Best cars to own: Driver Power 2023 results

The best new cars to own in the UK right now according to the people who already do. It’s the 2023 Driver Power results!

Welcome to the Driver Power 2023 New Car survey, the UK’s most eagerly anticipated guide to customer satisfaction levels in the new-car market.

Thanks to the generosity of the thousands of respondents who have shared their personal experience and insights, we can provide a wealth of information for would-be buyers of the 75 most satisfying-to-own cars.

We ask buyers and drivers for detailed feedback on a wide range of categories affecting their experiences with their own cars. Once these responses have been processed, and statistical weightings applied, the survey delivers results representative of views on a national level.

If you'd like to take part in the next Driver Power, you can do so right now. You'll automatically be entered in our monthly draw for a £100 Amazon voucher. 

The top 10 best cars to own in the UK

Below you’ll find the top 10 cars in the Driver Power 2023 new car survey listed in reverse order. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the full results table listing the UK’s top 75 best cars to own. 

10. Kia Ceed Mk3 – 91.29%

The Ceed is the first of three Kias to make it into the top 10, and owners appreciate it for its excellent value and good looks; it’s ranked fourth and third in those categories respectively. Breaking down the numbers reveals an eighth place for exterior style and seventh for exterior-quality feel.

Interior style is 10th, and owners enjoy it from the 12th most comfortable front seats. There’s a 20th place for boot space, while ride and handling rank ninth and 15th. These strong all-round results are enhanced by an 18th for running costs and 15th for reliability, but the 73rd place for gearbox smoothness is a setback. 

9. Mazda CX-5 Mk2 – 91.36%

The Mazda CX-5’s top-10 scores for value, reliability and exterior reflect the esteem of owners who especially love its styling and high-quality feel, ranked 11th and fourth. Interior quality is 12th, with front-seat comfort eighth, and owners rate their cars 13th most pleasurable to drive in the survey.

Overall quality ranks in 10th place, and reliability fifth, but there are lower scores of 55th and 48th for the CX-5’s acceleration and engine sound. Economy is 20th, but servicing costs are in 42nd place. Infotainment rankings are all in the top third of the survey, apart from a 43rd place that suggests the controls could be better.

8. Toyota Prius Mk4 – 91.45%

Five top-10 category finishes, and everything else in the top half of the table ensures a very respectable final ranking for Toyota’s Prius. Everything bar practicality, that is, because boot space falls foul of the aerodynamic rear hatch and nets 71st place as a result. But the smooth, quiet powertrains rank seventh, while ride quality and road handling are eighth and seventh.

The number of safety features scores 13th, but a third for economy is offset by 49th for service costs. Reliability feels like a shoe-in at fourth, while good scores for the infotainment are let down by a 63rd for the audio system.

7. Kia EV6 – 91.50%

The top-rated bespoke EV pleases owners as much for its styling and practicality as it does for its driving characteristics. The EV6 ranks highly for its powertrain plus ride and handling, with top-20 scores for every attribute in both categories, including a 17th for driving pleasure and fifth for smoothness.

Owners love the style, rating it fifth for body design and sixth for the cabin. There’s a sixth place for seat versatility too, as well as for child-friendly features, while the rear-seat legroom bags first place in the survey. Safety features are ranked 11th for the quantity, but only 45th for ease of use, while reliability is a disappointing 63rd and value 50th.

6. Ford EcoSport – 91.52%

The Ford EcoSport has some great scores, including a first place for steering responsiveness, a fourth position for front- seat comfort and third for reliability. It also scores very well indeed across all infotainment attributes, including fourth place for both the sat-nav and touchscreen sensitivity.

In contrast, poor scores are few and far between; there’s a 66th for the cramped boot, and 52nd for both the number of safety features and economy, but that’s about it. Ride comfort is rated below par, at 41st, but that doesn’t stop owners awarding the Ford SUV a 15th place for driving pleasure. Value for money is strong, too, in 12th place.

5. Subaru Outback Mk6 – 91.73%

The Subaru Outback claims a significant first place in the interior category. Here, owners rank it top for styling, second for both visibility from the driver’s seat and rear-seat legroom, and third for front-seat comfort – superb scores that make a strong 14th place for interior quality and feel look bad! The picture is almost as rosy for practicality, a category where the Outback ranks second, with a first place for boot space, fourth for seating versatility, and fifth for child-friendly features; storage takes a ‘lowly’ 16th.

