Getting to Know All About You

While the editors at Consumer Guide typically drive a vehicle for only a few hundred miles over the course of the review process, they spend a lot more time with some. For special Long-Term Road Tests, editors will use a vehicle for anywhere between 6 and 12 months before writing the vehicle's review. Spending that extra time with a vehicle allows the editors to get a great sense of how it performs in a variety of situations, affording them insight they couldn't get over a few weeks [source: Consumer Guide Automotive].

Obtaining Consumer Guide Automotive Ratings

Visitors to Consumer Guide's Web site have a number of ways they can obtain ratings about a particular vehicle. On the home page, you'll find two search boxes, one for new cars and one for used models. From there, simply select the year, make and model of the car that you'd like to learn more about and click "Go." Understandably, you'll only be able to select very recent models from the "New" section, but you'll be able to select cars from as far back as 1990 from the "Used" section. Between the two sections, you'd have a hard time finding a car from the past 20 years that Consumer Guide hasn't covered [source: Consumer Guide Automotive].

Once you've searched for a particular vehicle, you'll be able to view the car's review or, for new cars, see the various trim packages available for that model. If you click on a car's review, you'll find several tabs toward the top of the review that allow you to navigate amid the different areas of the review, such as road test or safety.

Individual vehicle reviews aren't the only way to sort through Consumer Guide information. The site also allows you to perform multivehicle comparisons for new cars. After clicking the "Compare Cars" link on the home page, users can select up to four different cars for comparison. The tool can be particularly useful if you've narrowed down your search to just a few models or trim packages and want to closely compare the remaining contenders.

If you're not quite sure what model you're looking for, you can search through cars based on different vehicle attributes. For instance, you may be searching for a four-door sedan that gets at least 25 miles per gallon (40 kilometers per gallon) and costs less than $25,000. Start by clicking on either the "new" or "used" car link from the Consumer Guide home page. From there, you can start to limit your search by selecting what you're looking for from the list of options on the left side of the page. You can even filter out cars by feature in case you're looking for a car with electronic stability control or anti-lock brakes. As you select additional search criteria, the list of cars that match those criteria will show up on the right side of the screen, and you can then rearrange the list of cars by Consume Guide rating, price, and a number of other features.

Of course, every Web site has room for improvement. Read on to find out how, with a little tweaking, the Consumer Guide site could be even better.