General Question

judochop's avatar

How many of buy based on consumer report?

Asked by judochop (16099points) March 31st, 2008 from iPhone

We are considering a new car and the new consumer report just came out. Do you think any of those reports are padded in any direction?

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3 Answers

kevbo's avatar

I relied on them for my last purchase, an ‘05 RAV4. If they are padded, I would say the skew is probably negligible. I don’t see what incentive they have to pad scores though, since it would probably put them out of business rather quickly if they got caught. They also send out fundraising appeals for the “Consumer Reports Foundation,” which helps them maintain independence.

About two years ago, they gave the Jeep Wrangler a 5 out of 100, which is probably the lowest that any car has ever scored. I would guess that there might have been some bias in that case, but I can’t say for sure. The following year they scored the Wrangler a 17. In both reviews, they also said the Wrangler’s off road capability was near unparalleled, but said it basically sucks for 95% of drivers.

You could always compare CR’s reviews and ratings with Edmunds.

cwilbur's avatar

For major things, I try to look at Consumer Reports.

I don’t think they’re padded; I do think they are up-front about what they are evaluating products on and what they award points for, and their reviews reflect that.

For instance, kevbo’s example of the Jeep Wrangler: I don’t think that it’s bias, but that they’re sticking to their evaluation criteria, which show (for instance) that the Wrangler has a rough ride, is not very fuel-efficient, is drafty, doesn’t have much cargo capacity, and the like. Well, all of those things are true, but they kind of miss the point; if you’re seriously considering buying a Wrangler, you’re not making the decision based on gas mileage and cargo capacity.

And they’re notoriously short-sighted in computers, but I think that has to do with the difficulty of predicting maintenance costs in any specific case. But again, that’s not an inappropriate slant; they tell you what they’re evaluating the computers on, and if their criteria are missing an important point or two, well, you can read their methodology and notice it.

So, to summarize: I don’t think they’re padded or skewed intentionally, but the things they evaluate the product on are not necessarily the things you might consider important, so you need to read the methodology too. And yes, I do read them for major purchases.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

The problem isn’t that they are padded in any particular direction.

It’s that they barely address a car’s most important aspect:

The X factor. That nearly impossible to describe character that makes a car a thrill to drive and own.

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