Would You Buy Your Car Again?

Consumer Reports' annual car owner satisfaction survey

Last updated: December 2014

Tesla Model S

Our subscribers know what they want: everything. They want fun cars with a touch of luxury that do what's expected.

That's what we found in Consumer Reports' annual owner-satisfaction survey, covering 350,000 vehicles from one to three years old.

We asked subscribers whether they would get the same car all over again, and to consider attributes such as styling, comfort, features, cargo space, fuel economy, maintenance and repair costs, overall value, and driving dynamics. Owners of a sporty, luxurious, or fuel-efficient hybrid or electric- or diesel-powered vehicle were most likely to answer "definitely yes."

With a single model that checks all of those boxes, Tesla Motors has built a rabid following since the car's 2012 launch, reflected in 98 percent of Model S owners saying they would definitely purchase it again. Not only is the Tesla roomy, comfortable, and a lot of fun to drive, but it also has low operating costs—returning the equivalent of 84 mpg (a consolation, of sorts, for the car's $90,000-plus as-tested price).

Next-most-satisfying were four sports cars: The Chevrolet Corvette and a trio of German models from Stuttgart—the Porsche Cayman, Boxster, and 911.

Rounding out the top 10 were the Mercedes-­Benz E250 BlueTec diesel, Porsche Cayenne SUV, BMW 328d (another diesel), muscular Dodge Challenger V8, and Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid.

The unhappy car owner is rarer than you might think: Of the 280-plus models in our survey, only four vehicles had less than 50 percent of owners who would "definitely" purchase the car again.

Across all vehicles, the average satisfaction rate was about 70 percent.

And it seems our subscribers agree with our recommendations: All but two of the top 10 vehicles are "recommended" in Consumer Reports' overall Ratings of cars we tested. The exceptions: the Porsche Cayman, which we haven't tested, and the Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec, which doesn't have sufficient reliability data.

When given a choice between traditional gas engines and alternative powertrains, owners rank hybrids, electric cars, and diesels as the most satisfying choices in almost every category in which they compete. The Chevrolet Volt and Toyota Prius topped our lists of compact cars, with 85 and 82 percent, respectively, of buyers saying they would buy those cars again. Among midsized sedans, the Honda Accord Hybrid and Ford Fusion Energi led the pack.

Fuel-efficient diesels also proved popular. The Mercedes-Benz E250 BlueTec diesel finished second to the Tesla among fuel-efficient cars, and 86 percent of BMW 328d buyers would buy another. Volkswagen's Passat, Beetle, and Jetta diesel variants also ranked high in their categories. In the pickup-truck category, all of the top scorers have diesel engines.

As far as fuel economy, it's all about meeting expectations. Owners were as happy with Chevrolet Corvettes as with four-­cylinder Nissan Altimas. People recognize what they are getting into; less than 10 percent of owners felt OK about their thirsty Nissan Titans and Ford heavy-duty pickups.

SUV buyers expressed a preference for spacious, capable vehicles that are pleasant to drive, easy to see out of, and as efficient as possible. That includes the Porsche Cayenne (87 percent) in luxury SUVs, Subaru Forester (83) among small SUVs, Toyota Highlander V6 (82) in midsized SUVs, and Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe and their GMC twins (84) in large SUVs.

You might think that more cargo space would be more satisfying. But it's more about perceptions. The smartly packaged Tesla was considered just as satisfying as beasts of burden such as the Suburban and Yukon XL. Hybrids with batteries that rob space in the trunk were the biggest disappointments. Only 18 percent of owners were very satisfied with the space in the Honda Accord Hybrid and just 7 percent with the Ford Fusion Energi.

But it turns out that prestige can take a backseat to value. Hyundai Equus buyers felt the most satisfied, with 88 percent saying they got what they expected for the price. Corvette owners felt they were getting exotic-­car performance at a relatively budget price. But those who own the Range Rover Evoque, Mini Countryman, Infiniti QX70, and various iterations of the BMW 3 Series found the least value for their money—those models satisfied barely 50 percent of owners.

