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Build & Buy
Car Buying Service
Car Buying
Should Be Hassle-Free
Between 7/1/15 and 9/30/15, the average estimated savings off MSRP pres
ented by TrueCar Certied Dealers to users of the Build & Buy Car Buying Servi
ce, based on users who congured virtual vehicles and who TrueCar identi
ed as
purchasing a new vehicle of the same make and model listed on the certicate fr
om Certied Dealers as of 10/31/2015, was $2,954, including applicabl
e vehicle specic manufacturer incentives. Your actual savings may va
ry based on
multiple factors including the vehicle you select, region, dealer, an
d applicable vehicle specic manufacturer incentives which
are subject to change. The Manufacturers Suggested Reta
Buyers have
saved an average of
2,954
off MSRP
Nationwide
Is There
a Cure for High
Drug Prices?
Three in 10 Americans were hit
with prescription medication
price hikes within a single year.
Learn strategies to lower your
own bill and what can be done to
improve the system.
Kitchen Makeovers
Made Easy
Dont redo your kitchen until you
read our savvy guide to help
you select the best performing
appliances and materials,
RATINGS
P. 40
Every year, millions of students start college, eager
The Center for Investigative Reporting examine the
forces behind this crisis. Plus, nancial questions
for parents to discuss with college-bound kids.
CONTENTS
August 2016, Vol. 81 No. 8
P. 28
SAUL NEWTON, 28,
MILWAUKEE
P. 52
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
PHOTO: PETER van AGTMAELMAGNUM PHOTOS
ABOUT CONSUMER REPORTS
We are the worlds largest independent, nonprofit, consumer-
product- testing organization, based in Yonkers, N.Y. We survey millions of consumers about their
experiences with products and services. We pay for all of the products we rate. We dont accept
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or content to be used for any promotional purposes.
HOW TO REACH US
Write to us at Consumer Reports, 101 Truman Ave., Yonkers, NY 10703-1057,
Attn: Customer Service.
Excellent
Very Good
Fair
Poor
IN EVERY ISSUE
From the President:
The Long Shadow of Education Debt
Why student debt imperils so many
familiesand our economy.
Your Feedback
Readers comments about our content,
in email and social media.
Watch Our Stories Leap O the Page
Follow the instructions to access videos,
behind-the-scenes peeks, and more.
Building a Better World, Together
Combating sky-high college debt, cable
box charges, and surprise medical bills.
27
Recalls
70
Index
A years worth of products.
71
Selling It
Goofs and gaes.
INSIGHTS
PRODUCT UPDATES
A Head Start on Safety
RATINGS
25
Will These Shirts Protect You
From Zika?
RATINGS
61
The Three Seconds That Save Lives
At least 25 million Americans dont wear
seat belts, even though it means theyre
twice as likely to die in a car crash. Why
everyone.
67
High Marks for Hybrids
At 52 mpg, the latest Prius redesign
scores the highest miles per gallon of any
RATINGS
ROAD REPORT
P. 20
The Cold, Hard Truth
Vegan ice creams are showing up on
FROM THE PRESIDENT
  \n  \r
has always
been seen as a dependable path to
a more secure futurea sound
investment that creates opportunity,
lifts up communities, and pays
dividends for generations to come.
Today, however, the specter of
debt casts a shadow over that
conventional wisdom, threatening
the promise of education for
American families and imperiling
our long-term economic prospects.
Borrowers in the class of 2016 just
graduated from college weighted
down with record debt averaging
about $37,000 per student; some
42million Americans now carry
$1.3trillion in education debt
collectively. Its a burden with a
severe ripple eect: Consumer
Reports has found that those saddled
with debt frequently delay buying a
home, put o saving for retirement,
and are otherwise held back from
planning for their future. Perhaps
worst of all, 45 percent of the
Americans with student-loan debt
we surveyed reported that the
higher education they pursued
was not worth the costs it carried
a devastating statistic on both a
personal and a societal level.
This month were shedding light
on how we got here by asking hard
questions about what needs to be
The Long
Shadow of
Education
Debt
done in the marketplace to
restore the promise of post-high-
school education for all families.
In the following pages youll nd
expert advice on how to avoid
buyers remorse, including
guidance on federal and private
nancial aid, a breakdown of
how to manage and diminish the
impact of student debt, and
responses to your most urgent
concerns about how you or your
family members can earn an
education without sacricing
nancial security down the road.
As tuitions and nancial aid
terms continue to spiral out of
control, well also be looking at
how to bring sanity and responsi-
bility back to the lending markets
you depend on so that education
can remain the path to oppor-
tunity it was always meant to be.
The profiles of students
in our cover story, Lives
on Hold, starting on page 28, were taken by award-
winning photographer Peter van Agtmael, who
specializes in portraiture of people confronting
diicult circumstances. He has been embedded with
American troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and has
covered the Israel-Palestine conflict. Van Agtmael has
a history degree from Yale University and considers
his broader subject to be the nature of American
power and identity, as well as issues of race and class.
His book, Disco Night Sept 11 (Red Hook Editions,
2014), about post-9/11 America, was named a Book of
the Year by Time magazine and Mother Jones. About
our cover package, he says, I was struck by the
students lack of bitterness, and their commitment to
holding fast to their dreams and leading a success-
ful life despite the constant burden of paying o the
loans. Go to
ConsumerReports.org/studentdebt
for more of his photos of students.
ABOUT
THE COVER
Marta L. Tellado,
President and CEO
Follow me on Twitter
@MLTellado
President and CEO
Marta L. Tellado
Senior Vice President,
Brand & Strategy
Leonora Wiener
Diane Salvatore
Executive Editor
Kevin Doyle
Design Director
Matthew Lenning
Associate Design Director
Mike Smith
Art Directors
Tammy Morton Fernandez, Janice Hogan,
Ewelina Mrowiec, Lisa Slater, Tracy Stora, Joseph Ulatowski
Emilie Harjes, Karen Shinbaum
YOUR FEEDBACK
Sharing the Pain
The comprehensive package of stories on Pain
Relief Now in our June issue covered everything
from the current state of analgesic options to
how to prevent the most common pain problems
Go to
ConsumerReports.org/
to share your
comments for publication.
cars are only half-implemented. You think
its bad now with people texting?
Charlie Vono, Ogden, UT
\r \n  autonomous cars was very
informative. It cited the number of people killed
each year in car crashes and that the probable
cause was drivers error. But no statistics count
the number of accidents drivers avoid yearly.
Considering the millions of cars on the highways
every day, the number of fatal accidents is
remarkably low. I have witnessed, in high-
speed LA tra
c, an accident happen and the
reactions taken by the other drivers to avoid
further carnage, and am amazed how they did
avoid more accidents. The human brain has
over a billion neurons and over a trillion poten-
tial pathways for information to 
ow through;
computers cant even come close. Driving is a
BUYING
SHOP
WATCH
WRITE
Co
ee Classic
   of cold-brew coffee (Cold Brew
for Hot Days, June 2016), I was surprised to
see that you left out one of the cheapest and
BUILDING A BETTER WORLD, TOGETHER
TACKLING
STUDENT DEBT
A \r   ,
we
envision a day when every
American can get an aordable
college education and con-
tribute to society unburdened
by the pressure of excessive
debt. As part of our mission to
help build a fairer, safer, and
healthier marketplace, well be
tackling the problem of student
debtstarting with this months
cover package, which begins
on page 28and working with
you to nd solutions.
Right now, borrowing money
for higher education is increas-
ingly dicult for people to
avoid because of rising college
costs and declining household
incomes. About 42million
Americans owe $1.3trillion in
education debt. Interest is often
xed at high rates, and student
debt, unlike other loans, can
be dicult to renance. And
federal loans that are renanced
lose important consumer
protections, such as exible
repayment plans. Compound-
ing the problem is the fact that
borrowers making repayments
usually work with third-party
loan servicers, which are not
subject to consistent, industry-
wide standards, leaving them
little recourse if theyre treated
badly. Its a market without
sucient competition, trans-
parency, or accountability.
To address this broken sys-
tem, well focus our attention
on making the nancial aid
process in this country easier
to navigate as well as changing
how student loans are serviced.
That includes working closely
with key government agencies
to introduce reform and put-
ting our investigative muscle
behind articles that inform
and protect. We wantand
welcomeyour feedback. Go
ConsumerReports.org/
studentdebt
to learn more.
SOUND OFF ON
CABLE COSTS
I\r  M\n ,
we discussed
our ght against the high cost
of set-top cable boxes, which
99 percent of the countrys
53 million pay-TV customers
are forced to lease. A lack of
competition has enabled cable
companies to charge consum-
ers whatever they please. The
collective cost of those rental
fees is $20 billion each year.
The Federal Communications
Commission is nalizing a plan
that will open the market to
competition, innovation, and
more aordable options. But
cable providers like Comcast
and Verizon arent giving up
cable-box prots quietly.
The industry is pressuring
Congress to help kill the FCC plan
and recently handed the agency
more than 100,000signatures
Unlockthe-
Box.com/ConsumerReports
and tell the FCC that youre
tired of paying big bucks for a
box you dont want or didnt
get to choose.
END SURPRISE
MEDICAL BILLS
   \n 
orga-
nizers and our policy advo-
cates, Consumer Reports has
been working to close loop-
holes that result in patients be-
ing ambushed by big bills from
out-of-
network specialists and
labs that contract with their
in-network hospitals.
Our ght has sparked a
national conversation largely
driven by thousands of
consumers who have shared
their stories about surprise
billing with us. Like Claudia
Knafo from New York City, who
was featured in a recent NBC
Nightly News segment that
discussed the $100,000 bill she
received following spine surgery
that she was told would be cov-
ered by insurance. After hiring
a lawyer, her insurer eventually
dropped the charge.
Those stories are helping
us move the needle to protect
consumers. Floridas governor,
Rick Scott (R), recently signed
into law one of the nations most
comprehensive bills to ensure
that consumers in emergency
and nonemergency situations
wont be responsible for out-of-
network rates if they dont have
an opportunity to be treated by
a participating provider. We gen-
erated calls, email, and social-
media outreach to lawmakers to
help get the bill passed. Go to
EndSurpriseMedicalBills.org
to share your story.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
ILLUSTRATION BY JOHN RITTER
NOTABLE NEWS & SMART SOLUTIONS
FOOD STYLING: BRIAN PRESTONCAMPBELL
\r \r\n
frozen desserts
arent newthink of Tofutti
Cuties. But almost 45percent
of consumers say they buy
so-called vegan frozen treats
more often today than they
used to, according to the
market research rm Mintel.
And about 25percent think
they have fewer calories or less
fat or sugar than ice cream.
For the rst time, an iconic
ice cream maker has taken
a walk on the vegan side. Ben
& Jerrys now has four non-
dairy avors, including vegan
versions of their popular
ice creams Chunky Monkey
and Choco-
late Fudge
Brownie.
All contain
almond milk;
coconut oil
and pea protein
add texture and
replace some
of the fat and
protein in milk.
In a blind tast-
ing, our testers
judged the four
avors to be good in
overall quality. P.B. &
Cookies and Coee
Caramel Fudge were
the better
of the four.
The vegan
avors of the
ice creams
were inferior
to the originals.
Chunky Monkey
ice cream had
genuine banana
avor and high-
quality chocolate
chunks, but the
banana avor in the
vegan version tasted
articial and the choc-
olate was a bit chalky.
And instead of being
creamy with fudgey brownie
pieces, vegan Chocolate Fudge
Brownie was gummy, and the
brownie was slightly dry.
Nor do the vegan versions
have a much improved nutri-
tional prole. Nondairy Chunky
Monkey has 260calories,
14grams of fat, and 8grams
of saturated fat per half-cup,
only a bit better than the
ice creams 300calories,
18grams of fat, and 10grams
of saturated fat. Both have
about 6teaspoons of sugars.
Plus theres 8percent less
calcium and half the protein
in the nondairy dessert.
The Cold,
Hard Truth
Do new vegan frozen
desserts bring you ice cream
delight without the dairy?
by Trisha Calvo
COOL WITHOUT
THE COW
Nut milks, such as
almond, or soy
milk serve as the
base for many
vegan ice creams.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS ZAREBINSKI
\r \n 
June sky in
1979, at the height of the nations
enery crisis, President Jimmy
Carter stood on the roof of the
White House to dedicate solar
panels installed there to heat
water for the sta kitchen. That
powerful gesture, which gave
America a taste of its clean-
enery future, was as symbolic
as it was historic: At the time,
converting a typical American
house to solar power was
extremely rare and cost roughly
half as much as the house itself.
A lot has changed in the in-
tervening 37years: Solar costs
have dropped so much that to-
day its possible to generate all
or most of a homes electricity
for decades to comefor about
the purchase price of a new
economy car. Solar installations
have increased dramatically.
And President Obama has
installed new panels on the
White House roof.
There has probably never
been a better time to switch to
solar. Thirty-one states and the
District of Columbia have regu-
lations that are solar-friendly
enough (and electricity rates
high enough) to make residential
solar nancially attractive (see
map, on facing page), and last
December Congress extended
through 2021 the generous fed-
eral tax credits on solar projects
Shedding
Light on
Solar Power
With the price of panels and installation falling
and an extension of the federal tax credit,
now is a good time to consider switching to solar
by Josh Garskof
that had been set to expire at
the end of this year. Residential
solar installations increased
almost 60percent between 2014
and 2015, and in 2015 America
averaged one new residential
solar installation about every
100seconds.
Those who want to wait
on the sidelines for further
price reductions could be
disappointed: The cost of solar
panels has started to plateau
and, while installation labor
and other soft costs continue
to fall, the phasing out of state
tax incentives and utility
rebates and grants has largely
oset those savings. Adding an
element of urgency to the equa-
tion are proposals in a number
of states that would radically
shrink the utility-bill savings
of switching to solar power
(see How Utilities Are Fighting
Back, on page 14). Because,
generally speaking, existing
solar customers havent been
subject to those changes, get-
ting your deal done before new
regulations are implemented
could save you hundreds of
dollars each year.
Though going solar has never
been easier or more aordable,
the process is not without its
potential pitfalls. For instance,
most homeowners who switch
to solar power are pocketing
Homes with solar power remain
connected to the grid, drawing
power from it at night (and during
cloudy weather) and feeding any
surplus electricity to it during the
day. The goal is to create a system
that produces as much energy
as you use, for net-zero electrical
consumption.
THE GRID
Unlike a standard electric meter, this can run in reverse. You
are charged for the power you draw from the grid at night and
on cloudy days, but then the meter spins backward to credit
you for the power contributed to the grid when the sun is high.
NET METER
A look at how todays
residential solar systems generate
enough power to meet
all or most of a households
electricity needs
Converts the DC current
generated by the solar
panels into AC current,
which is then fed to the
homes existing electrical
service panel so that it
can be used to power
household appliances
INVERTER
 AUGUST 2016 
ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHRIS PHILPOT
INSIGHTS
Residential solar power can have a bigger
payo for homeowners in 31states and the
District of Columbia (highlighted in white).
Sunlight hits solar
panels, freeing electrons
in the semiconductor
material in their cells.
That process generates
direct current (DC)
electricity.
PANELS
Solar panels work
best with little or no
shade, in any climate.
Any roof shape or
material will work.
South-facing or flat
are best, but east-
or west-facing can
work, too, particularly
in very sunny areas.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
just a fraction of what they could
be saving because they choose
to lease their panels rather than
to buy them (see Sunny Money:
The Real Cost of Leasing vs.
Buying, on the facing page).
This package will walk you
through smart steps of going
solar from start to nish, to
help you steer clear of common
mistakes and increase the
chances that your solar future
will be a bright one.
What Makes Solar Sense
Determining whether solar is
a smart move involves more
than checking out how much
sun your roof gets each day.
You also need to consider the
cost of electricity in your area
and any local tax incentives.
The instant estimate tool
(enerysage.com/solar/calcula-
tor) at the EnerySage website
uses aerial photos of your
house to analyze your roof
and taps into databases to
predict whether solar would
save you moneyand about
how much. The site, which
received funding from the
Department of Enery, also
provides installation quotes
from local installers. Other
steps youll need to take:

