The best hybrid and electric cars to own: Driver Power 2021

The annual Driver Power satisfaction survey has revealed this year’s list of the best cars to own and drive, with big wins for electric and hybrid models

Hyundai Kona Electric

DrivingElectric's sister website Auto Express has revealed the results of the 2021 Driver Power car-owner satisfaction survey, with a strong showing once again for electric and hybrid models, especially in the list of the top 10 cars to own.

The results of this year’s survey not only include the top 75 cars to own, as ranked by you, but also the best new cars by class. The full results come from surveying real car owners, generating hundreds of thousands of data points across myriad categories and sub-sections. This year, the survey was more comprehensive than ever.

Driver Power 2021: Top 10 best new cars to own and run

The Hyundai Kona (which is available in both hybrid and fully electric forms) took the top spot this year, and was awarded multiple accolades in the 2021 Driver Power survey. It also won the award for best new electric car, and was commended by you for its stellar ride quality, brakes and steering.

Discussing the Kona Electric's success, Auto Express consumer reporter Tristan Shale-Hester said: "the Kona Electric demolished the competition. It was the highest-ranked EV for its motor, exterior, interior, ride and handling, safety features, running costs, infotainment and value for money.

"And with no electric category scores outside the top three, the data suggests that if you're thinking of buying Britain’s favourite new car based on our survey, the electric version is probably the one to go for."

The next electrified car to feature in the top 10 was the hybrid-only Toyota C-HR (fourth), followed by the Vauxhall Grandland X (seventh), which is also available with plug-in hybrid power, but will be updated by the end of this year. Those were followed by the Volvo XC40 in eighth; this is now available in both plug-in hybrid and fully electric form, retaining its title as best premium small SUV.

The soon-to-be-replaced Kia Sportage, which is available with a mild-hybrid powertrain, finished in ninth place overall. 

Toyota C-HR

The full list of the 2021's best new cars to own and run is as follows:

  1. Hyundai Kona 
  2. Kia Rio
  3. Mazda CX-5
  4. Toyota C-HR
  5. Skoda Karoq
  6. Skoda Kodiaq
  7. Vauxhall Grandland X
  8. Volvo XC40
  9. Kia Sportage
  10. SEAT Ateca
Tesla Model 3

Driver Power: Top 75 new cars

The company-car favourite Tesla Model 3 performed well in the 2021 Driver Power survey, ranking in 18th position ahead of rivals like the BMW 3 Series (31st), Audi A4 (65th) and Mercedes C-Class (71st). As a result, it was awarded the title of best compact executive car.

The Peugeot 2008, which is also available in fully electric form, narrowly missed out on a place in the top 10, coming in 12th. As did the Toyota RAV4 (11th), Lexus NX (13th), Kia Niro (15th) and Ford Kuga (19th) – all of which are available with hybrid power, while a fully electric variant of the Niro is also offered.

Interestingly, while the MINI Hatchback ranked in 59th place, it was still awarded the title of Best Premium Supermini. The third generation of BMW’s MINI, which is also available in fully electric form, scored well for its infotainment system and beat its rivals for ride and handling, safety features, reliability and value.

Best Small SUV was the Hyundai Kona, Best Mid-Size SUV was the Mazda CX-5, Best Premium Mid-Size SUV was the Lexus NX and Best Compact Family car was the Kia Ceed. This year, the Mercedes E-Class snatched the title of Best Executive Car from last year’s winner, the BMW 5 Series, while the Mercedes A-Class was declared the Best Premium compact Family Car. Both the E-Class and A-Class are available as plug-in hybrids.

Kia also did very well in this year’s Driver Power survey; the Best City Car title went to the Picanto, while Best Supermini was the Rio and Best Compact Family Car was the Ceed.

In this year’s survey, the MG ZS, which was named Best Electric Car in 2020, came in 41st place, just one below the Nissan Leaf (40th). It also trailed the Hyundai Ioniq (27th) and Vauxhall Corsa (28th) – both of which are available with fully electric powertrains. 

Lexus UX 300e

Driver Power: Top 30 carmakers 

Lexus was named best carmaker in the 2021 Driver Power survey for the fourth year in a row. The manufacturer, which prides itself on its wide range of hybrid cars, launched its first fully electric vehicle – the UX 300e – earlier this year, while the next generation of its NX mid-size SUV will be the first Lexus model to be offered with a plug-in hybrid powertrain.

Just 11.1% of Lexus owners reported faults, praising their cars' reliability and build quality. Safety is another strong point, while Lexus drivers love their cars' ride and handling. Slightly high fuel bills were the only real black mark on the brand's score sheet.

Kia – another brand with a wide range of hybrid and electric cars – also performed well, finishing second overall. Subaru (which is just beginning its electric journey with the hybrid Forester and XV models, followed by the Solterra electric SUV in 2022), placed third, ahead of Mazda and Skoda. The rest of the top 10 was completed by Toyota, Honda, Peugeot, Alfa Romeo and Volvo.

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