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Best cars to own: Driver Power 2020 results

UK owners deliver their verdict on long-term life with the latest cars as part of our Driver Power 2020 customer satisfaction survey

Buying a new car isn’t the sort of thing that should be rushed into. You need to consider a number of different models, plus the available engines and trim levels, and investigate what finance deals are on offer.

Another vital piece of research is to read what other people think of their cars, afterall the owners are having a very similar experience to the one that you will if you decide to buy. Our sister title Carbuyer provides an excellent resource for this, but Driver Power is the most comprehensive car ownership and customer satisfaction survey available – and you have all the results here at your fingertips.

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Driver Power is a big undertaking, with the thousands of readers who submit their responses generating hundreds of thousands of data points, which are carefully analysed to bring about the results you see here. So read on to find out what people really think of their cars and, as ever, we'd like to say a massive thank you to the people who took part in Driver Power 2020.

• Click here to take our Driver Power survey right now

Below are the full results of the 2020 Driver Power new car survey. Click on to page two for the best cars to own in each market segment, from city cars to SUVs...

Driver Power 2020: the top 10 best cars to own

1. Kia Sorento – 92.05%

  • Years of manufacture: 2014-2020
  • Key points: practical and spacious SUV is your 2020 Driver Power champion.
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Congratulations to Kia – and to all those owners how opted for a Sorento – because this large SUV is the Driver Power gold medal winner for 2020. What makes the Sorento so good? Well, taking not one but two category wins is impressive in itself, with owners reporting no other car in this rundown is more practical, nor does any other model have a better interior.

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True, you’d like slightly smoother gearboxes – and there’s no denying that fuel consumption is on the high side – but the Sorento is a big car, so that last criticism is more than understandable. Moving away from those blemishes, it’s certainly worth highlighting that the Sorento is rated as having the most comfortable seats of any car in our survey, while the same accolade applies to its interior storage, rear legroom and the provision of child-friendly features.

Another impressive aspect of life with a Sorento is the way it drives. You say the brakes are incredibly responsive, while the ride quality is impressively smooth. Plus, as we’ve seen with a number of Kias, the Sorento’s infotainment system delivers what buyers want: it features a strong stereo, good satellite navigation, easy-to-use controls and decent smartphone connectivity. All these things combine to reveal that no other car is more satisfying to own than a Kia Sorento.

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 23.8%

An above-average number of Sorento owners report faults, most often electrical ones.

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Living with a Kia Sorento

Steve Hawkins (Cockwood, Devon)

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Steve Hawkins – a retired railway manager living in Cockwood, Devon – has always owned fairly large cars due to his hobbies, and the fact he has a big family. When the time came for him to move on from his Hyundai Santa Fe, which he felt was a perfectly good car, he looked at the Kia Sorento and was hugely impressed by it.

“The comfort level and the kit you get in it, the quietness of it, plus the size of it, were all a step above,” Steve told us. He purchased his first Sorento on a PCP in February 2017 and then replaced it with his current one this past January.

“I’ve had 18 cars since learning to drive, and the Kia Sorento just tops them all,” he explained. “Every day I get in it, it still makes me smile – it’s superb.” Steve often uses his car to transport his extended family on days out, which means all seven seats get used. DIY is a favourite pastime of his, too, so there’s plenty of room for any tools he needs, and the SUV is capable of towing the boat he owns.

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Steve was also impressed with how, when collecting his second Sorento, the dealer managed to show him features that he didn’t even know he had on his first one.

Your view

“The boot can fit two large suitcases and still has loads of room. There’s a vast area when the rear seats are folded flat.”

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“I regularly tow a caravan and the Sorento pulls it with no excessive noise. It’s such a powerful car I hardly notice I’m towing anything at all.”

2. Peugeot 3008 – 92.04%

  • Years of manufacture: 2016-present
  • Key points: superlatives are easy with the 3008 – owners say it does almost everything well.

Placing seventh last year means the Peugeot 3008 is a car that seems to get better with age. And this eye-catching SUV is certainly still wooing owners with its looks, while its great styling is backed up with solid build quality.

That sense of solidity is echoed by the car’s strong reliability, with a decently low proportion of owners telling of issues, and a sixth-place ranking in this category being deeply reassuring. The 3008 is also a spacious, well thought-out car, with a generous boot and more than enough rear legroom, together with a host of child-friendly features that make it the perfect car for families. But just because the 3008 is sensible and reliable, that doesn’t mean it’s no fun; on the contrary, owners say it’s a really enjoyable car to drive when the mood takes them, with responsive controls backed up by good ride quality.

