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Can Expert Car Reviews Be Trusted???

Before I give you my full answer, let me provide you some context…

One of my colleagues here at AutoBuying101.com shared an interesting article that got a little attention in the automotive journalist community last month.  The following article suggests how editorial critic car reviews are biased due to numerous circumstances: http://www.ajr.org/Article.asp?id=5141

Many consumers find value in reading editorial and review oriented content regarding vehicle attributes, specifications, handling, etc….and we do carry some of that content on our site, but does anyone really make a purchase decision solely based on what a single “expert” had to say?  We certainly hope not. 

Not because this information is not valuable, interesting, and helpful (as it certainly can be), but rather because it should only be considered as one reference point in your comprehensive evaluation as to what the right vehicle is for you.  Within the AutoBuying101.com Insider Blog section we consistently cover expert content and industry awards provided by some of the most respected names in the industry….and the reality is that many of these companies get unique access to vehicles and are invited to lavish industry events.  It’s the car business folks, it’s big business, and there is a lot of money involved.  Anytime money is involved, there is an opportunity for potential bias (I could go off on a tangent regarding politicians, but that is for another website J).  There is a reason why the automotive industry is critical to our economy, and why it’s unlikely to watch TV for more than 30 minutes without seeing a car commercial….billions of dollars are tied to the automotive industry.

Every model year the 40+ car manufacturers roll out and are actively marketing and promoting 300+ unique models.   So, for any established industry “expert” to gain access to these vehicles, they need special treatment and circumstances to gain access to these vehicles, to drive them, and write about them.  Are the manufacturers trying to impact the expert’s view of their vehicles?  Of course.  Does this mean that all automotive journalists are biased and saying nothing but positive things about all the models available?  Of course not.

So to answer the question at hand, “Can Expert Car Reviews Be Trusted?”, my answer is this:  Yes, but you should:

a)      Consider the expert writing the review.  We think a helpful resource here is the website MotorMouths.com (named as one of our Top 10 Best Resources For New Car Buyers a few months ago) which aggregates expert reviews and provides credibility scores on critics.

b)      Use "expert reviews" as one, of many, reference points. Your budget, vehicle features, comparisons, quality ratings, owner reviews, friends/family opinions, and test driving multiple vehicles are all critical components to consider during your vehicle evaluation process (you have seen our Auto Buying Checklists right?).

c)       Always make your own decisions based on your own research.  Information and advice from multiple sources is helpful, but at the end of the day, if you want to make a confident decision it should be your decision.