The best cars to own in the UK: Driver Power 2021 results

Buying your next car? Our annual survey of UK car owners reveals the best cars to buy in 2021

The results for the Driver Power 2021 customer satisfaction survey are in. Once again we’ve compiled a list of the 75 best cars to own, with this year’s survey the most comprehensive to date.

We’ve gathered thousands of responses from owners, who’ve rated their cars across 10 separate categories, in 30-plus areas, including new questions on the safety and infotainment sections, as well as asking owners if they feel their cars offer good value for money. This data was rigorously analysed and used to create a comprehensive picture of how satisfying today’s most popular new cars are to own.

Carbuyer Best Buys: the best new cars to buy now

The survey covers every conceivable type of car on the market in the initial period of ownership, from first delivery to when they are 12 months old. Also, with the UK automotive landscape ever changing, our survey has kept pace with these developments and includes everything from city cars to SUVs and everything in between, including electric cars and hybrids, it’s all there.

The results identify the top 75 best cars to own in the UK. The key criteria that make or break a car are all covered, from acceleration and handling to boot space, how easy the technology is to use and reliability - all are scored by the people who know the cars best, the owners.

So, below are the Driver Power results for 2021, where we find out what owners really think of the cars they own...

Driver Power 2021: top 10 best cars to own

1. Hyundai Kona

While the Hyundai Kona might not be the winner you were expecting, it saw off every challenger to take the top slot in our 2021 Driver Power survey. Overall, it finished with one category win and five top-three finishes. But what makes the Kona so satisfying to own? For starters, the range includes petrol, hybrid and fully electric versions, and owners say the Kona is very refined and offers great handling, winning top marks in our survey for the brakes and strong scores for steering and ride quality.

Owners also told us that the Kona returns great fuel economy and doesn't cost the earth to service either, making it cheap to run. It’s also very reliable, with high ratings for overall quality and value for money. Other aspects that owners found impressive include the excellent infotainment setup and the car’s safety features, which are effective and reliable when called into action.

2. Kia Rio

The Kia Rio may play second fiddle to popular superminis like the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio but with strong scores giving it a second place finish in the Driver Power survey, it’s worthy of your consideration. Owners rated the Rio’s infotainment system higher than any other model here, with an excellent balance between touchscreen and physical controls. Also, the screen’s sensitivity scored the highest rating overall.

Other areas praised in our survey include the Rio’s low running costs, with the Kia supermini finishing second for fuel economy in the ranking. It also feels very safe, while offering a spacious interior. Reliability was also highly rated, with owners telling us it represented good value for money.

3. Mazda CX-5

Placing 3rd, a two-place improvement over last year, the Mazda CX-5 again won praise for its stylish looks and bright paint finishes, topping the table in our exterior category for design. Elsewhere, the interior received a firmly midrange rating with owners praising the easy to use physical controls.

The other areas that impressed include the excellent infotainment system, commanding driving position and strong build quality. The CX-5 also earned a top three finish for reliability and was highly rated for value for money. One factor that failed to impress owners was performance, with only a reasonable rating for acceleration.

4. Toyota C-HR

Despite being introduced in 2016 and having seen only a minor set of tweaks since its arrival, the Toyota C-HR is still very highly rated by its owners. It managed a strong performance, with a second place rating for ride and handling, and a sixth place finish for safety technology. The car’s design and build quality were also a hit with owners, receiving strong scores in both areas. Inside, the comfortable seats, stylish interior and solid build quality were also highly praised.

Weak spots in the C-HR’s talents include the compact rear seats, which aren’t helped by the angular roofline making access difficult and tight rear legroom. Other minor weaknesses include Toyota’s sat nav and interior storage, which could be improved. Regardless of these minor grumbles, owners were generally very happy with their CH-Rs, saying they represent great value for money.

5. Skoda Karoq

The strong finish for the Skoda Karoq places it slightly ahead of the larger Kodiaq SUV in fifth place, with the smaller SUV earning higher aggregate scores across the board. Karoq owners report their cars are economical and have very low servicing costs. They also like the engines and acceleration. Reliability is another plus point for Skoda’s midsize SUV, along with the copious amount of safety features, which were rated as being easy to use and easy to live with.

Practicality was also highly praised. Plus points include the amount of interior storage on offer, vast boot space, and the versatile Varioflex seating, all of which make it a car that easily copes with family life.

6. Skoda Kodiaq

We rate the Skoda Kodiaq as one of the best SUVs available and you agree with us. It took sixth spot in our survey again, earning the highest score for reliability, with overall dependability and build quality rated in first place in our survey. Owners also like the driving experience, safety features, vast practicality and the exterior design.

Downsides of Kodiaq ownership according to owners include poor fuel economy - no real surprise given its a full-sized seven-seat SUV - some gruff engines and expensive servicing costs.

