Consumer Reports Best Cars vs Auto Grades: Different Information for Car Buyers

 In Car Safety Comparisons

Consumer Reports best cars reports provide different information for car buyers than Auto Grades.

Consumer Reports best cars reports was recently published in its 2019 Auto Issue, containing multiple lists of ranked vehicles. The included information isn’t comprehensive enough to to give you the full story on the safety of a potential new car purchase, however.

At The Auto Professor, our sole focus is on safety and protection. We have written extensively in other posts (An Overview of Auto Grades) about why Auto Grades is the only realistic safety rating system. Our Auto Grades are ratings based on the track record of how vehicles have protected their drivers in the worst crashes on our roadways. We do not use pretend crashes (in-laboratory testing) or pretend people (dummies). We do not rely upon the ratings given by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

Consumer Reports bases its car ratings on (1) in-laboratory and test track evaluations of new vehicles and (2) surveys of its subscribers for reliability and ownership satisfaction. The safety information reported by Consumer Reports comes from the NHTSA and IIHS rating systems, paired with lists of available advanced safety features (e.g., forward collision warning systems).

Consumer Reports recently published its 2019 Auto Issue, containing multiple lists of ranked vehicles.  The Auto Professor has selected some examples from their “Best Used Vehicles under $20,000” to illustrate how you can combine Consumer Reports’ information with our Auto Grades when researching your next car purchase:


2016 Honda Accord

2017 Toyota Corolla

2015 Subaru XV Crosstrek







Key takeaways based on these examples:

  • Auto Grades are the only safety ratings based on data about real people in crashes. This means we can rank vehicles by the age and gender of the driver. These three vehicles demonstrate that our ratings for these vehicles degrade as the driver gets older. In other words, these vehicles have at or below-average driver protection for older drivers – older men in particular.
  • Don’t make assumptions about a vehicle’s safety rating – always check the Auto Grade. We are often asked if SUVs are safer than sedans. Here is an example where a sedan has a better track record of protection than an SUV. The 2016 Honda Accord has higher ratings than the 2015 Subaru Crosstrek across every age and gender category.

Use the Best Information, Get the Whole Story

Recent studies report that 88% of car-buyers use the internet for research as they shop for a new car. The information provided by Consumer Reports is central to many car buyers. In fact, our research indicates that 50% of consumers who are intending to buy a vehicle in the next 12 months will use Consumer Reports as one of their sources. However, the laboratory-based safety ratings and lists of safety features provided by Consumer Reports are not sufficient to give car buyers the full safety profile of the vehicles they discuss.

Auto Grades are the missing piece of information for safety-minded shoppers. Consumer Reports may be a great place to start your car search, but you should always cross-check The Auto Professor’s Auto Grades.  Get our real on-the-road safety rankings to make sure you’re protecting your family and the ones you love.

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