Combat vehicle design necessarily involves trade studies that attempt to balance varying performance criteria against associated burdens, such as weight, cost, and risk. Typically, trade studies quantify the value of different options by evaluating each on the individual criteria and then generating a weighted sum score. In the method described here the score is generated multiplicatively rather than additively. In addition, the importance of each evaluation criterion is used to generate the utility scores for that criterion. This improves the trade study process in two significant ways. First, making the overall score multiplicative greatly reduces the “compensation” problem, where good performance in some criteria can outweigh exceedingly poor performance in others. With a multiplicative method, only balanced solutions can score well. Second, using importance weights to establish utility scores for individual criteria simplifies the process, making it easier to conduct trades and evaluate the sensitivity of the results.