JD Power customer satisfaction poll '08 - Family cars

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Japanese manufacturers dominate this category again, taking five of the top 10 places. European honour is upheld by BMW, Mercedes and Audi - in that order.

Family cars results table

1. Toyota Prius
Score 90.1%
Overall ranking 1st

The Toyota Prius sits at the top of the pile - not just the best family car, but the best car in the survey.

You might think owners would have been worried about the Prius's petrol-electric hybrid technology. Nope. There were no concerns with the Toyota's reliability or, for that matter, the build quality.

With a hybrid car, you'd expect low fuel bills; with the Prius, owners got them. Insurance costs and servicing bills were also kind to the bank balance.

When owners did visit dealers, they found them helpful, courteous and efficient.

Owners enjoyed running the car, too, with high scores for the driving experience, the practical cabin and the comfortable seats. The styling met with approval, too.

In fact, it's hard to find a weak point with the Prius, which was rated as 'excellent' in every area the survey assesses.

2. Lexus IS
Score 86.1%
Overall ranking 3rd

The Lexus IS is second in class and third overall.

Owners reported very good interior build quality, loved the way the car drives and looks, and rated Lexus dealers as among the best.

There are chinks in its armour, though. Mechanical reliability was only average; a number of owners reported engine faults. Running costs were so-so, with relatively steep fuel bills.

3. Honda Accord
Score 84.0%
Overall ranking 9th

The Honda's success is founded on its reliability. Owners reported fewer than half as many engine faults as average, while transmission problems were almost unheard of. Cabin trouble was also rare.

Owners were happy with the service from dealers, which proved prompt, efficient and friendly.

Running costs weren't as well received - some owners were less than happy with the Accord's fuel consumption.

4. BMW 3 Series
Score 82.9%
Overall ranking 16th

This is almost a carbon copy of last year's result. The 3 Series remains 16th overall, although the rating goes up by 0.5%.

Little went wrong with the BMW's mechanical parts, although if there were weaknesses, they were with the steering, suspension and brakes rather than the engine or transmission.

Interior build quality was very good, but some found fault with the exterior.

Owners enjoyed driving the BMW, but weren't as happy with the comfort and practicality of the cabin.

5. Mercedes C-Class
Score 82.8%
Overall ranking 17th=

If the C-Class has a flaw, it's the cost of servicing and repairs. In spite of the bills, owners were happy with dealers.

Costs aside, the picture is rosy. Mechanical faults were few and far between, and the cabins wore the miles well.

Strong scores for the styling, driver appeal and comfortable seats complete a strong all-round performance.

6. Toyota Avensis
Score 82.7% Overall
Overall ranking 19th

Last year, the Avensis was in the top 10 overall; this year it has slipped a little, but still makes it into the top 20.

An average score for interior build quality is one reason the Toyota hasn't featured as strongly as before.

Mechanical reliability was only par for the course, and the car's practicality, styling and driver appeal were nothing to get excited about, either.

On the other hand, ownership costs were pleasingly low and Toyota dealers took good care of their customers.

7. Audi A4
Score 82.6%
Overall ranking 20th

The A4 does well, although it's behind its arch-rivals, the 3 Series and C-Class.

Owners weren't hugely concerned about reliability, but there were more faults than with the BMW or Mercedes.

The engines were the biggest problem area. On the other hand, few took issue with either the Audi's seats or air-con.

Owners liked the A4's styling, but scores for practicality and driver appeal were middling. Dealers did a solid job.

8. Jaguar X-type
Score 82.3%
Overall ranking 25th

The Jaguar takes a step forward this year, with a score that's 1.5% up on 2007's.

Very little went wrong inside the X-type. Dealers did a good job, too: it was easy to book a service when needed, and the standard of facilities was high. The car's styling and seats were also praised.

However, many owners reported exterior faults, and there were issues with the suspension, steering or brakes. Running costs were average.

9. Mazda 6
Score 82.0%
Overall ranking 28th

Mazda's reputation for reliability is well deserved, judging by this result.

The 6's engines and transmissions proved much tougher than most. Little went wrong inside the car, either, with good build quality, durable seats and a reliable stereo.