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And the 3008’s interior – which seemed so daring when the car was launched four years ago – is standing up to the test of time well, you say; the characterful design with those piano-like shortcut keys is still highly regarded by owners. In fact, it’s hard to find anything to dislike about the 3008: although owners say visibility from the driver’s seat could be a little better, and the climate control system could be easier to use.

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Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 11.8%

Reasonably low number of reported snags; a few owners mention recall work, though.

Living with a Peugeot 3008

Clayton Beckwith (Colchester, Essex)

Working as an interviewer for the Office for National Statistics, Clayton Beckwith from Colchester, Essex, covers a lot of miles around Essex and Suffolk. He also suffered a leg injury in 2004, so his main requirements for a car are that it’s practical, economical and easy to get in and out of. Having owned a previous-generation Peugeot 3008 for a time, Clayton upgraded to this model in September 2018.

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“It’s a very good car, and I’m very impressed with it,” Clayton told us. “The best part of it is its handling. It’s fun to drive, but also relaxing on long journeys. The seats are very comfortable and you never feel like you’ve driven a long way in it. The panoramic sunroof is also very nice.”

Aside from doing a good job of getting him to and from wherever he needs to be for work, the 3008 also took Clayton – along with his wife and daughter – down to a family gathering in Newport, South Wales, over the Christmas period last year. In the process, it proved itself to be a thoroughly practical car.

“My wife’s birthday is on Christmas Eve, so we had to take presents for both that and Christmas,” Clayton explained. “We met my brother and some other relatives down there, so we had a lot to bring back, too.”

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Your view

“It looks good, especially in copper with a black roof. I received positive comments on it soon after leaving the showroom.”

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“Overall build quality is better than that of cars I’ve owned from various brands that are supposedly more premium.”

3. Lexus RX – 91.98%

  • Years of manufacture: 2015-present
  • Key points: high costs and disappointing infotainment aside, the RX is almost perfect.

Climbing two places from Driver Power 2019, the Lexus RX sits proudly on the first podium place. We do need to get two issues out of the way, though, because if you’re thinking about taking on an RX, be prepared for the fact owners don’t like its infotainment system, nor are they happy with its running costs; auxiliary costs such as insurance are said to be particularly pricey. With those issues now dealt with, we can begin to highlight the RX’s positives – and there are plenty of them.

Take reliability, for example: the RX comes second overall here, with that result backed up by an impressively low rate of reported faults. Owners also say that the RX is a supremely practical car, with a vast boot and masses of space for rear-seat occupants, together with plenty of kid-friendly features and oddment storage.

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Those in the front of the RX are also in for a treat, because you report that it has an opulent cabin that’s beautifully designed and finished, while the front seats are comfortable, too.

Then there’s the driving experience, which impresses in pretty much every area; the Lexus’s hybrid drivetrain is smooth and quiet; and you report the protective safety tech leaves you feeling safe on the road.

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Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 9.0%

Impressively low proportion of problems reported by RX owners. Electrics most likely to go wrong.

Living with a Lexus RX

Simon Lake (Tadworth, Surrey)

Simon Lake’s life revolves around cars – he’s held various jobs in the motor industry, and is currently facilities project manager for the Racing Point Formula One team. His wife took delivery of a Lexus NX about a year ago, and he was so impressed with it that he decided to buy a car from the firm, too. So in November 2019 he picked up his brand-new facelifted RX 450h.

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“The one thing that was most surprising to me was its smoothness and its pace,” Simon said. “It’s actually quite a powerful car. The other thing I love is that it feels handmade – there are no rattles or squeaks.”

Simon lives in Tadworth, Surrey but works in Northants, and twice a week he uses his RX to tow his caravan between one county and the other.

“The car’s perfect for things like that because it’s beautifully comfortable,” Simon continued. “The thing you realise about the Lexus is that once you’ve driven 100 miles in heavy traffic, you emerge from the car so much more relaxed than you would in anything else.”

The RX is so good at long-distance driving, in fact, that Simon is planning to go to Berlin and back in it with a friend, once the current travel restrictions have been lifted.

Your view

“The longer you live with the RX, the more you realise how much thought has gone into it. It’s solid, classy and understated.”

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“The RX has plenty of boot space, which comes in handy when going away for a weekend or using the car for a longer holiday.”

4. Kia Niro – 91.82%

  • Years of manufacture: 2016-present
  • Key points: if you’re happy with the Niro’s looks, you’ll love everything else about it.

The Kia Niro climbs six places from 2019, and narrowly misses out on a podium. But fourth place is still an impressive finish, and one that’s the result of some enviable scores.

