Consumer Reports (CR) Meets the Model 3 - Revisited

Consumer Reports (CR) Meets the Model 3 - Revisited

Do not expect CR to review the Model 3 with the unbridled enthusiasm and accolades as their over-the-top Model S review.

Remember they called it the "best car ever tested." But over time they've pulled back from that lofty appraisal. The Model 3 is at a disadvantage. A big disadvantage. CR will not be so impressed but I'd be surprised if they didn't make numerous comparisons to the Model S which is problematic. Lastly, I'm not a major fan of CR but understand controversial reports sell subscriptions. We'll see how muted their enthusiasm is later on.

topher | July 11, 2017

Why not? The only 'disadvantage' I can see which isn't part of the whole "smaller, half the price" thing is the single screen. And none of us know how that will work in real life yet.

Thank you kindly.

AJPHL | July 11, 2017

How influential is CR when it comes to buying cars? Anyone actually consulted CR before when researching a purchase?

carlk | July 11, 2017

I actually have a different take. CR I beileve will have a much more favorable opinion on the Model 3. Car magazines may be influenced by advertisement for what they say but CR is influenced by magazine and online subscriptions only. Money you need to feed your family always talks. It's pretty clear CR had a change of heart earlier on the Model S because of the heat it got from Tesla/EV haters when it gave P85D a 103 rating. You could see that from all those reader feedbacks on the CR webiste. CR could care less of screwing the few Model S owners or potential buyers. It is different this time around. There are hundreds of thousands if not millions of and people who are interested in the Model 3, larger than that for any other car brands. And this number will only grow in the future. CR will not ignore or screw up this many potential subscribers now. I believe it will try to say somethng real nice to make these people to subscribe to the magazine or click to its web page. Either way I really don't care what it says. It's articles has the same value as those on the seeking alpha to me.

burdogg | July 11, 2017

Yes some do. My dad will mention things from it and I just roll my eyes. CR regardless of what they say and what people believe, has flaws, and not just when it comes to cars. Their test are flawed (wondering what i mean, go look at the test they did Engine Oil, yes this is back in 1996 but still Consumer Reports way to do things:)

In July 1996, Consumer Reports tested motor oils for their readers, but instead of using normal cars, they used New York City taxis, which are normally run 24 hours a day and never allowed to cool down - which means that the most strenuous test of motor oil, the cold start (which causes most engine damage), occurred rarely, if ever, during their testing. They found no difference between any of the motor oils, from the cheapest to the best synthetic, and concluded that all “natural” oils are interchangeable, but that synthetics still hold an advantage for some drivers. The idea that the research was meaningless because their research methods were horribly flawed was not brought up; nor did they go to the natural conclusion that if they couldn't tell the difference between Mobil One and the cheapest oil on the shelf, they probably couldn't use that research model to tell whether individual natural oils were different in quality.

I could go on, but won't, lets just say I have never followed CR and never will - they can recommend Tesla all they want - good for them, I won't use that as a selling point to others. I don't believe in quoting them when they say it is great, like they know what they are talking about, only to then say they are dumb when they say it is terrible. No, I don't trust them period :)

Atlanta09 | July 11, 2017

@AJPHL I'm pretty sure consumer reports is still very influential. They've been a driving force behind numerous product recalls, including auto recalls and I think they also contact regulatory authorities for major issues/safety concerns. They do a good job of maintaining their independence through their funding method (subscriptions) and buying all of their own products.

And of course they take into consideration the reliability history of the maker when doing reviews. It's one of the main data points to go on for new models like the 3. And yes, given the recent criticism they've given the model S, i'd assume they wont be glowing at all on the model 3, at least in terms of reliability. They gave the model s the benefit of the doubt and from their expert point of view Tesla frankly hasn't earned the benefit of the doubt anymore.

Should they disregard the model s history in reviewing the 3? Would you disregard a contractors previous job history when doing a house remodel?

Frank99 | July 11, 2017

10 years ago, they were great for people like me. I like to keep cars until they die, so long-term reliability is important to me. They had the best data on long-term reliability available, and presented it well - you could look at their reliability charts from across the room and be able to point out the American cars (short-term reliability was OK, long-term was horrible).

