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How We Rank New Cars | How We Rank Used Cars

Our new car rankings are based on a consensus of America's top automotive experts, as well as safety and reliability data. The rankings do not rely on our own tests or U.S. News editors' preferences.

We combine two types of information: published reviews from respected automotive critics and safety and reliability data from third-party sources.

For each new car in the U.S. News rankings, our editors analyze credible reviews about the new car to assign a score that represents what professional critics say about it. The reviews are gathered from major newspapers, magazines and automotive websites. For each third-party review, we score the car on three different components:

  • Performance. The performance score represents the reviewer's written assessment of a car's handling, braking, acceleration, ride quality and other qualitative performance measures.
  • Interior. The interior score represents the reviewer's written assessment of the car's interior comfort, features, cargo space, styling and build quality.
  • Critics' Rating. This represents the overall tone and recommendation level reviewers place on a car.

In addition to the analysis of professional reviews, we add information of particular interest to new car shoppers, such as safety and reliability data, that isn't part of the critics' qualitative reviews.

  • Safety. The safety score is based on a compilation of scores from leading safety rating sources, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
  • Reliability. The reliability score contributing to the U.S. News rankings is the Predicted Reliability rating provided by J.D. Power and Associates. This score is based on the past three years of historical initial quality and dependability data from J.D. Power's automotive studies, specifically the Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS) and the Initial Quality Study (IQS).
  • Awards. Cars that win major automotive industry awards, such as the Motor Trend Car of the Year and North American Car of the Year, receive a bump in their Recommendation score to reflect the importance of these awards.

We combine these scores in a formula that is based on what new car shoppers say matters to them most in a new vehicle. The result is an overall score for each new car, which allows us to make head-to-head comparisons of new vehicles, ranking them against each other. The overall score and each component score ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best possible score. 

The rankings are continually updated based on the latest information coming in from third-party reviews and data sources. As new cars enter the market, they are also added to the rankings and affect how the vehicles stack up against one another. Check back periodically to see how the latest U.S. News Car Rankings are shaping up.