The car comes fourth in the ride and handling category, with top-five scores across every attribute except driving pleasure, where it places 19th. However, it could have done better on safety – a fourth place for the number of safety features is marred by a poor 69th for ease of activation.

The Subaru’s fuel economy is rated down the table at 55th, but other running costs are middling. A peerless first place for reliability, but only 18th for overall quality, keeps the Outback in fifth place in the category.

4. Dacia Duster Mk2 – 91.75%

Nothing can hold a candle to Dacia’s super-satisfying SUV for good value, and the model also has an impressive range of scores across the running costs category. It’s ranked by owners as fifth overall for fuel economy, ninth for servicing and 10th for ‘other costs’, such as insurance – enough for an impressive seventh position in the category.

More impressive still though, is the Duster’s second position overall for its infotainment set-up. It kicks off the category with a first place for phone connectivity, followed by fifth for user-friendly controls, sixth for the balance between physical and touchscreen controls, and ninth for the built-in sat-nav.

The next-best category scores are 19th for the engine and gearbox, helped by a 12th place for a satisfying engine sound, a 21st place for reliability, and 22nd for practicality and boot space – the boot itself ranking eighth, with a good 17th for cabin storage. The safety features and interior are the Duster’s worst results, at 55th and 53rd, with a 70th for interior quality.

3. Lexus RX Mk4 – 92.15%

The third step on the 2023 Driver Power New Car podium belongs to Lexus, and the RX SUV, which delivers top-10 finishes in an impressive five categories. Given the car’s focus on luxury, it’s perhaps surprising that the RX’s strongest performance comes in practicality, with a first-place finish. That result is based on a 14th place for boot space, plus a second position for seat versatility and two firsts for cabin storage and child-friendly features.

The RX also earns second place in the interior category, with a first for material quality and finish, a second for style, fifth for both front-seat comfort and rear legroom, and a sixth for driver visibility. Next up is a pair of sixth places in the ride and handling, and exterior categories. The highlights of the former are second place for ride smoothness and fourth for driving pleasure, while a 16th position for exterior style is backed up by second for exterior quality.

Reliability comes in at ninth overall, and there are strong scores for the powertrain and the safety features. Servicing costs are good too, in 15th, but a poor 50th for economy and a dire 71st for insurance dent the overall score, where the RX can only finish 40th.

Case study: Living with a Lexus RX

Lexus RX - case study

Poor service at a Mercedes dealer prompted Trevor Hall, from Lincolnshire, to switch to Lexus, and the retired RX 450h driver is on his second one. His wife drives a Lexus UX, and both the cars and the service have been highly satisfactory.

“I’m not a petrolhead, and we’re not too bothered about what we drive, but we want a personal service from a dealer, and want to be treated reasonably well, considering we’re spending sixty thousand pounds,” he says. Mind you, Trevor says he likes the RX a lot more than the Mercedes GLE he had previously: “If there’s one big difference, it’s the handling. As you went round a bend in the Mercedes, you’d get swung over to the other side of the car. This corners really nicely.”

The interior of the car gets a thumbs up for its very high-quality cream leather, and Trevor is equally impressed by the “exceptionally good technology” although he’s not taken full advantage of the kit on offer. Trevor also makes use of all the space available, taking three or four trips to the tip a year thanks to the large trees in his garden. “Everything folds down really easily,” he says. “It’s very practical in that sense, and great when we go on holiday.”

Moreover, he likes how the Lexus makes him feel. “There is something psychological about the superior nature of the brand, and while I don’t identify with many products, I think I do with the Lexus.”

2. Kia Sorento Mk4 – 92.44%

The Sorento is one of only two cars in the survey to top two categories this year, pointing to a richly deserved second- place finish. The categories in question are infotainment and exterior, with owners raving about the balance of touchscreen and physical controls, user-friendliness, climate control and touchscreen sensitivity – although they’re less impressed by phone connectivity in 37th place. Fourth place for exterior style is trumped by a first place for quality, too.

A third place for the interior category, fourth for practicality and boot space, and another third for safety features help to seal the Sorento’s fantastic finish. Interior style and seating flexibility are highlights, both ranking third, while boot space, front-seat comfort and rear legroom rank fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

Powertrain scores could be higher too, but the Sorento pays the penalty for a poor 72nd place for gearbox smoothness. Nevertheless, the Kia SUV manages a strong eighth place for driving pleasure, with 11th and 12th for steering and braking response adding up to a 13th overall for ride and handling.

