5 On Your Side

Behind the Wheel at the Consumer Reports’ Auto Testing Facility

Posted February 27, 2008

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— Consumer Reports will soon release this year's top picks in cars, trucks, minivans and SUVs.

To find out how the top picks are chosen, 5 on Your Side's Monica Laliberte traveled to the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center in Connecticut.

Many people reply on Consumer Reports' test results to buy cars, and others like to see how their vehicles stacked up.

The 327-acre testing facility in East Haddam has enough room to put vehicles through 50 different tests and evaluations.

There is a weather-monitoring system that keeps constant tabs on track conditions.

The straightaway test track is three-quarters of a mile long and used to be a drag-racing strip. It is used to test acceleration and braking and is where avoidance maneuvers test how well a vehicle can miss an obstacle.

The handling circuit is a 1-mile course of twists and turns. It allows testers to see how controllable a vehicle is at its limit.

The rock hill test area measures endurance. It has 300 tons of boulders and a 120-foot climb. The main goal is to test the capability of four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Next, the skid pad measures grip as vehicles move at high speeds.

At the Consumer Reports Tire Testing Center, each set of tires travels some 16,000 miles and comes on and off the vehicle 2,500 times.

It all adds up to the most comprehensive auto-testing program in the United States, and that is why Consumer Reports' engineers said it is used to pick the "Best of the Best" in vehicles.

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  • Huey Feb 28, 2008

    Monica is a hoot! I love her reports.