We road and lab test hundreds of new cars each year, identifying the heroes and villains across the price spectrum. We also survey thousands of car owners, so you can use the results of our annual car survey to find out which models are the most reliable, and which are likely to leave you frustrated at the side of the road.
However, when it comes to really knowing a car inside out, nothing beats living with it for a prolonged period of time. That's why our annual car survey has a specific section on satisfaction - namely how happy you are with your car and how likely you are to recommend it to a friend.
Each year, we dig into our data and discover which cars that kept their owners most satisfied, across our car classes.
This is separate to our reliability ratings, which tell you how reliable a car is. It's also separate to our overall test scores for each model, which are made up of the results of our independent lab tests, as well as our reliability ratings.
Instead, our satisfaction scores focus purely on how happy owners are.
We're seeing electric cars taking the top spot in a number of key car classes. Below are the areas in which they've overtaken the established competition to become the most satisfying cars to own.
Buyers expect a lot from the small car class, despite their compact dimensions and (mostly) modest prices. This class is easily the most popular in the UK, with UK bestsellers such as the and championed for their blend of hatchback practicality and ease of use in congested city centres.
It seems it's the BMW i3's upmarket feel, as well as its green credentials, that have buyers smitten. It's also one of the more radical looking hatchbacks in the small car market - its chunky, squat styling wouldn't look out of place on the set of a science fiction movie.
Summing up its multitude of talents, one owner said: 'It looks unique, handles beautifully, is good for the environment and cheap to run and service.' What more could you possibly want from a car?
The medium car market is chock full of firm UK favourites, not least the and . Despite their loyal followings, however, both of these models have been beaten to the punch by the , which has emerged as the most satisfying medium-sized hatchback to own.
Ease of use is key in this car class. Owners rated the Leaf very highly indeed - it can be driven using just one pedal (with its 'e-pedal' arrangement), plus has the serene, engine-noise-free driving experience common to electric cars.
Factor in high levels of comfort and decent refinement, and it's a car that drivers would happily recommend to others.
YouTube channel FullyCharged has launched a new series that follows Bafta award-winning Maddie Moate as she finds out what it's like to become an electric car owner. Which? appears in episode 4. To see episode 3 of 'Maddie Goes Electric', where Maddie installs an electric car charger at home, go to:
The large SUV has also proved a hit with owners. While it didn't quite prove to be king of the hill in terms of satisfaction for new large SUVs (that accolade goes to the ), it still beat some excellent competition.
As one owner commented in our survey: 'It's got the combined power of a supercar mixed with the latest technology in a zero emission car that doesn't pollute the people around me. I could never return to a petrol or diesel car.'
The luxury car market is arguably the hardest area to break. It's long been dominated by premium German manufacturers, with cars such as the and offering superlative passenger comfort and cutting-edge technology.
It has supercar-rivalling performance (without the high exhaust emissions), and lots of passenger and luggage space. Plus high-end features, such as over-the-air software updates that allow owners to enjoy new and improved functionality as and when they're developed.
The Model S feels and drives like no other car on the road. Add this to a largely positive after-sales experience, according to owners, and there's little surprise that it scored higher than any other luxury saloon model.
Every car we review is put through hundreds of tests in our lab and on the road. This means we can impartially assess all the most important aspects of a car and allow you to easily compare different models to find the one that best suits you and your budget.
We combine all of our test results to give each car an overall score. This score is made up of not only our lab test results, but also reliability (based on the Which? Car survey), and Euro NCAP's crash test safety assessments.