Welcome to the DougScore!

It recently occurred to me that some of you people, certainly my craziest viewers and readers, actually pay attention to my opinion when it comes to purchasing automobiles. This is especially surprising to me, personally, because my friends don’t even trust my opinion when it comes to buying toothpaste.

Nonetheless, as I’ve met more people on the street, at meetups, at dealerships, and at cars and coffees around the country who have told me they’ve made car buying decisions based on my opinions and recommendations, I’ve realized I need a more comprehensive way to communicate my opinions about the cars I drive — and that realization has led me to the introduction of the DougScore.

Yes, that’s right, the DougScore: a new rating system that I’ll tack on to the end of my videos, in order to give you a better idea of exactly what I think of each car — beyond simply “this thing is really cool,” or “this thing is pretty stupid,” or “this thing is so bad it’s almost a Hummer H2.” With the DougScore, I’ll actually quantify what I think of each car I review, in virtually every video I make — and this will give you one more item you can use to argue with me.

If you’re worried about this change, don’t be: I’m not changing anything else in my videos. I’m still going to point out all the quirks. I’m still going to drive the car. I’m still going to laugh at huge panel gaps. I’m just going to add a little section at the end of each video where I give the car a the DougScore. There might be music. There will certainly be a graphic. Skip it, if you want.

So how does the DougScore work? There are 10 separate categories, and they’re each judged on a scale of 1 through 10 — with “1” being the worst, and “10” being the best, meaning the highest possible DougScore is 100. The ten categories are split into two separate groups: “Weekend” and “Daily.” The “Weekend” categories measure a car’s appeal to enthusiasts; in other words, how much fun it would be to drive on the weekend. The “Daily” categories meanwhile, focus on a car’s livability and practicality.

Each car is judged against all other cars, and not only its segment. That’s an important point, because it means these categories aren’t relative, but rather absolute: the car with the very highest DougScore is the best overall car I’ve ever driven, and the car with the lowest is the worst. The car with the highest “Weekend” score is the best enthusiast car I’ve driven; the car with the highest “Daily” score is the most practical and livable car I’ve driven.

And yes, this means I’ll be comparing a Hummer H2 to a Ferrari 488; a Trabant to a Lamborghini Huracan. The H2 will probably beat the others for practicality. The 488 and Huracan will win for everything else. The Trabant will simply lose.

One thing to note: since I primarily review performance cars and special cars — and since my personal opinion is that performance cars and special cars are the best cars — the DougScore is designed to be geared towards exciting cars. For instance: if a car does 0-to-60 in over 7 seconds, it gets a “1” for acceleration. That’s a reasonable time for a minivan, but I’m judging enthusiast cars — so most “normal” cars would likely end up with a low score in acceleration, and most of the other “Weekend” categories.

With that in mind, off to the categories:

WEEKEND

There are five “Weekend” categories, and five “Daily” categories. The weekend categories focus on the car’s appeal to enthusiasts; in other words — How much would you want to drive the car for fun, on the weekend? The categories are:

Styling 

This one’s easy: How does the car look? If it’s tremendously ugly, like a Ssangyong Rodius, it gets a “1.” If it’s just very ugly, like a Pontiac Aztek, it gets a 2. Somewhat ugly cars (cough, Honda Civic Type R, cough) get a 3, while slightly less-than-attractive cars earn a 4. An average car earns a 5, while slightly nice looking cars — the BMW 340i, for instance — earns a 6. Numbers 7 through 10 are reserved for the very most beautiful cars, with “10” taken only by the best — the Jaguar E-Types and Mercedes 300SL Gullwings of the world.

Yes, styling is subjective — in fact, it’s probably the most subjective item on this list. If you disagree with my assessment, create your own rating system. If your name is Keith, you can call it the KeithScore. I won’t sue.

Acceleration 

Acceleration will be scored objectively, using published 0-to-60 times, in the following way:

  • Under 3 seconds: 10 points
  • 3.0 to 3.5 seconds: 9 points
  • 3.6 to 4 seconds: 8 points
  • 4.1 to 4.5 seconds: 7 points
  • 4.6 to 5 seconds: 6 points
  • 5.1 to 5.5 seconds: 5 points
  • 5.6 to 6 seconds: 4 points
  • 6.1 to 6.5 seconds: 3 points
  • 6.6 to 7 seconds: 2 points
  • 7.1 seconds and up: 1 point

Handling

As you might expect, the best cars will earn a 10, while the worst car will earn a 1. A “1” in handling will be reserved for cars that actually feel dangerous to drive — the Trabants of this world. Unsecure, floaty, vague cars (the Yugo, for instance), would earn a “2,” while even a modern big SUV deserves a 3 — since at least they feel relatively secure. A fairly standard family car would earn a 5, while performance cars will duke it out for the top numbers. If I were to make assessments right now, I’d say the Lamborghini Huracan gets a “10,” the Shelby GT350R gets a “9,” the Ferrari California T earns an “8,” and the Honda Civic Type R would get a “7.”

Cool Factor

The “cool factor” category is another one that’s somewhat subject to my opinion — and you can think of it, put another way, as “How much can a car turn heads?” But it isn’t all about how much the car appeals to the masses — it’s also designed to reward cars that would turn enthusiast heads at cars and coffee. The cars that earn 10 points here attract both the masses and the enthusiasts (think Jaguar XJ220 or the Bugatti Veyron), while the cars with lower scores would be everyday rides like the Toyota Corolla and Honda Pilot.

Importance 

“Importance” is defined as exactly how important a car is to the car world — or to the enthusiast world. While it may seem, at first glance, like “Importance” is a repeat of “Cool factor,” consider it like this: a Ferrari 488 has a high cool factor — probably a 5, at least — but a run-of-the-mill Ferrari isn’t all that important in the long run. However, an original Volkswagen Beetle won’t really turn heads — but it’s a highly important car in the history of the automobile industry.

