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Owner Satisfaction: Cars That Owners Love and Hate

Our exclusive survey reveals the cars, SUVs, and trucks that deliver performance and pleasure for the long haul

Buying a car is a little bit like choosing a mate: You shop around a lot, seek opinions from family and friends, and maybe take a test drive or two before ultimately committing. That way, the relationship will hopefully be a happy one that lasts long after the new-car smell is gone.

Sometimes, though, a car turns out to be a disappointment, no matter how bright your future together seemed at the start. A few months—or even years—after you buy it, you realize that it’s not living up to expectations. Maybe the car’s not as luxurious or fuel-efficient as you thought it would be; perhaps it’s always in the shop. Whatever the reason, it’s not long before you have a bad case of buyer’s remorse and you’ve lost that loving feeling.

Of course, car shoppers have a real advantage because they can consult our expert ratings at any time. Consumer ­Reports’ Annual Owner Satisfaction Survey can also improve the chances of finding a compatible car match. How? Our survey data reveals whether, all things considered, owners would buy the same car again. The answer to that question is what determines our owner-satisfaction rating, which is a powerful piece of intel because it predicts how well a particular model will satisfy other owners.

In fact, the owner-satisfaction rating is so important that it’s one of the pillars of the Overall Score we award each tested car—along with road-test performance, reliability, and safety. The rating is unique in that it reflects the opinions of owners, not the experts at Consumer Reports.

Usually the car owners and our experts agree. But not always. For example, we don’t see eye to eye on the Chevrolet Volt. Our testers panned the car for its mediocre driving experience, but it ranked third overall in our survey, with owners praising its “peppy” around-town power and energy efficiency.

This year’s survey offers the richest portrait of vehicles we’ve ever presented because, for the first time, it complements our traditional owner-satisfaction rating with additional owner insights on several important factors: driving experience, comfort, value, and styling.

Overall Score Explained

Our Overall Score accounts for a vehicle’s performance in our road tests, results from our reliability and owner-satisfaction surveys, and safety, or how well it protects the driver and passengers. The score helps guide car buyers to the best purchase and holds the automotive industry to the highest possible standards.

Road Test represents the final tally after we conduct more than 50 assessments on each vehicle. Some of the findings—such as fuel economy and acceleration—are objective; others, including fit and finish evaluations, are subjective.

Predicted Reliability is our forecast of how well a new model is likely to hold up, based on CR’s Annual Auto Survey.

Owner Satisfaction comes from our annual survey in which we ask owners whether they would definitely buy or lease their particular vehicle again.

Safety takes into account government and insurance-industry crash-test results and the availability of a frontal-crash prevention system.

Learn more about owner satisfaction and car reliability.

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