Car Reviews: Who Should You Believe?

As I have said in other posts, there are hundreds of opinions on every new and used car by so-called experts and hobbyist reviewers and even the top Car Review organizations will differ on how they rate a particular vehicle. Their rating may or may not give adequate weight to the issues and concerns you have about which vehicle should be on your short list.

My own experience selling cars over a decade has convinced me that car buyers fall into three major categories:

  1. Car Enthusiasts. They are the car buyers who read the most reviews and hunt for reviews that agree with their pre-determined conclusion about brands and models that they already prefer. They already have their favourite car magazines and car reviewers that they follow and believe.
  2. Utilitarians. Those who are less concerned about styling and driving dynamics but want to make a relatively rational decision based on specifications, features, technology, and safety. They consider a car to be closer to an appliance than a status symbol or show piece. They want to know about performance, comfort, ability to do what the buyer needs done.
  3. Budget Shoppers are mainly looking for economical transportation so cost of acquisition and cost of ownership are their key criteria. The experience of past owners such as what Consumer Reports conducts are of most interest to these folks.

Car & Driver Magazine is focussed on performance and driving dynamics.

Consumer Reports is concerned with reliability, safety, fuel economy and cost of ownership. Consumer Reports has the advantage of not accepting any automotive advertising nor do they accept pre-production cars from manufacturers. They actually buy their own test vehicles so they are are not influenced by advertisers which guarantees an unbiased report.

Final point, the rating organization that aligns with you will be concerned with the issues that concern you. If performance and driving dynamics are most important, Car&Driver may resonate with you while Consumer Reports may be more valuable if safety and reliability are your hot buttons.

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