What Is Total Car Score?


A brief description of TotalCarScore.com would be “an industry-wide vehicle assessment that lets new and used car shoppers quickly identify the best vehicles.” An even simpler description would be “the easiest car evaluation website you’ll ever use.” But those basic descriptions miss several unique features of Total Car Score you can’t find anywhere else. As the site’s founder I’d like to provide a more robust explanation of why I created it and what it offers every automotive consumer.


If there’s a downside to the Information Age we live in it’s one we’re all familiar with – too much information! Whether shopping for a camera, computer or car the potential requirement to sift through unending streams of web pages can stall the process before it ever gets started. I sincerely believe the future of online automotive research is not more information, but an effective aggregation of existing vehicle information. That’s exactly what Total Car Score does with today’s vast amount of automotive content. And, in addition to over a decade of car reviews and ratings, we offer a valuable free service to consumers and auto enthusiasts – a simple, streamlined tool to compare cars.


New car ratings and used car ratings from the top automotive publications are the starting points for our proprietary Total Car Scores. Like other online aggregators, Total Car Score takes the high-level ratings from the most authoritative automotive sources and converts them into a single rating scale (for data geeks, this is called “normalizing the data”). In this instance, the scale is a simple percentage number representing what the car could have scored from each authoritative source versus what it did score. Some sources use a 1-10 scale while others use bubbles, circles or stars. While unique, these rating systems can all be converted into a percentage number.

From there Total Car Score simply averages the number from all of these sources to get a vehicle’s Total Car Score. If a vehicle has ratings from only three or four sources we don’t consider its Total Car Score validated, but we will show it as a “preliminary” Total Car Score. If it has less than three ratings we won’t give it a Total Car Score at all.


While a vehicle’s “default” Total Car Score will incorporate up to nine equally-weighted automotive industry sources (if all nine are available), you can also customize a vehicle’s score based on your personal preferences. Let’s say you aren’t comfortable with a given source’s opinion, or you aren’t as concerned about the car’s safety ratings. Simply uncheck any or all of these resources and the vehicle’s score will immediately re-calculate based on your personal settings.

There’s also a Fuel Economy Factor, which represents how a vehicle’s EPA fuel efficiency compares to all of the vehicles in its category. If a car has better-than-average fuel efficiency for its segment this factor will pull the Total Car Score up. If a car is below average in fuel efficiency for its segment, the Fuel Economy Factor will pull its score down. Few cars will see more than a three or four point swing from the Fuel Economy Factor, but pay attention to the hybrid vehicles when toggling this aspect of their Total Car Score.

You can customize a vehicle’s score as many times as you want, but if you register with Total Car Score you can also create personalized settings that will stay active across the entire site. So if you never want a specific automotive publication or rating to influence your personalized Total Car Scores it never will — unless you change your personalized settings again (which you can do as often as you like).


Beyond the Total Car Score system this site offers many unique features:

Competitive Vehicle Scroll Bar – Below the price range on every vehicle page is a tool that allows you to quickly scroll through the scores of all the vehicles in a category.

Competitive Segment Lists – You can also see a dedicated list of vehicles from each segment and sort them by price, name or Total Car Score.

Photo Galleries – Total Car Score offers the internet’s best automotive photography. Check out our photo gallery to see large, high-quality photos of your favorite cars.

Scoring Report Card – At the bottom of the source scoring box (to the right of the vehicle photos) is a link to the Scoring Report Card, a page with excerpts and links directly to the same vehicle pages at each of the authoritative automotive source sites.

Additional Resources – At the bottom of each vehicle page are links to the related automotive manufacturer website, vehicle owner’s manual, car club forums and road test pages for that model.

I encourage you to try all of these features, and if you still have questions please visit our Total Car Score’s Frequently Asked Questions page.

I hope you enjoy using Total Car Score as much as I enjoyed creating it.

Karl Brauer
CEO & Editor in Chief
Total Car Score

PS: Obligatory Legalese

The overall Total Car Score or TCS for each car make and model is derived from our proprietary process, which is used to analyze, normalize and average car scores reported by our authoritative sources. As the integrity of the data and information analyzed, consolidated and reported by Total Car Score is of upmost importance to Total Car Score, I would like to reiterate that Total Car Score is operated independent of any our authoritative sources and is not affiliated with, associated, authorized, or endorsed by, or in any way officially connected to such sources. Likewise, Total Car Score does not endorse any of its sources or their affiliates. My legal team has further required that I expressly state that the company names, products and services associated with each source are the trademarks and property of such source, and is not used by Total Car Score under license or otherwise. When specified, the use of the names of the sources are used as identifiers only. Total Car Score does not necessarily publish any of the car score(s) formulated by the authoritative sources for the various makes and models. Readers who are interested in seeing such scores must access the publications of the authoritative sources directly. Total Car Score encourages it readers to obtain as much information as possible to make educated car-buying decisions.

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