Their usefulness has cratered in the meantime. Their staff has gone from science and engineering oriented people, to ideology driven: it didn't matter which dishwasher actually washed best and was the most reliable, as long as it met their environmental criteria. They've apparently hidden the useful overall reliability charts they had for cars - now you have to search for a specific car to get reliability information.

burdogg | July 11, 2017

Yeah, like demanding Tesla disable Autopilot because it was so dangerous only to have the NHTSA come out after the investigation to support AP and say it reduced accidents by 40%. Thanks CR for trying to take away something that was in fact beneficial :)

Bluesday Afternoon | July 11, 2017


So, the first thing you do is compare the Model 3 to the S. Thanks for validating my premise. ;-)

Bluesday Afternoon | July 11, 2017


In your opinion CR will review the Model 3 more favorably than the S? That would place the Model as the undisputed "best" car ever tested. High praise indeed. Ain't gonna happen!

ReD eXiLe ms us | July 11, 2017

For a long time, I figured Consumer Reports had absolutely no actual 'car guys' on staff at all. Because their matter-of-fact criteria for automobile comparisons seemed to be so wholly grounded in mediocrity. I was absolutely astounded when I saw their early reports on the Tesla Model S -- because they absolutely LOVED it.

But typically, they used to judge every vehicle, no matter its stated purpose, no matter the market segment it was targeted toward, no matter its cost -- as if it must fulfill the duties of a family people hauler. So, reviews of the Corvette or Miata or 300ZX or RX-7 or CR-X were typically rather poor. Reviews of minivans often got the best scores across the board. And recommendations for Honda and Toyota sedans were pretty much a given.

Because of the way they weight their scores based upon reliability, more specifically the historical reliability of vehicles from a product line, Hyundai's cars suffered for years and years and years in the wake of the Excel -- which was an absolutely horrid car. Because by the second iteration of the Hyundai Sonata, and surely by the time the first Kia Optima came about, those cars were pretty much just as good as an Accord or Camry, but their scores for Hyundai/Kia cars still ranked them well behind. It was a good twenty-plus years after the first Sonata arrived before those cars were given passing grades, and began to consistently appear in top ten or top fifteen U.S. sales among passenger cars -- along with Optima, Elantra, and Forte. As some would put it, Hyundai/Kia had to 'pay their dues'.

There has been word that Consumer Reports experienced some whiplash after showing themselves to be apparent 'fanboys' of the Tesla driving experience. Some feel it is due to their environmental stance. Some feel it is because they were somehow 'seduced' by the allure of electric drive. Some feel they were just simply far too 'unprofessional' in their general demeanor when speaking of the Model S. Never mind that writers for MOTOR TREND and AUTOMOBILE pretty much verified every single word that Consumer Reports had published regarding how awesome the Model S was... There was still a particular contingent that especially blamed Consumer Reports for being an impetus for the skyrocketing stock price for TSLA (along with NHTSA crash test results, MOTOR TREND & AUTOMOBILE Car of the Year awards, and Tesla clearing a profit for the first time ever) and perhaps the Bear$ among their subscribers were a bit peeved by Tesla not being the abject failure it had been predicted to be for a decade straight. Oops.

So Consumer Reports is feeling a bit chastised and wants to show they are now repentant. Thus they hide all aspects of their EV fanboyism or car enthusiasm entirely now -- no matter the vehicle. All their other car reviews are strictly business, 'Just the Facts, Ma'am' endeavors, like Joe Friday, badge number 714, all the time. That's really most shameful -- that they now have to hide who they really are for the sake of appearances. Because something tells me that no one on their staff tested the Model S, then went out and bought a block of 100 or 1,000 shares of TSLA before filing their report. Though, perhaps, they may now wish they had...? Oops.

mntlvr23 | July 11, 2017

@SimplyRed - How about "the undisputed "best" car ever tested ..... in it's class"

topher | July 11, 2017

@Simply Red

I wasn't validating your premise, I was going with it.

So, let's start again. What disadvantages do you expect CR to pick on, when comparing the Model 3 to other cars in its class? What disadvantages do you expect CR to pick on based on the Model 3 in isolation from all other cars ever?

Thank you kindly.

Bluesday Afternoon | July 11, 2017


I expect CR will make numerous comparisons to the Bolt and implying they are in the same class. I'll be surprised if CR prefers the driver info moving from behind the steering wheel to glancing to the side. I also feel that many of us will have a learning curve in this regard. I do believe CR will overall be positive toward the Model 3 but don't expect it to be glowing.

One thing I do expect to be diffferent is CR will say it is a good/great car to travel across country. If you watch the video in my OP, CR clearly states you won't take the Model S across country. I wonder if the Model S Forum folks would disagree? ;-)

N7_Maric | July 11, 2017

CR is already noting in their prelim description of the Model 3 that they don't like the the LCD. "The spare, stark layout of the Model 3's cabin makes the touch screen look tacked on, rather than neatly integrated."

