March 31, 2023


March 2008: Consumer Union publishes its best-selling annual Consumer Reports automotive issue, which is credited with influencing millions of vehicle purchases. Consumers Union has evolved to be the premier consumer advocate in the United States.

In 1929, a non-profit organization called Consumers’ Research was established by Stuart Chase and F.J. Schlink, authors of a successful book entitled Your Money’s Worth: A Study in the Waste of the Consumer’s Dollar. Their organization tested products on behalf of consumers and published their results, as well as examples of false advertising in a monthly magazine.

In 1936, Arthur Kallet, a Consumers’ Research staffer decided to form his own organization, Consumers Union, which took a more aggressive stance on behalf of consumers. Competition between the two companies was fierce, but Consumers’ Research gradually took different paths, and eventually went out of business.

Consumers Union has flourished, testing products with a current estimated annual budget of $21 million. Consumer Reports Magazine has more than four million subscribers, and the new car issue is typically its best-selling issue.

Consumer Union makes every effort to avoid any inference of bias. The organization accepts no advertising-income, or any preferential treatment by manufacturers, including discounted or free test vehicles. Furthermore, its results are barred from being used to advertise or market any product.

To identify its Top Picks, Consumers Union evaluates vehicles in three areas:

  • Road Tests: conducted by its own Auto Test Center; Top Pick candidates must score at, or near the top of their respective category.
  • Reliability: Candidates must have an average or better rating, as reported by subscribers in Consumers Union’s annual survey.
  • Safety: Candidates must have adequate performance as tested by the government or the insurance industry. They must also offer Electronic Stability Control (ESC), as either a standard or readily available feature.

Top Picks for the model year 2008 are identified in the following ten categories:

Green Car: Toyota Prius
Small Sedan: Hyundai Elantra SE
Family Sedan: Honda Accord
Upscale Sedan: Infiniti G35
Luxury Sedan: Lexus LS 460L
Fun to Drive: Mazda MX-5 (Miata)
Small SUV: Toyota RAV4
Midsized SUV: Hyundai Santa Fe
Minivan: Toyota Sienna
Pickup Truck: Chevrolet Silverado 1500 Crew Cab

The Hyundais are the first Korean products to make the list, and the Lexus LS 460L is the highest scoring product ever tested by Consumer Union. For full details, go to

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