The Most Satisfying Cars on the Market

In this exclusive survey, CR members offer important insights for shoppers to find the perfect car

Tesla Model 3 Photo: Tesla

Knowing how much you might like—or even love—your next vehicle would be a pretty valuable insight as you go about researching your next car purchase.

Enter CR’s predicted owner satisfaction scores. Every year we ask our members, in our Annual Auto Surveys, whether they’d buy their same car again if given the chance.

The survey also queries owners about their satisfaction with several specific aspects of their car ownership experience, such as comfort, driving, and ease of use when it comes to in-car electronics.

Based on the responses, we calculate a predicted owner satisfaction score each year for new models. We believe our findings—based on the experiences of actual car owners with 1- to 3-year-old vehicles—offer invaluable insight to help you make a successful match with your next new car.

More on Owner Satisfaction for Cars

“You want to know how owners like living with a car,” says Jake Fisher, senior director of auto testing at CR, “and how they feel about qualities and features after the initial excitement of a new car wears off.”

The following pages contain the results of our most recent survey, including the 2021 models predicted to be the most and least satisfying overall, as well as results in six key areas. You’ll also find brand-level satisfaction scores, some of which might surprise you.

We contacted automakers about our findings, and you can find their comments below.

Owner Satisfaction Highlights

In-Car Electronics
Slow-responding, glitchy, and overly complex infotainment systems continue to be a bugaboo for owners of some traditionally beloved and high-performance luxury vehicles and brands. When CR members were asked how satisfied they were with the ease of use of their infotainment systems, two models from Lexus, two from Infiniti, and one from Acura took the bottom five spots in the category.

Three-Row SUVs
The battle among automakers to make the best version of these family haulers has been especially intense in recent years. But when it comes to interior comfort, CR members told us they were slightly more satisfied with models in the less expensive “nonluxury” category, such as the Kia Telluride, than with those considered to be “luxury,” such as the Volvo XC90. All three-row SUVs scored average or above for comfort, but buyers should consider whether it’s really worth spending the extra money—an average of about $20,000—for not much gain.

Most Satisfying Brands
With historic reliability concerns but an intensely loyal following, Tesla took the top spot for overall owner satisfaction among the 27 brands mentioned in survey responses.

Lincoln, Ram, and Chrysler rounded out the top four. These domestic names beat the likes of Porsche, Lexus, and other luxury brands when owners were asked whether they would buy their same vehicle again. But, like Tesla, they have tended to have reliability problems on newer models.

Keep in mind, however, that new-car satisfaction is based on the first three years of ownership, when the cars are still under warranty and often before more serious issues crop up.

Though Infiniti is often con­sidered an interloper in luxury group­ings, it really laid an egg in this year’s survey. It finished at or near the bottom across numerous factors, including value and when owners were asked whether they would buy their vehicle again.

Ford EcoSport
This subcompact crossover SUV, with its distinctive tall stance, finished second-to-last when owners were asked whether they would buy their vehicle again, and it scored near the bottom among all new models in the specific categories of comfort, driving, and styling.

Manufacturer Responses

We contacted several manufacturers that stood out for subpar satisfaction. These are their responses.

Survey respondents had two chief complaints with Chevrolet models. They questioned the Blazer’s value and criticized the Bolt’s seat comfort. A General Motors spokesman responded, “Regarding the Chevrolet Bolt seats, we have made updates for 2020MY which we expect will improve seating comfort for owners. Regarding the Chevrolet Blazer pricing, it’s important to note that one-third of customers are buying the RS trim, which starts at $41,995. This demonstrates that customers appreciate the Blazer’s combination of design, technology, and value.”

Ford EcoSport owners were critical of its overall comfort, the driving experience, and the styling, inside and out. When we passed this information to Ford, they said, “We listen closely and value feedback on our vehicles—whether it’s from customers or third parties. We’re pleased with customer response to the affordable Ford EcoSport, which continues to perform well in the sub-compact SUV segment.”

Infiniti QX50 owners expressed dissatisfaction with the infotainment system in that SUV. In response, an Infiniti spokesman said, “The customer experience is very important to Infiniti, and something we take very seriously. In line with that commitment, we are holistically evaluating the points raised by Consumer Reports, and all consumer feedback, to continue to make improvements to our lineup. For the QX50, the 2020 model received an all-new infotainment system, which includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and improvements have been put into production that address many of the concerns raised in this study. We welcome the opportunity to address any questions or concerns owners may have with their Infiniti vehicle at one of our authorized retailers, many of which offer pick-up and delivery services for client safety and convenience.”

Jeep owners criticized the Wrangler for its acceleration and handling. A spokesman told us, “We have made continuous improvements to the steering system, which has resulted in positive feedback from our customers. Owners with a concern can visit their local dealer to have their vehicle serviced at no charge.” This is an offer that we recommend concerned owners pursue.

Toyota was asked specifically about the Corolla Hatchback. A spokesman shared, “At Toyota we are constantly listening to our customers’ feedback to deliver products that meet and exceed their needs and expectations.”

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the March 2021 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

Headshot of Consumer Reports Deputy Director Christopher Kirkpatrick

Christopher Kirkpatrick

Christopher Kirkpatrick is deputy director of content development for Consumer Reports, where he manages the cars team, among other duties. Before CR, Kirkpatrick worked as senior news director for The Detroit Free Press, Sunday editor for The Charlotte Observer, and as a reporter for The Toledo Blade. He got his start at The Herald-Sun in Durham, N.C.