We’ve previously taken a close look at the cars that might let you down, so now’s the time to celebrate the other end of the spectrum and talk about the cars that are almost certainly not going to let you down!
The Auto Express 2016 Driver Power Survey, which is now in its 15th year, looks at the customer satisfaction information provided by the 50,000 surveys completed by drivers prepared to detail their ownership experience.
Overall winner: Elon Musk does it again
Elon Musk’s Tesla Model S took the top spot with an astonishing overall score of 97.46%, with owners being especially complimentary about their car’s reliability (98.49%), practicality (99.65%), and performance (99.65%).
Of course, some of you might argue that a £60,000+ car has every right to delight its owner and while you’re absolutely right, Porsche 911 owners (who gave their cars an overall rating of just 86.01%) might not agree that writing a large cheque necessarily leads to complete customer satisfaction…
The SUV, or Sport Utility Vehicle, class is ubiquitous and full to bursting with worthy and interesting cars, many of which will be household names. However, the somewhat awkwardly named Renault Kadjar might well have escaped you.
Which is a real shame because I loved it, awarding it a score of 9/10. Some thought I was being generous at the time but the reverse might even be true because owners gave it an even higher score of 93.42% in the Auto Express survey placing it at the very top of the SUV class.
The Kadjar scored highly for its versatility, ride quality and in-car technology, all of which were top ten scores. If you need (or, more likely, want) an SUV then the Kadjar should be on your shortlist.
Of course, the canny money goes on a hatchback rather than an SUV, with owners appreciating their cars’ lower purchase and running costs, even if they might miss the higher driving position and implied prestige.
If you do buy a hatchback – and they remain the best car for the majority of people, even after all these years – then the Skoda Octavia is probably the best car in the medium-sized class.
Again, I gave it a score of 9/10 when I tested one earlier this year, which is in line with the overall score of 92.52% awarded by the lucky folk that actually own one. The Octavia is cheaper to buy than the VW Golf, almost as nice inside and even better to drive. It is also probably nicer to own as long as you can see your way past the badge.
The Subaru Forester (92.04%) is a blandly impressive four-wheel-drive estate that scores very highly with its owners for reliability, practicality, build quality and ride, even if it is severely lacking in excitement.
It might have dropped significant points for its lack of in-car technology but if you have a genuine need for a reliable and capacious four-wheel-drive estate that will never, ever let you down then you need a Subaru Forester. If I had the money I’d buy a nearly new one with a diesel engine and a manual gearbox and enjoy owning what is possibly the most purposeful, multi-role car on the planet.
Biased? Of course; I own an older petrol model chosen for all the reasons I have just talked about above and I am as fanatical about it as every other owner I have ever met; for a recent 500-mile-in-a-day journey I eschewed that week’s press car in favour of my very own Subaru and swallowed the extra fuel costs as a price worth paying.
If reliability is your thing
Of course, if you don’t fancy a Subaru but do insist on buying the most reliable car on the market then you need a Lexus RX or IS or a Toyota Land Cruiser.
Lexus, Toyota’s premium brand, was also given very high scores for its in-car technology, comfy seats, being easy to drive, having good ride quality, performance, and build quality.
Canny motorists who only drive short distances should look at the Nissan LEAF and Renault Zoe, both of which are very economical to run according to their owners.