Case study: Living with a Kia Sorento

Kia Sorento - case study

Long-time Kia buyer Duncan Herries lives in Stirlingshire, and has been driving a variety of Kia models since 2011, having been attracted to the brand by its prices and value.

Duncan’s family Sorento is used to commute to Glasgow for much of the week, then takes his footballing teenager to matches across central Scotland at weekends, and also makes light work of transporting the immediate family plus in-laws on trips and holidays. He racks up 14,000 miles per year, and values both the functionality and the economy of his car, telling us: “It will sit at 70mph, fully loaded with four adults and a teenager, plus a load of suitcases, all the way to Manchester and back on a full tank of fuel.”

The ex-military man calls the 1.6-litre petrol hybrid Sorento his ‘Aldi’ car, referring to its value and excellence. “It’s decent-looking, very functional and well equipped – it’s the KX-4 so I’ve got everything – and the boot easily swallows five large suitcases.”

Duncan opted to finance his car using Kia’s PCP scheme, although he “missed a trick” by not opting for an inclusive service package. As a result, he just paid £460 for the 40,000-mile major service. “I reckon that’s pretty good value for money,” he tells us, and in fact, he’s so pleased with the car, that he’s ordering a brand-new Sorento – this time in Limited spec because the KX-4 trim he bought in 2020 has been discontinued.

1. Citroen C4 Mk3 – 93.39%

An incredible six top-10 category placings, and four more results in the top 20 explain the Citroen C4’s triumph in this year’s Driver Power New Car survey. Its best result is third place in the ride and handling category – including top spot for ride smoothness – but superb scores right across the board mean the C4’s performance is unbeatable.

Another first place for overall quality helps the Citroen to fourth place in the reliability category, and the company will also be celebrating fourth places for economy and servicing costs, sixth places for the number and ease of use of safety features, and a trio of seventh places for brake and steering responsiveness, and for driving pleasure. The Citroen also performs admirably in the interior category, with second place for front-seat comfort, fourth for interior quality, and fifth for interior style. On the practicality front, the car is 10th best for flexible seating, although only 32nd for boot space. A third place for child-friendly features redresses the balance.

Amidst all the positivity, negatives are very few and far between. In fact, there are only two sub-categories or attributes where the C4 ranks in the lower half of the table. These are a disappointing 59th for touchscreen sensitivity and visibility, and a 68th for visibility from the driver’s seat.

Case study: Living with a Citroen C4

Citroen C4 - case study

Retired grandmother Geraldine Redding is a serial Citroen owner from Barton-under-Needwood in Staffordshire, and her previous cars have included a C2, two DS3s and a C4 Cactus. While she doesn’t do many miles in her car, having two of her grandchildren living nearby means she needs something with a bit of space and more practicality than the three-door models she used to favour.

She doesn’t shop around though. “I’ve always liked Citroens and they’ve always been good at working out a great deal for me,” she says, referring to her local Bristol Street Motors dealer in Burton on Trent. Her latest C4 Shine 1.2 PureTech 130 S/S, financed on a PCP, is now 15 months old, and Geraldine was very happy with the deal after haggling over the price “to get them to dig into their contribution”. That said, Bristol Street is already offering an upgrade to a newer model, and Geraldine is tempted to get another one. “We have been offered a new one, but the dealer hasn’t got the colour I want,” Geraldine tells us, going on to say she would definitely change her current car for a newer C4 if the deal was right.

“I like everything about the C4; it ticks all the boxes,” she says. “It’s extremely quick for its size, and it’s very, very quiet when you’re cruising, so performance-wise it’s fantastic. It’s also a lovely design overall, the style of it is beautiful, and it’s got features like keyless entry and front parking sensors, which I really want.”