Think of importance this way: if you were creating a car museum, how likely would you be to include this car in it? You’d surely include seminal vehicles like the Ford Model T and Ferrari F40 (10s); you’d almost certainly also want icons like the Ford GT and the original Mini (9s). tle won’t really turn heads — but it’s a highly significant car in the history of the automobile industry. Cars that earn low scores here are popular with rental fleets — the Jeep Patriot and the Hyundai Accent, for instance.

DAILY

Just like there were five “Weekend” categories, there are five “Daily” categories — each examining how livable, practical, and financially sensible the car would be to own. Think of the daily categories as answering the question: How much would you want to drive the car every day?

Features and Equipment 

Features and equipment is, once again, rather subjective. You could measure it objectively, but it would be a nightmarish process that involves assigning a value to every feature and trying to figure out whether each car offers it. Instead, I’ll have a look around each car and decide just how well equipped it is; cars with especially cool trick features (like the “days of parking” indicator in the McLaren 570S) will gain a slight edge.

As you might expect, this category will hurt cars like the Porsche 911 GT3RS and the new Ford GT, which have stripped-down, track-focused interiors — and so it goes in the “Daily” group. Additionally, this category will hurt older cars without modern amenities, as I’m judging them by the standards of today, rather than the standard of their time. For instance, the 1990s Rolls-Royce Silver Spur I drove would likely only earn a “4” or “5” in “Features and Equipment,” since its equipment isn’t impressive compared to modern vehicles.

Luxury

Luxury differentiates itself from features and equipment, because this category is about the smoothness, the ride quality, and the comfort. The Ferrari 488, for instance, has a lot of cool features and equipment — so it would probably earn a “7” in that category. But it isn’t very luxurious, as it’s loud, its ride is harsh, and visibility is mediocre, so it’s probably a candidate for a “4” or a “5” when it comes to luxury. The big winners in this category will be cars like the Rolls-Royce Wraith, the Bentley Mulsanne, and the latest crop of luxury SUVs.

Quality 

Quality is an important category for people who are actually interested in buying each car, and I’m going to think about quality in a few ways. The biggest is the actual quality of the items in and around the car: Does everything feel nice? Has the car cut corners in any obvious areas? Are there any rattles or shakes where there shouldn’t be?

These items will give high-end cars an advantage, but then there’s the other part of quality: reliability. A car like the McLaren 570S might have a high-quality interior, likely worthy of a “10” in this category, but will the mechanicals and electronics last? Even the mere perception of unreliability can drop a car’s score here, since we won’t know reliability figures for each vehicle — I’ll just have to guess based on what I think, what I hear, and what I’ve experienced. 

Practicality 

Like acceleration, practicality will mainly be based on an objective standard that primarily considers cubic feet of cargo volume. It’ll go like this:

  • 0 to 3 cubic feet: 1
  • 3.1 to 6.5 cubic feet: 2
  • 6.6 to 11 cubic feet: 3
  • 11.1 to 16 cubic feet: 4
  • 16.1 to 24 cubic feet: 5
  • 24.1 to 34 cubic feet: 6
  • 34.1 to 48 cubic feet: 7
  • 48.1 to 64 cubic feet: 8
  • 64.1 to 72 cubic feet: 9
  • 72.1 cubic feet and up: 10

With that said, some cars may jump ahead of their “cubic feet” class with a few tricks. For example, the Porsche 911 only has 4.7 cubic feet of cargo space, which would give it a “2” — but it has back seats and a lot of little interior storage pockets. That’s probably enough to get it up to the “3” category, even if it doesn’t have the storage volume of some of its “3” peers.

Additionally, “practicality” will be the category that considers fuel economy. While the Mercedes GL63 AMG’s massive 93.8 cubic feet of cargo space easily earn it a “10” in this category, its combined 14 miles per gallon would drop that figure right down to a “9” — especially since many other vehicles offer similar cargo space without the massive penalty in fuel economy. 

Value

Finally, I’m going to try to assign a number for “value” — in other words, whether the car is worth its current market value. Value might just be the most difficult number in this entire group to assess, as it factors in all of the above categories — but it’s also among the most important, as it’s the only category that really considers the car’s price. Yes, a half-million-dollar car can be a good value — if it excels at what it does, and if it won’t radically depreciate. By the same token, a $20,000 car can be a poor value if it’s unreliable, low on equipment, and deficient compared to rivals.

Now that you know how the categories work, you can watch my first review — complete with the DougScore, tacked on to the last couple of minutes. I felt it would only be right that the first car ever to be DougScored would be my own car: my rapidly aging, increasingly worthless 2006 Range Rover, which will soon be replaced with something newer and better. This gives you a chance to see the DougScore concept in action before I apply it to any actual automobiles that you might purchase — since I hope you’ve learned, through my experiences, that you shouldn’t buy a 12-year-old Range Rover.

One other note on the DougScore: I may make slight alterations, here and there, after I’ve published a car review. For instance: a car may debut with an impressive level of features and equipment, only to soon be outclassed as the car industry moves along and adds even more cool items — which could result in a lower score for that car. I also suspect I’ll give “DougScore” awards at the end of the year, and then wipe the slate clean with ever-changing definitions each year, as cars continue to get faster and more advanced.

Enjoy the DougScore. Argue about the DougScore. Insist the DougScore is wrong. Use the DougScore as a metric to buy your cars. Use the DougScore as a metric to gauge my idiocy. Completely ignore the DougScore, if you want. Get tired of typing “DougScore.” But regardless of what you do, it’s here — and it’s going to give you a more complete picture of my thoughts about each car.