The best and worst cars to own

Car with a sold signEach year, What Car? magazine joins forces with market researchers at US firm JD Power and Associates to produce a wide-ranging survey of drivers' satisfaction with their cars.

This year, JD Power surveyed 16,000 UK car motorists, who together own 116 different models of car aged between one and three years old. Owners rated their cars on 66 criteria, which were then combined to deliver an overall score. Points given for reliability, performance, servicing and running costs are shown as a final percentage score.
Only models with over 4,000 sales and at least 50 completed online surveys were eligible for inclusion in the 2013 report. Together, these motorists had driven more than 340 million miles in their vehicles.

The ten worst cars to own
Let's take a look at this year's results, starting with the ten cars that fared worst in JD Power's survey. Here are the worst clunkers to own and drive:

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The ten worst cars to own
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Percentage score: 70.2%
Percentage score: 70.7%
Percentage score: 72.0%
Percentage score: 72.2%
Percentage score: 73.7%
Percentage score: 73.9%
Percentage score: 74.1%
Percentage score: 74.1%
Percentage score: 74.1%
Percentage score: 74.4%
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As you can see, the worst-rated car in the whole JD Power survey is the Chevrolet Spark, scoring just 70.2% on the satisfaction scale, against the average rating of 77.6%. The other four cars in the bottom five are the Alfa Romeo MiTo (70.7%), Fiat Grande Punto/Punto Evo (72.0%), Ford Ka (72.2%) and Fiat Panda (73.7%).

Surprisingly, BMW has one car in this list of clunkers: the BMW X1, the baby SUV (sports utility vehicle) introduced in October 2009.

The ten worst car brands
As well as rating customer satisfaction by individual car model, JD Power also produces a list of the best and worst makes overall. Here are the bottom ten manufacturers:

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The best and worst cars to own

Ranking: 27

Percentage score: 69.1%

Ranking: 26

Percentage score: 72.5%

Ranking: 25

Percentage score: 74.5%

Ranking: 24

Percentage score: 75.0%

Ranking: 23

Percentage score: 75.4%

Ranking: 22

Percentage score: 75.6%

Ranking: 21

Percentage score: 75.8%

Ranking: 20

Percentage score: 76.2%

Ranking: 18

Percentage score: 77.1%

Apparently the diamond was an integral part of the design of the early cars - which was fitted around an air hole in the bonnet.

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As well as coming last in the car category, US manufacturer Chevrolet comes bottom of the brands, with a score of just 69.1%, versus the industry average of 77.6%. Other bad brands to own in the bottom five are Alfa Romeo (72.5%), Mitsubishi (74.5%), Peugeot (75%) and Fiat (75.4%).

The other members of this Hall of Shame are Vauxhall (75.6%), Suzuki (75.8%), Mazda (76.2%), Renault (76.6%) and Ford (77.1%). Then again, Ford and Vauxhall are the two biggest-selling car brands in the UK, so are likely to have millions of satisfied customers, as well plenty of critics.

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One warning about this survey
Although this is the most comprehensive yearly ownership study in the UK, it does have one minor flaw. All it takes for a vehicle to be included in this survey is 50 completed questionnaires from owners. For the least-sold models, one single survey could change the final percentage score by as much as 2%.

As a result a couple of disgruntled drivers could send a particular model plummeting down the rankings. That's why I'd like to see JD Power list the number of surveys alongside each ranking, as this would for improve the clarity and transparency of its research.

The best cars to own
Finally, for those of you looking to replace your vehicle in future and keen to avoid the clunkers, here are the 11 highest-rated cars featured in JD Power's 2013 UK survey:

Ranking Car model

Percentage

score

1 Skoda Superb 83.0%
2 Skoda Yeti 82.8%
3 Jaguar XF 82.7%
4= Citroën DS3 82.2%
4= Lexus RX 82.2%
6= Honda Jazz 82.0%
6= Volkswagen Passat CC 82.0%
8 Volvo S60/V60 81.9%
9= Lexus IS 81.4%
9= Mercedes-Benz B-Class 81.4%
9= Toyota Prius

81.4%

Industry average 77.6%

*Thanks to three cars tied in ninth place, this table has 11 members instead of the usual 10.

Volkswagen-owned manufacturer Skoda takes the top two spots, scoring 83% and 82.8% for its Superb and Yeti models respectively. Jaguar continues its recent comeback, winning a score of 82.7% for the new XF range. The Citroën DS3 and Lexus RX round off the top five, both scoring 82.2%.

Finally, among the top-rated brands, Jaguar took top spot for the second year in a row, scoring 82.7%. Lexus scored 81.8% to take second place, with Honda (81.0%), Skoda (80.9%) and Mercedes-Benz (80.4%) completing the five top-rated manufacturers. Land Rover is also on the up, leaping six places to take sixth place and entering the top 10 for the first time.

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