Finding the best car to live with

What’s the one thing that’s guaranteed to be important to every driver, regardless of the car they drive? It’s that unquantifiable notion of happiness, or “customer satisfaction” as it’s more commonly known to the car makers.

The feeling you get from your car when everything is just how you like it isn’t something we really talk about, but we’ve all had to listen to people discussing that annoying little detail that drives them nuts.

So, if you want to avoid those little niggles it’s worth taking a look through the latest Auto Express Driver Power Survey before you choose your next lease car.

The Driver Power is the most comprehensive and respected car-ownership satisfaction survey in the UK. Each year, thousands of motorists rate their cars in dozens of areas and provide valuable feedback, all of which helps to build an accurate picture of what new cars are really like to live with on a daily basis.

Driver Power was launched as a reader survey in Auto Express magazine all the way back in 2001, and over the last 20 years has grown into the largest in-depth car satisfaction survey undertaken in the UK. It taps into a vast number of car owners to give the very best knowledge and insight into the marketplace. Since its launch, the Driver Power survey has been completed by more than half a million people across the UK.

The UK’s most comprehensive survey of its kind also boasts a revamped format, new questions, and an even more rigorous approach to data analysis for 2021.

The Driver Power survey saw a raft of improvements, including the introduction of new questions regarding the effectiveness of in-car safety systems and the ease with which these systems can be switched on and off. Anyone who’s driven down a narrow road with lane assist switched on will understand how annoying it can be when your car keeps telling you you’ve accidentally strayed across the white line when the road is barely wide enough for two bicycles to pass.

A question asking owners how happy they are with the balance between touchscreen inputs and physical controls is also new for this year, while a new value for money category has also been introduced. There are even questions around charging infrastructure to reflect the changing priorities as we gradually switch to EVs.

The 20th anniversary of Driver Power also marks a more comprehensive approach to data analysis. Working with the automotive experts from market research agency Simpson Carpenter, data has been more closely analysed than ever before, while also being weighted to ensure it’s truly representative of the UK population in terms of gender and age.

For this year’s survey, owners graded 75 new cars across 10 categories, assessing areas such as reliability, practicality, handling, performance, and infotainment, over a series of 35 questions, generating tens of thousands of data points from thousands of respondents.

And the result…?

The Auto Express’ Driver Power survey marked its 20th anniversary by crowning the Hyundai Kona the best new car on sale. The Kia Rio supermini finished second in the rankings, with the Mazda CX-5 SUV in third.

That announcement is another highlight in an exceptional year for the Hyundai Kona . If topping out the driver satisfaction survey wasn’t enough, the Kona also scooped a best-in-class award in the small SUV category, while the Kona Electric was voted the best EV, ahead of rivals such as the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model 3.

With sister company, Kia, picking up the readers’ favourite supermini award for the Rio (and also landing ninth spot on the list for the Sportage SUV, it looks like 2021 is a good year for Korean carmakers, and a great sign that these two brands are now firmly established and producing some truly excellent cars in every category.

If you want the full list, here it is.



The top 10 cars in the 2021 Driver Power customer satisfaction new-car survey


  1. Hyundai Kona
  2. Kia Rio
  3. Mazda CX-5
  4. Toyota C-HR
  5. Skoda Karoq
  6. Skoda Kodiaq
  7. Vauxhall Grandland X
  8. Volvo XC40
  9. Kia Sportage
  10. SEAT Ateca


The results of the Driver Power 2021 new-car survey are in the 28 July issue of Auto Express, and that will be followed by the Driver Power new-car brands survey results on 4 August, a rundown of the best new-car dealers due for release on 08 September, and the Driver Power used-car survey results due in October.

Just in case you’ve got a thing about surveys, and you want to be absolutely certain you choose the right lease car for you…



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