Choose an installer.
53,868
48,420
101112131415
83,974
136,235
190,086
302,710
Annual U.S.
Residential
Solar PV
Installations
Source: Solar Energy Industries Association/GTM Research
Cash
Buying your solar
electric system out-
right is best. It usually
costs $15,000 to
$20,000 after tax
credits and can
reduce your electricity
bill by 70to 100per-
cent, depending on the
size and orientation
of your roof and local
regulations. Most
systems pay for
themselves in fiveto
sevenyears.
Home Equity Loan
If you need to finance
your solar panel
purchase, the most
cost-eective way to
do it is to use a home
equity loan or a home
equity line of credit.
Because your house
serves as collateral,
these options have
low interest rates
(currently about 3
The steep up-front
costs for a residential
solar system can
make a leasing
companys sales
pitch sound pretty
appealing: Pay little
or nothing and save
hundreds of dollars
per year on average.
(The premise is that
you save because
the combination of
your lease payment
and your electric
bill is less than what
you currently pay
for power.) Leasing
can also look seduc-
tively simple com-
pared with buying:
Theres no need
to shop separately
for an installer and
financing; you just
sign on the dotted
line. So its not
surprising that
72percent of the
people who installed
SUNNY MONEY:
THE REAL COST OF LEASING VS. BUYING
Buying solar panels requires an investment
and more decision-making than leasing,
but over the long term the benets of owning
your system are hard to beat
your savings could
evaporate.
You Lose Control
of Your Roof
Leasing companies
want to maximize their
profit, so theres a
chance you could wind
up with more panels
than you want and that
they could be installed
in highly visible places
without any regard to
appearancesuch as
facing the street. To
avoid that, check the
final system design
and placement before
signing the lease. It
could be dierent from
the initial mock-up.
Leases Can Scare
O Home Buyers
If you put your house
on the market before
the lease is up (usu-
ally 20years), you will
either have to buy out
the lease or the person
purchasing your home
will have to assume
itwhich some are
reluctant to do.
Thats what hap-
pened to Andrew and
Nora Barber, who had
to buy out the lease
on the solar system
on their Clovis, Calif.,
home after two pro-
spective buyers were
frightened away by
it. I oered the solar
company $16,000,
which was the total
of all the payments
for the remainder of
the contract, Andrew
says. But $21,000
was the buyout
price in the contract,
and the company
wouldnt budge.
Some solar leasing
companies may
oer to relocate their
systems from one
house to another.
That could cost
$500 for an initial
audit and another
$500 to transfer the
panels, if the leasing
company determines
it can be done. You
would also need
approval from your
utility and local land-
marks commission
or the condo or home-
owners association,
if applicable. Plus the
new house must be
able to accommodate
the system.
And remember:
At the end of the
lease, the solar
company could
remove the system
and your savings
along with it.
Service Plans
Dont Serve You
Though leasing
companies tout their
service plans, mainte-
nance is a red herring.
Generally, theres
really no scenario
where the mainte-
nance plan is going
to kick in, Michigan
Techs Pearce says.
Equipment problems
arent covered by the
maintenance plan,
theyre covered by
the warranty. And if a
storm destroys your
panels, the damage
may be covered by
your homeowners
insurance.
Thats why
whether you buy or
leaseits essential
that you inform
your insurer. (Roof-
mounted solar is
generally added as
part of a standard
homeowners policy
at no additional cost;
ground-mounted solar
may require an insur-
ance rider.)
to 5percent). The
interest you pay is
tax deductible. Equity
loans range from 5 to
20years and usually
have fixed interest
rates. Equity lines last
10years and have
variable rates (so the
interest may increase).
Solar Loan
There are unsecured
and secured solar
loans. With an unse-
cured loan, your house
doesnt act as collateral
and the interest isnt
tax deductible. Many
solar installers work
with lenders that
oer solar loans, but
youll probably find
better rates by directly
checking with banks,
and credit unions.
Watch out for high
origination fees.
Fannie Mae also oers
consumers financ-
ing for solar system
installations through
its HomeStyle Energy
Mortgage Program
when they buy a new
house or refinance.
BEST WAYS TO
PAY FOR
YOUR PANELS
residential solar
systems in 2014 did
so through leasing or
another type of third-
party arrangement.
But the reality is not
quite so sunny.
Your Savings
Will Be Modest
People who lease
their solar systems
save far less than
those who buy them
outright or with a
loan (they also miss
out on federal tax
benefits and any local
incentives). Many
leases contain an
escalator clause that
can further reduce
savings by increasing
payments 3percent
per year. So if youre
paying 12cents per
kilowatt-hour in year
one, with a 3percent
escalator, youll be
paying 18.2cents in
year 15. That means
that if the cost of
energy doesnt rise
as quickly as the
contracted lease
payments increase,
WHY LEASING
BRIGHT IDEA
5 yr.10 yr.15 yr.20 yr.
Up-Front Cost
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
A LOOK
AT WHAT
YOU LOSE
BY LEASING
A comparison of
how much a residential
solar system could
save a New Jersey
homeowner, depending
on whether it was
bought up front, bought
with a loan, or leased
Cash Purchase
Purchase with Loan
$0-Down Lease/PPA
Source: EnergySage
In February the leasing
giant
SolarCity closed its operations
in Nevada, laying o
more than
550 employees there. A couple
of months earlier, the Nevada
Public Utilities Commission,
which regulates the states
enery market, voted to cut by
2cents per kilowatt-hour the
credit that homeowners get for
the solar-generated electricity
their systems contribute to the
grid, with more reductions to
follow. That works out to an
average of $11,000 in lost sav-
ings for every solar customer
over their 25-year lease, says
SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive.
Worst of all, regulators applied
HOW UTILITIES ARE
FIGHTING BACK
Now that Americans are starting to see
serious savings from solar, many traditional
electricity suppliers are working furiously
to retain their pro t margins
the change retroactively to the
17,000 existing solar customers
in the state.
The Nevada decision is the
most extreme outcome yet of
a battle being waged by utilities
against the growing solar in-
dustry nationwide. In Arizona,
one utility has applied demand-
charge rates for solar custom-
ers. Its an added fee that
cant be o
set by the credits
solar customers earn for the
excess power they generate
and send to the grid. Other
Arizona utilities are proposing
demand charges.
California regulators recently
imposed a $75 to $150 one-time
INSIGHTS
connection charge for solar
customers, as well as other new
policies and fees that will cut
into the savings of California
homeowners who install solar.
An additional 30 states are
considering proposals by utili-
ties to increase 
xed charges
for all residential customers.
Those fees would be charged
to every household before the
meter even starts running and
are in addition to per-kilowatt-
hour charges.
Utilities argue that because
transmission costsfor line
maintenance, tree trimming,
and emergency crews, for in-
stancehave traditionally been
paid by the kilowatt-hour, solar
customers arent contributing
their fair share, even though
they continue to use the lines
(primarily at night). Whats
more, in order to accommodate
solar customers, utilities say
they must invest in new tech-
nologies that allow them to, for
example, scale production up
and down based on whether its
a sunny or cloudy day.
We need to make sure the
grid can sustain the two-way 
ow
of electricity as increasing num-
bers of solar customers come
online, says Je
Ostermayer,
of the Edison Electric Institute,
a trade association representing
every investor-owned electric
company in the U.S. Without
changes such as 
xed charges for
distribution and transmission,
paying lower prices for surplus
electricity generated by homes
with solar panels, or assessing
monthly demand charges to
solar customers, everyone else
subsidizes the solar customer,
he says.
But research shows that solar
customers have a positive im-
pact on utility 
nances because
they reduce electricity demand
and, therefore, the tremendous
expense of adding capacity,
says Sara Baldwin Auck, regula-
tory program director at the
Interstate Renewable Enery
Council. The vast majority of
cost-bene
t studies show a net
bene
t from solar, she says.
The independent studies show
either no e
ect, a minor one,
or a positive bene
t to utility
nances.
A February 2016 study com-
missioned by Consumers Union,
the advocacy arm of Consumer
Reports, echoed those 
ndings
and added that cost-bene
analyses done by utilities
should be viewed with skepti-
cism. The report, by research
and consulting 
rm Synapse
Enery Economics, also showed
that raising 
xed charges creates
other problemssuch as dispro-
portionately a
ecting low-
income
households and those that use
very little electricity. It also said
that because higher 
xed fees
reduce the incentive to conserve
 AUGUST 2016 
HIGHTECH:
A few ways that technoloy is making, or will soon make, solar power
easier to use and more ecientboth on your home and on the go
enery (not only through solar
projects but also eciency
upgrades of any kind), they can
drive up electrical usage, re-
quiring new power plants and
other expensive infrastructure
upgrades that raise electricity
rates for everyone.
Solar penetration would have
to reach more than 15percent
of the market before utilities
would need to make invest-
ments to alter the grid, says
Joshua Pearce, a solar expert
at the Michigan Tech Open
Sustainability Technoloy Lab.
But only about 1percent of
American homes currently gen-
erate any solar powerwhich is
over 40times the number it was
just a decade ago.
Fighting to make residential
solar power less viable for con-
sumers is actually a huge tactical
mistake for the utilities to make,
Pearce says. Were just a few
years away from aordable
batteries, whichalong with
a backup generatorwill allow
existing and new solar custom-
ers to disconnect from the grid
entirely. Which means that
some day soon, consumers
could defect from the grid en
masse. The far smarter move for
utilities would be to embrace
solar, he says. Sacramento
Municipal Utility District, for
example, helps its customers
decide whether solar would
work for them by oering an
online calculator that estimates
the size of the rooftop solar sys-
tem needed, the possible sav-
ings, and installation costs.
California recently
imposed fees that will
cut the
savings
of homeowners who
install solar.
DOUBLEDUTY TILES
Ergosun tiles can be
mixed in with concrete
or terra-cotta tiles for
a seamless look.
SOLAR SHINGLES
Apollo II solar shingles, from CertainTeed,
function as roofing and solar-power generators.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
\r   
for Adeles 2016
North American tour went on
sale on the morning of Dec.17,
most of the tens of millions
of fans who logged onto the
Ticket
master website to snag
a seat probably suspected they
were facing long odds.
What they may not have
known was why. They werent
just competing with one
another: They were also facing
a more formidable foe in the
form of ticket brokers and un-
scrupulous speculators who
would grab up most of the
300,000 or so available seats
that Billboard reported sold out
in less than an hour. After that,
SEAT PRICES
SKYROCKET
Most fans pay major
markups to ticket
resellers who use
technology to hoard
blocks of seats.
SEAT PRICE: $9,370
SEAT PRICE: $307
SEAT PRICE: $40
SEAT PRICE: $354
SEAT PRICE: $150
 AUGUST 2016 
When you buy an event ticket, the cost of the seat
is only the beginning. Added chargessome baingcan
make the price soar. Heres a look at some of them.
FEE FRENZY
Consumers
have long
complained about ticket fees
that are seemingly out-of-
proportion to the cost of
the seat itself. In February,
FACE
PRICE
Also known as the base price, its set by the team, act,
and/or venue. In general, Ticket master remits the face
value to the client, minus expenses.
SERVICE
Service fees help Ticketmaster turn a profit.
Even if you
buy a fan-to-fan resale ticket from Ticketmaster Verified
Tickets, its also subject to a fee (shared by Ticketmaster
and the client) based on the sale price of the ticket. For
a Selena Gomez concert at Chicagos United Center, the
fee was 17percent, or $84.66 for a $498 seat.
ORDER
PROCESSING
FEE
The fee varies and is shared by Ticketmaster and
its client. You can avoid it by buying tickets at a retail
outlet or box oice.
FACILITY
CHARGE
This fee is set by the venue, which receives
100percent of it.
DELIVERY
Electronic ticket delivery is usually free. Standard
delivery for paper tickets typically ranges from no
charge to around $4.50 and can take up to 14days.
Next-day delivery can cost $25. The $19.50 fee at
left is for second-day delivery. You can pick up your
tickets at the box oice or will-call free of charge.
National Consumers League,
says legitimizing the resale
market has been a win for
consumers because it has
reduced the incidence of fraud.
He acknowledges, though, that
it hasnt necessarily helped in
terms of lower ticket prices.
The best hope for consumers
outraged when they see a ticket
selling for many times its face
value, he says, is a thriving
legal resale market and federal
anti-bot legislation with teeth.
Though scalpers hid in the
shadows when reselling tickets
was illegal, today they could be
anybodyan individual with
some spare tickets, a small-time
speculator looking to make
a windfall, or a professional
ticket broker. Although not long
ago there were limits placed on
ticket markups, resellers are
now largely free to sell tickets
at whatever prices consumers
might paywhich can be quite
a lot. The average markup on
tickets oered for sale on the
secondary market was 49per-
cent above face value, though
the margins sometimes ex-
ceeded 1,000percent, the New
York probe found.
New York State lawmakers
in May renewed the current
ticket-selling law, which ex-
pires annually; new pending
legislation would stien civil
penalties and impose criminal
ones for bot usage. Meanwhile,
there are two ticketing bills
TOTAL
In this example, the fees add up to
20percent of the face value of the ticket.
$300.75
$250.00
$23.00
$4.25
$4.00
$19.50
We priced the cost of a floor-level seat at a Guns N Roses concert
this summer at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
INSIGHTS
to the general public. You
can also get passwords and
alerts to presales free of charge
at ticketcrusader.com or by
paying a small fee at presale-
passwordinfo.com. Watch for
credit card promotions, too.
American Express, Visa Sig-
nature, and MasterCard oer
some cardholders rst dibs,
preferred seats and unique
access, and discounts to vari-
ous events.

Create an account with
Ticketmaster.
You can register
to receive information on up-
coming events and ticket sales
for your favorite performers,
teams, and shows. It can also
save you precious minutes
when a sale starts by freeing
you from having to enter login
and payment information,
during which time bots and
more savvy fans can swoop in
and grab your seats. Ticket-
master also has a free iPhone
and Android app that provides
notication about every pre-
sale and breaking news about
added shows.

Consider visiting the box
Tickets purchased at the
box oce may come with fewer
fees, such as processing and
delivery charges.

Shop familiar websites.
Go only to established online
sources such as the venues of-
cial website. Be aware of look-
alike sites that fraudsters create
to sell bogus tickets.

Buy fewer seats.
tickets you want, the lower
your chances of success
especially if youre buying for
a large group and want to sit
together. Consider sitting apart
from your companions: The
odds of landing a great solo
seat are often better.
Buying from a Reseller

Stick to the major players.
In addition to StubHub and
TicketsNow, established resell-
ers include Razorgator, Vivid
Seats, and ScoreBig, which all
oer money-back guarantees
in the unlikely event a ticket
is a counterfeit. (Fake tickets
are a potentially bigger problem
if you buy from individuals on
sites such as eBay or Craigs
list.)
You can shop on individual web-
sites or use SeatGeek, a search
engine that scours dozens of re-
sale sites. When shopping, you
should also:

Compare prices at dierent
venues.
When Bruce Spring-
steen played in the NewYork
metropolitan area, seats on the
resale market were far cheaper
at the Prudential Center in
Newark, N.J., than at either
Madison Square Garden or
Barclays Center in Brooklyn,
said Will Flaherty, SeatGeeks
vice president of growth mar-
keting. When Beyonc was on
tour, the cheapest ticket to
see her at Citi Field in Queens,
N.Y., was $140, and that was
for a lousy seat. Compare that
with the cost of seeing Queen
Bey at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh
a week earlier, where tickets
on the resale market could be
had for as little as $28; $140
bought a seat close to the stage,
Flaherty said.

Remember that its all in
the timing.
SeatGeeks Fla-
herty said that no matter the
event, a better deal is likely to
emerge the longer you delay
your purchase (see Patience
Pays O, at left). Optimally,
the time to act is within
48hours of showtime, accord-
ing to SeatGeeks statistics.
Tickets are perishable goods,
Flaherty explained. On the
resale market, the price typi-
cally decreases the closer you
get to the event, though you
might lose some exibility,
like the ability to get ve seats
together.
The average markup
above face value on tickets
oered for sale on the
secondary market, according
to the New York State
attorney generals probe.
under consideration in the
U.S. House of Representatives,
which would prohibit the use
of bots and give the Federal
Trade Commission enforcement
authority. With signicant re-
form unlikely to happen soon,
how do you avoid getting gouged
the next time you want to go to
a ball game or take in a show?
Shop at the Source
The ideal way to get a good
seat at a fair price is through
the venue box oce or the
ocial ticket seller, which,
for 80percent of all live-event
seating, is Ticketmaster. These
strategies will better your
chances with both:

Take advantage of presales.
Presales allow select consumers
(such as members of a fan
club or people who carry a
certain credit card) to buy tick-
etsusually by using a special
password on the ticket sales
websitebefore theyre oered
PATIENCE PAYS OFF
To see how prices
change as an event nears, we shopped for the best-
priced tickets to two events on May 23: a Los Angeles Dodgers-Cincinnati
Reds baseball game and a Beyonc concert in Minneapolis. For the ball
game we started at the box oice, then tracked prices on the secondary
market. For the concert we looked only on resale sites because the box
oice was sold out. We shopped for one seat, in the same general loca-
tion, using seatgeek.com. Prices include all fees except for delivery.
One way to nab an aordable seat on the
resale market is to buy as late as you can
BEYONC at TCF BANK STADIUM
DODGERS vs. REDS at DODGER STADIUM
$30
$40
$40.10
$44.05
$32.72
$39.41
APRIL 29MAY 5MAY 10MAY 17MAY 20MAY 23
ScoreBigScoreBigScoreBig
anxchangeSeatGeekScoreBig
$115
$92.98
$119.32
$137.02
MAY 11MAY 16MAY 20MAY 23
anxchange
$100
Box Oice
$101.20
 AUGUST 2016 
We have more than
140 in-house experts
who research, test,
and compareso you
dont have to! Send
your questions to
ConsumerReports.
org/askourexperts
...
and watch this space
for the answers.
INSIGHTS
INSIGHTS
\n\r 
from iTunes
on Apple devices is a cinch.
Sync your iPhone, iPod, and
iPad to your computer, and
any songs youve downloaded
will appear on all of those
gadgets. You can also subscribe
to iTunes Match ($24.99 annu-
ally), which lets you download
or stream your music from
Apples iCloud server to up to
10devices.
But for the 65 percent of
Americans who use Android
phones, accessing iTunes takes
a little bit more eort.
First, download Googles
How do I keep my white
clothes white and my
black clothes black?
    