For related information about reliable and affordable used models read "The best used cars for under $20,000."

How cars compare

Luxury cars are more satisfying on the whole, our subscribers report. When we broke down owner-satisfaction results by brand, the six most satisfying makes were all luxury brands, led by Tesla. Perhaps it's no surprise, too, that Porsche, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, and Jaguar owners felt that they've made it and bought the car of their dreams.

The top-scoring mainstream brands were Subaru, Ram, Dodge, Chrysler, Honda, Chevrolet, and Mazda.

Not all luxury brands proved very satisfying; Cadillac, Acura, and Infiniti all ranked in the ­bottom half. The least satisfying brands were Buick, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan, and Mitsubishi.

*Data based on one model year only.

Hybrids/electric cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
Tesla Model S
98%
Chevrolet Volt 85
Honda Accord Hybrid* 85
Ford Fusion Energi 84
Toyota Prius 82
Lexus ES 300h Hybrid
81
Toyota Avalon Hybrid
80
Ford C-Max Energi 79
Toyota Camry Hybrid
78
Nissan Leaf 77
Toyota Prius V 77
Ford Fusion Hybrid
74
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
74
Toyota Prius C
73
Honda CR-Z
72
Ford C-Max Hybrid 70
Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid 69
Honda Civic Hybrid 68
Volkswagen Jetta Hybrid 66
Lexus CT 200h 66
Hyundai Sonata Hybrid
60
Kia Optima Hybrid 56

Compact cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
Mazda3 (2.5L)* 79%
Mazda3 (2.0L)* 77
Volkswagen Beetle TDI 76
Volkswagen Jetta TDI 72
Toyota Corolla* 71
Kia Forte*
70
Dodge Dart (2.0L)
70
Honda Civic Coupe
70
Fiat 500L* 69
Volkswagen Beetle (2.0T) 68
Dodge Dart (1.4T)* 68
Subaru Impreza 68
Kia Soul* 67
Chevrolet Cruze (1.4T) 65
Honda Civic Sedan
65
Scion xB 63
Volkswagen Jetta (1.8T)* 61
Hyundai Elantra Sedan 60
Hyundai Elantra GT 57
Chevrolet Cruze (1.8L) 56
Ford Focus
54
Volkswagen Jetta (4-cyl., nonturbo) 51
Nissan Sentra 47

Subcompact cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
Fiat 500 64%
Chevrolet Sonic 62
Chevrolet Spark 62
Nissan Versa Note* 60
Smart ForTwo 58
Toyota Yaris 57
Hyundai Veloster 56
Mazda2 56
Hyundai Accent 55
Ford Fiesta 51
Kia Rio
46
Nissan Versa Sedan 42

Coupes & convertibles

Make & model Definitely buy again
Audi S5 79%
Audi A5 77
Honda Accord Coupe (V6)
75
BMW 4 Series* 75
Honda Accord Coupe (4-cyl.)
74
Volkswagen Eos 73
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe & Convertible 71
Lexus IS Convertible 70
Infiniti Q60 68
BMW 6 Series 62

Midsized cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
Mazda6* 81%
Volkswagen Passat TDI 80
Honda Accord Sedan (4-cyl.)
76
Honda Accord Sedan (V6) 73
Ford Fusion (2.0L EcoBoost) 71
Kia Optima (turbo) 70
Ford Fusion (1.5L EcoBoost) 68
Toyota Camry 68
Volkswagen Passat (1.8T)* 65
Chevrolet Malibu (4-cyl.)
64
Kia Optima (4-cyl.)
62
Ford Fusion (4-cyl., nonturbo) 62
Nissan Altima 59
Volkswagen Passat (V6) 56

Sporty cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray* 95%
Porsche Cayman 91
Porsche Boxster 91
Porsche 911 88
Dodge Challenger (V8) 86
Chevrolet Camaro (V8) 84
Mazda MX-5 Miata
84
Mercedes-Benz SL 80
BMW Z4 80
Audi S4 78
Fiat 500 Abarth* 74
Dodge Challenger (V6) 73
Scion FR-S 71
Subaru BRZ 71
Mercedes-Benz SLK
70
Chevrolet Camaro (V6) 70
Honda Civic Si
69
Ford Focus ST
68
Nissan 370Z 66
Hyundai Genesis Coupe
58

