An Overview of Auto Grades

The bottom line is that not all vehicle safety ratings are created equal. We’re challenging the meaning of safety because we want to help you make informed decisions based on real data.

What the Auto Grades Mean

Grade A
Top-tier driver protection based on real crash history
(A or A-)
Grade B
Better-than-average driver protection based on real crash history
(B+, B, B-)
Grade C
At or below-average driver protection based on real crash history
(C+, C, C-)
Grade D
Subpar driver protection based on real crash history
(D+, D, D-)
Grade F
Bottom-tier driver protection based on real crash history
(F)

As Seen In

The Auto Professor has looked at crash data on an individualized level to help you choose a car that offers you, personally, the best known protection.

Auto Grades Challenge the Notion of Car Safety Ratings Based on Standardized Tests

The Auto Professor challenges the traditional notion of “safety” based on standardized tests with dummies, replacing it with what really happened to real people in real crashes.

Auto Grades is the only complete car ranking system based on real-life crash data, not controlled experiments in laboratories. For the first time ever, The Auto Professor empowers car buyers with unbiased, real information about a car’s actual performance in protecting real people.

Each Auto Grade is based on a vehicle’s historical crash experience, i.e. which drivers walked away from the worst crashes and which did not. Using 30 years of extensive auto safety knowledge coupled with data mining expertise and federal crash statistics, the data scientists at The Auto Professor have evaluated the historical protection level of over 4,000 make-model-model year vehicles.

Applying an easy-to-understand ranking from A (the best protection) to F (the worst protection), The Auto Professor gives you the power to compare the ranking of small cars versus midsize SUVs versus pickup trucks. No fine print, no restrictions…just meaningful differences.

Getting Personal

The real data behind the Auto Grades ranking system presents additional opportunities. In addition to giving a vehicle an overall grade, The Auto Professor goes one step further to look at the personal protection level for the individual driver by age and sex where the data allows. Unfortunately, not all people are protected equally in all cars.

We all become more vulnerable as we age, as our vascular system stiffens and our bones lose density. Women and men differ as well, with significant differences in vascular systems and musculature that affect the response to blunt trauma. These are well-known facts in the automotive safety community. The Auto Professor has looked at crash data on an individualized level to help you choose a car that offers you, personally, the best known protection.

The ability to get personal is dependent on the amount of data available for each car. An Auto Grade presented as a full-color shield is based on plentiful real-world data. The Auto Professor may use analytical methods to estimate grades (identified by a shaded shield for the Auto Grade), but in cases where the data is truly limited personalized grades are not available.

How Do Auto Grades Differ from Other Star Rating Systems?

Auto Grades are totally different from the federal 5-Star Safety Ratings (US National Highway Transportation Safety Administration New Car Assessment Program, NHTSA NCAP) and the ratings given by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Here are the big differences:

  • System Features
  • Reflect the experiences of …
  • Assesses cars’ track records across …
  • Can be compared to …
  • Personalized by …
  • Auto Grades Ranking System
  • Real people
  • All fatal crashes
  • Any and all commercially available cars
  • Age and sex, where there’s enough data
  • NHTSA And IIHS Rating Systems
  • Crash test dummies
  • Lab tests
  • Only cars of a similar size and class
  • … are not personalized
System Features Auto Grades Ranking System NHTSA And IIHS Rating Systems
Reflect the experiences of … Real people Crash test dummies
Assesses cars’ track records across … All fatal crashes Lab tests
Can be compared to … Any and all commercially available cars Only cars of a similar size and class
Personalized by … Age and sex, where there’s enough data … are not personalized

At the heart of the difference between these systems is the source of the data. The NHTSA and IIHS ratings are based on what happened to dummies in staged laboratory crashes, whereas Auto Grades rankings are based on the real experiences of real people on the road.

Why We Need Auto Grades

The Auto Professor’s approach to car safety raises two issues with the current systems: comparisons and star inflation.

Making Comparisons.

One of biggest concerns with the traditional rating systems is the difficulty in comparing ratings between cars. The NHTSA and IIHS websites warn that safety ratings should only be used to compare vehicles of a similar weight and class, but these warnings leave consumers with obvious questions about what vehicles can actually be compared. Learn more about crash tests and comparing vehicle safety ratings.

Star Inflation.

Since 2011, 96 percent of vehicles tested by NHTSA have gotten either a 4- or 5-star overall rating. Does this mean that all cars offer a similar level of protection? The evidence from real crash data says no. Learn about star inflation and how Auto Grades provide a more meaningful solution.

Get Your Auto Grade!

The bottom line is that not all vehicle safety ratings are created equal. We’re challenging the meaning of safety because we want you to make informed decisions based on real data. Get your free auto grade and see for yourself.

Working together to create a world where everyone walks away from a crash.

GET YOUR AUTO GRADE