Welcome To The Next Generation Of Jalopnik Car Reviews

Photo Credit Mark Victor Arnold

You come to Jalopnik for squids, fireballs and tales of depraved masochism but once in awhile, we like to talk cars too. And now we’ve got a new system for shaking down everything that moves you. Get excited for the next generation of Jalopnik Reviews.

Regular readers will know Jalopnik’s been test driving cars since the days when it was a ‘zine printed in Mike Spinelli’s basement back in the late 1980s. We’ve had decidedly mixed results with all the different ways we’ve rated cars over the years, however.

You may remember the time when we had a numbered system for ranking cars, based on 10 categories with a maximum of 10 points each. That was innovative and ambitious in its goal to create a Top Gear-style leaderboard of scores that would stand for all eternity, but it felt arbitrary, and often didn’t make sense to casual readers—or longtime ones—when a great car would get a score like an 80. Then we focused on better storytelling, but that approach wasn’t as detail-oriented or as rigorous as it could have been.

This year, we’re going to do things a little differently. We’re going to rate cars on practicality and fun separately with our new system: The Daily/Driver Score.

At Jalopnik we believe driving should be fun, and that cars should be made to accomplish that goal. But reality often has different things in mind. Not every car can be a Mazda Miata and not every road will be a winding back road on a sunny day with nary a traffic cop in sight.

Most car reviews are glorified advertisements that don’t often educate you, a potential buyer (or a casual observer) in how good or bad your second-most expensive purchase in life really is. Nothing is worse than buyer’s remorse with a car. We’re aiming to fix that.

The goal with the Daily/Driver Score is to give you the stats you want, and to rank cars based on how they put a smile on your face AND get you around reliably, comfortably and safely.

For example, the beloved Mazda Miata might barely pass in “Daily” but get flying colors in “Driver.” A Honda CR-V would probably be the opposite. And a practical fun car like a Subaru WRX might do well in both.

Expect a little something like this:

The idea is that The Daily/Driver Score will help us squeeze some more nuance out of reviews without making them too complex, and perhaps even help us appreciate a broader range of automobilia.

As with the numbered reviews, we intend to be the toughest critics around. No new car will get a glowing review just because the junket shrimp was great. If something’s bad, we’ll tell you. If it rules, you’ll know that too. An A+, as well as a total failing F, will be hard to earn.

Our reviews will come in five flavors. We’ve been playing with some of them already, but expect these formats to be the way forward for us from now on.

  1. First Drives will be early impressions from a day behind the wheel, helm or handlebars. We’ll talk about fancy new features, deliver a tentative verdict and identify what we want to look at more closely later.
  2. Jalopnik Reviews will go further in-depth and get to know a machine more completely. We’ll seal our assessment with some finality and a Daily/Driver Score.
  3. Not-New Reviews will be the same kind of comprehensive shakedown you’ll see in Jalopnik Reviews, but the subject will be an older car. I’m hoping to find out how some of our favorite used cars have aged, and recognize future classics. Got something interesting you want us to drive? Send us a tip.
  4. Classic Reviews will break down what it’s like to drive automotive artifacts, and get a little into the historical significance of some ancient vehicles. Again, let us know what you want to see here.
  5. Finally, Generation Gaps will be a close comparison of a new car and its immediate predecessor. We’ll try to find a pair of cars in close configurations to casually put head-to-head and find out how different the new one really feels.

So you’ve got a whole lot to look forward to, plus more video and ill-advised adventures in the mix soon.

As with much of what we do here, this is an experiment. We welcome your feedback. Let us know how we can improve with this and what we can do differently.

Buckle up. This will be fun.