bright,
wash them separately from
dark or heavily soiled clothes,
says our textiles expert, Pat
Slaven. Use a detergent with
a bleaching agent (our top
pick from our tests is Tide
HE Plus Bleach Alternative)
or add a mild oxidizing agent
(such as OxiClean) rather than
chlorine bleach. Be sure to
use the amount of detergent
recommended on the package
for your load size. Too much
can leave a sudsy residue in
clothes; too little wont get the
job done. Detergent works best
in water thats at least 60 F.
(Choose the warm-wash setting
if youre not sure of the cold-
water temperature.) Slaven also
recommends drying whites in
direct sunlight. The sun is a
mild bleaching agent, she says,
and its free.
To keep black clothes looking
like new, wash them infrequently
(to minimize dye loss) and on
a short cycle. Turn the clothing
inside out before washing
to keep bers from breaking
ASK OUR EXPERTS
I want to switch to an Android
smartphone. Will I be able to play
my iTunes songs on it?
Music app to your phone from
Google Play (unless its already
installed), says our electronics
editor, Mike Gikas. Next, down-
load Google Play Music Manager
to the computer that holds your
iTunes music (it can be either
a Mac or PC). And last, upload
your iTunes library from your
computer to Google Music,
which will let you store up to
50,000songs in the cloud,
free. You can now download or
stream your iTunes library to
your Android phone.
After that, any music down-
loaded to your computerfrom
iTunes, Amazon, or anywhere
elsewill appear in your cloud-
based Google Music account.
That means when you buy a
song on iTunes, it automatically
becomes available on your
Android smartphone, Gikas
says. And when you create a new
playlist in iTunes, it also appears
on your Google Music account.
down, which can make clothes
look faded. Use cool water and
one of our top-rated detergents
for cool-water washingPersil
ProClean Power-Liquid 2 in 1
or Tide Plus Ultra Stain Release.
Hang the garments indoors
to dry.
I just noticed powdered
peanut butter in the
supermarket. Why
would anyone want PB
to be powdered?
 \n \r
reconstituted
with water, it provides a
peanut butter x with less fat
and fewer calories than the
real thing. A tablespoon has
about 25 calories, 1 gram
of fat, 3 to 4 grams of protein,
and 1 gram of ber. Regular
peanut butter has the same
protein and ber counts but
96 calories and 8grams of fat
per tablespoon.
But dont expect the creamy
texture and avor you get from
regular peanut butter, says
Ellen Klosz, test program leader
for food at Consumer Reports.
Only one of the three brands
we testedJif Peanut Powder
had some roasted peanut
avor. The others were bitter
or had a raw peanut avor.
Given that a lot of the fat in
regular peanut butter is heart-
healthy monounsaturated, we
suggest sticking with it for your
PB&J unless you eat a lot of it
and want to cut calories. You
might try powdered PB, though,
in smoothies, stirred into oat-
meal, or when baking to add
protein and peanut avor.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
ILLUSTRATIONS BY SERGE BLOCH
A Head Start on Safety
THE LATEST RATINGS FROM OUR LABS
PRODUCT UPDATES
TOP
RATED
RATING
Scan any page in this section using the Blippar app to see our bike helmet buying guide
and to watch a video on the correct way to fit a bike helmet
(see page 7 for details).
PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS ZAREBINSKI
PROP STYLING: WENDY SCHLEAH FOR HALLEY RESOURCES
NO MIPS
Sports-
Related
Head
Injuries
Seen in
Emergency
Rooms
Source: BMC Emergency Medicine (2016) 16:5.
98,710
286,978
220,258
131,930
BICYCLING
FOOTBALL
PRODUCT UPDATES
ADULT
HELMETS
YOUTH
HELMETS
RATING
Uvex Quatro Junior
RATING
Bell Draft MIPS
RATING
Bontrager Circuit
$80
RATING
ANATOMY OF A
BIKE CRASH
Think of a bike crash as a chain
of events transferring enery.
Here are the details of the physics
and biomechanics that occur in
a fraction of a second.
THE BIKE
stops sud-
denly because it hits
a solid object, such
as a car, or more
gradually in a sliding
fall. The first millisec-
onds of the crash are
important because
some of the energy
is dissipated when
the frame or wheel
crumples, or by the
friction of the slide.
THE RIDER
is still in
motion, even though
the bike has stopped.
The rider might
take a dive over the
handlebars or simply
tumble sideways
to the ground. An
unprotected human
skull can withstand
modest impactsfor
example, if you fell
while running and
hit your head on soft
ground or a tree. But
the force involved in
a bicycle accident is
much greater. Many
factors aect the
outcome of a fall. But
in general, depending
on the riders height,
in a free fall from a
bike the head could
hit at anywhere from
9to 13.4mph.The
CPSC helmet test
simulates impact
speeds of 10.7and
13.9mph.
THE HELMET
through several
changes on impact
that can save your
life. The smooth, thin
outer shell helps pre-
vent minor punctures
from sharp objects
and allows your head
RATING
Bell Draft
RATING
Cannondale Teramo
RATING
Scan any page in this section using the Blippar app to see our bike helmet buying guide
and to watch a video on the correct way to fit a bike helmet
(see page 7 for details).
PHOTOGRAPH BY LUCAS ZAREBINSKI
PROP STYLING: WENDY SCHLEAH FOR
HALLEY RESOURCES
 \n
a growing
number of city bike-share
programs across the coun-
try, but it appears that rent-
ers are less likely to wear
a helmet than people who
ride their own bikes. For ex-
ample, a study in Washing-
ton, D.C., measured helmet
use at only 26percent for
bike-share riders, compared
with 70percent for rid-
ers on their own bicycles.
Studies in other large cities
showed similarly low hel-
met-use rates. One probable
We previously rated
the Cannondale Teramo
as a Dont Buy: Safety
Risk because the buckle
on the chin strap broke
during our testing.
Cannondale has
changed the buckle,
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
Excellent
Very Good
Good Fair Poor
CR Best Buy
Recommended
BRAND & MODELPRICESCORETEST RESULTSSPECS
Rec.
Ventilation
Adjustments
Weight (Lb.)
Available
Sizes
A.ADULT
Arx Plus$125
0.6S, M, L
Quick$40
0.6S-M, L-XL
Gage MIPS$195
0.6S, M, L
Draft$40
0.6Universal
Draft MIPS$60
0.7Universal
Bontrager
Circuit$80
0.6S, M, L
Teramo$130
0.6S-M, L-XL
Forefront$220
0.7S, M, L
Giro
Revel MIPS$65
0.7Universal
Lazer
Cyclone$50
0.7M, L
Schwinn
Intercept$22
0.6Universal
Piston$40
0.6Universal
Schwinn
Merge$20
0.6Universal
Giro
Revel$45
0.6Universal
Amber$35
0.6Universal
Poc
Trabec$150
0.7
XS-S, M-L,
XL-XXL
Ally$70
0.7Universal
Bontrager
Starvos$70
0.6S, M, L, XL
Specialized
Chamonix$50
0.7Universal
Specialized
Chamonix MIPS$75
0.7Universal
Sharp$95
0.6S, M, L
1.1S, M, L
Kali
0.9S-M, L-XL
Allston$90
0.8
S-M, L-XL,
XXL-XXXL
Overade
Plixi$100
1.0S-M
B.YOUTH
Bontrager
Solstice Youth$40
0.5Universal
0.7Universal
Uvex
Quatro Junior$60
0.6Universal
Specialized
Flash$40
0.6Universal
Zipper$35
0.6Universal
Baby Boomer$30
0.6S/M
V-17 Youth$20
1.0Universal
Disney Frozen Tiara$25
0.9Universal
Raskull
Mohawk$25
0.73+, 5+
Wipeout
Dry Erase25
1.08+, 5+, 3+
Ratings: The Best in Bike Helmets
Scores in context: Overall scores are based on the results of our impact
test, ventilation, weight, features, ease of use, and fit adjustments.
PRODUCT UPDATES
How we test
. We put helmets through a brutal pounding in our labs using an apparatus that drop
s them at about
14mph onto a at anvil to measure how well they absorb impact. We use an electronic se
nsor inside a dummy
metal head to detect how much force would be transmitted to a riders head in an ac
cident. Because you can strike
your head in dierent places in a fall, we hit each helmet at th
e front, crown, back, and sides. We also check each
helmets ability to pass a test that evaluates the strength and holding po
wer of the chin strap.
Most bicycle helmets
on the market
have a liner made of the same mate-
rial: expanded polystyrene (EPS), a
close cousin of the Styrofoam used in
coffee cups and picnic coolers. EPS
is light, stable under a wide variety
of conditions, durable, and partially
puncture-resistant when covered
by a thin plastic skin called the shell.
Helmets made of EPS have had little
trouble passing the Consumer Prod-
uct Safety Commission helmet test
(upon which the impact portion of the
Consumer Reports test is based).
But what about the future?
One
innovation scheduled to hit the
market in 2018 is the Angular Impact
Mitigation system, which uses a
lightweight aluminum honeycomb
suspended in the structure of the
PRODUCT UPDATES
Will These
Shirts
Protect You
From Zika?
With fears on the rise, we put
treated clothing to the test
by Jeneen Interlandi
 \n   
are increasingly
concerned about the Zika virus. To combat
that threat, the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) recommends a full
array of anti-mosquito measures, espe-
cially for people living in or traveling to
parts of South America or the Caribbean,
including Puerto Rico.
Those steps include applying eective
insect repellents, with ingredients such
as deet or picaridin, to skin and clothing.
But another option recommended by the
CDC is to wear clothing that has been
treated with the insecticide permethrin.
Those clothesincluding shirts, pants,
and hatsare made by several manufactur-
ers, notably Burlington and Insect Shield,
and are sold by brands such as ExOcio
and L.L.Bean. Sales have surged in re-
cent months as health ocials struggle
to protect vulnerable populations from
Zika-carrying mosquitoes. Its especially
BUG OFF?
You can buy
permethrin spray designed
for clothing and apply it to garments
yourself. We didnt test that approach,
but the EPA says clothes treated that
way can oer protection similar to that
of factory-treated permethrin clothing
as long as you follow the instructions.
Another option is to spray clothing
with repellent. In our tests, shirts
sprayed with deet prevented bites
better than did permethrin-treated
clothing, though you will need to
reapply after you wash the clothes.
The CDC says that any repellent that
works well on skin should work as
long when applied to clothing.
Heres how to apply properly, whether
you are using permethrin or a repellent
such as deet, picaridin, or oil of lemon
eucalyptus.
worrisome for women who are or may be-
come pregnant, because Zika has been
linked to serious birth defects.
We tested three shirtstwo from Ex-
Oficio and one from L.L.Beanand
found that although they can help protect
against mosquitoes, some worked better
than others and none were foolproof. Plus,
none of the treated shirts we tested were as
eective against bites as an ordinary shirt
sprayed with deet. And its worth noting:
The shirts dont eliminate the need for us-
ing repellent on your skin or untreated
clothing. In fact, the manufacturers stress
the importance of wearing the clothing
along with a topical repellent.
Here, what you need to know about
permethrin-treated clothing and how to
best protect yourself from mosquito bites:
RATING
RATING
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
PHOTOS: REBEKAH NEMETHY
PRODUCT UPDATES
lled with lab-raised, disease-free mos-
quitoes. One cage had about 200Aedes
ConsumerReports.org/cro/
insect-repellent
for more on how we
test repellents, plus what works best
against Zika.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
Lives
on
Millions of Americans who went
to college seeking a better
future now face crushing debt
from student loans while
the industry makes a handsome
profit. How a broken system
landed so many in this mess.
 AUGUST 2016 
PHOTOGRAPHS BY: PETER van AGTMAELMAGNUM PHOTOS
I feel I kind of ruined
my life by going to college;
I cant plan for
an actual future.
JACKIE KROWEN, 32, PORTLAND, OREGON
$152,000, STUDENT DEBT
Almost every American knows an adult
burdened by a student loan. Fewer
know that growing alongside 42 mil-
lion indebted students is a formidable
private industry that has been enriched
by those very loans.
A generation ago, the federal govern-
ment opened its student loan bank to
proit-making corporations. Private-
equity companies and Wall Street banks
seized on the ow of federal loan dol-
lars, peddling loans students sometimes
could not aord and then collecting fees
from the government to hound students
when they defaulted.
Step by step, one law after another
has been enacted by Congress to make
student debt the worst kind of debt for
Americansand the best kind for banks
and debt collectors.
Today, just about everyone involved in
the student loan industry makes money o
of the studentsthe banks, private inves-
tors, even the federal government.
Once in place, the privatized student loan
industry has largely succeeded in preserv-
ing its status in Washington. And in one of
the industrys greatest lobbying triumphs,
student loans can no longer be discharged
in bankruptcy, except in rare cases.
At the same time, societal changes
conspired to drive up the basic need for
these loans: Middle-class incomes stag-
nated, college costs soared, and states
retreated from their historical invest-
ment in public universities.
This is a condensed version of a story by
Reveal from The Center for Investigative
Reporting. To read the full investigation
from James B. Steele and Lance Williams,
visit www.revealnews.org/studentdebt.
If states had continued to support pub-
lic higher education at the rate they had in
1980, they would have invested at least an
additional $500 billion in their university
systems, according to an analysis by Reveal
from The Center for Investigative Reporting.
The calculus for students and their
families had changed drastically, with
little notice. Today, there is a student
debt class like no other: about 42 million
Americans bearing $1.3 trillion in debt
thats altering lives, relationships, and
even retirement.
I feel I kind of ruined my life by go-
ing to college, says Jackie Krowen, 32, of
Portland, Oregon, a nurse with a student
loan balance of $152,000. I cant plan for
an actual future.
One of the beneciaries in the prot
spree behind this debt is the federal gov-
ernment. By the Department of Educa-
tions own calculations, the government
expects to earn an astonishing 20 percent
for the loans it made in 2013.
Today student debt is a $140 billion-
a-year industry, and unlike many of its
student customers, the industrys future
looks bright.
Retreat of the States
In the summer of 2010, Saul Newton was
a 20-year-old rieman stationed at a small
U.S. Army outpost in the remote, danger-
ous Arghandab River Valley of Afghanistan.
It was a radical change for a kid from
suburban Milwaukee who only months
before had been a student at the University
of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.
But after two years of tuition hikes,
Newton found himself with about $10,000
in student loans and the prospect of still
more borrowing if he stayed in school. I
couldnt aord it any more, he says. He
dropped out and enlisted, hoping one day
to go back to school under the GI bill.
He wound up ghting the Taliban. His
units worst day was when the battalion
chaplain and four other soldiers were
killed by a roadside bomb in August 2010.
My focus was on doing my job and
staying alive, Newton says. But no mat-
ter what else was going on at the outpost,
once a month he says he went to the
wooden shack where the unit kept a lap-
top computer and made his online student
loan payment of $100.
He worried that if he didnt pay his
loans, his credit would be shot. (Newton
says he wasnt aware that the government
oers student loan deferments to active
soldiers in wartime.)
Today, back home in Wisconsin as direc-
tor of the Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of
Commerce, Newton says his states cuts to
higher education will force more young
people to face the same choices he did.
You shouldnt have to go to war to get
a college education, he says.
In the last decade, Wisconsin has cut
back sharply on funding its state univer-
sity system.
In 2003, students paid about 30 percent
of the University of Wisconsin systems
total educational cost, according to data
compiled by the State Higher Education
Executive Ocers Association. By 2013,
after several rounds of state budget cuts,
students were responsible for about 47
percent, and more state cuts to higher
education are expected.
By 2014, 70 percent of Wisconsin stu-
dents graduated with debtthe third-high-
est percentage in the nation for students at
public and nonprot colleges, according to
the nonprot Institute for College Access
& Success, or TICAS.
Wisconsins trajectory follows a na-
tional trend. After World War II, the
states appropriated more and more
funds for public higher education, and
by 1975, they were contributing 58 per-
cent of the total cost. But since then they
have steadily reduced their share, pres-
sured by, among other things, the rising
costs of Medicaid and prisons. Today,
state support is at 37 percent nationally,
according to data from the U.S. Bureau
of Economic Analysis.
We ought to invest in the future, not
take from the future, says Thomas G.
Mortenson, a senior scholar at the Pell
Institute for the Study of Opportunity in
Higher Education. Where I used to live
we called that eating our seed corn.
As the states cut back funding, universi-
ties raised tuition. To cover the increase,
Jackie Krowen
32, PORTLAND, OREGON
 \n \r \n,
\n  \r\r,
\r\r \n \n 
OCCUPATION: NURSE; SALARY: $62,000
When she was 19
, Jackie Krowen took
out her first student loan to attend a
community college in Oregon. She
borrowed more when she transferred to
Portland State University, and still more
for nursing school at the University of
Rochester in New York.
You didnt have to meet with any-
body, she says. You just clicked some
buttons on the computer and you had
a huge check.
When she finished school in 2011, she
was $128,000 in debt. Today, with a good
job as a nurse, she still cant make a dent.
Looking back, Krowen realizes she
had no idea what she was doing when
she took out her loans. Her parents, she
says, encouraged her to borrow because
the interest rate was low. Like many
young borrowers, she didnt know how
much interest could accrue. It didnt
make sense to me, she says.
Now she understands. Her balance
is currently $24,000 more than what
she borrowed.
Buying a house isnt an option, she
says, and the idea of having a family
seems financially impossible. She fears
it will be that way for the rest of her life.
,000
STUDENT
LOANS
$152,000
REMAINING
BALANCE
$1,200
MONTHLY
PAYMENT
more students borrowed, which brought
in even more money for the thriving indus-
try. The next step: collecting all that debt.
Calls, at All Hours
The work was automated and fast-paced:
Calls were robo-dialed, and the delin-
quent borrowers account history ashed
on the computer screen in Jessie Surens
cubicle. Her job, which paid about $12 an
hour, was to engage with the borrower,
stick to the scriptand try to get some
money out of people who were delin-
quent on student loans.
At the massive call center in Harrisburg,
Pa., Suren felt like she was working for
the enemy. The 28-year-old owes about
$90,000 in student loans.
Some calls were scary, Suren says; an-
gry borrowers would curse and threaten,
declaring they were jobless and broke.
Other calls were heartbreaking; borrow-
ers would say they or their children were
terminally ill.
Whatever their story, Suren says shed
have to tell borrowers what would happen
Debt is the rst
thing I factor in all
of my decisions.
JESSIE SUREN, 28, PHILADELPHIA
$90,000, STUDENT DEBT
Jessie Suren
28, PHILADELPHIA
  \r\r
OCCUPATION: SELLS VACATION PACKAGES;
SALARY: $39,000 A YEAR, ALL COMMISSION
Suren was raised
by a single mom who
worked in the restaurant business. She
pushed Suren to get an education. My
mom wanted for me what she didnt have,
says Suren, who did well in school and
became the first in her immediate family
to attend college. She knew shed have
to finance it herself. Her mother hired a
consultant to help with the financial aid
forms, at a cost of nearly $2,000, but
that didnt prepare Suren for the obliga-
tions she was taking on. Nor did her high
school counselors, she says. No one
talked to me about whether I could afford
$72,000
STUDENT
LOANS
$90,000
REMAINING
BALANCE
MONTHLY
PAYMENT
(continued on page 33)
college, how much it would cost or
how interest would work. I knew
nothing about money.
Suren decided to go to La Salle
University, a private Catholic school.
Grant money and scholarships didnt
cover the $36,000 a year for tuition,
fees, and room and board, so she took
out the maximum she could in student
loans. Her aunt co-signed a private
loan and her mother took out a federal
loan designed for parents.
By the time Suren graduated in
2010, she was already $72,000 in debt.
Most troubling for Suren is that
servicers and debt collectors can go
after her family, too. If I were only
responsible for my loans, I might not
pay and just say forget it, she says.
But because this impacts my mom
and aunt, I wont do that. With such a
high monthly payment, she wonders if
she will ever be able to buy a house or
start a family.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
One day I want to own
a home and have a family
but I will have to pay
my student debt 
rst.
MARVIN LOGAN JR., 24, ATLANTA
$78,000, STUDENT DEBT
if they didnt pay: American Education Ser-
vices, a loan servicing company, could take
their tax refund and garnish their wages.
After hanging up, Suren would some-
times reect on her own student loans.
This is going to be me in a couple of years,
she would think. Eventually, she quit.
The federal government holds about 93
percent of the $1.3 trillion in outstanding
student loans. That makes the Department
of Education, eectively, one of the worlds
largest banks, but one that rarely deals
directly with its customers.
In the 1980s, the department began
contracting with private companies to
take over some debt collection. Then after
privatization, a surge of investors poured
into this eld. Established debt-collection
rms were bought up by privately held
investor funds controlled by the likes of
JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.
Today, one in four borrowers are be-
hind in their payments, according to the
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau,
with an estimated 7.6 million in default.
As borrowers struggle to make payments,
debt-collection prots rise.
Contractors are expected to make more
than $2 billion in commissions from the
government this year, according to the
National Consumer Law Center.
With the stakes so high, complaints
about overzealous debt collectors have
soared. Federal and state agencies have
ned contractors millions for misconduct
in harassing student debtors. Some have
lost their contracts entirely.
San Francisco graphic designer Bran-
don Hill says debt collectors from Sal-
lie Mae began calling him yelling and
screaming about his past-due payments
as early as 5 a.m. After he complained to
state regulators in 2013, Sallie Mae and
Navient Credit Finance turned around
and sued him for immediate repayment
of a combined $73,000 in student loans,
records show. I was sued for complain-
ing, he says. His lawyer is negotiating a
ConsumerReports.org/studentdebt
, as well as at
revealnews.org/
studentdebt
, will illuminate the forces that led to 42 million Americans owing $1.3 tri
llion in debt, illustrate the
profound and lasting impact this debt can have, and oer practical advice for t
hose looking to avoid the trap.
Marvin Logan, Jr.
24, ATLANTA
  \r\r
  \r\r
OCCUPATION: YOUTH COUNSELOR
AT A FOUNDATION; SALARY: $25,000
As a star
athlete at Warren G. Harding
High School in Warren, Ohio, Marvin
Logan Jr. never worried about how hed
pay for college.
Raised by a single dad who worked
as an electrician, Logan was an
All-American in track and field and
played football. College recruiters
courted him in both sports.
He went to Kent State University
on a track scholarship but soon dis-
covered he couldnt afford it all. So he
took out $5,500 in loans freshman year
to help pay for living expenses and
school supplies.
Then sophomore year, he lost his
scholarship when injuries prevented
him from competing. To pay for school,
he took out more loans.
Marvin graduated in 2015 and now
works at a nonprofit helping disadvan-
taged youth.
Because he is going to grad school
full time at night, hes added on to his
overall debt.
Repayment starts when school ends.
He says he has no regrets: College
has given me the opportunity to do
what I love and make a difference.
$78,000
STUDENT
LOANS
$789
MONTHLY PAYMENT
ONCE HE GRADUATES
The Partnership Behind This Package of Stories
\r \r  \r
Executive
Director, Content
@ Consumer Reports;
on Twitter
@wendolynbounds
\n 
Editor in Chief @ Reveal from The Center for
Investigative Reporting; on Twitter
@amy_pyle
Note: Joaquin Alvarado, CEO of
The Center for Investigative
Reporting, is on Consumer Reports
board of directors
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
eectively take over the job of collecting
unpaid student loans, while at the same
time being more helpful and less aggres-
sive than private collectors.
To Deanne Loonin, a lawyer who
monitored student debt for years for the
National Consumer Law Center, the Trea-
sury experiment is focusing on one of the
biggest problems confronting borrowers.
We need to eliminate the private col-
lection agencies from this process, she
says. They are incentivized just to collect
money, not to work out ways that might
be better for the borrowers. We need to
see what else might work.
Saul Newton
28, MILWAUKEE
\r\r \n \r \n\r-
 \n\r
OCCUPATION: DIRECTOR, WISCONSIN
VETERANS CHAMBER OF COMMERCE;
SALARY: $28,800 A YEAR
After two years
of tuition hikes at the
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point,
Newtons student loan balance was
already $10,00
I couldnt afford it any more, he
says. In 2009, he dropped out and
joined the Army, hoping one day to
continue his education under the
GI Bill, which he has done.
Several months later, he was in
You shouldnt have
to go to war to get a
college education.
SAUL NEWTON, 28 ,
MILWAUKEE
$23,000, STUDENT DEBT
$10,000
ORIGINAL
STUDENT LOANS
$23,000
CURRENT BALANCE
(after returning to
college post-military)
Afghanistans Arghan
dab River Valley,
a private in the 4th Infantry Division.
His units worst day was when the
battalion chaplain and four other sol-
diers were killed by a roadside bomb
in August 2010.
My focus was on doing my job
and staying alive, he says. But he
was careful never to forget to go and
make his online student loan payment
of $100 a month.
It was kind of crazy that a soldier
in a war zone had to worry about his
student loans, Newton says, but he
believed that if I didnt pay my loans,
my credit would be shot.
