Columnist: Consumer Reports 'Prostituted' Itself With Tesla Review

Aaron Cole
by Aaron Cole

Wall Street Journal columnist Holman W. Jenkins (great name) slammed Consumer Reports for its glowing review and better-than-perfect score for the Tesla Model S P85D, in part, because the $127,000 car still qualifies for a government tax break.

“Prostitute is not too strong a word,” he wrote. “… (Consumer Reports) is shilling not only for the car but the government policies that subsidize it.”

Jenkins takes aim at the state and federal tax incentives still available for the vehicle — which are going away in many places — and at the magazine for hyping its review so heavily, and subsequently giving it away for free on its subscription-based website.

Jenkins’ point is re-enforced by the fact that Consumer Reports sent to media an embargoed statement summarizing their review the day before it was published, which is unusual for the consumer magazine.

Included in the statement:

“The P85D represents a glimpse into the future of automotive technology in which cars will be more energy-efficient than ever, while still delivering a terrific blend of performance and practicality,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing in the statement. “The Tesla is a shining example of how higher fuel economy standards can be achieved without sacrificing performance.”

Jenkins aimed at that performance by saying that if Consumer Reports was concerned with energy efficiency, it wouldn’t hype the battery draining “insane” and “ludicrous” speed modes in its review.

Aaron Cole
Aaron Cole

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  • Danio3834 Danio3834 on Aug 31, 2015

    I agree with Jenkins based on the fact that the Model S just isn't that great of a car. A novelty to be sure, but the greatest ever tested? C'mon now.

  • VenomV12 VenomV12 on Sep 01, 2015

    Consumer Reports is a goddamn joke now. I used to defend them in the past but then their constant and extreme bias towards completely turned me off to them and quite frankly made them untrustworthy.

  • Sbc350 Sbc350 on Sep 01, 2015

    CR has a "talking cars" episode dedicated to the p85d review. They explain that they ranked the tesla model s so high, they had to rate this one higher.....thus the 103. They admit that the car isn't perfect, but they either had to break the 100 barrier, or re-rank every car that they have ever tested (and re-rank the cars every time they test a model better than the p85d). They thought that this was the lesser of 2 evils.

    • Shaker Shaker on Sep 01, 2015

      It may speak to their dogged adherence (even if it's flawed) to their own rating system that it "broke" it by scoring over 100. This means that other cars could possibly break that barrier, but I do believe that "fun to drive" is definitely high on their list. The P85D has a unique combination of performance and quietness that no ICE car could ever match - akin to getting launched on one of those "linear motor" roller coasters. They do like their performance cars a bit too much, but probably (like all car nuts), it beats the heck out of testing the "Camry" competition.

  • Mechaman Mechaman on Sep 03, 2015

    Never have completely trusted CR. That being said, I consider the source of the criticism.