Also have posted a predicted reliability of 2 out of 5. (although an owner satisfaction rating of 5/5). But I think OP is probably right. CR most likely will not love this car.

carlk | July 11, 2017

"For a long time, I figured Consumer Reports had absolutely no actual 'car guys' on staff at all."

That's basically the problem, Not only they don't have car guys they don't have chefs, housewives, craftsmen or audiophiles to review all those stuff the review. When an engineer who may not even know how to make cookies or bulid cabinetries trying to tell you how to select an oven or table saw I'm not sure how useful that is to real world users.

It has had its useful purposes in the past simply because there were not a lot of alternatives. This has all changed with the advent of the internet. You can find tons of usually more detailed info from experts in every field easily now. And imo even better is places like Amazon review or forums like this where you can find reviews of everything from real users. These opinions you see certainly are not "objective" but one can always filter out useful info unless if you're totally clueless. And of course CR has throw objectivity out of the door already when its very survival is an issue now. Feel sorry for them if they do go out of business but that's just the way it is.

mos6507 | July 12, 2017

[CR is already noting in their prelim description of the Model 3 that they don't like the the LCD. "The spare, stark layout of the Model 3's cabin makes the touch screen look tacked on, rather than neatly integrated."]

You guys can attack the press all you like but expect joe public to feel much the same way.

andy.connor.e | July 12, 2017

Going to Consumer Reports for information of what to buy, is like depending on "FDA Approved" labels. Go test drive it....

Rutrow | July 12, 2017

burdogg, I'm truly not poking you, but curious. I can see why the taxi cab study might be flawed, I relied on it and have been using the cheapest oil that's available and only change every 10,000 miles, and my '93 Jeep Cherokee has over 200,000 miles on it. I used to drive it about a mile or two to work every day (short trips that are horrible for engines) for 15 years, 100 mile trips to the cabin every other weekend, and the 4000 mile round trip to Burning Man hauling a heavy trailer once a year for 8 years, and that engine still keeps plugging along.

I'm curious if you know of any unbiased studies that counter the flaws you see in CR's oil test? Pointing out flaws in one study doesn't validate the opposite conclusion. That would require a study with the conditions you feel are more typical. I understand that my results are anecdotal but absent an unbiased study showing superiority of expensive oils, I'm going with CR's recommendation that has been borne out by my experience.

burdogg | July 12, 2017

Rutrow - I understand and I don't have studies on oil and have never looked for any - I just use it as an example though of how studies can be set up to obtain results you want. Unbiased - do we really believe there is such a thing in the world we live in? Everyone has opinions, thoughts etc... and to say that people put those aside is a little crazy. Those inherent biases and some of them so deep we don't think of them as biases, are going to surface in the way that we develop tests, the way we think about how to set up a study, etc....and not saying it is purposeful, it is just the lens we see it through and don't realize we set up a bad study. Hence why in the medical profession, we have what is called throw away journals. For good true studies, they need to be heavily peer reviewed and quality studies - studies that show all the methods and how it was carried out and the results, then the conclusion. These are the boring hard articles to read, but are the ones to follow more closely because you can see how they got from point A to B and understand all the methods. Not just that, it is heavily peer reviewed.

Anyway, I digress - I am not saying that one oil is better than another, just that I won't put my trust or blind faith (like a lot of people do) on consumer reports. Especially today - money talks and while you can tout that they don't get anything - I would venture to say there are other ways to make money personally from articles you put up (Seeking Alpha anyone???) I mean, when the first negative piece on Tesla from CR came out - the author bragged about how he was able to affect the stock price - sorry, smells fishy.

mos - always a pleasure.

burdogg | July 12, 2017

Here is an article to show how some flaws exist in CR - now not saying it is correct but just another person opinions on this all:

burdogg | July 12, 2017

Last I will say - I just for some reason have really developed a bad taste for CR - doesn't mean you can't like them and trust them - I just won't ever defend them or use them as a source :) That has become my personal choice and not afraid to let others know that - doesn't mean I am right, and someone who thinks CR is the god of gods is wrong. Just means we choose to see it differently :)

hoffmannjames | July 12, 2017

I predict that CR will give generic praise to the Model 3 for achieving the ambitious goal of being a mass market long range EV but will have criticisms on specifics.

Frank99 | July 12, 2017

The best thing about CR has always been their yearly subscriber survey - "What kind of car do you own" "Have you had any issues with the following on your car" "what kind of dishwasher do you own" "Have you had any issues with the following on your dishwasher".