Now hes back home in Wisconsin,
working as a veterans activist. You
shouldnt have to go to war to get
a college education, he says. On
the other hand, starting your post-
college life with tens of thousands of
dollars in debt is a weight around your
ankles, he says. I can relate to that.
This story was produced by Reveal from The
Center for Investigative Reporting, a nonprot
news organization based in the San Francisco
Bay Area. Learn more at revealnews.org and
subscribe to the Reveal podcast, produced with
PRX, at revealnews.org/podcast. Lance Williams
can be reached at [email protected]
Having
the
College
Money
Talk
10 Key Questions
Every Family
Should Discuss
by Donna Rosato
daunting that 45 percent of borrowers
say knowing what they know now, their
college experience wasnt worth the cost.
How do you avoid that kind of buyers
remorse?
Financial aid and college inancing
experts consulted by Consumer Reports
say that families often dont pay enough
attention to actual costs until theyre
deep in the college admissions process.
When youre looking for a school, its not
just about academics and the feel of the
place, says Frank Palmasani, a college
counselor at Providence Catholic High
School in New Lenox, Ill., and author of
Right College, Right Price. It should be
a nancial t, too. Parents and children
should have frank family talks early and
often. Parents should be honest about
how much they have saved and can af-
ford. They should ask their college-bound
son or daughter to think about his or her
ambitions and expectations, and to be
realistic about how much they are willing
to shoulder when it comes to debt.
With an action plan in place early, fami-
lies can weigh their options rationally at
the moment when acceptance letters and
student aid oers are on the kitchen table.
Consumer Reports put together these ques-
tions and best practices to help you start
the conversation and demystify the pro-
cess. Going through them as a family may
even reveal options you hadnt considered.
What does your student
want to get out of college?
College can be an expensive place to g-
ure out what you want to do in life. Yet
many students, understandably, head o
not knowing. They change majors, trans-
fer schools, and often take and pay for too
many classes that dont count toward the
degree they eventually choose.
Those are among the reasons only 39
percent of college students graduate in
four years, according to the National
Center on Education Statistics. Extra
time means extra debt. According to an
analysis of students from the University
of Texas at Austin who took out student
loans, those who graduate on time will
With so many options, guring out where
to go to college can be overwhelming.
Large research university or small lib-
eral arts college? City school or rural
school? Close to home or out of state?
Guidance counselors talk of inding a
school thats the right t academically
and that has an atmosphere that suits the
student. But as students and parents get
wrapped up in the emotional quest for a
dream school, they can lose sight of the
nancial consequences of the decisions
they make. And when the acceptance let-
ters nally (hopefully) roll in, families of
college-bound students can nd them-
selves scrambling to gure out exactly
how theyre going to pay for it all.
Today a four-year education at a state
schoolincluding tuition, fees, and room
and boardcosts an average of $78,000;
at a private university its more than dou-
ble that. More than 70 percent of gradu-
ates leave school with debt. Borrowers
in the class of 2016 are nishing with
record debt, averaging about $37,000
per graduate, according to an analysis
by Mark Kantrowitz, an industry ex-
pert, and publisher and vice president
of stratey for Cappex.com, a website
that helps students compare colleges and
nd scholarships.
Debt that size can cast a long shadow,
according to a new Consumer Reports
nationally representative survey of
more than 1,500 student loan borrow-
ers. Forty-four percent of those who have
left college say they have had to cut back
on daily living expenses, and 28 percent
have had to delay major goals like buy-
ing a house and 37 percent put o saving
for retirement. The nancial impact is so
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
owe an average of 40 percent less than
those who graduate in six years.
A student who has a few years till college
can get a better sense of his options by ex-
ploring dierent kinds of careers, whether
by working as a volunteer or part time, or
by doing job shadows following a worker
through a typical day, says Cyndy McDon-
ald, president of GuidedPath in Boulder,
Colo., which advises high school college
advisers, students, and their families on
college planning. Older students who are
still uncertain might consider commuting
to a less expensive public university until
they have a rm idea about what they want
to study, says McDonald.
Taking a gap year can also pay o.
Thats what Malia Obama, daughter of the
president and rst lady, who is heading
to Harvard in 2017, plans to do. Research
from Bob Clagett, a former dean of ad-
missions at Middlebury College and a for-
mer senior admissions ocer at Harvard
College, found that gap-year students at
Middlebury and UNC#Chapel Hill had, on
average, higher overall GPAs than those
who didnt take time o. Gap-year stu-
dents also performed better in college
than their high school academic record
would have predicted.
How much will college cost,
bottom line?
Figuring out the true cost of college isnt
as simple as looking up the tuition and
room and board charges and multiplying
by four. Even at the most expensive col-
leges, few people pay the actual sticker
price. How much you pay depends on your
familys nancial situation, the students
academic record, and other factors that
influence how much a school offers in
grants and scholarships, both types of free
money that dont need to be paid back. To
evaluate a schools true cost, you need to
get down to the net price.
The net price is how much a student
pays after subtracting scholarships and
grants. Since 2011, undergraduate col-
leges and universities that participate in
the federal nancial aid system are re-
quired to have a net price calculator on
their websites. Input information about
your familys nances and the students
academic record, such as GPA and SAT
scores, which can aect merit aid, and get
an estimate of the net cost to you. Loans
are not included in the calculation.
You wont know your exact cost until a
school accepts you and gives you a formal
nancial aid oer. But using the calcula-
tors will give an idea of your eventual out-
of-pocket costs and how much you might
need to borrow to attend. It will help you
target schools in your price range.
One mistake families often make is as-
suming that their state university will be
the most aordable option, says Palma-
sani. Flagship state schools can be pricier
than smaller private colleges. A public uni-
versity in another state could be less ex-
pensive than going in-state where you live.
Some private colleges, even highly se-
lective ones, can be cheaper than state
schools, too. Thats because public col-
leges generally award smaller and fewer
scholarships than private colleges, which
may have richer endowments, says Zee
Santiago, director of college counseling at
the Collegiate Institute for Math and Sci-
ence high school in New York City. With
cutbacks to state funding, state schools
dont have the money to give out that pri-
vate schools do, says Santiago.
That was the case for Aissata Samake,
a 17-year-old senior in New York City. She
was accepted to three schools in the State
University of New York system but will be
studying bioloy at Gettysburg College,
a private school in Pennsylvania. While
the total cost is about $63,000 per year,
Samake will pay only $3,000, thanks to
the nancial aid package she received.
Typical costs at SUNY schools average
$20,000 per year, and Samake would
have had to pay nearly the whole tab.
How much federal nancial
aid can our family really expect?
You can get an early read on eligibil-
ity for federal aidgrants, loans, and
work-study programsusing the Depart-
ment of Educations FAFSA4caster tool
(studentaid.ed.gov/sa/fafsa/estimate). It
What Makes
Student Debt
Dierent
HOW IS INTEREST SET?
MORTGAGES
Private lenders continuously
CAN YOU REFINANCE TO TAKE
ADVANTAGE OF LOWER RATES?
MORTGAGES
Yes, through many banks
and credit unions.
STUDENT LOANS
Yes, but be warned:
Few private providers offer these services,
and when you refinance federal loans, you
forfeit key consumer protections.
CAN YOU DISCHARGE YOUR
LOAN IN BANKRUPTCY?
MORTGAGES
Yes.
STUDENT LOANS
Not without proving
undue hardship to a bankruptcy judge
with challenges from the lender, a high bar.
IS THERE RECOURSE AGAINST
BAD LOAN SERVICING?
MORTGAGES
es. If the mortgage servicer
applies payment improperlythus breaking
the lawyou can sue.
STUDENT LOANS
Not much, because
there are no consistent industry standards
for student loan servicers.
CAN THE LOAN GROW
BIGGER OVER TIME?
MORTGAGES
Not really, due to rules
on interest.
Tobie Stanger
Vanessa McClurg
29, SALT LAKE CITY
\r\r \n \n 
OCCUPATION: AUTO SHOP SERVICE MANAGER;
SALARY: $32,000 ANNUALLY
McClurgs father
, a retired U.S. Navy officer,
co-signed her loans. Then illness disrupted
her education. She was hospitalized with
pneumonia as a sophomore and later con-
tracted a staph infection: Unbeknownst to
me, she says, I didnt have a good immune
system. After missing more than a year of
classes, she dropped out in 2010.
McClurg moved to Utah and got a
$9-an-hour job in an auto repair shop, and
says she couldnt afford to pay her loans
for a few years. Then debt collectors really
came after me, she says, threatening to
sue her. Then they said they would go
after her father as well because he had
co-signed her loans. They would definitely
take away his pension, she says she was
told. They said they have every right.
Finally, she says, my 84-year-old grandfa-
ther gave me every dime he had so that
she could get her loans current.
McClurg says she now earns $32,000
per year, enough to pay $522 each month
for the education she never finished.
oers a federal aid picture, but using it
with a specic schools net price calcula-
tors can give you a more detailed view.
Then, at the start of senior year of
high school, parents of a college-bound
student need to ll out the Free Applica-
tion for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). In
addition to federal aid, this is the form
that states, colleges, and many scholar-
ship programs use to determine eligibil-
ity for grants and loans. New this year:
You can submit the FAFSA as early as
October, using what is awkwardly called
the prior-prior years tax return. That
means students who want to attend col-
lege for the 2017#2018 academic year can
le in October of 2016 using the familys
2015 tax info. Dont make the mistake
of not ling a FAFSA because you dont
think youll qualify for aid. Everyone is
eligible for certain types of federal loans.
There is no explicit income cutoff for
need-based aid, such as Pell Grants and
subsidized student loans, says Kantrow-
itz of Cappex.com. Parent and student
income and assets are the major factors
that determine whether you qualify. But
the size of your family, the number of
children in college at the same time, and
the age of the students parents are also
considered. The older the parent, the less
their assets will be weighed in nancial
aid calculations because its understood
that older parents need to be saving for
retirement, too.
Are nancial aid oers good
for four years?
In what can seem like a bait and switch,
some schools may oer more generous
scholarships and grants to freshmen to
entice them to enroll, but be aware that
this money might not be fully renewable,
says Kalman Chany, author of Paying for
College Without Going Broke. You need
to know what strings are attached to get
it every year, says Chany. If you receive
a merit-based scholarship, ask what the
requirements are to qualify each year.
You may need to maintain a certain GPA,
for example. If you have a generous ath-
letic scholarship, ind out whether it
continues if you sustain a career-ending
injury, and have a contingency plan in
case it doesnt. Even if the amount of
grants and scholarships stays the same
for all four years, tuition is likely to rise,
$67,000
STUDENT
LOANS
$73,000
REMAINING
BALANCE
$522
MONTHLY
PAYMENT
To make sure debt
collectors got paid, they
said they would denitely
take away [my fathers
pension]. They said they
have every right.
VANESSA MCCLURG, 29
SALT LAKE CITY
$73,000, STUDENT DEBT
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
Would you want to know how
much student debt a person has before
you begin a serious relationship?
44%
YES
20%
UNSURE
36%
so the aid will cover less of the cost.
To maintain federal nancial aid, you
need to le the FAFSA each year. The
amount of assistance you are eligible
for can change if your nancial circum-
stances change.
How much debt can one
student manage?
Theres a rule of thumb for that, too. The
total amount of loans a student takes
shouldnt exceed the salary he expects
to earn annually in the early years of his
career, advises Kantrowitz. According
to the National Association of Colleges
and Employers, the average starting sal-
ary for a person with a bachelors degree
is $50,000. But if you dont know what
you want to pursue as a career, be more
conservative, he advises. If you earn
$50,000 after graduation and borrowed
that much, expect to pay about $555 per
month under the standard 10-year repay-
ment plan, assuming a 6 percent interest
rate. Annually, thats about 13 percent of
your salary toward your loans.
If possible, avoid private loans. Federal
loans come with consumer protections
like exible repayment plans and defer-
ment or loan-forgiveness options if you
meet certain conditions. Private loans
often hook borrowers with lower current
interest rates, but they come with stricter
terms and fewer, if any, debt relief op-
tions if you cant aord your payments,
according to the experts we spoke with.
Should parents contribute,
and if so, how much?
This is a tricky nancial question, and
the answer depends on willingness and
circumstance. However, most nancial
advisers we spoke with tell parents to
prioritize saving for retirement over pay-
ing for their kids college, at least out of
regular income. The thinking goes: You
can borrow for college, but you cant get
a loan for retirement. Parents should con
tinue to save in their 401(k) at least up
to the employer match. If you have no
401(k), put money in an appropriate IRA.
Degrees
of Debt
responded to a nationally representative March
2016 Consumer Reports National Research Center
survey. The burden of paying off significant loans
%
The
Impact of
Student
Debt
CUT BACK ON
DAYTODAY
LIVING EXPENSES.
DELAYED SAVING
OF THOSE WHO SAID
COLLEGE WASNT
WORTH THE MONEY
38%
Didnt graduate.
69%
Have had trouble
making loan payments.
78%
Earn less than
$50,000 per year.
43%
Didnt get help from
parents
making
nancial aid decisions.
%
SAID THAT IF THEY HAD TO DO IT OVER AGAIN,
THEY WOULD ACCEPT LESS FINANCIAL AID.
THAT MEANS THEYD HAVE TO GO TO A CHEAPER
SCHOOL OR FIND ANOTHER WAY TO FINANCE IT
OF PEOPLE WITH STUDENT LOAN DEBT SAID
THAT COLLEGE WAS NOT WORTH THE COST.
More Than Half
reported having problems making payments
on student loans at least once.
And if parents really want to contrib-
ute, even if theyve saved money in a 529
college savings plan, they should think
carefully about how much to borrow. Fol-
low the same rule of thumb that Cappex.
coms Kantrowitz suggests students fol-
low. Favor federal Parent Plus loans over
private loans, which have key advantages,
such as exible repayment options. To-
tal debt assumed (for one or more childs
education) shouldnt be more than your
annual salary if youre 10 years or more
from retirement, and even less the closer
you are. If the costs are more than that,
consider less expensive schools.
What about
community college?
Starting o at a community college and
then transferring to a four-year institu-
tion can be a good way to reduce costs.
Tuition and fees at community college
average just $3,435 annually compared
with $9,410 at a public in-state school
and $32,405 for a private nonprot col-
lege (not including room and board). In a
growing number of states (Tennessee and
Oregon) and cities (Salt Lake City, Los An
geles, Detroit, Boston, Chicago), there are
grant and scholarship programs to make
tuition more aordable or even free.
Some states, including Florida, Califor-
nia, Massachusetts, and Virginia, guaran-
tee that anyone who earns an associate
degree in-state can transfer to the state
university. Wherever you go, make sure
community college credits will transfer
to the schools where you want to nish
your degree. Most schools accept transfer
credits from community colleges, but the
classes might count as an elective and not
toward the degree you want, says John
Fink, a research associate at the Commu-
nity College Research Center at Teachers
College, Columbia University.
Any other ways to cut costs?
For those interested in a military career,
the ROTC can pay a signicant portion of
college costs in exchange for some level of
on-campus participation and three years
or more of active-duty service. The Army,
Air Force, and Navy have ROTC programs
with various levels of scholarship, up to
full tuition with monthly stipends.
Or you can consider studying abroad,
which can be signicantly cheaperand
in some countries free (although youll
still need to pay for living expenses). After
getting accepted to a half-dozen schools
in the U.S. and the U.K., Ian McLellan,
22, chose the University of Glasgow in
Scotland, where he earned a degree in
history last spring. His total tuition tab:
about $60,000. More than half of the
43,600 American students who earn their
diplomas abroad go to schools in the U.K.
or Canada, where language isnt a bar-
rier. The average tuition for international
undergrads in Canada is about $22,000,
according to Statistics Canada. In the
U.K., undergraduate programs are typi-
cally three years long, oering another
opportunity to save. But even those that
are four years can cost signicantly less
than many private schools in the U.S. A
degree earned overseas can be attrac-
tive to domestic employers, says Pegy
Blumenthal, a senior counselor to the
president of the Institute of International
Education in New York City. It might even
be an advantage if a student wants to pur-
sue international business.
How can we know if
this expensive education
will pay o?
The ultimate value of an education is,
of course, hard to quantify. But a stu-
dent isnt going to feel very good about
all of the money she spent on college
if afterward its a struggle to nd a job
that barely covers the monthly debt pay-
ments. To get a sense for the quality of
the education at a school and its student
outcomes, look at measures like gradua-
tion rates and postgraduation earnings,
says Rory OSullivan, deputy director of
Young Invincibles, a millennial research
and advocacy organization that focuses
on nancial issues for young adults.
Last fall the Department of Education
made it easier to get that kind of outcome
data when it revamped its College Score-
card tool. You can use the Scorecard to
ilter schools by graduation rates and
10-year-out median salaries of graduates
who received federal aid. The Scorecard
reports the average amount students
borrow and loan repayment rates after
graduation. But while the Scorecard is a
useful tool, the data is limited to averages
by schools, OSullivan says. The results
could be very dierent depending on the
specic degree you earn. Right now, its
all lumped in together, he says.
What if my student has
trouble repaying his debt?
It may soundpremature to consider how
your student will manage to pay o his
college loans before hes even matricu-
lated. But the rst debt payment is due six
months after graduation on most federal
student loans. Even if youve made smart
choices about college nancing all along
choosing an aordable school, limiting
borrowingthat could still turn out to be
a struggle. If it does, your student will
need to understand the options.
There are several. Federal college loan
payments can be deferred if a student
goes back to school or for hardship, al-
though interest may continue to accrue. If
he is struggling to pay, he may be eligible
for income-based repayment programs.
If he works in public service, which en-
compasses a wide range of organizations
including nonprots, government jobs,
and teaching, there is also the possibility
of having loans forgiven.
Marvin Logan, Jr., who graduated in
2015 from Kent State University, is count-
ing on a federal public service loan for-
giveness program to help him manage
nearly $80,000 in student debt.
Once out of grad school, his plan is to
elect an income-based repayment plan,
which should limit his monthly pay-
ments to 10 to 15 percent of his income
and spread payments to 20 to 25 years.
Then, if he remains in the nonproit
world for a decade and has been mak-
ing steady payments, the balance of his
loan will be forgiven.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
Kitchen Makeo
Scan any page in this section using the Blippar app
to see our kitchen appliance buying guides
(see page 7 for details)
KATE LESUEUR VAULT ARCHIVES
ers Made Easy
Product
recommendations
and savvy
strategies that
will bring your
dream kitchen
within
easy reach
BY DANIEL DICLERICO
   \r \n \r
a kitchen re-
model, theres a good chance youve been
drooling over photos of Carrara marble
countertops and commercial-grade ranges
on websites like Houzz, Pinterest, and Re-
modelista. But for all of the inspiration
those sites provide, they tend to be short
of a couple of crucial details: the price of
all that beauty and, just as important, how
the pretty products perform.
Consumer Reports will tell you that
those marble countertops are stain-prone,
that many pro-style ranges dont work as
well as models costing much less, and that
the cost of both would devour much of the
$28,000 that the average American spends
on a professionally installed kitchen. Our
remodeling guide will also tell you how
to create a beautiful and functional new
kitchen lled with solid materials and reli-
able appliances at any priceall of it backed
up by our rigorous testing.
We turned to designers and contractors
for ways to stretch the budget and avoid
common pitfalls. Then we lled in the de-
tails with the best kitchen appliances and
countertops from our tests (arranged by
budget on pages 49 through 51), and even
a splurge in case youre feeling ush. Youll
nd products that deliver a luxury look for
less, such as slide-in ranges and porcelain-
tile oors, and even discover a way to get a
six-gure kitchen for a fraction of the cost.
Experts say a kitchen redo should cost
5 to 15 percent of a homes total value, a
helpful guideline that will keep you from
over-improving your property. In this pack-
age, we oer three common budget ranges
based on industry data: $5,000 to $15,000
for DIY spruce ups, $25,000 to $50,000
for midrange professional remodels, and
$75,000 to $125,000 for the luxury proj-
ects in and around major cities, where real
estate values and labor costs are highest.
Follow our advice and your dream
kitchen can be a realitywithout all those
numbers to keep you up at night.
 AUGUST 2016 
1. Capital Lighting Fixture Company mini pendant 4643BB-138
(not rated), $98.
Frigidaire Gallery FGEF3035RF
SCORE: 86
$870.
3. Pergo Max Premier Heathered Oak 672976 (Lowes)
laminate
flooring
SCORE: 76
$2.50 per square foot.
4. Kenmore 69313
SCORE: 80
$800.
Bella
Dots
Collection
12-cup
coffee
maker
SCORE: 65
$35.
6. KitchenAid KDTE104ESS
SCORE: 75
$600.
Merillat Masterpiece Capri Square
(not rated), $233 per linear foot.
(Other lines start at $150 per linear foot.)
8. Delta Trinsic single-handle pull-out faucet in
chrome
(not rated), $295.
Where to Start
Major home centers, including Home
Depot, Ikea, and Lowes, provide free or
ordable design assistance. If possible,
work with a sta
er certi
ed by the Na-
tional Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA)
or the American Society of Interior De-
signers (ASID). Home centers employ
in-house installers. Or you can 
nd your
own certi
ed contractor through the di-
rectory of the National Association of the
Remodeling Industry, at nari.org.
Whats Trending
Our tests have turned up new products
that look much pricier than they are
and perform extremely wellperfect for
this budget. For example, porcelain-tile
planks that look remarkably like wood,
right down to their textured grain.
Theyre waterproof and have color that
goes all the way through, so chipping
isnt a big concern. Lumber Liquidators
Avella Brazilian Cherry 10039367 topped
our latest tests, and at $3.60 per square
foot, its about half the cost of many solid
hardwood products.
Appliances and Accents
You can get a top-rated refrigerator,
range, and dishwasher all for about
$2,500, even in unifying stainless
steel. And our tests have found that
faucets costing as little as $60 have top-
notch valves and tough inishes with
lifetime warranties. Many stainless steel
sinks costing less than $200 proved to
be as durable as models costing twice
as much.
Lighting 
xtures have come down in
price, which is welcome news for bud-
get remodelers. Lighting can make a
space feel incredibly good, says Lauren
Levant, a certi
ed kitchen designer in
Pittsburgh. So its a great way to fool
people into thinking you spent more on
the kitchen than you actually did.
Smart
Splurge
A bold backsplash
can
elevate the look of any
kitchen. Going from the
standard 4-inch backsplash
to a 3x6 subway tile with an
accent row in glass mosaic
will add a touch of elegance
to the space for about
$1,000 installed.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
2
4
Spending a few
thousand
dollars on a range hood
will greatly improve the
ventilation in your kitchen
while boosting the overall
look. A built-in microwave,
either in a cabinet or island,
takes the place of an
over-the-range unit.
Smart
Splurge
Scan any page in this section using the Blippar app
to see our kitchen appliance buying guides
(see page 7 for details)
THOUGH THERE ARE DOITYOURSELFERS
who spend $25,000 on a kitchen,
most people working in this price range use professional installers. In the National Kitchen
& Bath Associations annual survey, about half of all kitchen projects completed
last year cost $20,000 to $50,000, which makes this a sweet spot and means youll
have plenty of materials and appliances to choose from.
$25k
$50k
' 
$11,000
' 
$9,000
 