Luxury compact cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
BMW 328d (diesel)* 86%
BMW 335i 76
Lexus IS 250 Sedan* 73
Audi A4 71
Volvo S60 71
BMW 320i, 328i (AWD) 68
Lexus IS 350 Sedan* 68
Cadillac ATS (V6) 67
BMW 320i, 328i (RWD) 66
Infiniti G Sedan 65
Buick Regal   64
Buick Verano 63
Cadillac ATS (turbo) 63
Volkswagen CC 62
Mercedes-Benz CLA 250* 61
Acura ILX 57
Cadillac ATS (4-cyl.)
56
Infiniti Q50 (V6)* 54

Luxury midsized/large cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan (diesel)* 88%
Audi A7 84
Audi A8 84
Audi A6 84
Cadillac CTS (V6)* 83
Lexus LS 81
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan (V8) 81
Mercedes-Benz S-Class 81
BMW 5 Series (V8)
81
Hyundai Equus 80
Lincoln MKZ (V6) 80
Porsche Panamera 80
Lexus ES (V6) 79
Mercedes-Benz CLS
78
Jaguar XJ 77
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan (V6) 75
Jaguar XF
74
Lexus GS (V6) 74
Volvo S80 73
Lincoln MKZ (4-cyl. EcoBoost) 71
BMW 5 Series (6-cyl.)
70
Infiniti Q70 68
BMW 5 Series (4-cyl.) 68
BMW 7 Series   66
Lincoln MKS 66
Cadillac XTS 66
Acura RLX* 59

Large cars

Make & model Definitely buy again
Dodge Charger (V8) 82%
Chevrolet Impala (V6)* 80
Ford Taurus SHO 78
Chrysler 300 (V8) 77
Dodge Charger (V6) 76
Chrysler 300 (V6) 75
Kia Cadenza* 71
Toyota Avalon (V6) 69
Hyundai Azera 69
Nissan Maxima 69
Chevrolet Impala (4-cyl.)* 67
Ford Taurus (FWD) 65
Buick LaCrosse (V6) 62
Buick LaCrosse (4-cyl.) 53

Large SUVs

Make & model Definitely buy again
Chevrolet Suburban* 84%
GMC Yukon XL* 84
Chevrolet Tahoe* 84
GMC Yukon* 84
Dodge Durango (V8)* 81
Ford Flex (V6) 80
Ford Flex (EcoBoost) 72
Dodge Durango (V6)* 71
Toyota Sequoia
69
Chevrolet Traverse 66
GMC Acadia 63
Nissan Armada 57

 

Luxury compact SUVs

Make & model Definitely buy again
Audi Q5 (diesel)* 84%
Mercedes-Benz GLK (diesel)
82
Audi Q5 (gas) 77
Mercedes-Benz GLK (V6) 72
BMW X3 (4-cyl.) 71
Acura RDX 70
Volvo XC60 (6-cyl.) 68
BMW X3 (6-cyl.) 68
Buick Encore 67
Cadillac SRX
66
Infiniti QX50 65
BMW X1 64
Land Rover Range Rover Evoque 63

Small SUVs

Make & model Definitely buy again
Subaru Forester (nonturbo)* 83%
Subaru Forester (turbo)* 80
Jeep Cherokee (V6)*
77
Mazda CX-5 (2.5L) 76
Honda CR-V 71
Subaru XV Crosstrek 70
Nissan Rogue* 68
Mazda CX-5 (2.0L) 66
Mini Countryman
66
Ford Escape (2.0L EcoBoost) 64
Toyota RAV4 64
Volkswagen Tiguan
61
Nissan Juke 58
Jeep Cherokee (4-cyl.)* 58
Kia Sportage 57
Mitsubishi Outlander* 55
Jeep Patriot
55
Mitsubishi Outlander Sport 55
Ford Escape (1.6L EcoBoost) 54
Ford Escape (4-cyl., nonturbo)
54
Hyundai Tucson 53
Jeep Compass 43

