it doesn't seem to matter because some people are undyingly loyal and unscrupulous about defending their chosen brand.
        • 7 Years Ago
        JGN, just to clarify: this is video that Dan shot himself at the event and subsequently produced himself. The package you just watched was not CR-furnished. They just had us on hand for the media day.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Thanks for the reply, I read the article, but it's basically the test that these vehicles undergo right? If CR doesn't do this, it would probably be a good idea, given that people could go to their website and see the vehicles undergoing the tests themselves. I am sure they would get a lot more people paying for access when they could see stuff like that directly on the website.

        I'm not entirely convinced that offroad tires would have made a huge difference for the Ford, it seemed to be bottoming out quite a bit. Without checking, I'm guessing it doesn't have the clearance of the Jeep or the Toyota.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Thank you!

        I agree 110%

        I found this to be the best part of the writeup. lol
        "In a couple of months, we'll be able to raise a fuss when CR yet again passes over our favorite car and anoints something far more reliable and better built their favorite."
        • 7 Years Ago
        CR lost all credibility with me when they announced that the toyota camry and other vehicles would no longer be "AUTOMATICALLY" recommended.

        Shows that there were lapses of tests because they assumed these vehicles had no problems.

        Bias or laziness?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Dan,
        if you read my posts you'll realize that I first defended CR,a nd then mentioned that I think taping the trials for broadcast is a great idea. I've been a subscriber to CR for years now.

        By taping the trials, people can watch the testing these vehicles go through and can far more easily see how each vehicle performs, making it more difficult for people to accuse CR of bias. Besides that, there is a lot of entertainment value is watch vehicles put through their paces, especially when the vehicles are being challenged like that.

        I thought you guys were actually being fair to Ford by mentioning the tires it was using. Beyond that, it's clear that the Ford needs more than just offroad tires to be competitive with the Jeep and the Toyota. The Ford may outshine the Jeep and Toyota in other areas though, I am aware of that.

        Either way, I think that showing the trials and testing is a great idea. I would definitely watch them if they were posted here, or on the CR website. It's just that much better to see side by side comparisons being performed by the vehicles in real time.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here is the way I look at it:

      When you want TRENDS of reliability the only people that are collecting this information from REAL LIFE PEOPLE and compiling it into a database, talk with CR

      When you want to know how a cars feels, handles, and generally drives (NVH Etc.) when you read places like Edmunds and Autoblog and the like, preferably all of them, for a wide range of OPINIONS.

      Personally I used them all together to form a good picture of what's going on. That's all you can do. There is no one single source of information that is omniscient. It doesn't work that way. If CR can cut down the amount of times i have to take my car to the shop then I'm happy. If I buy a Honda because CR recomends them that doesn't mean I won't have any issues. That just means that statistically, I should have less issues than someone buying a lower rated vehicle.

      I every time CR comes up in topics on this place people go all wack-job. Geez, all they do is report statics and trends. Period.

        • 7 Years Ago
        sorry about the typing. Didn't come out the way I thought it did.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I believe the folks at CR are trying to provide real world information on the characteristics of these vehicles as a lay person might operate them. The fact that sophisticated electronic measuring instruments are not always used does not bother some people at all. The majority of consumers buy cars for a myriad of reasons, from price, to mileage, to performance, to luxury, to green or sometimes because they just like how it looks and don't care about anything else. CR does an excellent job at providing the average consumer objective information that allows them to make their own decision. For the past decade plus, vehicles other than big 3 vehicles received high marks. The big 3 fell behind simply because they were building large SUV's and horsepower vehicles and we Americans were eating it up. We did not care about mileage, or reliability, or even safety. Style, prestige, size, and muscle won out over practicality. Those days are gone now. Competition has produced cars that are durable, reliable, cost-effective and efficient in performance and streamlined in manufacturing. It is encouraging to see, thanks to CR and the polling of it's readers, that some domestically produced cars now match foreign competition in some of these categories. But there is a long way to go for the big 3. The marketplace, and mother earth, with it's waning natural resources, now demands that domestic auto makers adapt these new paradigms of efficiency in production, or face elimination. There is now, no other choice; for any of us.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This was a DEMONSTRATION of how they go about their auto test regimen, not the actual testing. The day we were there, it was just wet out, and they had to work with what Mother Nature gave them.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Hey Alex, just wanted to say I always appriciate you getting into the comments. I think you clarify things more than other authors which really helps!!!

        Keep up the good work!

        dpb
      • 7 Years Ago
      Too bad that a majority of these tests are dependent on the wet traction of the tires. A Suburban with Aquatread tires would probably handle better than a Porsche on summer slicks in those conditions. It amazes me how oblivious these idiots are.

      How hard would it be to make an objective test?

      On their "headlight test", how hard would it be to put photo sensors on the signs to measure light levels?

      This video just makes me further realize how worthless the CR reports have become.
        • 7 Years Ago
        @Joe

        I'm really sorry that CR didn't let the domestics off with marking total crap for twenty-five years. They should have fudged the numbers to make them look better, instead of objectively reporting the data they collect.

        Shame on them for not supporting your favourite brand.
        • 7 Years Ago
        These tests happen over the course of days or weeks. All weather conditions are likely to be encountered. In fact they probably try to get a mix.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Consumer Reports is a decent reference source. It is not a holy bible or similar epic tome, you don't live your life by it. Anyone doing smart research will consult various sources. Consumer Reports certainly has its flaws, but its lack of advertising and its unique testing methodology make it worth a read for whatever you're looking for, be it washing machines or cars. It just shouldn't be the ONLY source you check.
      • 7 Years Ago
      CR may have car guys in place but their audience is the demographic who will consider their vehicle an appliance. And for that they do an admirable job.

      For those who want something more, you have to go to a source that considers the automobile something more.

      I dont like the Accord but recognize it as a good applicance-vehicle. I dont like CR but recognize it as a good appliance magazine.

        • 7 Years Ago
        "For those who want something more, you have to go to a source that considers the automobile something more." is usually someone who accepts advertising, which is a problem.

        Take the "car of the year" or "10 Best" awards. The qualifications are often at odds with what said magazine has actually documented in comparison testing because only new cars are allowed (which is, of course, a sop to marketing departments everywhere). Then you have things like the "Gotta Have It" factor or "Editor's Evaluations".
      • 7 Years Ago
      I want to get a job at this place in the worst way. CR's testing facility is 5 minutes down the road from my house. They purchased and renovated a decommissioned drag strip, and turned it into their testing facility. They have a really cool setup.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Bah, just go for a fast drive through Devil's Hopyard. Be careful, though - I rolled a car in there back in '95. I think the embankment has finally recovered.
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