The cars you love and hate
By Daljinder Nagra
Which cars have the most and least satisfied drivers? We reveal the ones that have most pleased or frustrated their owners - find out if your car is on the list.
Each year, we put hundreds of new cars through our comprehensive road and lab tests. With each one undergoing an identical range of assessments, we’re able to give accurate and consistent buying advice, no matter what sort of car you’re looking for.
However, when it really comes to understanding a car’s foibles, there’s nothing better than living with it day in, day out. That's why we use our Which? Car Survey to ask tens of thousands of people to tell us what their cars are like to live with – what they like, what they don't like and whether they'd recommend their car to someone else.
We collate the results to reveal which cars have the most satisfied owners, as well as those that could do better. As with our unique car reliability insights, we focus on models up to a maximum of eight years old, as it's unreasonable to expect a car beyond this age (which may have had a multitude of owners by that point) to be comparable with younger models.
If you're curious to see which cars over eight years old their owners find particularly uninspiring, though, scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Below, you can see the models that ranked top and bottom for satisfaction in each class, according to our latest survey. Use the links to skip directly to your preferred class of car.
Most satisfying city car
This tiny urban runabout isn’t the most rounded of city cars, but it’s an absolute hit with owners. Keep it in town and it excels, thanks to its tiny dimensions and great turning circle. It’s also surprisingly roomy inside for its compact size– just don’t expect it to be a comfortable cruiser on long journeys.
Least satisfying city car
This affordable city car is starting to show its age, and this reality isn’t lost on owners. It’s ranked the least satisfying city car model in our survey, thanks to an underpowered engine, middling fuel consumption and how awkward it is to get into and out of the back seats.
Most satisfying small car
This supermini is a firm favourite with Which? members, and it’s now topped the satisfaction rankings for small cars. Aside from low running costs, it impressed with its quality, refinement and comfort. It also delivers on the practicality front, with a unique rear folding seat system.
Least satisfying small car
This small car falls just within our age range for used models – and its advancing years are telling. Owners were cheesed off with poor fuel economy, sluggish performance and an unrefined driving experience. There are far better used small cars on the market.
Most satisfying medium car
One of the greatest compliments we can pay this zero-emissions, all-electric model is that it's very much like its non-electric counterpart to drive (aside from the lack of engine noise). It doesn't sacrifice much space to fit in the electric batteries either – it's a well-deserved Best Buy, and we’re not surprised that its owners love it.
Least satisfying medium car
If you want to be happy behind the wheel, current owners might suggest you avoid this popular hatchback. It performs adequately, but niggles such as poor visibility and a lacklustre driving experience seem to be rubbing drivers up the wrong way. The cabin is beginning to feel dated too, although it remains a safe choice of family car.
Most satisfying large car
With a slightly sub-par infotainment system and interior quality, this large saloon can’t quite match its closest rivals in our independent lab assessment. That hasn’t stopped owners ranking it as the most satisfying car to own – regardless of type – in 2020. With dramatic styling, an exclusive feel and razor-sharp handling, it certainly gives owners a feeling of owning something special.
Least satisfying large car
A reasonably priced large saloon is rarely likely to get pulses racing, particularly as it ages, but drivers of this older model are particularly unimpressed. We’ve criticised it for a lack of rear headroom and an awkward boot, but for owners its poor all-round visibility has proved a particular bugbear. A lack of modern technology and iffy reliability seal its fate as the least satisfying large car to own.
Most satisfying estate car
Least satisfying estate car
The dinky hatchback model on which this estate is based is a fantastic all-round car, and while it's not the most practical, it's certainly a Best Buy product. However, while owners love the driving experience, an overall lack of space and a bumpy ride are cheesing them off - to the point they've relegated to the position of least satisfying estate car.
Most satisfying luxury car
Owners of this particular brand are amongst the happiest on the road, with it consistently scoring highly in our annual car survey. This generation of its large luxury saloon is a particularly fine example of the breed; combining sumptuous build quality with an understated and silky-smooth driving experience. It’s so good that it’s beaten far newer and more expensive luxury saloons for overall driver satisfaction.
Least satisfying luxury car
This high-riding model caused a stir when it was launched back in 2011. Buyers loved its striking styling, high-quality cabin and more modest dimensions compared with the brand’s larger models. However, with iffy reliability, limited practicality for what is still a large car, and some ageing technology, owners ranked this vehicle as the least satisfying luxury car overall.
Most satisfying MPV
This really is the complete MPV package, with space for seven adults, a comfortable ride and plenty of technology to keep you relaxed and safe. It's among our highest-scoring MPVs and its owners clearly rate it highly, although it was denied Best Buy status after our tests uncovered a flaw.
Least satisfying MPV
On the face of it, this model is the same as the best MPVs, with a versatile interior with seven seats. However, sluggish performance, tricky manoeuvrability and poor visibility dent its ease of use. This generation has also been extensively recalled for serious issues.
Most satisfying compact SUV
Least satisfying compact SUV
This car arguably kicked off the current trend for compact city-friendly crossover SUVs. It appealed with its eye-catching styling but, in reality, the skinny windows and steeply raked roofline mean it’s difficult to see out of, and it has an annoyingly small rear cabin and boot. This kind of defeats the object of a car that’s meant to be great around town, and owners have been venting their frustration, ranking this model as the least satisfying compact SUV to own.
Most satisfying large SUV
This Best Buy model doesn’t just perform well in our tests; those who’ve bought it are very happy with their purchase, too. Delivering no-nonsense ease of use and generous amounts of passenger and luggage space, it hits the high notes for a large SUV. Owners also appreciate how easy it is to drive and its decent fuel economy.
Least satisfying large SUV
This large crossover has a useful brace of extra seats compared with the regular model, but it’s not enough to make up for the fact it’s quickly feeling dated. Active safety kit is lacking compared with newer models, and owners are particularly frustrated with its sluggish-feeling engines that aren’t particularly economical. It’s one to avoid if you want a satisfying family SUV.
The least satisfying cars to own, regardless of age
If you're on a tighter budget and need to consider a car that's more than eight years old, you'll need to be prepared for a driving experience that lacks the creature comforts or safety kit of the latest models. However, you can save yourself from abject misery by avoid the following models, which were voted as the outright least satisfying cars to own in the latest Which? Car Survey:
- Vauxhall Meriva MPV (2003-2010)
- Peugeot 206 small car (1998-2009)
- Renault Clio small car (1998-2005)
- Vauxhall Astra medium estate (2004-2010)
- Nissan Qashqai+2 (2008-2013)
If your older car is on its last legs and you want to buy a car that will make you happier, use the results of our satisfaction survey – above – plus our expert reviews to pick a winner.
To see the cars that excelled in the Which? test lab and are recommended by our car experts, see our round-up of the best cars for 2020.