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.
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.
With that in mind, off to the categories:
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:
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 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
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.”
The “fun factor” category is another one that’s somewhat subject to my opinion and based on how fun the car is to drive. One way to think about it this - if someone handed me the keys to every car I’ve reviewed, the ones with the highest fun factor score would be the ones I drive first, and the ones with the lowest fun factor score would be those I’d drive last.
The “cool factor” category is a combination of both how cool the car is and how important it is. You can think of it as “how much can a car turn heads?” and "how important is it to the car world - if you were creating a car museum, how likely would you be to include this car in it?” 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.
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 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. Only the cars with the most innovative features score very high in this category.
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,” since its equipment isn’t impressive compared to modern vehicles.
Comfort differentiates itself from features because this category is about the smoothness, the ride quality, and the luxury. The Ferrari 488, for instance, has a lot of cool features — 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 comfort. 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 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.
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.
Finally, this category considers how practical a car is to actually use. For example, the Rolls Royce Phantom has good cargo room, but wouldn’t be something you’d drive everywhere — it’s huge and attracts massive amounts of attention.
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.