About Consumer Guide Automotive
Established in 1967, Consumer Guide is one of the longest-running auto-review operations in the country. First online in 1995, we were also one of the first car-test organizations to hit the web. Consumer Guide is headquartered in the Chicago suburb of Morton Grove, IL, a location ideal for sampling the best–and worst–that nature has to offer.

About Our Staff
Our full-time editorial and review team has been gathered from every corner of the auto industry, including sales, repair, public relations, and market research. Our staff also reflects broad segments of the general population, including young professionals, parents, grandparents, city dwellers, and suburbanites—of every shape and size.

About Our Process
Consumer Guide takes pride in its consensus review process. With the exception of preview assessments of new vehicles, no fewer than four members of our team, and often every member, evaluate each car reviewed by Consumer Guide. This process enables us to provide the industry’s most balanced and bias-free evaluations.

About Our Test Vehicles
Vehicles evaluated by Consumer Guide are provided by manufacturers. A test car typically spends two weeks in our care, during which it is driven an average of 500 miles. In the event that a manufacturer cannot provide us with a test vehicle, Consumer Guide will frequently make arrangements with local dealers to spend time with a car.

Additionally, Consumer Guide editors travel to preview test events for early looks at upcoming products. Reports based on these opportunities will be qualified with the phrase, “This evaluation is based on preview test drives.”

About Our Mission
It is our goal to be the industry’s most useful and reliable auto-shopping resource. Each member of our team is dedicated to the promise of providing valuable, accurate, and timely information.

  • Tom Appel
    Tom Appel Publisher

    Beginning with a high school service-station job pumping gas and turning wrenches, Tom has usually managed to work around cars. Earlier, Tom was often found holding the flashlight for his father while he performed some needed repairs on a family vehicle. During college, Tom worked for Chrysler as a product specialist, staffing one of six experimental in-mall showrooms set up around the country. Tom also tried his hand at selling cars, spending several months learning (but not mastering) the trade at a domestic-brand dealership in the early 1990s. He has also worked in fleet leasing, specializing in Chevrolet and GMC light-duty trucks. During his time as a market research analyst and focus-group moderator, Tom worked with manufacturers and suppliers including General Motors, OnStar, and Porsche. Tom joined Consumer Guide® in 2001 as an editor and became Associate Publisher in 2008. Tom moved into the publisher’s role in 2012. Tom is also president emeritus of the Midwest Automotive Media Association. He lives in suburban Chicago with his wife, daughter, two cats, about 50 fish, and several antique German tube radios. He is often called to chat about cars “on air.” Tom is a regular guest on Drive Chicago on WLS radio, the Nick Digilio Show and Bill Leff and Wendy Snyder Show on WGN radio in Chicago, and on the nationally syndicated Greensense Radio. Tom’s blog posts have earned him two International Automotive Media Award gold medals.

  • Rick Cotta
    Rick Cotta Managing editor

    A car nut since his first breath, Rick has been an auto editor with Consumer Guide® since 1990. As a former automotive technology major, ASE Certified Technician, and technical editor for an automotive trade publication, Rick is the resident nuts-and-bolts guy as well as the department’s “green car” editor. For more than 23 years, Rick has contributed to Consumer Guide’s new-car evaluation program, written countless online articles, and edited dozens of hardcover titles covering the automotive spectrum. He has won four medals from the International Automotive Media Awards, most recently a gold in 2011. Rick has attended TrackTime driving school and performs some of Consumer Guide’s timed acceleration tests at a remote location yet to be discovered by the local authorities. He has been interviewed on TV, is a regular guest on local radio, and holds a seat on the International Car of the Year jury.

  • Damon Bell
    Damon Bell Senior Editor

    A lifelong car enthusiast, Damon Bell joined Consumer Guide® in 2000 as the Research/Acquisitions Editor of Collectible Automobile magazine. He became Consumer Guide’s Associate Auto Editor in 2003, moved up to Auto Editor in 2005, and transferred to his current role as Senior Auto Editor in spring 2012. In addition to his duties on Consumer Guide’s new-vehicle reviews, Damon has worked on several award-winning hardcover books, including Hot Rod & Custom Chronicle, Cars of the Classic ‘30s, American Cars of the 1950s, and Mighty Muscle Cars. He holds two silver medals and one bronze medal from the International Automotive Media Awards. Prior to joining Consumer Guide, Damon was the Engineering Graphics Coordinator at Revell-Monogram, the world’s leading model-car company. Damon lives in Chicago with his wife and son, and he enjoys building model cars and playing ultimate frisbee in his spare time. He is a sucker for any film or TV show with a good car chase, and admits to seeing every single Fast and Furious movie.