$8,000
 \n  
$4,000
'
 
$2,000
*\n
$3,000
(faucet sink, lighting)
 
$2,000

(small appliances, paint, etc.)
 
$40,000
1. KitchenAid Classic K45SS[WH]
SCORE: 78
$250.
2. Feiss Waveform pendant lamp
(not rated), $388.50.
LG LPXS30866D four-door refrigerator
SCORE: 82
$3,100.
4. GE PS920SFSS slide-in electric range
SCORE: 83
$1,800.
5. Bosch Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC
SCORE: 81
$700.
6.
A showpiece
range, like
this one from the
French manufacturer
La Cornue, provides a
commanding focal point.
We havent tested the
range so we cant say
how it performs. It costs
$9,500but its hard to
put a value on its prestige.
Smart
Splurge
Scan any page in this section using the Blippar app
to see our kitchen appliance buying guides
(see page 7 for details)
Where to Start
Your designer or architect will probably
take you to a high-end showroom such as
Waterworks, where single light xtures
run into the thousands, or the relative
newcomer Pirch, where many appliances
are hooked up, allowing you to try them
under the guidance of trained chefs.
Whats Trending
Wall ovens, ranges, coee makers, and
even crockpots can now connect to the
internet. The Samsung Family Hub re-
frigerator has a WiFi-ready 21.5-inch LCD
screen so you can watch TV, order grocer-
ies, manage your family calendar, and
more. Its a novel feature, but our testers
found it hard to hook up and frustrating
to use. Focus instead on technoloy that
delivers true value, such as automated
light controls that let you switch from
dierent modes with the ip of a switch,
say, from full brightness during meal prep
to low-level postprandial mood lighting.
Appliances and Accents
An entire suite of commercial appliances
might not be possible even on this bud-
get, but its worth splurging on a built-in
refrigerator for aesthetics alone. Main-
tain a coordinated look by choosing one
with an integrated panel that matches
your cabinets. Faux pro ranges actually
perform better than true commercial-
grade models in our tests and cost less
than half as much, so choose one of the
slide-in models we recommend for mid-
priced renovations (page 49). You can
have your pick of popular farmhouse
sinks and tricked-out faucets, including
no-touch versions that turn on and o
with the wave of a hand, as well as built-in
coee makers, wine chillers, and more.
SCORE: 81
$8,600.
4. Walker Zanger Jet Set, Starlet tile in Calacata White
(not rated), $95.70
per square foot.
5. Wolf Gourmet 4-Slice WGTR104S toaster
SCORE: 74
$400.
6. Kenmore Elite 14763 dishwasher
SCORE: 82
$1,080.
7. KitchenAid KDRU763VSS
SCORE: 74
$7,300.
8. Blanco Cerana apron-front 30-inch sink
(not rated), $1,245-$1,450.
of a space, and have solid wood doors and
drawers and catalyzed nishes for added
durability. Look for built-in lighting and
storage options such as a pop-up shelf for
your hefty stand mixer.
Counters and Floors
Exotic stone countertops help personal-
ize a kitchen because no two slabs look
alike. I might even recommend a creamy
marble, since this type of client can aord
to have it maintained, says Jeri Norris,
a certied kitchen designer based in In-
dianapolis. High-end quartz is another
option. Check out Silestones Lusso from
its Inuencer series or Caesarstones new
faux concrete patterns.
Solid hardwood is the preferred oor-
ing in luxury kitchens, especially in
open-plan homes, where it helps unify
the spaces. Lighter species like maple and
white oak create an airy feel; darker spe-
cies like walnut and cherry oer more
elegance. Lumber Liquidators Casa De
Colour select pewter maple, at $4.20 per
square foot, did well in our tests.
Tips From the Pros
In large kitchens, its especially important
to pay attention to the work triangle,
which connects the refrigerator, range,
and sink, ensuring ecient trac ow.
An island with a cooktop or additional
sink can create another work zone and
help pull the oor plan together.
Exercise restraint with appliances and
accents. Drew McGukin, an interior de-
signer in New York City, likens an over-
stued kitchen to a woman wearing one
too many accessories.
Ill often tell clients they need to
remove one element from the design
maybe an appliance theyll never use or
a superfluous light ixture, McGukin
explains. Balance and scale need ma-
jor attention in a kitchen. Thats sage
advice at any budget.
The Skys
the Limit
$75k
$125k
' 
$40,000
' 
$19,000
 
$15,000
 \n  
$5,000
'
$1,000
 
$3,000
*\n
$7,000
(faucet sink, lighting)
 
$5,000

$5,000
(windows, ventilation,etc.)
 
