I’ve been in the same auto-finding business working for customers rather than vehicle inventory providers now since 1990 and in that time I’ve read and evaluated thousands of vehicle reviews and compared them to my actual customer comments and comparisons.
I’ve only found one source to be truly unbiased although somewhat subjective at times due to its rating methods.
Consumer Reports consistently remains unbiased in its ratings. They do not get their income from any auto manufacturer, dealer chain, or bank source, but get 90% of their revenue from paper and online subscriptions and other sales. They are a non-profit organization. For details, their annual reports, financial statements, and tax returns are online at:
Their opinions and evaluations come from their own actual vehicle testing and vehicle owners themselves.
Vehicle owner input however can look skewed at times. Take for example the Honda Passport and the Isuzu Rodeo – identical vehicles with different badging. In the same years the Honda version of this vehicle (made on Isuzu assembly lines) got a much better reliability rating than the Isuzu Rodeo – probably because Honda owners are more loyal to the Honda brand name and wouldn’t downgrade Honda easily.
Other vehicle rating services have Auto Manufacturer and Dealer Sponsors and Paid Advertisers that can easily influence the rating process. Many of these vehicle rating services score how fun a vehicle is to drive and emphasize acceleration, cornering, and other such statistical information while underplaying reliability, safety, and value – what you get for the money. Consumer Reports does the opposite.
So if you value these three things – reliability, safety, and value – as I do, stick to Consumer Reports. It’s the absolute best at this. Their annual report on new models comes out every year in the April issue available on newsstands in March. The back of this issue also rates the previous six year’s models for reliability, if a used car is under consideration. I buy 4 or 5 copies each year to loan to my customers when they are trying to narrow their focus to a specific model, prior to my finding them the perfect car, truck, minivan or SUV.
Good luck on your next car search. I hope this will help. Call me if you’d like the professional touch and someone on your side.