Best cars to own: places 1-75

PosMake and modelOverall score
1CITROEN C4 MK3 (C41)93.39%
2KIA SORENTO MK4 (MQ4)92.44%
3LEXUS RX MK4 (AL20) (RX4)92.15%
4DACIA DUSTER MK2 (HJD)91.75%
5SUBARU OUTBACK MK6 (BT9)91.73%
6FORD ECOSPORT MK1 (B515)91.52%
7KIA EV6 MK1 (CV)91.50%
8TOYOTA PRIUS Mk491.45%
9MAZDA CX-5 MK2 (KF)91.36%
10KIA CEED MK3 (CD)91.29%
11HYUNDAI IONIQ MK1 (AE)91.19%
12KIA XCEED MK3 (CD)91.19%
13BMW I3 I391.10%
14SKODA KODIAQ MK1 (NS)91.05%
15FORD KUGA MK3 (CX482)90.99%
16HYUNDAI KONA MK1 (OS)90.95%
17POLESTAR 2 MK1 (534)90.94%
18KIA SOUL SK390.80%
19KIA SPORTAGE MK4 (QL)90.79%
20KIA RIO MK4 (YB)90.74%
21VOLKSWAGEN T-CROSS MK1 (C1)90.72%
22TESLA MODEL 3 MK190.71%
23KIA NIRO MK1 (DE)90.67%
24MINI HATCHBACK F55/F56/F5790.64%
25TOYOTA C-HR MK1 (CR1)90.57%
26KIA PICANTO MK3 (JA)90.37%
27AUDI Q3 MK2 (F3) (Q3)90.36%
28VOLKSWAGEN T-ROC MK190.19%
29SUBARU FORESTER MK5 (SK) (FR8)90.07%
30TOYOTA RAV4 MK5 (XA50)90.05%
31CITROEN C3 MK3 (B618)90.05%
32HONDA JAZZ MK5 (GR)90.02%
33FORD PUMA MK1 (BX726)89.99%
34RENAULT CAPTUR MK2 (Ph1) (HJB)89.98%
35SUBARU XV MK2 (GT) (XV2)89.87%
36TOYOTA YARIS MK4 (YA7) (XP210)89.86%
37PEUGEOT 3008 MK2 (Ph1) (P84)89.67%
38LEXUS UX MK1 (UX1)89.56%
39MERCEDES-BENZ A CLASS W17789.55%
40SKODA KAROQ MK1 (NU)89.52%
41TOYOTA COROLLA MK1289.43%
42NISSAN LEAF MK2 (ZE1A)89.40%
43MERCEDES-BENZ E CLASS W21389.37%
44KIA E-NIRO MK1 (DE)89.32%
45KIA PRO CEED MK3 (CD)89.21%
46BMW 3 SERIES MK7 (G20/G21/G28)89.17%
47BMW 5 SERIES MK7 (G30/G31/G38)89.15%
48NISSAN QASHQAI MK2 (J11)89.09%
49LAND ROVER DISCOVERY SPORT MK1 (LC)89.07%
50JAGUAR F-PACE MK1 (X761)89.07%
51PEUGEOT 208 MK2 (Ph1) (P2)88.95%
52VAUXHALL GRANDLAND X MK1 (3630)88.92%
53PEUGEOT 2008 MK2 (Ph1) (P1)88.84%
54VAUXHALL ASTRA MK7 (K) (3600)88.82%
55LEXUS NX MK1 (AZ10) (NX1)88.68%
56CITROEN C5 AIRCROSS MK1 (C84)88.46%
57KIA STONIC MK1 (YB CUV)88.24%
58VOLKSWAGEN TIGUAN MK2 (AD/BW)88.23%
59SEAT ARONA MK1 (SE216)88.21%
60KIA NIRO MK2 (SG2)88.17%
61VOLVO XC40 MK1 (536)88.13%
62VOLKSWAGEN POLO Mk688.10%
63SEAT ATECA MK1 (SE376)87.90%
64NISSAN JUKE MK2 (F16)87.77%
65JAGUAR I-PACE MK1 (X590)87.68%
66MG MOTOR UK MG5 MK1 (EP22)87.66%
67TOYOTA AYGO MK2 (AY2)87.65%
68MINI COUNTRYMAN F6087.45%
69TOYOTA GR YARIS YA787.21%
70KIA SPORTAGE MK5 (NQ5)86.97%
71AUDI A5 MK2 (B9)86.94%
72BMW 1 SERIES F4086.70%
73LAND ROVER RANGE ROVER EVOQUE MK2 (L551) (LZ)86.55%
74CITROEN C3 AIRCROSS MK1 (A88)86.52%
75VAUXHALL MOKKA MK2 (P2QO)86.48%

Now we want to hear from you!

Driver Power relies on owners, so please help other buyers by taking the survey and contributing towards 2024's results. Take the Driver Power survey today and you'll be entered into our prize draw where you could win a £100 Amazon voucher.

Current affairs and features editor

Chris covers all aspects of motoring life for Auto Express. Over a long career he has contributed news and car reviews to brands such as Autocar, WhatCar?, PistonHeads, Goodwood and The Motor Trader.

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