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. 

Porsche Taycan Cross Turismo

Driver Power: Top 30 carmakers 

Porsche was named best carmaker in the 2021 Driver Power survey, breaking Lexus’ four-year hold on the title. The prestigious German manufacturer, whose range now includes plug-in hybrids and fully electric models, prides itself on producing cars that justify their premium price tags.

An average of just 14.1% of Porsche owners reported faults, and the brand won six of the 10 categories used to judge manufacturers in the survey. Being a driver-focused brand, Porsche obviously scored big in the ride and handling category, including driving pleasure and road handling.

Owners also love the design and build quality of their Porsches, and the brand even scored well for practicality matters such as boot space and seating versatility. You also said the fuel economy you get from your Porsches is good given the performance on offer, while the infotainment systems are standout, too.

Expensive servicing was the only real black mark on the brand’s score sheet, but even then Porsche finished 12th out of the 29 ranked carmakers in that category as well.

Kia – another brand with a wide range of hybrid and electric cars – also performed well again, finishing second overall. Tesla, the American electric-only brand, came third in the 2021 survey, with owners praising their cars’ practicality, powertrain and acceleration. However, while you say Teslas are cheap to run, in terms of both charging and other running costs, overall build quality could be improved and the reported fault rate is high.

Overall owner satisfaction is still high, though, as Tesla finished ahead of established brands like Mazda and Toyota, which were fourth and fifth respectively. The rest of the top 10 was completed by Honda, Jaguar, Mitsubishi, Volvo and Lexus – all of which feature plug-in hybrids and fully electric models in their ranges.

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