If you don’t already subscribe to Consumer Reports, you should. I have been a subscriber for as long as I can remember. I rarely buy any product without consulting this great magazine. I also subscribe to Consumer Reports online edition which is even more current than the regular magazine. I recently received their annual auto issue, which no car buying family should be without. All libraries would have this on hand.
Don’t be fooled by other magazines with similar names purporting to objectively analyze and recommend products. There is only one Consumer Reports. They do not except any advertising and therefore are not beholden to any corporation. They even go beyond this and will not allow a retailer or manufacturer to use the name Consumer Reports in their advertising. Even if Consumer Reports gives a product a great rating, that company cannot mention this in their advertising. If they do, they get sued by Consumer Reports. No other company goes this far and is this “squeaky clean”. J.D. Powers is a company that ranks and compares lots of products including cars, but they allow companies to use the JD Power name to advertise their products when they rated them good. You can understand why a consumer might be just a little more skeptical of J. D. Powers’ objectivity than Consumer Reports’.
I am not saying that Consumer Reports is infallible. They do make mistakes and they have been successfully sued by some companies that were affected by their mistakes in testing. But this is very rare. As a car dealer for over forty years, I have not always liked what I read about all of the makes and models of cars I have sold, but I grudgingly had to admit that the reports were almost always accurate. I have to confess that with some make and model cars I have sold over the years, I was very thankful that the circulation of Consumer Reports is not very large. Their circulation is growing as consumers become more educated and sophisticated. It’s not as easy as it once was to sell a Yugo to most consumers.
This annual auto issue which is on the newsstands now should be a mandatory read before you buy your next used or new car. Here are some of the articles in this issue…Top Picks (the best new vehicles they have tested), Best and Worst (tells you the ones you definitely shouldn’t buy), Coming for 2008, Who Make The Best Cars (best manufacturers), Buy Better on the Web (The Internet is the best place to buy your next car), Reliability trends (repair histories on all makes and models), What’s Next in Auto Safety, and Used Cars, Best and Worst.
Consumer Reports also offers other car buying services like their “New Car Price Service” which discloses the actual cost to the dealers, rebate and incentive information, negotiating strategies, and their expert recommendations. They also offer a “Used Car Price Service” which provides an evaluation tool kit that helps you establish the right price for most used cars made from 1995 to 2005.