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Used car owner satisfaction

Fuel economy and performance please most

Last updated: June 2013

While a well-designed, reliable vehicle makes the majority of owners satisfied, two factors are guaranteed to satisfy people the most: performance and fuel economy.

This trend plays out every year with both three- and five-year-old used vehicles. In fact, many of the same models on our new-car “Definitely buy again” list are found here.

The three-year-old vehicle that still excites its owners the most is the Dodge Challenger V8, followed closely by the Chevrolet Corvette and Ford Mustang V8. 90 percent or more of Challenger and Corvette owners would buy their cars again, a greater percentage than the Toyota Prius, the top-scoring fuel-efficient car, of which 85 percent of owners would do it again.

When looking at five-year-old vehicles,the percentages are slightly lower, but some of the same vehicles rise to the top. The Chevrolet Corvette, with an 85 percent satisfaction level, is tied with the Prius. Both are outscored only by the Porsche 911 and Cayman (87%), with the Mazda Miata (84%) and Ford Mustang V8 (83%) nipping at their heels. Two luxury cars buck the trend and just crack the 80-percent plateau: the Lexus LS and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

Each year Consumer Reports asks the following question on our Annual Auto Survey: “Considering all factors (price, performance, reliability, comfort, etc.), would you get this car if you had it to do all over again?” Respondents have four choices, from “definitely yes” to “definitely no.”

For 3- and 5-year-old models (2010 and 2008 model years), we tallied the percentage of respondents from our 2012 survey that said they would definitely get the same car again.

The other three-year-olds that crack the 80-percent level of satisfaction are also sporty or fuel efficient. The Mini Cooper S, Mazda Miata, Chevrolet Camaro V8, and Volkswagen GTI are all sporty cars, while the Ford Fusion Hybrid, Mercury Milan Hybrid, and diesel-powered Volkswagen Jetta sedan TDI are known for impressive mileage. One car that snuck over the threshold is the prac-tical four-cylinder Subaru Outback Wagon. Another AWD car, the Lincoln MKZ, also scored above 80 percent.

At the other end of the spectrum are the cars that receive little love from their owners. In the majority of the cases there is a link between a vehicles’ poor performance in Consumer Reports testing and a poor owner satisfaction score. That certainly is the case with cars such as the Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet Cobalt, Chrysler Town & Country, Dodge Grand Caravan, Ford Ranger, and Jeep Liberty, all of which were among the least-satisfying cars on both the three-and five-year lists.

Others, however, are a puzzle. The Acura RDX scores well in our tests and has above-average reliability, yet has low satisfaction scores. Its unimpressive fuel economy
and performance may play a part in that. Poor reliability is the likely reason for the 2008 GMC Acadia’s unimpressive satisfaction score.

One model that stands out is the Honda Civic Hybrid, whose owners were not impressed enough by the fuel economy. Our reliability data has shown that many owners have complained about needing to replace hybrid drive batteries, which are expensive if out of warranty, and the 2009 Civic Hybrid is one of the worst offenders. 

