For a limited time (until November 7) Consumer's Reports is making available automotive gas mileage data. The report is very important to all consumers as it details how through the inflation of EPA gas mileage data they may be duped into spending much more to drive their new cars than they thought.
As good as the report is there are several things that are discouraging about the report and the Consumer's Reports website. The sidebar at the end of the print article instructs readers that from September 7 through November 2 they can visit the website for more information, including the comparison of Consumer's Reports' results with the EPA results for 303 cars. "Click on Autos, then select 'Fuel Economy,'" the instructions read. Visiting Consumer's Reports online the directions prove difficult. The word "Autos" does not appear once on the front page. "Cars" is prevalent and "vehicles" is present but not a single auto, autos or automobile appears in the text of the page. Failing to find "Autos" readers will likely venture to the "Cars" section.
Once there they are greeted with several bold options at the top of the page. None of them, including the "Fuel efficient" link at the top will take you to the article and promised additional listings. Several of the links will take you to pages to purchase other products from Consumer's Reports. Other pages will take online readers to the likes of this article that asks "Are "employee discounts" a good deal?" but fails to answer the question until readers click through advertisement filled pages. Back to the task at hand if one looks hard enough, down under the Buying a new car section in little print is the "Fuel economy" link.
Click through an ad filled page (providing you figure out the odd left-hand navigation scheme) and you're nearing paydirt. The list is broken up into several (ad-filled) pages by "model". Or at least that is what the side says. Interested in what the Volkswagen Passat results were I clicked on the page for models that begin with the letters N through S. Once there it became obvious that Consumer's Reports meant to say that it's makes N through S instead of models.
While the peculiarities of the Consumer's Reports site are annoying the most jarring feature is the repeated attempts to sucker consumers into subscribing. Articles are broken into several pages, as is not uncommon with many newspaper and magazine sites. However the reader reaches the end of the page and is greeted with a message urging them to subscribe where other publications place the link to the next part of the article. Consumer's Reports should take the high ground in making sure their site is clear and that users are not suckered into subscribing to access content that is available for free.