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The crowds are gone. Now the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center makes a different kind of noise.

In a place where dragsters once competed for the best times, a quieter operation works to educate consumers how to make the best buy.

COLCHESTER, Conn. — The Consumer Reports Auto Test Center is in East Haddam on the Colchester town line, at the end of a narrow country road. But it had a different purpose when it was first built. 

From 1960 to 1985, it was the Connecticut Dragway.  The former drag strip was bought in 1986 by Consumer Reports and now plays host to the latest models being tested by a team of automotive experts who who produce some of the most respected car reviews out there.

Employees do more than 50 tests in a car or truck: how fast it goes, how quickly it stops, interior and exterior fit and finish. They test how easy it is to put child safety seats in the car, and how well the driver stays in their seat. There a 5,000 square foot building for headlight testing alone. 

RELATED: The crowds are gone. Now the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center makes a different kind of noise.

There is a 4,100 foot straightaway and a 3,100 foot road course for handling evaluation in addition to a 1.5 mile ride evaluation course. There are two skid pads, and a paved two acre area for testing vehicle dynamics for testing cars and tires under wet and dry conditions. 

The staff of about 30 is split among seven main buildings housing garages and offices. There are even video facilities for the magazine’s weekly automotive podcast.  

And the facility is growing. Construction is underway for a more extensive off-road vehicle testing area.

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Take a look into the parking lot and you see Kias and Hyundais alongside more high-end vehicles like a Porsche Taycan and a bright red Corvette. The organization buys all its vehicles from dealers anonymously to guarantee it gets the same cars as the consumer and it can report without undue influence from manufacturers.

After several months of testing, the cars are then sold to employees or the public.

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TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT IT WAS LIKE BACK IN THE DAY

Doug Stewart is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. He can be reached at dstewart@fox61.com.

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