$100,000
SAMPLE BUDGET
WHEN YOU SPEND
this
much on a renovation,
youre moving into super
kitchen territory. Those
are highly personalized,
multipurpose spaces that
stretch the boundaries of
traditional kitchens,
with entertainment areas
The Incredible
Shrinking Kitchen
Scan any page in this section using the Blippar app
to see our kitchen appliance buying guides
(see page 7 for details)
\n \r
bigbusiness. A boom
in apartment construction (more units
were started in 2014 than in any other
year since 1989) has made the U.S. market
ripe for downsized appliances that will t
sleekly into tighter kitchens.
Small-space living shouldnt mean set-
tling for dorm-room appliances, says Lou
Lenzi, industrial design director at GE
Appliances. The company is developing
a microkitchen that packs all of the com-
ponents of a full kitchensink, refrigera-
tor, dishwasher, cooktop, and oveninto
a 6-foot-long modular unit designed for
a small home or apartment. It will be
available in a range of nishes to match
your aesthetic, Lenzi says.
The movement is global: Other main-
stream brands, many of them foreign,
are also pushing the microliving trend
with compact appliances in sleek designs.
The German manufacturer Bosch, for ex-
ample, has added the option of custom
paneling to its slim 24-inch-wide refrig-
erator and 18-inch dishwasher. When
paired with Boschs 24-inch-wide cook-
top and wall oven, the result is a fully
coordinated appliance suite that takes up
less than 6linear feet. Compact appli-
ances have been the standard in Europe
for years, says Dan Kenny, director of
brand marketing for Bosch. We see the
trend catching re with young profes-
sionals and empty nesters moving into
urban areas.
The Italian manufacturer Smeg, a sta-
ple in trendy kitchens, oers streamlined
appliances in similar congurations, each
with the brands signature retro styling.
Fisher & Paykel, from New Zealand, also
has a line of compact appliances with
clean, contemporary styling.
The growing variety of attractive com-
pact appliances is making it easier to de-
sign a diminutive kitchen with style. But
because premium brands are rolling them
out, be prepared to pay prices on par with
top-end, full-sized models. There can also
be a trade-o in terms of performance.
For example, the maximum burner out-
put on Boschs 24-inch gas range is 12,000
BTU, compared with the 20,000 BTU
youll see in a top-of-the-line 36-inch unit.
Sometimes the sacrice in functional-
ity isnt worth it. If you love to cook, for
instance, youll probably nd a way to t
the extra 6inches of a standard 30-inch
range with its high-powered burners and
larger oven. And if you throw a lot of din-
ner parties, an 18-inch dishwasher, which
holds about one-third less than stan-
dard units, could mean running a lot of
additional loads.
This mini
kitchen from
Boschwith a
24-inch-wide
refrigerator, a
cooktop, and a
wall oven, even
has room for
the laundry.
With more people making do with less space,
manufacturers are rolling out new suites of
stylish appliances in petite sizes. But do they work?
BRAND & MODELPRICESCORETEST RESULTS
Rec.
Cooktop, High
Cooktop, Low
Broiling
Oven Capacity
Self-Cleaning
Type
Convection
FREESTANDING
ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP RANGES
LRE3083SW$800
Smoothtop, single oven (30-inch)
Frigidaire
Gallery FGEF3035RF$870
Smoothtop, single oven (30-inch)
Whirlpool
WFE905C0ES$900
Smoothtop, single oven (30-inch)
GAS RANGES
Samsung
NX58F5500SS$1,000
Gas, single oven (30-inch)
Kenmore
74132$700
Gas, single oven (30-inch)
SLIDEINS
ELECTRIC SMOOTHTOP RANGES
Samsung
NE58F9710WS$1,800
Smoothtop, double oven (30-inch)
Samsung
NE58F9500SS$1,640
Smoothtop, single oven (30-inch)
GE
PS920SFSS$1,800
Smoothtop, single oven (30-inch)
GAS RANGES
Samsung
NX58H9500WS$2,000
Gas, single oven (30-inch)
GE
PGS920SEFSS$2,550
Gas, single oven (30-inch)
PROSTYLE
30INCHWIDE RANGES
KitchenAid
KDRS407VSS$4,140
Pro-style, dual-fuel (30-inch)
Wolf
DF304$6,400
Pro-style, dual-fuel (30-inch)
36INCHWIDE RANGES
KitchenAid
KDRU763VSS$7,300
Pro-style, dual-fuel (36-inch)
GE
Monogram ZDP364NDPSS$7,600
Pro-style, dual-fuel (36-inch)
Thermador
PRG366JG$7,300
Pro-style, gas (36-inch)
Ranges That Sizzle
Of the 109 ranges we bought and tested, the highest scored 89; the lowest, 23. No brand can be called o
ut
as having the most or least reliable electric range, though GE/GE Monogram is signific
antly more reliable
than Samsung, LG, and KitchenAid. Listed below is a sampling of models in order of perf
ormance within price
categories. For full Ratings, available to online subscribers, go to
ConsumerReports.org.
RATINGS
Samsung
NX58H9500WS
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
BUDGET
$700
$1,000
MID
RANGE
$1,600
$2,600
HIGH
$4,100
$7,600
How we test ranges.
To test high cooktop heat, we time how long the highest-powered burner takes to
bring a 6-liter pot of water to a near-boil.
For low cooktop heat, we note how well the lowest-powered burner keeps a low temperature (suc
h as for melting chocolate), and h
ow well the
highest-power burner, set on low, holds tomato sauce below a boil. To test h
ow evenly the ovens bake, we bake cakes and cookies
on two oven
racks. We broil a pan of burgers to nd out how evenly they brown and to check high
-heat searing. To evaluate oven capacity, we
measure usable
space. And then it gets messy: We test the ovens ability to remove a baked-o
n mix of cheese, eggs, pie lling, and other stu
on the self-cleaning
setting. Price is approximate retail.
CR Best Buy
Recommended
Excellent
Very Good
Good Fair Poor
Dynamite Dishwashers
Of the 167 dishwashers we bought and tested, the highest scored 85; the lowest, 34. Bosch is amon
g the more
reliable brands of dishwashers. Samsung is the most repair-prone brand of dishwasher an
d cant be
recommended at this time. Listed below is a sampling of models in order of performance within pric
e categories.
For full Ratings, available to online subscribers, go to
ConsumerReports.org.
BRAND & MODELPRICESCORETEST RESULTSFEATURES
Rec.
Washing
Energy Use
Cycle Time
SSLook
Controls
Adjustable
Kenmore
13223
GDT580SSFSS
KDTE104ESS
Kenmore
$450
LG
LDS5040ST
Ascenta SHX3AR7[5]UC
H
All
H
2
Bosch
$900
80
Blomberg
DWT55300SS
Maytag
MDB8979SEZ
Kenmore
$700
KDTM354DSS
$1,080
Kenmore
Elite 14833
$1,500
Kenmore
Elite 14763
$1,000
Topaz Series DWHD-
$1,500
800 Plus Series SHX7PT55UC
$1,300
H
All
H
MATERIALPRICE RANGESCORETEST RESULTS
Rec.
Solid Surfacing
(engineered stone)
$20-$60
Granite
$20-$60
Stainless Steel
$20-$60
Butcher Block
(varnished)$20-$60
Butcher Block
(oil finish)$20-$60
Bamboo
(beeswax/mineral-oil finish)$20-$60
Recycled Glass
Ultracompact
$50-$100
(mineral oil finish)$20-$70
Limestone
$25-$75
27
BB
Prices for some select slabs may reach high-end levels.
Unlike other brands, Cosentinos Eco line of recycled counters developed a thin crack during our heat tests
and was excluded from the Ratings. The other recycled glass
ConsumerReports.org.
RATINGS
KitchenAid
KDTM354DSS
Caesarstone
Noble Gray,
Quartz
Scan any page in this section using the Blippar app
to see our kitchen appliance buying guides
(see page 7 for details)
CR Best Buy
Recommended
Excellent
Very Good
Good Fair Poor
BUDGET
$450
RANGE
$700
$1,000
HIGH
$1,000
BUDGET
RANGE
$20
HIGH
$25
The Coolest Refrigerators
Of the 285 refrigerators we bought and tested, the highest scored 87; the lowest, 29. Electrolux an
d Frigidaire are the
most repair-prone brands of bottom-freezers with icemakers. Whirlpool and Kitch
enAid are among the more repair-
prone brands. KitchenAid is the most repair-prone brand of side-by-sides with icem
akers. Listed below is a sampling of
models in order of performance. For full Ratings, available to online subscribers, g
o to
ConsumerReports.org.
BRAND & MODELPRICESCORETEST RESULTSFEATURES
Rec.
Temperature
Performance
Energy
Eficiency
(Cu. Ft.)
Total Usable
(Cu. Ft.)
Water
Energy Cost/
Yr. ($)
(HxWxD)
TOPFREEZERS
LG
LTCS20220S
20.240No16.766x30x33
Frigidaire
18.045No14.467x30x30
GTE15CTHRW
14.640No11.662x28x30
BOTTOMFREEZER
Kenmore
69313
18.513.4No4466x30x31
SIDEBYSIDE
Frigidaire
Gallery FGHS2631PF
$1,000
26.017.4Ext.6370x36x34
$2,100
27.820.0Ext.7069x36x34
Caf CYE22USHSS
$2,970
22.215.1Ext.6670x36x30
Profile PWE23KMDES
$2,600
23.116.0Int.4769x36x29
LG
LPXS30866D
$3,100
29.821.7Ext.7469x36x37
SIDEBYSIDE
$2,200
28.521.2Ext.7369x36x36
BUILTINS
MasterCool KF1903SF
$8,600
18.714.1No5683x36x25
KBFN502ESS
$9,000
24.217.0No5883x42x26
Jenn-Air
$8,500
24.217.0No5883x42x26
VCSB5423SS
$10,670
27.518.3No7683x42x26
LG
$5,400
33.524.4No7373x36x37
RATINGS
GE Caf
CYE22USHSS
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
BUDGET
$500
$1,000
CR Best Buy
Recommended
Excellent
Very Good
Good Fair Poor
How we test dishwashers.
In our washing
tests, we slather 10place settings with a variety
of foods and let the dishes sit in the machine
overnight. (The machine is loaded according to
instructions in the owners manual.) Then we
run a normal cycle using the high-temperature
option if available. Noise is judged by a listen-
ing panel during ll, wash, and drain. We mea-
sure enery use, most of which goes to heating
the water, as well as how much water is used
per cycle. And we manipulate the adjustable
tines and racks to see how easy they are to use.
How we test refrigerators.
To measure tem-
perature performance, we see how uniformly
models maintain 37 F in the fridge and 0 F in
the freezer, even as we crank up the heat in our
labs. Storage is also key, so we measure usable
capacity, excluding nooks that manufacturers
include but we dont think are usable. We also
measure height, width, and depth (HxWxD),
rounded to the nearest inch. Noise is measured
with the compressor running. Enery cost is
how much the unit will cost to run per year
based on average electricity prices.
How we test countertops.
We apply 20com-
mon foods and household products and let
them stand overnight before cleaning. Not
everybody uses a cutting board, so we slice
and chop on countertops using weighted chefs
and serrated knives. We put a pot lled with oil
heated to 400F to see how the material resists
damage and discoloration. We run a weighted
sanding block back and forth 25times over
each material to test its resistance to abrasion.
And because pots drop and other accidents
happen, we drop blunt and pointed weights
from up to 3 feet to test resistance to impact.
Scoring is based on the drop height at which
damage is rst seen. Price is the typical range
per square foot, including installation.
RANGE
$2,000
$3,000
HIGH
$5,000
$10,000
 AUGUST 2016 
The cost of prescription drugs for tens of millions
of Americans rose $2billion last
year, and all signs point to a continued rise.
At stake is nothing less than the ability
of Americans to aord the medicines they need.
Can we stop the madness?
IS
THERE
A CURE
FOR
HIGH
DRUG
PRICES?
\n \n
Martin Shkreli, then the
CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, did
something considered so reprehensible
that he was dubbed the most hated man
in America. What caused the outrage?
He increased the price of a little-known
but important drug called Daraprim from
$13.50 to $750 per pill. Daraprim is the
best treatment for toxoplasmosis, an in-
fection to which those with HIV/AIDs or
cancer are susceptible.
The story went viral, and calls came
from around the country, including from
U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D#Md., to stop
drug entrepreneurs from gouging con-
sumers for pure prot. Overnight, Shkreli
became the poster child of pharmaceuti-
cal greed. And yet raising the price of a
drug by that much is 100percent legal.
What makes the case of Daraprim so
important is that it brought a serious
and growinghealthcare problem out
into the open: America spends a tre-
mendous amount of money for prescrip-
tion drugs$424billion last year alone
before discounts, according to a new
report by IMS Institute for Healthcare
Informatics, a rm that tracks the phar-
maceutical industry. And that number
is rising fast with no sign of slowing
down. Whats more, there are few regu-
lations that shield consumers from the
Martin Shkrelis of the world, or from
drug companies that decide to raise
prices to astronomical levels.
A SPECIAL
INVESTIGATION
FROM
CONSUMER
REPORTS
BEST BUY DRUGS
PHOTOGRAPHS BY FREDRIK BRODEN
 AUGUST 2016 
The Rampant Rise of Drug Prices
The practice of raising drug prices on
newand oldmedications is common
and widespread. From a nationally rep
resentative telephone poll conducted
by Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs in
March, we learned that three in 10Ameri-
cans (about 32million people) were hit
with price hikes within the previous
12months, costing them an average of
$63 more for a drug they routinely take
and a few paid $500 or more. We also
found price increases on everything from
longtime generics used to treat common
conditions such as diabetes, high blood
pressure, and high cholesterol to new
treatments for diseases such as hepatitis
C. Our poll shows that when people were
hit with higher drug costs, they were more
likely to take unhealthy measures such as
skipping doctor appointments, tests, or
procedures, or not lling their prescrip-
tions or taking them as directed.
Take the case of Marlene Condon, a na-
ture writer living in Crozet, Va. Two years
ago she paid about $32 for 180tablets of
hydroxychloroquine (a generic available
for almost two decades) to treat her rheu-
matoid arthritis. When the drugs price
more than doubled to $75, Condon says
she was annoyed but paid the bill any-
way. Then, last September, the price of
her drug skyrocketed, costing her $500
out of pocket. Condon panicked and did
what thousands of Americans do under
those circumstances: She stopped taking
the drug. Her arthritis pain grew much
worse. Walking and doing simple house-
hold chores such as washing the dishes
became almost impossible.
The Forces of Profit
Our analysis suggests that high prices for
generic and brand-name drugs stem in
part from a battle over proit between
mammoth industriesbig pharma and
insurance companieswith consumers
caught in the middle. On the one hand,
pharmaceutical companies blame insur-
ance companies for passing along high
costs to consumers. And insurance com-
panies point to very high-priced drugs for
which there are few or no alternatives,
which ultimately aects how much insur-
ance coverage people receive and how
much they must pay out of their pockets.
Even as more patients have health in-
surance coverage, many more are facing
high pharmacy deductibles and rising out-
of-pocket costs, and other barriers to care,
putting their ability to stay on needed
therapy at risk, says Holly Campbell, a
representative at PhRMA, an industry as-
sociation that represents pharmaceutical
manufacturers.
If theres one treatment and theres
no alternative and no competition, then
thats where the challenge is, says Matt
Eyles, executive vice president of policy
and regulatory aairs at Americas Health
Insurance Plans (AHIP), a national trade
organization for the insurance industry.
The rst step in attempting to correct
prices for the consumer good is to un-
derstand and acknowledge how we got
to this moment. Here, a closer look at the
reasons drug costs are ballooning:
REASON 1
DRUG COMPANIES
CAN CHARGE WHATEVER
PRICE THEY WANT
Nothing protected Condon from the price
increases she experienced. Thats because
for Medicare and commercial health plans,
no government bodyincluding the Federal
Trade Commission, the Food and Drug Ad-
ministration, and the Centers for Medicare
& Medicaid Serviceshas rules or laws that
dictate or restrict the price a pharmaceu-
tical company can set for a drug. And in
most cases, theres nothing that restricts
how much a company can raise that price.
Heres an example: Last year, on the same
day that Valeant Pharmaceuticals pur-
chased the rights to lifesaving heart drug
Isuprel (isoproterenol) and blood pressure
medication Nitropress (nitroprusside), the
company jacked up the prices. A single
dose of Isuprel rose from $180 to $1,472,
and Nitropress went from $215 to $1,346.
The company also purchased Cuprimine
(penicillamine)a drug used to treat Wil-
sons disease, a rare genetic disorderand
upped its price from $8.88 to $262 per
In 2013 Susan Umbaugh,
71,
of Rogers, Ark., received a
free sample of a drug called
Treximet for migraine pain.
The drug worked well, so
Umbaugh got a three-month
supply (27pills) for $92; her
insurance covered the re-
maining $679. In less than a
year, when she went to refill
the same prescription, she
was charged $827 and her
insurer had to pay $1,053.
Now she cant afford to refill
her prescription as often, so
shes using less and hopes
it will last all year. After that,
I dont know [what Ill do]
since its so expensive.
THE REASON
GlaxoSmithKline created
the new drug, Treximet,
by combining two older ge-
neric drugssumatriptan,
the generic of Imitrex; and
naproxen, the generic of
Aleveinto one pill. In 2014
the company sold Treximet
to Pernix Therapeutics,
which more than doubled
its price.
THE FIX
Theres no generic of
Treximet, but its two main
ingredients are available
as generics with similar
dosing. We found naproxen
500mg for $4 at Walmart
and a three-month supply
of various doses of sumat-
riptan for less than $45
at HealthWarehouse.com.
Umbaugh could save as
much as $790 for a three-
month supply.
THE PROBLEM
2 Old Drugs
Combine
to Become a
Single Costly
New Drug
capsule. In all three cases, the drugs had
no generic equivalents available, so Valeant
was able to corner the market with a built-in
base of customers.
Valeant raised the price of these drugs
after an analysis of their actual value,
says company representative Laurie Little.
These huge increases have drawn con-
gressional attention because the U.S. gov-
ernment is the largest purchaser of drugs in
the country for programs including Medi-
care and Medicaid, as well as for veterans
and the military. Spending more money
on drugs because of price increases can
mean more taxpayer dollars are used than
originally budgetedsomething Congress
must manage. Last fall, Sens. Susan Col-
lins, R#Maine, and Claire McCaskill, D#Mo.,
launched a large-scale investigation into
sudden and aggressive price increases by
four drugmakers, including Turing and Va-
leant, requesting that the companies turn
over documentation to justify the hikes.
And earlier this year, Rep. Cummings held
a similar congressional hearing, releasing
reams of internal memos to the public that
detailed the prot goals that companies
ConsumerReports.org/
drugprices
to see more in-depth
coverage and to learn more about
what you can do to get a better
price on your medications.
 AUGUST 2016 
than research and development. Ideally,
a drug company will spend a substantial
portion of its revenue in R&D seeking new
discoveriesnding new medical treat-
ments and cures. We found that drug
company behemoths Johnson & Johnson
and Pzer spent about 13percent and
16percent on R&D, respectively. At the
same time, both companies spent about
30percent of revenue on selling, market-
ing, and administrative expenses.
The drug industry doesnt play by the
same rules as any other market, where
exorbitant prices dissuade customers,
says Kevin Riggs, M.D., a researcher at
the Johns Hopkins University, where he
focuses on healthcare costs. A drug com-
pany can increase the price of a product
many times over, and people will still buy
it because they need it, he says. At the
end of the day, they largely charge what-
ever the market will bearand with life-
saving medication, thats a lot.
REASON 2
INSURANCE COMPANIES ARE
ALSO CHARGING YOU MORE
Insurance companies exist, in theory, to
protect people from unexpected high costs
of healthcare. You pay a monthly premium
that goes into large pool. The idea is that
should you need to draw from that pool
to pay for a healthcare expense, its there
for you. In the case of drugs, insurance
companies often work with rms called
pharmacy beneit managers, or PBMs,
that further pool consumers together to
negotiate large-volume discounts from
drug companies. The idea is that those
discounts will ultimately save you money.
The only way left for insurers to pro-
vide coverage for a drug but maintain
their proit margins is to reduce how
much insurance coverageand thus pro-
tection from high pricesthey oer to a
consumer. That can happen in at least
one of four ways: by raising your deduct-
ible; by increasing monthly premiums; by
increasing your co-pay by putting drugs
into more expensive tiers; or by mak-
ing you pay co-insurance, where you
pay a percentage of the medications
cost; usually one-third or more.
The dramatic increase in prescription
drug costs is denitely contributing to a
move to higher insurance deductibles
and greater cost sharing with consum-
ers, says Eyles from AHIP, the insurance
industry trade organization.
Ten years ago, less than 10percent of
employees with health insurance were en-
rolled in a plan with a deductible of $1,000
or more. Today, almost half (46percent)
of Americans have those plans, according
to research by the Kaiser Family Founda-
tion, a nonprot organization focused on
national health concerns.
Eyles says that insurers have limited
leverage with drugmakers, especially
when it comes to new and expensive
drugs. Theres not a lot we can do other
than say we wont cover it, and thats an
extreme most plans want to avoid.
But thats exactly what has happened.
For its 2016 formularythe list of drugs
coveredExpress Scripts, the largest PBM
in the U.S., dropped coverage of 80drugs,
including insulins such as Novolin and
NovoLog for people with type1 diabetes,
and instead oering coverage for Humu-
lin and Humalog. The company noted
in its announcement about the change
that it only exclude[s] medications from
our formulary when clinically equivalent
alternatives are already covered on our
formulary, and only then when those ex-
clusions would result in signicant cost
savings for our clients and patients.
REASON 3
OLD DRUGS ARE
REFORMULATED AS
COSTLY NEW DRUGS
Reinventing old medications is a tactic
called evergreeningwhere companies
change or tweak the formula of a drug
by, say, combining two older drugs to
form a new pill. Or they create an
extended-release version, or change the
delivery methodfor example, instead
of a tablet or an injectable, the new ver-
sion is inhaled. When that happens, the
federal government may grant the drug
company a new patent, which could be
Sherry Ackley, 47,
of Ra-
leigh, N.C., is allergic to bee
stings. To protect her from
having a reactionblack-
ing out or fainting, and
thus potential injury from
fallingher doctor told her
to carry an EpiPena self-
injectible form of epinephrine
that quickly reduces severe
allergy symptoms. She took
the prescription for the
EpiPen to a pharmacy, which
quoted her a price of $525,
which she would have to
pay entirely; her insurance
kicks in only after she pays
$10,000 out of pocket. I told
the pharmacist I couldnt
afford it. So Ackley left the
prescription behind. To avoid
bees, she now spends most
of her time indoors, although
she loves gardening.
THE REASON
Epinephrine dates back to
the early 1900s and costs
pennies to make. EpiPen
has a unique, patented,
self-injectable syringe
system. Since drug company
Mylan purchased EpiPen
in 2007, the price increased
by about 450percent. No
generic version of EpiPen
is available.
THE FIX
A cheaper epinephrine in-
jector called Adrenaclick is
an option. Its not the same
technology, nor is it adminis-
tered exactly like EpiPen,
but its the same drug. We
found it for $138 at Walmart
using a GoodRx coupon.
THE PROBLEM
No Limit on
How High Drug
Companies
Can Raise
Prices
%
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
worth up to 20years of protection for its
drug, meaning it may not have any generic
drug competitors. That can translate to
greater revenue for a pharmaceutical com-
pany and higher costs for the consumer.
One example is the diabetes drug insulin.
The drug is almost 100years old, and yet no
generic version is available in the U.S. Thats
because drug companies keep changing its
formulation and getting new patents for
it. Thomas Woodard, 73, of Greensboro,
N.C., takes a newer form of insulin called
Toujeo. Instead of taking multiple daily
injections, his single Toujeo injection lasts
about a week. (To be sure, injecting less
frequently is more convenient.) Woodard
pays about $85 per month for the drug, but
theres a problem: When Woodard lls his
prescription, the pharmacy and his insur-
ance company will permit him only three
vials, which dont entirely cover him for the
month, and he cant aord another set of
three vials. (They come in a box of three,
and pharmacies cant break them up.) So
he deals with it another way. I get to the
end of the month, and I just cut back on
the number of units I take, Woodard says.
Thats not a good idea for a person with
diabetes like Woodard, whose blood glu-
cose level needs to remain fairly consistent.
Drug companies keep coming out with
new insulins, which work better, but the
price keeps going up, he says.
Last year 30products that were reformu-
lations of old drugs hit the market, accord-
ing to another recent report by the IMS.
Says George Slover, senior policy counsel
for Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of
Consumer Reports: Evergreening keeps
drug prices high for consumers because
it makes it harder for lower-cost generic
alternatives to enter the market and give
consumers a choice.
REASON 4
GENERIC DRUG SHORTAGES
CAN TRIGGER MASSIVE
PRICE INCREASES
Marlene Condons experience with her
medications skyrocketing price is not an
isolated event. Overall, prices of generics
increased by almost 9percent between
November 2013 and November 2014, ac-
cording to a 2015 report by Elsevier, a
company that supplies information on
drug pricing. Some prices remained stable
or even dropped. But the cost of certain
drugs went upway upwhen they should
have stayed the same or even gone down.
Its those huge price hikes in every-
day drugs that are having the greatest
impact on consumers, says Riley of the
ACP. Patients who have been taking
generics for years are suddenly nding
that their medication is unaordable.
In Marlene Condons case, its clear what
made her generic arthritis drug, hydroxy-
chloroquine, so expensive. First, some
background: At least six companies are
approved by the FDA to create generic
copies of the drug Condon takes, includ-
ing three of the biggest in the U.S.: Mylan,
Sandoz, and Teva. In theory, having so
many companies that make the same drug
should increase competition and bring the
price down. And thats exactly what hap-
pened for more than two decades.
But in recent years, several companies
have stopped making older generic drugs
such as hydroxychloroquine altogether
because they said they couldnt make
enough prot selling them. For example,
Teva, the largest generic drugmaker, told
us it stopped making the arthritis drug in
2012 because of protability challenges.
Another company, West-Ward, ceased pro-
duction of the drug in 2014.
When fewer companies make a drug, a
new problem is created: If there are any
hiccups with getting the drugs raw in-
gredients, it can aect the entire supply
in the U.S. Thats what happened with
hydroxychloroquine, according to a rep-
resentative from Sandoz, a pharmaceuti-
cal rm still making the drug. In 2014, a
company that supplies the raw ingredi-
ent for the drug failed an FDA inspection
and temporarily stopped making itand
WHEN DRUG PRICES RISE,
QUALITY OF LIFE GOES DOWN
Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs
conducted a nationally representative telephone poll of
4,015adult Americans in March 2016. We found that 45percent of people regularly take a p
re-
scription drug and on average take between four and five medications. To aord those
, people
made adjustments in household spending (see light blue bar below). But for the thre
e in 10people
(29percent) who reported that they paid more money out of pocket for at least one of their drugs
over the prior 12months, the budget crunch was more dramatic (see darker blue bar)
.
Experienced a cost increase on
their drugs in the prior 12 months
Did not experience
a cost increase on their drugs
Spent less on entertainment
and dining out
Spent less on groceries
Used a credit
card more often
Spent less on family
Got an insurance policy
that covered medications
Postponed paying other bills
Postponed retirement
to maintain health
insurance coverage
Took a second job
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
soon there was a shortage. The two drug-
makers that were able to still get the raw
material then upped the price.
Condons arthritis drug is still expen-
sive, and now she nds discount drug
coupons online that cut the cost to less
than $300. But its still a hardship.
What can protect us from sudden price
hikes on old drugs? Apparently not the
FDA. An agency spokesman, Christopher
Kelly, told us the FDA doesnt have a
way to control what a company ulti-
mately decides to charge under our pres-
ent authorities. Kelly notes that the FDA
pays particular attention to new generic
drug applications from companies that
would prevent shortages of medically
necessary drugs. But the pricing and
decisions that companies make regarding
pricing is an area currently outside FDA
purview, and we have no enforcement
capability in this area, Kelly notes.
REASON 5
SPECIALTY DRUGS
ARE COSTING ALL OF US
The rise of super-expensive, so-called
specialty drugs is a new threat. Exam-
ples include the hepatitis C medications
Sovaldi ($84,000 for a 12-week course of
treatment) and Harvoni (up to $95,000)
that usually target small groups of pa-
tients with less common conditions. But
their astronomical prices are driving up
overall costs for the healthcare system.
Currently, specialty drugs account for
less than 1percent of prescriptions in the
U.S. but represent about one-third of total
drug spending by consumers, employers,
and the government, which all purchase
medications, according to a recent report
by the Congressional Research Service.
And as drug companies invest heavily in
those highly protable products, the IMS
estimates that by 2020 very expensive
drugs are likely to constitute an even big-
ger chunk of drug spending.
More than half of the 56medications
approved by the FDA in 2015 were spe-
cialty drugs. And more than 900biologic
drugsare currently under development,
according to PhRMA. Were all excited
about these new technologies, but its not
at all clear how we as a society are going to
pay for it, says Kevin Schulman, M.D., a
professor of medicine and business admin-
istration at Duke University, where he is
also director of the Center for Clinical and
Genetic Economics and an associate direc
tor of the Duke Clinical Research Institute.
One thing is clear: Consumers costs will
rise. Most Medicare prescription plans re-
quire patients to pay one-third or more of
the costs of specialty drugs. And consum-
ers still face higher insurance premiums
and deductibles, says Eyles of AHIP. The
It seems
that everyones
talking about the high costs
of drugsto friends, with
family, on social mediabut
where those conversations
are not happening often
enough is at the doctors
office. Despite the clear
toll of high drug costs, only
6percent of people in our
consumer poll who currently
take a prescription drug
found out the cost of their
new prescription during a
doctors appointment, when
the prescription was being
written. In fact, 63percent
didnt learn the price of the
drug until they were stand-
ing at the pharmacy counter.
When costs were dis-
cussed, it was patients who
stepped up. In our poll, of
those who did talk about
costs with their doctor
(25percent), most told
us that they initiated the
conversation, not their doc-
tor. And doctors report the
same: Our April 2016 poll of
200internal medicine doc-
tors revealed that a majority
said that in a typical week
they discuss drug costs and
affordability with just 2.6
out of every 10 patients.
The ability to afford a
medication can have a huge
effect on patient compli-
ance, says Consumer
Reports Chief Medical
Adviser, Marvin M. Lipman,
M.D. If there are no less
costly alternatives, the doc-
tor should go to bat with
the insurance company or
the drugs manufacturer on
behalf of the patient. And
considering that doctors
prescribed an estimated
4.4billion drugs last year,
not talking about a patients
ability to pay can be an ex-
pensive oversight.
Some doctors said in our
poll that they try to help pa-
tients cut costs by prescrib-
ing generics or switching to
a less expensive alternative.
Yet although most doctors
said they are concerned
about affordability, when it
comes to treatment, they
were more likely to consider
efficacy and safety, suggest-
ing reluctance on the part of
doctors to engage in more
substantial conversations
about costs with patients.
Recognizing the financial
strain on U.S. consum-
ers, the American College
of Physicians (ACP), the
second-largest physicians
group in the country, last
March published a position
paper, taking the unusual
step of wading into the
pricing debate as doctors
increasingly find that drug
costs eclipse other health
worries for patients, says
ACP past-president Wayne
Riley, M.D. Pharma must
be more responsive to this
problem, or there will be
stronger pleas from many
for mandated transparency,
price controls, and more
regulation.
DOCTORS AND DRUG PRICES: ENDING THE SILENCE
CAN WE TALK?
Yet In a typical week,
doctors discuss drug
costs with only 2.6out
of every 10patients.
8out of 10doctors are
concerned about their
patients ability to
aord their treatments.
Source: Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs online
survey of 200 internal medicine doctors conducted
April 8 to 18, 2016.
dramatic growth in this part of the market-
place is unsustainable, he says. Health
plans just cant absorb those costs inde-
nitely without making adjustments to pre-
miums and benets.
Unfortunately, we cant always count on
competition among drugmakers to drive
down prices, says Riggs from Johns Hop-
kins. Many specialty drugs are biologics,
medications that start out as a living or-
ganism derived from animals or humans,
or from microorganisms, such as bacteria
or yeast. That makes them much more
dicult to copy than conventional drugs.
To date, the FDA has approved only
two biosimilar drugs, essentially ver-
sions of already existing biologics. Even
as those drugs trickle onto the market,
Riggs says hes skeptical that biosimilar
drugs would substantially lower prices;
estimates predict price reductions be-
tween 20and 40percent, compared with
about 80percent for traditional generics.
What the Government Can Do
Consumers are looking to the government
to take action to control drug prices. In
our CR Best Buy Drugs poll, 77percent of
people taking a medication said the gov-
ernment should allow more generics onto
the market sooner; 74percent want the
government to pressure drug companies
to charge less. Seventy-nine percent say
insurers should pressure pharmaceutical
companies to lower drug prices; 81per-
cent said consumers should do the same.
More specic steps that could help con-
trol costs include asking the government to:

