Skip advert
Advertisement

Best new cars to own by class: Driver Power 2024 results

From urban runabouts to large SUVs and everything in between, these are the top vehicles to own by class in 2024

Most car buyers weigh up potential purchases by comparing similar models, which makes the value of a Driver Power class win significant for drivers and manufacturers alike. It’s just one of many ways to cut the data that the survey generates, but perhaps it’s the most realistic way to look at the results from a consumer perspective.

Advertisement - Article continues below

We’ve split our results into a total of nine different vehicle classes this year, ranging from the smallest city cars at one end of the scale, to large SUVs and executive models at the other. The class breakdown covers all the models that make it into the Driver Power top 50 rankings this year, but as you’d probably expect it’s the small and mid to large SUV segments with the greatest number of contenders. The supermini segment is also very well represented though.

As you can see on these pages, Toyota can take credit for the most class wins, cleaning up in the mainstream area of the market with the Yaris, Corolla and RAV4. Hats off to the Japanese car maker, which is on a roll with its popular hybrid models, because no other brand can claim multiple class wins this year.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Elsewhere, it’s no surprise to see Tesla topping a class table, but it’s good to see Jaguar in contention with its well reviewed F-Pace. BMW also deserves plaudits for its premium compact class win, while Kia is our city car class leader.

Best city car: Kia Picanto Mk3

The little Kia Picanto picked up the city car win last year, and it triumphs again after bagging a creditable 12th place in the overall Driver Power rankings. It’s not a particularly busy segment though, and the next best car in contention was the Fiat 500, which bumps along near the bottom of this year’s listings.

Advertisement - Article continues below

Kia’s top-20 placing is based on strong feedback in a range of categories, which include an excellent third place for value. Owners also have good things to say about the city car’s safety features and infotainment system, plus its reliability and build quality. The runner-up Fiat 500 doesn’t really excel anywhere, but scores quite well for exterior style and running costs – although a 46th ranking for overall value seems poor for a car in this class.

Best supermini: Toyota Yaris Mk4

There are plenty of contenders vying for places in the supermini class results, and to reach the number one spot the Toyota Yaris has to beat some serious opponents including the MINI and Peugeot 208

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

In the end, the Yaris pips both to the top, thanks to excellent scores for running costs and value, as well as highly positive feedback in the powertrain, ride and handling and quality/reliability categories. Rivals beat it in certain categories of course, but none can quite match the Yaris for its broad all-round appeal.

It’s interesting to note that the now-defunct Ford Fiesta – in its last appearance in our new-car survey – is only the eighth most popular supermini, languishing near the bottom of the table. That’s just ahead of the still-current Corsa, however.

Best compact family car: Toyota Corolla Mk12

Next up in the Toyota roll-call of honour is the Corolla, which operates in a segment decimated by the rise of the small SUV, and takes the class prize through beating two similarly long-serving models in the shape of the Ford Focus and Volkswagen Golf. Although the Corolla only merits a middle-of-the-road Driver Power ranking in 24th place, it confidently sees off those two established foes in 47th and 50th respectively.

Advertisement - Article continues below

In fact, the only categories where the Corolla can’t put significant clear water between itself and its rivals are interior, practicality and infotainment. Styling and rear legroom scores let the cabin down, because the Toyota’s marks for quality are much higher than the Ford’s or VW’s. Things are closer when it comes to the practicality and infotainment ratings, though.

Best premium compact family car: BMW 1 Series Mk3

The 1 Series hatchback goes head to head with the Mercedes A-Class in new-car showrooms, and owners report that there’s not a lot to separate them when it comes to owner satisfaction. The BMW nips ahead of the Mercedes this year, but there are only a handful of ranking places between them, with the 1 Series in 25th and the A-Class in 31st. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The BMW stretches a lead over its key rival in the ride and handling category, with much higher scores for road holding and driving pleasure. And while Mercedes owners like their cars’ interior style, the BMW crowd absolutely love both the styling and quality of their cabins. The two trade punches fairly evenly in most other categories, but the Mercedes is rated better for front-seat comfort and rear legroom.

Best small SUV: Dacia Duster Mk2

You’ve already seen the Dacia Duster at the top of the Driver Power rankings this year, so it’s a shoo-in for the Small SUV category. But it’s worth stopping for a moment to consider the wealth of competition the affordable Dacia has to overcome in this highly competitive market segment. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

The model delights owners its with a philosophy of giving them what they need without unnecessary frills or fripperies. It’s a recipe that gives the Dacia satisfaction ratings that put it in front of excellent rivals such as the Peugeot 2008, Ford Puma and Citroen C3 Aircross. They can claim small victories in specific areas – interior style, for example – but when it comes to the bigger picture, the Dacia can’t be touched. No wonder it’s considered the best value for money overall.

Best premium small SUV: Volvo XC40 Mk1

A couple of old-stagers are vying for honours in the Premium Small SUV class, and the Volvo XC40 pips the Range Rover Evoque to the post, although neither model has set the Driver Power survey on fire. In the overall rankings the XC40 manages 32nd compared with the Evoque’s 39th, but there are clear points of difference between the two models’ appeal. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

Exterior design is one, where the Evoque tops the survey and the XC40 ranks 20th. The Brit is ahead on interior style too, but the margin is much closer. The Volvo leads on seat comfort and beats the Evoque when it comes to rear-seat legroom, seating versatility and boot space rankings, too. The Volvo is also ahead for overall quality and reliability, although the differences are paper thin in terms of value for money.