It was a great way to look at reliability issues that couldn't possibly be seen in a review, to give an indicator of whether that great-looking and great reviewed vacuum cleaner was going to last a year, or 10. Was it perfect? No, but it was better than anything else available.

carlk | July 12, 2017


For things like blender or vacuum cleaner or pretty much anything I just go to Amazon to check what actual users say about the product. There are many more users there covering many more products in better details than you could find in the CR. You need to spend a little time to filter though those info of course but it's whole lot better than to use CR's score from basically a sample of one. It's one good example of crowdsoursing and it is killing the CR.

Frank99 | July 12, 2017

carlk -
Unfortunately, Amazon's reviews are almost exclusively short-term - "I got this widget yesterday, and it's the best ever". What Amazon's reviews don't have is history - 5 year old Maytag washers have had fewer problems than 5 year old Amana washers.

CR's data, though apocryphal, had the advantage that they asked all their subscribers, and asked about all the subscribers equipment not just the pieces that had pissed them off. So, if your Blender was working well, you checked the box "No problems". Tens of thousands of responses later, CR had a decent view of what devices had issues and what didn't. No sample of one there.

hsadler | July 12, 2017

I've always depended on CR. But not as a 'blind faith' follower.
I depend on them to supply 'additional' information that may not be found elsewhere.

Some products I know nothing about, some a little knowledge - very few am I claiming expert. But even in these expert ones I am always pleasantly surprised to read about a 'feature' that I had not given a second thought to. And that 'feature' is now permanently in my decision process.

So, bringing awareness is my accolade for CR.

bj | July 12, 2017

@mos6507 - "but expect joe public to feel much the same way."

Yeah maybe but I'm wondering how long it will take before the Tesla interior design aesthetic becomes the next "thing" other carmakers do to show how leading edge and advanced they are.

Apple made phones without buttons look cool. So much so that phones with buttons now look prehistoric and are the source of laughter and derision.

It won't take long before other carmakers adopt Tesla's design language. Knobs, dials, gauges and paraphernalia will start to "date" a car as "old tech" - a sign that it has so many moving bits and stuff that can go wrong that you need all this clunkery on the dash. A car without that stuff is clearly the new advanced tech and it will become the desirable, modern aesthetic. Consumers will begin to reject the old design language en-masse. Cars with knobs and dials will become the source of laughter and derision.

Tesla are just 2-3 years ahead of their time, that's all.

CraigW | July 12, 2017


elephant in a bottle | July 12, 2017

Most credible car reviews are in youtube.. those from regular joes ..

carlk | July 12, 2017

Frank99 Other than reliability CR rating does not include anything from user survey. Pretty much everything in their reviews is just one engineer's testing, and opinion, of one blender from each of the few brands they bought. You don't even have way to know whether they have bought a bad sample if the result is not good. Really not too useful to me. Anyway try Amazon reviews the next time you'd be surprise how vast amount of information you could find there. You could still compare to CR reviews you want but you'll soon find out there are really not much in there. Unless you're so lazy you want to just go by what is highest rated. Many people probably still do.

Just for a test let me know a couple of products you recently bought or did not buy because of CR's recommandation. I'll let you know without reading CR, which I no longer do, if those are good decisions and why.

carlk | July 12, 2017


Here is my test for you on CR too I bought some high end audio/vidio equipments including Epson 5040UB projector and Onkyo TX-RZ3100 AV receiver based on Amazon reviews and info I got on AVS forum. Let me know what info you could find in the CR. I doubt if they are even mentioned.

Also here are my Amozon purchases in the past week. Digital indoor/outdoor thermometers, Vitamin K2, men's sandels, first aid siliver gel and canned wild salmon. All of them were picked from hundreds or thousands of users reviews among similar products. Let me know how many of these products CR has reviewed.

Shock | July 12, 2017

CR subscription rates obviate all debate as to whether any people pay attention to CR. They are not in business as a charity.

I think they are a valuable source because they are one of the few divorced from direct advertising dollars.

carlk | July 12, 2017

CR always imply it does not accept advertisement so (only) it could keep the objectivity. That itself is an advertisement and an untrue advertisement too. BTW CR subscription is dropping and it does have serious financial issues in recent years.

Rutrow | July 12, 2017

"CR subscription is dropping and it does have serious financial issues in recent years."

Like every magazine/new paper in the world. The way most of those have limped along this long has been with Google Ads on their site. CR hasn't. Doing more with less seems to be their mantra. Not perfect, but valuable.

Full disclosure: I'm a CR subscriber. Used them to choose my battery powered lawn mower last month.

mos6507 | July 12, 2017

"It won't take long before other carmakers adopt Tesla's design language."

It's not the lack of dials that's the problem. It's the ipad on a stick, nothing to see through the dash, and the single non-adjustable vent-strip (that is partially blocked by said ipad on a stick). The VW bus concept had an iPad on a stick that actually raises up from the center and a wheel that folds into the dash. I think that kind of thing is weirdmobile territory and will not go mainstream.