Set a limit on out-of-pocket costs.
That
would ensure that consumers have some
protection against very high costs or sud-
den large spikes in prices. For example,
last year California enacted a law so that
a consumer wont pay more than $250 for
a single prescription drug per month, or
$500 for certain high-deductible plans.

Approve more generic versions of com-
mon drugs.
Currently, 4,300generic drug
applications await an FDA decision. The
agency says its working to review new ap-
plications within 15months.

Allow limited importation of drugs
from legitimate Canadian and European
sources, which currently is illegal under
U.S. law.
The ability to import drugs from
countries that have a regulatory system
similar to that of the U.S. could alleviate
shortages or moderate prices.

Use governments existing march-in
rights.
It works like this: If there is a prob-
lem with the publics access to a drug (a
supply shortage or an exorbitant price),
and if a drug was developed using tax-
payer money, the Department of Health
and Human Services has the right to force
the company to allow another manufac-
turer to make generic versions that are
cheaper for the consumer.
What Drug Companies Can Do
The most obvious help pharmaceutical
makers can provide is to charge lessor
at least slow the pace of price increases.
There is a precedent: Rising drug prices
in the 1990s led to public outcry and con-
gressional hearings. And fearing price con-
trols, nine drug companies, led by Merck,
made a pledge to keep price increases at
or below increases in ination.
Pharma has a right to make a prot,
says Riley of the ACP, but it also has a
moral obligation to be transparent
about its pricing because it benets greatly
from government-funded research. The
American taxpayer has been providing the
venture capital to fund their products,
he says. The public deserves to realize a
return on that investment in the form of
medications they can aord. But pharma-
ceutical industry representatives think the
focus on price alone is misguided and
threatens to squander our opportunity
to usher in the next wave of medical prog
ress, says Campbell at PhRMA.
States are starting to ght back. This
past June, Vermont passed the rst leg-
islation in the U.S. that requires drug
companies to justify high costs and price
increases, and to calculate the nancial
eect on insurance premiums with a se-
lect set of drugs. California is currently
considering a similar bill.
What Consumers Can Do
Although much of drug pricing is out of
consumers hands, consider these tips
Dawn Conrows 12-year-old
daughter
in Chesapeake,
Va., received a diagnosis of
attention deficit hyperactiv-
ity disorder (ADHD) and
has been taking Vyvanse
to treat it, which works well.
With the familys insurance,
the drug co-pay is $50.
But two weeks ago Dawns
husband lost his job, and the
family then lost their health
insurance coverage. Without
insurance, the drug costs
$293 per month.
THE REASON
There is no generic of
THE PROBLEM
Change
in Insurance
Coverage
Makes Price
Go Up
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
to nd the best deals at the pharmacy:

Talk to your doctor about the cost
of the drug she is prescribing.
For less
expensive alternatives, ask about gener-
ics, which can cost up to 90percent less.
You doctor might consider therapeutic
substitutiona dierent drug that works
as well. If your insurance drops or reduces
coverage of a drug, your doctor can also
help by appealing to your insurance com-
pany for an exception to cover the drug
anyway. The administrative process for
ling the exception is dierent with each
insurance company and can take a few
weeks before a decision is made.

Shop around and negotiate.
Con-
ConsumerReports.org/
drugprices
for more.
Funding for the preparation of this article
was provided in part by the Atlantic Philan-
thropies and by a grant from the state At-
torney General Consumer and Prescriber
Education Grant Program, which is funded
by the multistate settlement of consumer-
fraud claims regarding the marketing of the
prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).
With age
comes experi-
ence, wisdom and a lot
of medication: A Consumer
Reports Best Buy Drugs
national telephone poll
found that three-quarters
of Americans 65 and older
currently take an average
of six prescription drugs.
(By comparison, only half
of people younger than 65
regularly use medication,
and when they do, they
take about four drugs on
average.) Despite having
insurance coverage such
as Medicare, our poll also
found that one-third of
people 65 and older expe-
rienced cost hikes in the
previous 12months and
paid an average of $53
more for at least one of
their drugsthough others
may have increased as well.
The perfect storm of
taking more medications,
having them spike in price,
and living on fixed incomes
means that seniors espe-
cially feel the price pain,
says Joe Baker, president of
the Medicare Rights Center,
a nonprofit organization
that provides assistance
to people with Medicare.
Even with Medicare, many
people wind up paying
substantial out-of-pocket
costs, he says. We hear
stories about people mort-
gaging their house just to
afford their medications.
Seniors with Medicare
coverage for medication
have another worry: hit-
ting the doughnut hole,
an odd accounting system
that tallies how much
money the person and the
The range of prices a person on Medicare
Part D would pay per year for just one
drug to treat hepatitis C, multiple sclerosis,
rheumatoid arthritis, or cancer.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation.
$4,000$12,000
STICKER SHOCK
The Three Seconds
That Save Lives
Thats all it takes to buckle up, yet a confounding 11.5 percent of Americans
put themselves at risk by not doing so. The consequences, from higher insurance
rates to compromised car design, aect us all.
by Cheryl Jensen
 AUGUST 2016 
RATINGS FROM OUR TEST TRACK
EXPERT CAR ADVICE
ROAD REPORT
  \n\r \n \n \r 
of safety
advances, public-relations campaigns,
legislation, and advertising pitches by the
Department of Transportation (DOT) and
the worlds automakers have persuaded
88.5percent of Americans to fasten their
seat belts when they get into their cars.
But that also means 11.5 percent of
vehicle drivers and passengers still
dont buckle up. That translates to al
most 25million people who ignore the
public-service ads, the reminder chimes
in their vehicles, the 49 state laws that
make seat belt use mandatory, and the
nagging from loved ones who do click
into their seat belts.
At this point in the history of the seat
belt, the research behind its eectiveness
is so conclusive and well-socialized that
few abstainers can claim ignorance, for-
getfulness, or confusion. To regulators
and safety advocates, the remainder of
stubborn people who refuse to buckle up
represents an incredibly high number of
unnecessary vehicle fatalities.
The societal consequences extend be-
yond the tragedies themselves. The added
risk from unbelted motorists raises auto-
insurance rates and healthcare costs for
everyone. And automakers have made
numerous design compromises to their
vehicles to account for unbelted occu-
pants, resulting in cars that are less safe
for the rest of us.
Rosekind, chief of the National Highway
Trac Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Rosekinds agency is Americas ocial
record-keeper when it comes to trac
accidents. According to its data, seat belts
represent the single greatest public-safety
innovation in automotive history. In the
past 50 years, 14 safety innovations have
saved 613,501 lives. They include fron-
tal airbags, child safety seats, and side
impact protection and curtain airbags.
But not one has come close to seat belts,
which are responsible for saving 329,715
livesmore than half the total.
Consumer Reports recently posted an
online request to hear from seat belt ab-
stainers. A majority of respondents com-
plained of discomfort, especially shorter
drivers and women with large breasts.
Others expressed a erce libertarian
streak, seeing seat belt laws as onerous
and unjustied. Some were baby boom-
ers who grew up not wearing belts and
never got into the habit of using them.
Many said they buckled up on highway
trips but not when driving around town.
We even heard from someonewho said
hes in law enforcementwho refuses to
wear a seat belt and doesnt think anyone
else should have to, either.
More than a few who responded
said they had been in accidents while
unbelted but continued not to wear
a seat belt. Some even theorized that
Seat belts have been standard equip
ment in passenger cars since 1968. Usage
was low at rst, but in the 1980s states be-
gan to set mandatory seat belt laws. The
DOT then pushed out a large-scale public-
education campaign, which turned crash-
test dummies into cultural icons.
The results were signicant. After New
York State passed the rst seat belt law in
1984, observed belt use rose from 14 per-
cent to 37percent within two years. By the
end of the 1990s, it was above 70 percent.
The Vince and Larry ads and high vis-
ibility enforcement campaign Click It or
12,500
LIVES AND PREVENTED
308,000
SERIOUS INJURIES IN 2010.
THOSE AVERTED
TRAGEDIES ALSO SAVED
$50 billion
IN MEDICAL CARE AND
LOST PRODUCTIVITY.
 AUGUST 2016 
PHOTOS: TEENIE HARRIS ARCHIVECARNEGIE MUSEUM OF ARTGETTY IMAG
ES 1930S;
CONSUMER REPORTS ARCHIVE 194950 AND 1956; VOLVO CARS 1959
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
194950
Nash automobiles
are the first to
oer factory-installed lap belts.
We noticed some common themes when examining responses to
our online request to hear from people who dont wear seat belts.
We also drew on our anecdotal ndings over the years. Many of the
reasons people give for not buckling up are falseand hazardous.
5 DANGEROUS LIES
PEOPLE TELL THEMSELVES
LIE
If I do get into a crash,
Id have a better chance
of survival because Id be
thrown clear of the car.
TRUTH
Youre far more likely
to be killed or seriously
injured if youre ejected
from your vehicle. In
2014, about 80percent
of occupants ejected
from vehicles were killed.
By design, seat belts
are meant to keep you
contained in your vehicle
during a crash. Accord-
ing to the Michigan state
police website: The idea
of being thrown from a
car and gently landing
in a grassy area beside
the road is pure fantasy.
There is a far greater
chance of being thrown
through the windshield,
scraped along the pave-
ment, or even crushed
by your own vehicle or
another one.
LIE
I dont need to be belted
just to drive a few blocks
away. When Im on the
highway I will buckle up,
because most crashes
occur at high speeds.
TRUTH
Most car crashes occur
at less than 40 mph.
And most fatal crashes
occur within 25miles
of home. So you should
wear a seat belt during
even the shortest
trips. Even if youre on
local streets and not
speeding, others around
you may be. If your
vehicle hits a solid
object at 30 mph, unre-
strained people and
objects inside will con-
tinue to move forward
at that speed until
they hit a solid part of
the car.
LIE
My car has airbags, so
wearing a seat belt wont
add protection.
TRUTH
Airbags are meant to work
with seat belts, not to
replace them. They deploy
in a fraction of a second
and can hit your face and
body at speeds up to 200
mph. In a crash, if youre
not wearing a seat belt,
you could be thrown into
an airbag as it inflates,
which could cause severe
injury or death.
LIE
If my car goes off the
road into a river, I dont
want to be trapped by my
seat belt.
TRUTH
That happens in less
than one half of 1 percent
of all crashes. The
possibility of being
trapped by a seat belt
that doesnt release
is far less than being
injured if youre unbelted
and flung around the car.
LIE
Im strong enough to
brace myself against
the steering wheel or
dashboard in a collision.
TRUTH
No, youre not. The sud-
den deceleration of a
car in a crash at just
30mph will transform
the mass of an unbelted
160-pound person into
12tons. And you cant
predict the onset of
a sudden crash, which
can happen in less
than a second.
1956
Consumer
Reports
finds
that many
cross-lap seat
belts fail basic
safety and
durability tests.
1959
Volvos
become the
first cars to be fitted
with three-point
lap/shoulder belts.
195556
Ford
and
Chrysler
begin to oer lap belts.
1951
Roger W. Griswold
and
Hugh DeHaven
obtain a patent for a
three-point belt.
ROAD REPORT
(continued on page 64)
19%
being ejected from the car actually saved
their life.
There are always stories of people
defying the odds and surviving a car
crash unbelted, but the likelihood of be-
ing injured or killed as a result of being
ejected is actually very high, says Jennifer
Stockburger, director of operations for
Consumer Reports Auto Test Center.
The odds are not in your favor, Stock-
burger says. Youll only hear survival
stories from survivors, but unfortunately
not from the many whose lives could have
been saved by buckling up.
Statistically speaking, youre twice as
likely to die in a crash if youre not wearing
a lap/shoulder seat belt. Your chances are
even worse if youre in a light truck or SUV.
According to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention, women are more
likely to buckle up than men, and drivers
in urban and suburban areas are more
likely to wear their seat belts than those
in rural areas.
Backseat Bad News
Data on rear-seat passengers are the most
distressing. Adult seat belt use in 2014
was only 73 percent in rear seats, down
from 78 percent the previous year. Worse
still, rear seat belt use among younger
passengers (ages 16 to 24) fell signii-
cantly, to 68 percent from 78 percent, a
possible reason motor-vehicle crashes are
the leading cause of death among teens.
NHTSA data show that more than half of
teenagers who died in crashes werent
wearing a seat belt.
Rear-seat passengers are three times
more likely to die in a crash if theyre un-
belted, according to a recent study done for
the Governors Highway Safety Association.
It noted that 883 unrestrained rear-seat
passengers ages 8 and older were killed in
crashes, but that buckling up might have
saved 436 of them.
The study also revealed a macabre fact:
A driver wearing a seat belt is more than
twice as likely to be killed in a frontal
crash when an unbelted person in the
backseat is hurled forward.
By being completely unrestrained in
a vehicle, the child or the adult is free to
y around inside the vehicle and strike
basically anything, says Dennis Durbin,
M.D., director of the Oce of Clinical and
Translational Research at The Childrens
Hospital of Philadelphia. Anything can
include hard surfaces such as the side pil-
lars, glassor other occupants.
An unrestrained passenger in the
backseat might not only become a pro-
jectile that hits the driver in the back of
the head; he or she can also be propelled
forward with enough force to compress
the driver against the steering wheel or
windshield, Durbin says.
I suspect that when people choose
not to wear their seat belt, particularly
in the backseat, he says, they dont re-
alize that they are putting others in the
vehicle at risk.
SEAT BELT
USE OVER TIME
The National Highway
Traic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) started track-
ing seat belt use in 1976.
Observed usage actually
dropped through the 1970s,
but then made significant
gains in the 1980s and 90s
after states began adopting
mandatory seat belt laws.
 AUGUST 2016 
PHOTOS: BETTMANNGETTY IMAGES 1965; GETTY IMAGES 1968; THE
DENVER POSTGETTY IMAGES 1994; FORD MOTOR COMPANY 2015
1965
Ralph Naders
Unsafe at Any
Speed, an indict-
ment of the auto
industry for its
lack of safety stan-
dards, is published.
14%
46%
58%
82%
89%
much less likely to sustain an injury in the
rst place, and the severity of that injury is
going to be less, Passmore says. Gener-
ally speaking, the less severe the injuries,
the lower medical costs will be. But among
the worst things that can happen to you is
to go through the windshield or be thrown
outside the car. Thats where you hear of
the most catastrophic injuries occurring.
The more severe an injury, the higher
the related costs. According to NHTSAs
2010 report, the cost of an accident in
which a passenger is critically injured is
estimated at more than $3.3 million in
terms of medical bills, property damage,
and lost wages. For a fatality, that number
climbs to more than $5.3 million.
How Seat Belts Aect Car Design
Auto-industry experts consulted by
Consumer Reports say that modern
cars are designed to protect unbelted
occupants in a crash, but that those
protections result in compromises that
can actually reduce safety and comfort.
One result is that automotive engineers
essentially have to supersize airbags.
The belted occupant is subject to a
much larger, more powerful airbag than
necessary, says Chris Caruso, a former
GM crash-safety engineer and now a con-
sultant with Automotive Safety Consulting
in Las Vegas. He spent more than 20years
designing three generations of airbag safety
systems, leading to the airbags that are in
vehicles today.
Modern cars take into account how
passengers are seated, their weight, and
whether or not theyre belted, then adjust
the force at which airbags deploy accord-
ingly. But there are design and engineer-
ing limitations for how much the airbag
can be depowered. Also, airbags could be
made smaller if federal standards didnt
require them to protect unbelted occu-
pants, Caruso says.
The larger size and volume of the
driver airbag to compensate for unbelted
occupants results in an airbag that is
larger than the steering wheel rim diam-
eter, Caruso explains. That can result in
injuries to the drivers hands, wrists, and
forearms in a crash.
In Europe, where a higher percentage
of people use seat belts, regulators dont
require automakers to build airbags to
protect unbelted passengers, so airbags
are smaller.
If the U.S. adopted similar regulations,
belted occupants actually could be much
safer, although that would mean unbelted
occupants would be at a much greater
risk, Caruso says.
Sam Campbell, the head of U.S. safety
engineering at BMW, says that the require-
ment to accommodate unbelted passengers
makes a dierence in cabin design as well.
BMWs vehicles, especially its smaller
All rear seats, includ-
ing the middle one,
are required to have
three-point lap/shoul-
der belts in
cars
light trucks.
2015
The observed
seat belt use
rate increases
88.5 percent.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
1994
The overall ob-
served seat belt
use rate reaches
58 percent.
1984
New York
2000
2010
BEST & WORST
SEAT BELT USAGE
BY STATE
*A state with primary enforcement laws.
Source: Y.Y. Chen and the National Highway
%
Georgia
%
*
Minnesota
%
*
Washington
%
*
Illinois
%
*
Nevada
%
California
%
*
South Dakota
%
Montana
%

