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CarAdvice’s team of experts derives its knowledge base from years of experience in the automotive industry and driving hundreds of new cars every year.

We cover hundreds of thousands of kilometres in the process and we never get bored doing it.
Each member of CarAdvice’s road-test team ultimately sets out to discover whether a car performs according to its intended function and, equally crucially, establish how it compares with the other benchmark cars in its particular vehicle segment.

Here’s a guide to all of the vehicle areas CarAdvice assesses:

Our overall rating for a vehicle, based on though not an average of scores for the following key areas of assessment.

How much does the car cost and is it priced competitively in its respective segment? How long is the warranty and what is the car’s predicted depreciation (the biggest running cost)? What equipment is standard and what features are available for extra cost? Are those optional features reasonably priced? Features taken into account include active and passive safety features, such as airbags, stability control and hazard warning technology such as blind spot or lane departure systems.

This area covers every aspect of how a vehicle performs on the road. Does the suspension provide the right balance between ride comfort and dynamic handling? Does tyre roar or wind noise intrude into the cabin? Does the engine provide sufficient performance/acceleration and is it refined? Is it teamed effectively with the manual or automatic gearbox? Is the vehicle’s fuel efficiency acceptable for its intended purpose? (For example, a sports car would be expected to use more fuel than a city car.) Does the vehicle bring anything new in terms of engine or car technology?

How well are the driver and passengers accommodated? Are all seats comfortable? Is there a good driving position with plenty of seat adjustment and good all-round vision? How many storage options are offered? How much boot space and overall cargo capacity is available? How good is the general interior flexibility in terms of folding seats, etc, to make space for passengers and luggage?

Styling may be subjective but we will still offer our opinion on a car’s exterior and interior design, while a more objective approach to this area assesses design strengths or flaws such as ergonomics, quality of materials used, and overall build quality.

This rating is based on the scores provided by independent crash-test body NCAP (New Car Assessment Program: www.euroncap.com). NCAP, both in Europe and Australia, does what we can’t afford to do take a new car and expose it to a series of different crash tests to ascertain its effectiveness in protecting its occupants (both adults and children), as well as pedestrians. It also marks vehicles for the inclusion or availability of advanced safety technologies.

A star rating (also out of five) that is calculated by the federal government’s Green Vehicle Guide website www.greenvehicleguide.gov.au to determine how environmentally friendly it is. The rating is based on a vehicle’s air pollution emissions.