7. Vauxhall Grandland X

According to its owners, the Vauxhall Grandland X performs very well in several areas, helping it to an excellent seventh place finish in our survey. Its engines and gearboxes were highly rated, with great acceleration and smooth gearchanges. Owners also loved the infotainment system, the large amount of safety features and the affordable running costs.

The interior was praised as well, with respondents telling us they like the neat design, comfortable front seats, respectable practicality and the build quality - a trait that makes it more satisfying to own than more expensive rivals. Another plus for the Grandland X was its positive scores across the board, with every aspect of ownership rated as satisfactory at a minimum.

8. Volvo XC40

Owners of the Volvo XC40 told us it could offer better value for money and that the fuel economy for the brand’s smallest SUV didn’t match their expectations. However, the XC40 redeemed itself with strong scores for its safety features, which operate discreetly in the background. A high rating for practicality indicates its smartly designed layout makes the best use of the available space.

There were also plaudits for the XC40’s engines and gearboxes, which offer great performance, although answers also suggest the petrol engine lacks refinement. The interior is hit with buyers as well, with the seats ranked as the most comfortable of any car featured in our list.

9. Kia Sportage

With an improved showing over last year’s 13th place finish, the outgoing Kia Sportage breaks into our top 10 strongest performers of the year. Like all Kias, owners rated the Sportage’s infotainment, its spacious interior and its reliability. It’s also good to drive and people like the styling. The decent array of standard safety features was also praised and buyers told us the Sportage offers good value for money.

It did fall down slightly with its engine and gearbox score, which was low due to slow acceleration. Fuel economy was also poorly rated.

10. SEAT Ateca

The SEAT Ateca won plaudits from owners as a value for money proposition, earning the second highest ranking in our survey. The Ateca’s styling was also a hit, with a strong score for the way it looks and for exterior build quality. Owners also reported strong fuel economy and affordable servicing costs.

SEAT’s infotainment system was praised, with a quality stereo and great connectivity for smartphones. The interior controls were described as easy to use, and the ventilation system is effective. Criticisms include a harsh ride quality, which is one of the few minor downsides reported.

The best cars to own 2021: 1-75 rankings

1HYUNDAI KONA92.35%
2KIA RIO92.16%
3MAZDA CX-591.65%
4TOYOTA C-HR91.07%
5SKODA KAROQ91.00%
6SKODA KODIAQ90.92%
7VAUXHALL GRANDLAND X90.85%
8VOLVO XC4090.60%
9KIA SPORTAGE90.51%
10SEAT ATECA90.40%
11TOYOTA RAV490.30%
12PEUGEOT 200890.23%
13LEXUS NX90.15%
14FORD PUMA89.95%
15KIA NIRO89.92%
16DACIA DUSTER89.86%
17KIA CEED89.67%
18TESLA MODEL 389.43%
19FORD KUGA89.35%
20KIA PICANTO89.35%
21TOYOTA YARIS89.32%
22AUDI Q389.24%
23MERCEDES-BENZ A CLASS89.08%
24VOLKSWAGEN T-ROC88.89%
25HONDA CR-V88.49%
26NISSAN JUKE88.40%
27HYUNDAI IONIQ88.19%
28VAUXHALL CORSA88.17%
29RENAULT CLIO88.15%
30MINI COUNTRYMAN88.12%
31BMW 3 SERIES88.00%
32TOYOTA COROLLA87.97%
33HONDA JAZZ87.95%
34KIA STONIC87.89%
35FORD ECOSPORT87.70%
36SEAT LEON87.51%
37RENAULT CAPTUR87.33%
38MERCEDES-BENZ GLC87.20%
39SEAT ARONA86.47%
40NISSAN LEAF86.45%
41MG MOTOR UK ZS86.43%
42MERCEDES-BENZ E CLASS86.42%
43SKODA OCTAVIA86.37%
44BMW 2 SERIES86.31%
45HYUNDAI I1086.30%
46BMW 1 SERIES86.22%
47SUZUKI VITARA86.09%
48VOLKSWAGEN POLO86.09%
49BMW 5 SERIES85.56%
50PEUGEOT 300885.46%
51PEUGEOT 20885.42%
52NISSAN QASHQAI85.36%
53AUDI Q285.35%
54MERCEDES-BENZ GLA84.73%
55AUDI A384.49%
56BMW 4 SERIES84.43%
57HONDA CIVIC84.34%
58SEAT IBIZA84.31%
59MINI HATCHBACK84.16%
60TOYOTA AYGO84.08%
61BMW X383.82%
62VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN83.71%
63FORD KA+83.38%
64HYUNDAI TUCSON83.26%
65AUDI A482.79%
66AUDI A182.20%
67FIAT 50081.88%
68FORD FIESTA81.83%
69VAUXHALL ASTRA81.54%
70BMW X581.33%
71MERCEDES-BENZ C CLASS81.09%
72FORD FOCUS81.01%
73VOLKSWAGEN GOLF80.27%
74BMW X179.05%
75DACIA SANDERO78.06%

Read our list of the UK’s best selling cars of 2021.

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