%
*
Alabama
%
*
Arkansas
%
*
Massachusetts
%
Virginia
%
ILLUSTRATIONS: ISTOCK
cars, could be roomier and lighter, re-
ducing emissions and fuel consumption,
Campbell says. But to protect the unbelted,
the instrument panel has to be closer to oc-
cupants to keep them from being hurtled
as far and fast toward the airbags. If they
were belted, you would have a little bit
more design freedom to make the instru-
ment panel a little bit slimmer.
And without that requirement, BMW
could do away with part of the instrument
panel and knee airbags, Campbell says.
But those airbags are designed to pro-
tect the lower extremities of unbelted oc-
cupants, who could otherwise be thrown
into the footwell. Smaller, less expensive
airbags could also mean a reduction in
the cost of a vehicle or the addition of
features, Campbell adds.
Rolling Out New Tech
Technoloy exists that could get more
people to buckle up and keep them safer
when they do. The new Chevrolet Malibu,
for instance, can mute the vehicles stereo
when people in the front arent wearing
their seat belts.
Adding seat belt reminder chimes for
rear seats like those for up front could
also get more people to buckle up.
Thats why Congress, at the urging of
Consumer Reports and other safety ad-
vocates, asked the Department of Trans-
portation to propose a rule for rear seat
belt reminder systems by October 2014.
The agency still hasnt done so.
Other technologies are also available to
further improve seat belt performance.
For years, front seat belts have had pre-
crash pretensioners and load limiters to
help reduce chest injuries for belted oc-
cupants in a collision, yet those systems
are rare to nonexistent for rear seat belts.
And some Fords and Mercedes-Benzes
oer seat belts with a small airbag in the
shoulder portion for rear seat occupants.
Getting driversand their passengers
to buckle up is one of the great success
stories in our society, about how we
can change behavior, says Rosekind of
NHTSA. But more work needs to be done.
We are at 88.5 percent, he says. We
need to get all the way to 100.
One way to promote seat
belt use is to enact the
strictest seat belt laws.
But states may have lost
the will to do so, says
a nonprofit group that
supports those laws.
Last year saw the few-
est number of states enact
highway safety laws since
2004. Thats when the
group, Advocates for High-
way & Auto Safety (AHAS),
began rating states on
ROAD REPORT
OVERALL
SCORE
 -  .
Thats a drop-the-
mic moment.
That overall fuel
economy milestone we recorded
in our tests for the redesigned
2016 Prius hybrid is a phenom-
enal achievement, especially
viewed against the previous
generations already impressive
44mpg overall. In fact, it gets
the most miles per gallon of any
vehicle weve ever tested.
At a glance the Prius power-
train appears largely carry-
overwhich makes you wonder
how fuel economy could jump
so quickly. It turns out that an
extensive collection of small
engineering changes conspires
to make the 1.8-liter, four-
cylinder engine exceptionally
miserly. Also helping is a more
ecient transmission, a higher-
tech lithium battery, and a more
aerodynamic lozenge body
shape. One mpg here, another
mpg there pretty soon youre
talking a huge improvement.
The results dont lie: The
new Prius achieved 43mpg in
our city cycle, vs. the old cars
32mpg; highway fuel economy
improved from 55to 59mpg.
The lighter, more compact
electric drive system combines
with the gas engine to produce
121hp. Despite the modest
output, it has sucient oomph
around town, and the hybrids
initial hit of battery power
moves the car o the line
smoothly until the gas engine
kicks in. Still, the car is far from
quickit loafed to 60mph in
10.3seconds. That matters when
youre merging on the freeway.
The new Prius has a more
sophisticated rear suspension
that helps smooth out the cars
ride as well as sharpen the han-
dling. Theres now less body
roll in corners, with an alert
nature that was missing from
the sloppy last generation. The
brakes are less grabby than in
most hybrids, making it easier
to modulate smooth stops.
The cars sleeker, lower
stance requires you to duck
your head to get in. And the
lack of lumbar adjustment in
the chintzy front seatsalong
with minimal door and center
armrest padding in lower trim
levelscompromises comfort
on longer trips. The rear seat
has enough space for most
adults, but it is lower and less
comfortable than before.
The interior sees a major
upgrade in terms of t and n-
ish. Gone is the plasticky trim
that encased the dashboard;
instead, the new Prius brings
soft-touch surfaces, ashes of
chrome, and a high-tech look.
But oddities remain: The in-
strument panel is in the middle
of the dashboard, the gearshift
stays akin to a joystick, and
the bizarre white plastic center
console looks like a Storm-
troopers bedpan.
We think the Prius Three
trim level we purchased with
the optional Advanced Tech-
noloy package hits the sweet
spot. It brings forward-collision
warning with automatic emer-
gency braking, lane-departure
alert with steering assist, auto-
matic high beams, and adaptive
cruise control.
Without question, this is
the best Prius ever. Its fuel
economy is stunning. Its more
pleasant to drive, and the inte-
rior feels more commensurate
with its price. Even with gas at
two bucks a gallon, the Prius
strong reliability and owner
satisfaction set the new stan-
dard for green transportation.
PHOTOS: JOHN POWERS
HYBRIDS
Toyota
Prius
High Marks
for Hybrids
Even in an era of two-buck
gasoline, the redesigned
Toyota Prius and Chevrolet
Volt have a lot to recommend
themto consumers and
to the planet. Plus four other
green cars to consider.
Toyota Prius
Three
Price as Tested
$27,323
OVERALL SCORE
Predicted Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
Front Crash Prevention
ROADTEST SCORE
Overall MPG
Acceleration, 0-60 MPH, Sec.
10.3
Dry Braking, 60-0 MPH, Ft.
Avoidance Maneuver, MPH
53.5
Seat Comfort, Front/Rear
Controls
Luggage, Suitcase and Duels
2+2
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
ROAD REPORT
OVERALL
SCORE
  
battery-powered
hatchback returns,
with a revised
version of its supplemental
gas engine that eliminates
the dreaded range anxiety
of electric vehicles.
When the Volts battery
is full, it operates just like
an electric car for about
50milescovering most com-
mutes on a single charge.
In electric mode, it leaves the
line silently but robustly, thanks
to the motors instant wallop
of torque. The Volt sprinted to
60mph in a zippy 8seconds.
When the battery runs low,
the Volt transitions to a 1.5-liter
gasoline enginewhereupon
it uses both gas and electric
power to propel the car. We
measured 38mpg overall in
that hybrid mode, providing a
total of 390miles of range.
For those who just want to
run on juice, it takes 4hours
to ll the battery with a 240-
volt connector or 13hours with
a standard 120-volt plug.
The Volt initially feels re-
sponsive through curves but is
reluctant to change direction at
speed. At least the suspension
smooths out bumpy pavement.
The quiet interior allows you
to hear the complaints of your
passengers. The front seats
have a short cushion under
your butt and thighs, the foot-
wells are cramped, and theres
no lumbar adjustment.
The awkward and tight rear
seat makes tting three across
impossible. Plus the cars low
stance and narrow door open-
ings require a ymnasts ex-
ibility. Forget installing a child
seat in the rear-center position.
For infotainment, a new cen-
ter console with conventional
knobs mates to GMs reliable,
intuitive MyLink system.
The Volt is improvedyet still
awed. If you drive locally and
charge often, the Volts eco-
nomics make sense.
Toyota Camry
Hybrid XLE
Price as Tested
$29,052
OVERALL SCORE
Predicted Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
Front Crash Prevention
ROADTEST SCORE
Overall MPG
Acceleration, 0-60 MPH, Sec.
7.6
Dry Braking, 60-0 MPH, Ft.
Avoidance Maneuver, MPH
51.0
Seat Comfort, Front/Rear
Controls
Luggage, Suitcase and Duels
3+1
Ford Fusion
Hybrid SE
Price as Tested
$28,290
OVERALL SCORE
Predicted Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
Front Crash Prevention
ROADTEST SCORE
Overall MPG
Acceleration, 0-60 MPH, Sec.
8.3
Dry Braking, 60-0 MPH, Ft.
Avoidance Maneuver, MPH
52.0
Seat Comfort, Front/Rear
Controls
Luggage, Suitcase and Duels
2+3
Hybrid SE
Price as Tested
$26,950
OVERALL SCORE
Predicted Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
Front Crash Prevention
ROADTEST SCORE
Overall MPG
Acceleration, 0-60 MPH, Sec.
8.2
Dry Braking, 60-0 MPH, Ft.
Avoidance Maneuver, MPH
51.0
Seat Comfort, Front/Rear
Controls
Luggage, Suitcase and Duels
2+2
Ford C-Max
Energi
Price as Tested
$34,940
OVERALL SCORE
Predicted Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
Front Crash Prevention
ROADTEST SCORE
Overall MPG
Acceleration, 0-60 MPH, Sec.
8.1
Dry Braking, 60-0 MPH, Ft.
Avoidance Maneuver, MPH
50.5
Seat Comfort, Front/Rear
Controls
Luggage, Suitcase and Duels
1+1
OVERALL SCORE
Predicted Reliability
Owner Satisfaction
Front Crash Prevention
ROADTEST SCORE
Overall MPG
/38
Acceleration, 0-60 MPH, Sec.
8.0
Dry Braking, 60-0 MPH, Ft.
Avoidance Maneuver, MPH
52.5
Seat Comfort, Front/Rear
Controls
Luggage, Suitcase and Duels
2+0
4 RECOMMENDED ALTERNATIVES
*Based on limited data.
Miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe).
Scores in context: Recommended models rated well in the Overall
Score, which factors in road-test score, predicted reliability, owner
satisfaction, crash-test results, and availability of front crash
prevention features such as forward collision warning and
automatic braking. For full Ratings,
available to online subscribers,
check out
ConsumerReports.org/cars
PHOTOS: JOHN POWERS
Recommended
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In Great Company
COL. LANE CARLSON
was one of the 
rst decorated women in
the U.S. Army. Originally from Nebraska, Lane soared to
high ranks of military service. She served as an aide to
Gen. Douglas MacArthur, a guide for Helen Keller, and a
military technical adviser to Hollywood.
Lane also cared deeply about the work of Consumer
Reports. She included a generous bequest to
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Consumer Reports is proud, in turn, to have earned her
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INDEX
Air conditioners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jul 16, 17
Antibiotics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 11
in meat .....................
Jan 16, 40; Jun 16, 8
Audio equipment
as gifts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 40
AUTOMOBILE RATINGS:
Audi Q7
Jul 16, 62
BMW 750i. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May 16, 66
Jul 16, 63
Banks & financial institutions
services
Jan 16, 24
Bathroom remodeling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sep 15, 38
Batteries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 36
ground, safety . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Oct 15, 26
...........................Aug 16, 8
Consumer heroism
Medicare Fraud Strike Force . . . . . . . . . . . .Oct 15, 8
Consumer victories, telecommunications,
Lifeline phone discounts
...................Sep 15, 9
Consumers Union Safe Patient Project . . . .Oct 15, 9
Coolers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jul 16, 15
Countertops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 11
bathroom .............................Sep 15, 38
kitchen
...............................Aug 16, 40
Credit cards
rewards ...............................Dec 15, 26
Crowdfunding
scams
Jan 16, 10
Customer service . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sep 15, 10
educational/student. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 28
key questions
.........................Aug 16, 34
Dishwashers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 16, 13; Aug 16, 40
EG
Education debt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aug 16, 28
key questions
.........................Aug 16, 34
Electronics
as gifts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 32
shopping for
...........................Dec 15, 37
Energy costs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Oct 15, 38
.................................Oct 15, 44
Energy Star program . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Oct 15, 42
Exercise equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Feb 16, 14
Facial recognition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 16, 40
Financial planners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Dec 15, 6
Fireplaces
gas .....................................Feb 16, 9
Fitness trackers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Feb 16, 20; Jul 16, 9
kitchen
...............................Aug 16, 40
Flower delivery . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .May 16, 26
Food
as gifts. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 28
Headphones . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 15, 24; Jul 16, 44
Healthcare
advances ..............................
Jul 16, 52
history of Consumer
Reports advocacy
Jul 16, 54
LP
RS
Radiation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Nov 15, 7
Ranges. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Aug 16, 40
Recycled wrapping paper . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 25
Refrigerators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Aug 16, 40
Regifting . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 43
Reverse mortgages . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . May 16, 14
Roadside assistance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dec 15, 69
Robocalls
.....................Sep 15,
14; Mar 16, 8
Routers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jan 16, 12
Mar 16, 16
home security. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Dec 15, 13
phishing by text message . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 15, 12
key questions
.........................Aug 16, 34
Student discounts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Oct 15, 10
Sunscreens . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jan 16, 12; Jul 16, 20
Taxes
scams
.................................Feb 16, 11
tips
....................................Feb 16, 11
Tax-preparation software . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mar 16, 21
Telephones
navigation apps . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Oct 15, 34
Samsung Galaxy S line . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jun 16, 27
for seniors
............................Sep 15, 13
Television services
Pay-TV .................................Dec 15, 6
UW
Umbrellas
Jul 16, 15
Vaccines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oct 15, 12
Vacuum cleaners . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nov 15, 22
SELLING IT
Ignorance Is Bliss
Sometimes you just dont want to know
SHARE
Be on the lookout for goofs and glitches like these. Share them with usvia emai
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e and date.
Yes, We
Have No
Apparently, no
coconuts were
harmed in the
manufacturing
of this water.
Submitted by
Sarah Shea,
Vista, Calif.
Who
Was That
Masked
Fly?
This packaging
begs the
question:
What does a
horseor
a y
with
ears weigh,
anyway?
Submitted by
Paul Misleh,
Gainesville, Fla.
One Mans
Crab Is
Another
Mans ...
Though the
get 1 free
oer is
no doubt
delightful,
we think
well pass.
Submitted by
Fredrik Raab,
Santa Rosa,
Calif.
WATCH, COMMENT & SHARE
at ConsumerReports.org
 AUGUST 2016 
PHOTOS: BRENDAN WIXTED
A Meal
That Gives
Us Paws
Salmon,
herring, beef...
the dinner
choices were
looking good...
until we got
to the Kitten
Formula.
Submitted by
Peter Muller,
Wauwatosa,
Wis.
Between 7/1/15 and 9/30/15, the average estimated savings off MSRP pres
ented by TrueCar Certified Dealers to users of the Build & Buy Car Buying Servi
ce, based on users who configured virtual vehicles and who TrueCar identi
fied as
purchasing a new vehicle of the same make and model listed on the certificate f
rom Certified Dealers as of 10/31/2015, was $2,954, including applica
ble vehicle specific manufacturer incentives. Your actual savings m
ay vary based on
multiple factors including the vehicle you select, region, dealer, an
d applicable vehicle specific manufacturer incentives whic
h are subject to change. The Manufacturers Suggested Reta
Nationwide
Buyers have
saved an average of
2,954
off MSRP
Build & Buy
Car Buying Service
In the Market for
a New Car?
Dont overpay!
See your savings at
ConsumerReports.org/carsavings

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