However, owners rated the engines as so-so, and the styling wasn't as popular as in past surveys. Dealer service was good, but let down by spartan facilities. The car's thirst for fuel was an irritation.

10. Citroen C5
Score 81.6%
Overall ranking 32nd

It might be getting on a bit, but the C5 is Citroen's best car in this year's survey.

Rock-bottom running costs were the most satisfying aspect of owning a C5. Fuel bills, in particular, proved low.

Mechanical parts generally went the distance. Very few problems with the transmissions, suspension, steering or brakes were reported.

The picture wasn't quite so cheery inside the car, with too many niggling stereo faults and issues with the air-conditioning. When a dealer visit was necessary, the service was good.

11. Ford Mondeo
Score 81.2%
Overall ranking 36th

The Mondeo has moved into the top half of the table, with an improvement of 2.2% in the overall score.

Reliability was so-so last year; now it's above average, with few problems reported with the steering, suspension or brakes.

Cabin comfort was another strong point, while low fuel bills and cheap servicing were also well received.

The biggest black marks were for dealers. Facilities weren't good enough and work wasn't always completed on time.

12. Volvo S40/V50
Score 81.2%
Overall ranking 36th

Owners found that exterior build quality was the worst thing about these Volvos, closely followed by the number of glitches inside the cabin.

In spite of these problems, owners liked both of these models. There were strong scores for driver appeal, and better ones for the car's looks.

Best of all, though, was the standard of service from Volvo dealers. Owners rated facilities as very good, staff were helpful, and there were rarely problems booking the car in promptly.

13. Vauxhall Vectra
Score 79.4%
Overall ranking 62nd

Owners weren't very enthusiastic about their Vectras at all. The looks were generally disliked, there were few kind words for the cabin, while the driving experience left owners feeling decidedly cold.

The Vectra is saved from a worse finish by decent interior and exterior quality. Owners said the cabin was well built and the bodywork lasted well. Mechanical parts could have been more robust, though.

If something did break, it was cheap to fix. Fuel costs were low, too.

Dealers needed to deal with their customers better, however.

14. Saab 9-3
Score 78.8%
Overall ranking 70th

The Saab 9-3 got below-average scores in half the categories assessed.

Dealers were one let-down; owners raised concerns over facilities, and cars weren't always ready for collection on time.

Owners weren't wild about the way the car drove and said the comfort of the cabin wasn't all it could be.

Mechanical parts were reasonably reliable, the exterior build quality was okay and the sharp looks were admired.

15. Nissan Primera
Score 78.6%
Overall ranking 73rd

If dealer facilities were a little better, the Primera might have done better. The engines and transmissions rarely gave trouble, but build quality inside and out was disappointing.

The looks left owners cold, while the driving experience and cabin comfort were nothing to write home about, either. High running costs complete a disappointing picture.

16. Volkswagen Passat
Score 78.4%
Overall ranking 77th

The Passat has fallen 30 places from last year's survey to this.

Reliability was nothing like as good as VW's reputation suggests. Interior build quality was below par, but the top concern was the high number of engine problems.

When issues did occur, dealers didn't do enough to sort things out.

Owners weren't too keen on the car even when it was working, with low scores for driver appeal and comfort.

17. Peugeot 407
Score 77.9%
Overall ranking 87th

The 407 avoids the wooden spoon in the class thanks to its styling and costs.

Owners talked of dire mechanical reliability. More than half of those surveyed mentioned problems with the suspension, steering or brakes.

The engines went wrong too often and build quality wasn't great. Dealer service wasn't good, either.

18. Renault Laguna
Score 76.2%
Overall ranking 94th

Mechanical parts were rated as fairly tough, but otherwise scores were below average or poor in every category.

There were too many faults with the switchgear and controls, and owners found the exterior to be poorly put together.

Owners complained the cabin was uncomfortable and unappealing, and had tired of the looks.

Running costs were rated as too steep, while dealers had much to learn about service.

Family cars results table

Table: results by model

Table: results by manufacturer

JD Power customer satisfaction poll '08 - Executive cars


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