How Car and Driver Rates Vehicles

a group of men standing next to two vehicles with their hoods open
How Car and Driver Rates VehiclesGreg Pajo - Car and Driver

Every vehicle that Car and Driver tests and reviews is given a rating on a one-to-10 scale based on how good it is at its mission—the job it's designed to do—compared to its direct competitors. The rating for each model is prominently displayed on its own make-model page. (Here is an example of a make-model page with its rating.)

What Our Ratings Mean

We rate vehicles on a 10-point scale to determine the best in their respective segments. For example, we compare mid-size SUVs to other mid-size SUVs.

  • C/D rating 10: Exceptional

  • C/D rating 9: Excellent

  • C/D rating 8: Very Good

  • C/D rating 7: Average

  • C/D rating below 7: Uncompetitive

How We Rate Vehicles

Our ratings are derived from a combination of objective instrumented track testing, static measurement sessions, and subjective real-world driving experience. A vehicle's rating can also be informed by its performance in a comparison test, which pits vehicles head to head against direct competitors of the same type and price–say, compact SUVs. In our comparison tests, vehicles are track-tested and then driven in the real world over the same roads on the same days to compare their key attributes—including performance, interior quietness, ride and handling, passenger comfort, real-world fuel economy or electric range, infotainment usability, features, and much more. Comparison tests can include as few as two vehicles or cover multiple vehicles in a given class. (See our many and varied comparison tests here.)

Instrumented Testing

Car and Driver's comprehensive testing regime quantifies roughly 200 data points on each vehicle including acceleration, handling, comfort, cargo space, small-item storage, fuel economy (or electric driving range), and interior noise level. Instrumented performance tests are conducted at our test track. Our testing team reviews roughly 400 vehicles each year. (Read more about our testing and why it's important here.)

Real-World Test Drives

In addition to objective testing, Car and Driver's expert staff of car reviewers routinely evaluate vehicles on real-world highways, rural roads, and city streets—and even off-road if that is appropriate to the vehicle's intended use—to comprehensively assess how vehicles perform in the hands of consumers.


We balance our objective test data with our real-world experience to rate each vehicle on how successful it is at its mission. We report those findings in our reviews and comparison tests. (Browse our many comparison tests here.)

Our Vehicle Rankings

We use our ratings to rank each vehicle overall against its rivals. Is it the best, second-best, or third? Where does it place in its class? We present that information on our make-model pages under the heading "Where This Vehicle Ranks." We also use our test data and other information to rank vehicles on important individual attributes and capabilities—for instance, how pickup trucks rank for tow capability or how compact SUVs rank in terms of fuel economy. (Here is a roster of all of our Ranked Lists.)

Our Team

Car and Driver's experienced editorial staff includes automotive engineers, former car-manufacturer employees, and writers with decades of experience in automotive testing and reviewing—many of whom have extensive track-driving and competition experience. Our access to new vehicles ensures that we drive nearly every car, SUV, pickup truck, and minivan for sale in a given year—hundreds in all.

Our Promise

Our editorial independence ensures that Car and Driver will tell you what's good, bad, or just plain ugly. Reviews and opinions expressed by Car and Driver on vehicles and on automotive-related news and events are the sole responsibility of the editorial team and not subject to review by car-company executives, advertisers, or their public relations or marketing departments.

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