The Niro’s running costs, for starters, are low enough to be noteworthy; and while it will be reasonable to expect strong fuel economy from a car that offers not one, but three electrified drivetrains (hybrid, plug-in and full electric), it’s perhaps more pleasing to see that no other car is judged to bring with it lower servicing costs.

Owners also rate the range of the all-electric Niro, and say whichever powertrain you choose, this is a smooth and impressively quiet car. It’s also one that’s fun to drive, with responsive steering and good ride quality. And, once again, Kia scores fantastic marks for its infotainment; praise in this category is universal across the brand’s models. Safety tech is also impressive, as is reliability; and you tell us the Niro’s dependability is backed up by a pervading sense of quality.

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There is, alas, a very small issue raising its head, and it comes down to the personal matter of appearance. You say that while the car is well put together, you’re not fans of the Niro’s overall styling. But hey, you can’t have it all, and looks aren’t everything, anyway.

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Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 11.9%

Electrics are again the most common fault, but there are few reports of Niros going wrong.

Living with a Kia Niro

Liz Marsh (Ash, Surrey)

When the time came to upgrade to a new car, Liz Marsh from Ash, Surrey, was keen to move away from diesel. She already owned a Kia, and her local dealership – which she holds in very high regard – was only a few yards down the road from her house. So that seemed the brand to go for, and she instantly took a liking to the Niro.

“I really like the look of it,” Liz told us. “And it seemed the right time to dip my toe into the electrified market.” Liz took delivery of her top-spec Kia Niro hybrid in September 2019, and hasn’t looked back. “I love the powertrain,” she explained. “Both for its economy and the way it drives – it’s nice and smooth.”

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The Niro’s SUV-inspired styling means it has a taller ride height than a Toyota Prius hybrid, which was a welcome feature for Liz, who didn’t want to feel cramped in her new car. She was also very impressed with the sound system, as well as the heating and air-conditioning.

Not only is the car perfect for Liz’s commute, but it’s also come in handy for more specialist requirements. “I have to transport my huge German Shepherd in it,” she continued. “He finds it difficult to jump into the back of some vehicles, and he’s too heavy for me to lift, but the Niro is perfect for him.”

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Your view

“I love the radio and can easily stream music from my phone. I only have the basic stereo, but it still sounds good.”

“Seats are comfortable and easily adjustable. Most plastics are of good quality, with hard plastics only found lower down in the cabin.”

5. Mazda CX-5 – 91.75%

  • Years of manufacture: 2017-present
  • Key points: servicing costs are high, but CX-5 owners have few other criticisms.
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Looking at the bars to your right will tell you that finding anything other than praise for the Mazda CX-5 is a tough task; there are no bars that dip below a status that indicates anything other than a respectable score, and many of the marks imply deeply impressive characteristics.

Take the CX-5’s looks, for example: owners love the exterior styling, a positive impression backed up by strong build quality. You also love the way the car is designed inside, highlighting that the cabin looks sharp, feels high-quality and gives the driver a good view out. Those in the back aren’t forgotten, either, because this is a car with generous rear legroom. More generosity of space is to be found in the boot, which you rate as being more than large enough, while interior storage abounds.

Turning to drivetrains, you’d like a little more poke from the engines, but report that these are at least smooth, while gearboxes are a pleasure to use. A 17th-place rank for driving pleasure indicates that keen motorists aren’t forgotten, while reliability is said to be excellent, with a below-average proportion of owners having hit a snag. Finally, while servicing is said to be a little pricey, fuel economy is better, and other costs are reportedly even lower.

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Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 13.6%

Close to average proportion of CX-5s go wrong. Two thirds of faults are electrical.

Living with a Mazda CX-5

Barry Fryer (Dereham, Norfolk)

As part of his job for Anglian Water, Barry Fryer from Dereham, Norfolk, often has to drive up rough, pitted tracks to various work sites. It was on one of these tracks that Barry nearly ripped the exhaust off his Mazda 6, so he decided he needed something with more ground clearance. His brother owned a previous-generation Mazda CX-5 and liked it, so the latest version of that car seemed a suitable choice.

Barry’s favourite thing about Mazdas in general is the value for money he feels the cars offer, but that’s certainly not the only thing he likes about the CX-5 Sport Nav he picked up in January 2018.

“It’s all good,” Barry said. “It drives superbly, it handles like a medium-sized car rather than an SUV, and it takes off like a scalded cat.” In addition to this, Barry was grateful for the CX-5’s four-wheel-drive system when the Beast from the East hit the UK in 2018.