Best mid to large SUV: Toyota RAV4 Mk5

The third in our trio of Toyota class triumphs is the popular RAV4 SUV, which has been hitting the right notes for buyers over five generations. Given that it competes in one of our most populous Driver Power classes, the Toyota has to beat a lot of high-quality opposition to take the prize – which it achieves on the way to an excellent fourth place overall. 

Advertisement - Article continues below

The Mazda CX-5 and Citroen C5 Aircross are the RAV4’s closest competitors this year, and they both also figure in the overall top 10, so it’s by no means a runaway victory for Toyota’s medium-sized SUV. In fact, 10 of the class contenders make it into the top half of the Driver Power rundown, which illustrates just how popular they are and how well the RAV4 performs to pull off its victory.

Best premium mid to large SUV: Jaguar F-Pace Mk1

At the expensive end of the SUV segment there’s plenty of action, but Jaguar’s F-Pace does well to earn a finish that’s not far off the top 10 in terms of its overall ranking. In spite of its sleek looks, it’s the practicality and boot space category where the Jaguar performs best – coming in second in the survey overall. Owners love its ride and handling too, awarding it fourth place overall, and there are decent mid-table scores for reliability and quality. 

Skip advert
Advertisement
Skip advert
Advertisement - Article continues below

The Jaguar’s nearest class rival in our 2024 results table is the BMW X3, which places significantly lower in the overall rankings at 36th. According to its owners, it lags behind the Jaguar for driving pleasure, practicality and value, while they’re also less impressed by their cars’ reliability. 

Best executive car: Tesla Model 3 Mk1

The Model 3 has certainly shaken up the executive segment, and it’s interesting to note just how and why the car beats its chief competitor – the BMW 3 Series – to class victory. In overall ranking terms it’s second place for the Tesla and 18th for the BMW, and even though the 3 Series scores well for its engines and gearboxes, it can’t get close to the trio of first places awarded to the Model 3 for acceleration, powertrain noise (or lack of it) and smoothness. 

The BMW claws back some credibility with higher scores for quality – the Tesla’s exterior finish is ranked in 50th and last place – but ride smoothness is the only driving characteristic where it beats its electric rival. Indeed, Tesla owners rate driving pleasure at third, against 24th for the BMW.

Now tell us what you think of your car!

Driver Power depends on your input so please take the time to help your fellow car buyers by taking the survey and contributing to next year's results. You'll automatically be entered into our prize draw where you could win one of the three £100 Amazon vouchers we give away every month. Take the Driver Power survey today...

Skip advert
Advertisement
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.

Skip advert
Advertisement

Recommended

Most reliable family cars to buy 2024
Most reliable family cars - header image
Best cars & vans

Most reliable family cars to buy 2024

These are the most reliable family cars you can buy, according to our Driver Power survey
10 Jul 2024
Car Deal of the day: Tesla Model 3 EV exec hero for £262 a month and 0% APR
Tesla Model 3 - front cornering
News

Car Deal of the day: Tesla Model 3 EV exec hero for £262 a month and 0% APR

Tesla’s desirable Model 3, our 2024 Mid-size Company Car of the Year, can be on your drive for just £262 per month
5 Jul 2024
Top 20 best electric cars 2024
Best electric cars - header image
Best cars & vans

Top 20 best electric cars 2024

These are the EVs that should be on your shortlist if you’re thinking about making the switch
5 Jul 2024
Mid-size Company Car of the Year 2024: Tesla Model 3
Tesla Model 3 - Mid-size Company Car of the Year 2024
Awards

Mid-size Company Car of the Year 2024: Tesla Model 3

The Tesla Model 3 is the 2024 Auto Express Mid-size Company Car of the Year with the BMW i4 and Volkswagen ID.7 commended
3 Jul 2024

Most Popular

New Ford Capri preview: famous name returns on 390-mile electric coupe-SUV
Ford Capri - front action
News

New Ford Capri preview: famous name returns on 390-mile electric coupe-SUV

Ford has reimagined one of its most iconic nameplates as a rival for the Volkswagen ID.5 and Skoda Enyaq Coupe
13 Jul 2024
Covers are off new MG HS family SUV at Goodwood Festival of Speed
MG HS on display at Goodwood Festival of Speed 2024 - front static
News

Covers are off new MG HS family SUV at Goodwood Festival of Speed

The previous MG HS was a big-seller for MG in the UK and there are high hopes for this one…
12 Jul 2024
Car Deal of the Day: updated Nissan Qashqai with sharp looks and hybrid power for only £220 per month
Nissan Qashqai - front cornering
News

Car Deal of the Day: updated Nissan Qashqai with sharp looks and hybrid power for only £220 per month

Nissan’s recently refreshed family SUV with hybrid power for close to £200 per month is our Car Deal of the Day for 10 July
10 Jul 2024