5-year-old (2008) models

Car type Best Would buy again % Worst Would buy again %
Small car Toyota Prius
85 Saturn Astra
46
  Honda Fit
75 Hyundai Accent
46
  Hyundai Elantra sedan 70 Kia Spectra
43
    76 Honda Civic Hybrid
42
  73 Chevrolet Cobalt 39
Family car Ford Fusion (V6)
75 Chevrolet Impala
46
  Toyota Camry Hybrid
72 Pontiac G6 sedan
42
  Mercury Milan (V6) 70 Dodge Avenger
35
Upscale /Luxury cars
Lexus LS 84 Chrysler 300 (V6) 58
  Mercedes-Benz S-Class 80 Nissan Maxima 57
  Acura TL Type-S 77 Buick LaCrosse (V6)  
  Lexus ES 76    
  Toyota Avalon 75    
Sports/Sporty car Porsche 911
87 Scion tC
50
  Porsche Cayman 87    
  Chevrolet Corvette 85    
  Mazda MX-5 Miata 84    
  Ford Mustang (V8) 83    
  Porsche Boxster 82    
Wagon Subaru Outback (6-cyl.)
75 Toyota Matrix
48
  Subaru Outback (4-cyl.) 71 Chrysler PT Cruiser 42
      Dodge Caliber 36
Small SUV Subaru Forester 69 Nissan Rogue
48
  Honda CR-V 69 Jeep Liberty
44
  Toyota RAV4 (V6)
69 Jeep Patriot
38
      Mazda CX-7
38
Midsized SUV Toyota 4Runner
74 Chevrolet Equinox 46
  Toyota Highlander (V6)
71 Kia Sorento 42
Large/Luxury SUVs
Porsche Cayenne 74 Acura RDX 50
  Toyota Sequoia 74 GMC Acadia 48
  Lexus RX 74 Saturn Outlook 43
  Acura MDX 72    
  Lexus GX 72    
Minivan Toyota Sienna
72 Dodge Grand Caravan 43
  Honda Odyssey 69 Chrysler Town & Country 43
      Chevrolet Uplander 32
Pickup trucks
Honda Ridgeline 78 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V6)
47
  Toyota Tacoma (V6, 4WD) 77 Ford Ranger (4WD)
43
  GMC Sierra 2500 (diesel) 77 Chevrolet Colorado
43
  Toyota Tundra (V8)
76    

* Percent of respondents who said they would definitely get the same car again.

3-year-old (2010) models

Car type Best Would buy again % Worst Would buy again %
Small car Toyota Prius
85 Hyundai Accent
46
  Volkswagen Jetta sedan TDI
80 Nissan Versa Hatchback
46
  Volkswagen Golf TDI 77 Chevrolet Cobalt 45
  Honda Fit 76    
  Subaru Impreza sedan 73    
Family car Ford Fusion Hybrid
82 Chevrolet Malibu (4-cyl.)
53
  Mercury Milan Hybrid
82 Mazda6 51
  Subaru Legacy (4-cyl.) 75 Chevrolet Impala 46
Upscale/luxury cars Lincoln MKZ (AWD)
81 Chrysler 300 (V6)
58
  Lexus LS
78 Lexus HS 250h 56
  Toyota Avalon 76    
  Ford Taurus 76    
  Hyundai Genesis (V8) 75    
  Acura TL 75    
Sports/sporty car Dodge Challenger (V8)
92    
  Chevrolet Corvette
90    
  Ford Mustang (V8) 84    
  Mini Cooper S 83    
  Mazda MX-5 Miata 81    
  Chevrolet Camaro (V8) 80    
  Volkswagen GTI 80    
Wagon Subaru Outback (4-cyl.)
81 Hyundai Elantra Touring
54
  Volkswagen Jetta TDI 79 Chevrolet HHR 52
  Subaru Outback (6-cyl.) 77 Toyota Matrix 51
Small SUV Ford Escape Hybrid 74 Hyundai Tucson (4-cyl.)
49
  Subaru Forester
72 Nissan Rogue
49
  Toyota RAV4 (4-cyl.)
70 Mazda CX-7
45
 

Jeep Liberty
43
Midsized SUV Toyota FJ Cruiser
77 Nissan Pathfinder
41
  Honda Pilot
70 Dodge Journey (V6)
39
Large/Luxury SUVs Lexus RX Hybrid
76 Volvo XC90 (6-cyl.)
55
  Audi Q5 76 Cadillac SRX
53
  Ford Flex 75 Nissan Armada 48
  Toyota Sequoia 74    
  Lexus RX 74    
  Acura MDX 73    
Minivan Toyota Sienna
72 Chrysler Town & Country
53
  Honda Odyssey
70 Kia Sedona
53
      Dodge Grand Caravan 50
Pickup trucks
Chevrolet Avalanche
78 Ford Ranger
54
  Toyota Tundra (V8) 75 Ford F-250 (2WD)
52
  Ford F-150 (V8)
74 Chevrolet Colorado 50
  Honda Ridgeline
74 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V6)
46

* Percent of respondents who said they would definitely get the same car again.

   

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