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As well as regular trips to the shops and drives from Norfolk to Essex every six weeks to visit family, Barry also took his CX-5 down to Cornwall for a holiday in 2019.

“There were four of us,” he explained. “It took all of our luggage, plus a coolbox and a picnic box, without any problems whatsoever.”

Your view

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“Interior quality is absolutely great. There are no squeaks or rattles, and all the switches and buttons feel well made.”

“My CX-5 is fitted with autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist, blind-spot detection and a host of other useful safety features.”

6. Skoda Kodiaq – 91.73%

  • Years of manufacture: 2016-present
  • Key points: tip-top Kodiaq is thirsty, but wins you over in almost every other regard.

The Skoda Kodiaq matches its performance last year by holding on to an impressive sixth place. This is down to a number of key areas, with the interior category being the SUV’s strongest. No other car has better visibility from its driver’s seat, you say, while you think the lofty Kodiaq looks sharp, is well built and has great infotainment.

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You’d like to see additional safety features, while fuel economy from the petrol and diesel engines drags the Skoda down a little, but there’s no denying the vast amounts of space owners report this large SUV offers, nor that it’s fun to drive, has quiet engines, and rides very nicely indeed.

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 19.3%

One in five Kodiaq owners tell us of faults and, you guessed it, electrics are most prone to snags.

Your view

“The sat-nav is excellent, especially when used with Skoda Connect Points of Interest; it’s always found the correct destination.”

“Every Skoda I’ve owned has been noticeably well built, and the Kodiaq is no exception. I’ve not found a single flaw anywhere.”

7. Toyota Corolla – 91.71%

  • Years of manufacture: 2019-present
  • Key points: smooth-riding Corolla needs better packaging and infotainment, but excels elsewhere.
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Toyota’s decision to bring back the Corolla name to replace the Auris has brought with it some impressive scores. The best marks concern ride and handling, where the Corolla beats all-comers for ride comfort. So while many car makers prioritise stiff, sporty suspension, our annual poll indicates many motorists prefer a smoother ride.

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Ignoring a low practicality score (it needs a bigger boot and more interior storage), plus disappointing infotainment (another Toyota that fails to match expectations here), you say the Corolla looks great, has strong drivetrains, is cheap to run and is impressively reliable. Praise indeed.

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 7.7%

Very few Corollas seem to be going wrong. Interior snags are the most common gripe.

Your view

“I wasn’t expecting the suspension to be so smooth on big wheels, or for there to be so little noise on rough road surfaces.”

“I’ve owned two hybrid cars with CVT gearboxes before, but the Corolla seems especially smooth. The engine and gearbox are virtually seamless.”

8. Lexus IS – 91.64%

  • Years of manufacture: 2013-present
  • Key points: look past the iffy infotainment offering and the IS shines in all areas

The IS’s age is no impediment to success, with the car said to impress nearly everywhere, aside from infotainment. But glossing over an interface that you tell us is fiddly to use and offers poor connectivity, you rave about the IS’s reliability, and also say it’s a really nice car to drive thanks to its responsive brakes and steering, plus smooth ride.

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Running costs are also said to be low, despite the IS’s executive status, while you say it looks sleek, inside and out, backed up by excellent build quality. Combine this with Lexus’s famed dealer network and you have a model that is likely to make your motoring life very easy indeed.

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 14.5%

You say IS develops an average proportion of faults; electrics are most prone to failure.

Your view

“I’m now on my sixth Lexus IS and I cannot find any other car in the same price bracket that compares.”

“Adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist are useful on long journeys. AEB also helped me once, when the car in front had no brake lights.”

9. Hyundai Ioniq – 91.61%

  • Years of manufacture: 2016-present
  • Key points: exterior build quality niggles and visibility issues aside, you say the Ioniq is a cracker.

With a top-10 finish, it’s no surprise you told us you like almost every aspect of the Hyundai Ioniq, praising the hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure-electric versions as being quiet, fast and coming with smooth transmissions.

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You also like the way the infotainment is set up, with no other car in our rundown having better-rated smartphone integration. Factor in low running costs and strong safety features, and it’s clear Hyundai is on to a winner. You don’t have such positive things to say about the exterior build quality, and while you like the way the cabin is laid out, your say visibility from the driver’s seat is restricted.

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Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 8.2%

Engine, electrics and gearbox faults share the blame for the few faults developed by Ioniqs.

Your view

“It’s a pleasure to drive. The controls are easy to operate and there are a number of useful driver-assistance features.”