Tesla should have standardized around the integrated LCD and secondary display with regular vents ala the S and X. I have no problem with that. I just don't like the blank dash and the flimsy/clumsy iPad on a stick approach and I know a lot of people will wind up voicing their disapproval of it.

So I would expect automakers to go with more and more touchscreen surfaces, but I don't expect them to follow all of the Model 3 quirks. They're just too controversial and will remain so.

Rutrow | July 12, 2017

new = news

ReD eXiLe ms us | July 12, 2017

I haven't used Consumer Reports as a reference for a major purchase in over 25 years. Even then, I only looked at periodicals and volumes I found in libraries. So I didn't subscribe and didn't buy from newsstands either.

6502c is Better: Nice to know you prefer the interior design of the Chrysler 200. Now please... Go away.

Rutrow | July 12, 2017

Testing.... will Mollum let me post??? Deny, deny, deny.

Rutrow | July 12, 2017

Alright... I'm going to post this one paragraph at a time, to see if Mollum will allow it. No cuss words, no websites, I can't figure out why I keep getting denied.

Even though I am a Model 3 reservation holding (troll by some poster's opinions) I agree with mos. I'm willing to bet dinner and a bottle of wine of my wife's choice, that no other vehicle manufacturer (including Tesla 2020) will adopt the Model 3, version 1, dash convention. Takers??? | July 12, 2017

CR is antiquated. It may matter for people of a certain age, but younger outlets have better methodology and insights. For example, with electronics I would take The Wirecutter's analysis over CR any day of the week.

carlk | July 12, 2017


CR because of financial situation fired its entire editorial staff a few years ago but hired a bunch of new marketing people since. It did not try do more with less. It just shifted its focus to selling more subscriptions. Its situation is the same as encyclopedia meets wikipedia. There is really no future for it.

Rutrow | July 12, 2017

WTF?!? I'm trying to post the most anodyne sentence and I can't figure out what the heck is triggering the spam filter. Crazy!!!

Frank99 | July 12, 2017

Look at the words, and decide which ones are most likely to be in Spam, then bowdlerize them with *'s in place of a vowel, and try again.

Bluesday Afternoon | July 12, 2017


The system must think you're a troll because you agreed with mos. ;-)

bj | July 13, 2017

@mos6507 - Well I reckon the "less is more" ethos will catch on. So we agree to disagree. Cool.

bj | July 13, 2017

@Rutrow - sure, I'm a taker. It might take a few years, but mark my words, auto makers will start to emulate the "minimalist dash".

eeb9 | July 13, 2017

I think the minimalist approach will catch on. I also think that the display will be much better integrated.

Both of those statements can be true.

I understand why Tesla took the display-on-a-stick approach - it's simpler (read: cheaper), particularly when needing to manufacture both LHD and RHD models.

But I doubt - seriously - that they'll do it again.

Before anyone starts yelling at me, let me say that I think the overall design "language" will catch on - but the display(s) will be much better integrated.

I'll contribute a bottle of Ron Zacapa XO to Rutrow's bet. My bet is that by 2020, Tesla will integrate displays into the dash (as in the MS) and/or a HUD-type display rather than have them mounted on a stalk (as in the Model 3 today).


Shock | July 13, 2017


"CR always imply it does not accept advertisement so (only) it could keep the objectivity. That itself is an advertisement and an untrue advertisement too."

This statement is either untrue based on lack of knowledge or knowingly dishonest. First, they don't say they don't advertise themselves, they say they accept no advertising from manufacturers. Second, it is true; please provide proof they accept advertising from manufacturers of products they test. Show me an ad in their magazine for a bmw or a washing machine. You can't.

I've noticed people tend to hate CR because at some point CR badly reviewed something that the person liked, so they have this bone to pick. It's pretty unhelpful and a total waste of brain cycles.

mos6507 | July 13, 2017

"I've noticed people tend to hate CR because at some point CR badly reviewed something that the person liked, so they have this bone to pick. It's pretty unhelpful and a total waste of brain cycles."

That's usually how it goes. Rather than pay attention to the substance of the beef in the bad review, respond by killing the messenger.

topher | July 13, 2017

"I think the overall design "language" will catch on - but the display(s) will be much better integrated."

How do you envision the current display being integrated?

a) Position of the display will be moved down and toward the fore.
b) The lower portion included in the dash by moving some portion of it out to meet the display.
c) The whole display being included in the dash by the dash being moved out and up to meet all edges of the display.
d) something else.

Thank you kindly.