Luxury midsized/large SUVs

Make & model Definitely buy again
Porsche Cayenne 87%
Lexus LX 84
Volkswagen Touareg 80
Lexus RX 78
Lexus RX Hybrid 78
Land Rover Range Rover Sport*
76
Audi Q7 76
Lexus GX
75
Acura MDX* 75
Mercedes-Benz GL-Class 73
Infiniti QX80 73
Buick Enclave 72
Mercedes-Benz M-Class 72
BMW X5 (6-cyl.) 71
Lincoln MKX 65
Infiniti QX70 61
Infiniti QX60 60

Midsized SUVs

Make & model Definitely buy again
Toyota Highlander (V6)* 82%
Jeep Grand Cherokee (diesel)* 79
Jeep Grand Cherokee (V8)*
78
Jeep Wrangler
74
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
74
Hyundai Santa Fe (V6) 73
Toyota Highlander (4-cyl.) 72
Kia Sorento (V6)* 72
Ford Explorer (V6, EcoBoost) 72
Toyota 4Runner (V6) 71
Nissan Xterra 71
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (turbo) 70
Jeep Grand Cherokee (V6)* 70
Hyundai Santa Fe Sport (4-cyl.) 68
Honda Pilot 68
Ford Explorer (V6)
65
Ford Edge (4-cyl.) 64
Mazda CX-9 63
Ford Explorer (4-cyl.) 63
Chevrolet Equinox (V6) 61
GMC Terrain (V6) 61
Ford Edge (V6)
61
Chevrolet Equinox (4-cyl.)
60
GMC Terrain (4-cyl.) 60
Kia Sorento (4-cyl.) 56
Dodge Journey 54
Nissan Pathfinder 52

Wagons

Make & model Definitely buy again
Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon 80%
Volvo XC70 79
Audi Allroad
79
Honda Crosstour
66
Toyota Venza (V6) 63
Toyota Venza (4-cyl.)
58

Minivans

Make & model Definitely buy again
Honda Odyssey 76%
Toyota Sienna (FWD) 73
Toyota Sienna (AWD) 69
Chrysler Town & Country
65
Dodge Grand Caravan 65
Nissan Quest 64
Mazda5 63

Pickup trucks

Make & model Definitely buy again
Ford F-250 & F-350 (diesel) 80%
Chevrolet Silverado 2500 & 3500 HD (diesel) 79
GMC Sierra 2500 & 3500 HD (diesel) 79
Ram 2500 & 3500 (diesel) 77
Ram 1500 (V8, 2WD) 77
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V8)* 75
GMC Sierra 1500 (V8)* 75
Ram 1500 (V8, 4WD) 74
Toyota Tundra (V8) 73
Ram 1500 (V6)
71
Toyota Tacoma (V6) 70
Toyota Tundra (V6) 68
Ram 2500 & 3500 (gas) 67
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (V6)* 64
GMC Sierra 1500 (V6)* 64
Ford F-250 & F-350 (gas) 61
Toyota Tacoma (4-cyl.) 61
Nissan Frontier 60
Nissan Titan 57

How the brands fared

Owner-satisfaction results based on the average score across all model lines.

Brand Average score
Tesla 98
Porsche 87
Audi 79
Mercedes-Benz 76
Lexus 76
Jaguar 75
Subaru 74
Ram 73
Dodge 73
Volvo 73
Chrysler 72
Honda 72
Chevrolet   72
Mazda 72
BMW 71
GMC 71
Lincoln 71
Toyota 70
Land Rover 70
Fiat 69
Ford 67
Volkswagen 67
Scion 67
Jeep 67
Cadillac 67
Mini 66
Acura 65
Infiniti 64
Buick 64
Hyundai 63
Kia 63
Nissan 61
Smart 58
Mitsubishi 55
Editor's Note:

This article also appeared in the January 2015 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.



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