“I live in a rural area where the roads can be shockingly bad, but the Ioniq just glides over even rough surfaces.”

10. Skoda Superb – 91.59%

  • Years of manufacture: 2015-present
  • Key points: you say Czech brand’s practical and spacious flagship lives up to its name.

Skoda may now make almost as many SUVs as it does hatchbacks and estates, but the Superb still serves as something of a flagship, as evidenced by the scores here.

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So while the Superb is not the sharpest car to drive (although you like the way it rides), it’s a deeply practical one; only two other models are rated better for child-friendly features, for example. It has excellent infotainment, is proving to be dependable, and despite being a large car, it’s good on fuel, cheap to service and offers reasonable tax and insurance costs. You’d like slightly more comfy front seats, but the rear ones are beyond reproach for space.

Has it ever gone wrong?

Yes: 13.2%

Slightly below-average rate of reported Superb faults, with electrics most prone to issues.

Your view

“The boot is enormous, and without a spare wheel, there’s underfloor storage. There are lots of hooks and cubbies, too.”

“There are no rattles or squeaks, and the whole cabin feels luxurious. The Alcantara upholstery is lovely and there are lots of soft-touch plastics.”

Best cars to own: places 1-75

1Kia Sorento Mk392.05%
2Peugeot 3008 Mk292.04%
3Lexus RX Mk491.98%
4Kia Niro Mk191.82%
5Mazda CX-5 Mk291.75%
6Skoda Kodiaq Mk191.73%
7Toyota Corolla Mk1291.71%
8Lexus IS Mk391.64%
9Hyundai Ioniq Mk191.61%
10Skoda Superb Mk391.59%
11Mazda 6 Mk391.59%
12Toyota RAV4 Mk591.45%
13Kia Sportage Mk491.44%
14Volvo XC40 Mk191.38%
15Skoda Karoq Mk191.29%
16Toyota Prius Mk491.28%
17Subaru Outback Mk391.12%
18Kia cee'd Mk390.98%
19Lexus CT Mk190.89%
20Subaru Forester Mk490.66%
21Honda CR-V Mk590.64%
22SEAT Arona Mk190.63%
23Kia Rio Mk490.56%
24Nissan LEAF Mk290.55%
25Toyota C-HR Mk190.49%
26Mazda MX-5 Mk490.47%
27Kia Stonic Mk190.41%
28Citroën C4 Grand Space Tourer Mk190.38%
29Kia Picanto Mk390.34%
30Volvo XC60 Mk290.34%
31SEAT Leon Mk390.28%
32Lexus UX Mk190.27%
33Subaru XV Mk290.22%
34Skoda Octavia Mk390.18%
35Peugeot 2008 Mk190.14%
36Mercedes-Benz A-Class Mk490.14%
37Renault ZOE Mk190.11%
38Mazda 3 Mk490.06%
39Honda Civic Mk1089.98%
40BMW 5 Series / M5 Mk789.82%
41Ford Kuga Mk289.75%
42Lexus NX Mk189.71%
43Toyota Yaris Mk489.70%
44Peugeot 208 Mk289.70%
45Fiat 500 Mk189.63%
46Audi Q5 / SQ5 Mk289.57%
47Jaguar XF Mk289.49%
48Nissan Juke Mk189.41%
49BMW X3 Mk389.39%
50Volkswagen Golf Mk789.29%
51Volkswagen Tiguan/Allspace Mk289.21%
52Audi Q2 Mk189.20%
53Hyundai Tucson Mk289.14%
54Suzuki Vitara Mk489.14%
55MG ZS Mk189.12%
56Nissan Qashqai Mk289.12%
57Honda Jazz Mk389.11%
58BMW X1 Mk289.08%
59Vauxhall Astra Mk788.99%
60Hyundai Kona Mk188.99%
61SEAT Ateca Mk188.94%
62Renault Clio Mk588.84%
63Peugeot 308 Mk288.81%
64Audi Q3 / RS Q3 Mk288.77%
65Renault Kadjar Mk188.75%
66Citroën C3 Aircross Mk188.74%
67Mitsubishi Outlander Mk388.73%
68Hyundai i20 Mk288.71%
69Vauxhall Grandland X Mk188.62%
70Audi A5 / RS 5 / S5 Mk288.59%
71Ford Fiesta Mk888.59%
72Citroën C1 Mk288.58%
73Citroën C4 Cactus Mk188.48%
74MG 3 Mk188.44%
75Renault Captur Mk188.43%

Click through to page 2 for the list of winners by class, including best city car, best executive car, best electric car and more. You can also have your say in the 2021 Driver Power survey here...

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