Consumer Reports recently gave the Tesla Model S a score of 99 out of 100, and other media outlets immediately began proclaiming that the car could be the best vehicle ever made. A small number of journalists responded by arguing that the entire idea of a “best car” simply doesn’t make any sense.
I agree with them, but I drew an even more extreme conclusion from reading about the car and the consumer reports rating system: the entire concept doesn’t make any sense. People buy cars for remarkably different reasons: perhaps a Range Rover to drive around Manhattan in isolated comfort, or the same Range Rover to tow horses to a show. In this case, even with the same vehicle, it would receive two different ratings: one of the New Yorker and one for the horse owner.
This issue becomes worse when trying to compare different vehicles. Comparing an F-350 pickup to a Tesla Model S on the same rating system is almost impossible. The question then becomes why do journalists use this system? My guess is that reviewers have found that people find the ratings systems more interesting when they can compare all of the models together, even if they make less sense that way.