JD Power survey 2012 - Family cars
1 Toyota Prius
Overall ranking 3rd
Toyota Prius owners have raved about reliability in every JD Power survey, and this year it finally takes the crown in the family cars class. Not only that, it moves up to an impressive third place (from fifth) in the overall satisfaction index.
Problems were few and far between, although some owners did feel the brakes could be sharper, and some issues were reported with the satellite-navigation system. Owners were mightily impressed with the car’s looks, though, and said the cabin was a nice place to be, with good-quality materials and an attractive dashboard. Dials and controls were well positioned, too. The quiet, comfortable interior came in for further praise, with good heating and ventilation, and a cracking audio system. Space was also highly rated, particularly in the front, although rear passengers were well looked after, too.
The boot, which is inevitably squashed by the hybrid batteries, could have been a bit bigger, but owners were pleased with the number and arrangement of interior cubbyholes.
The drive was especially well rated, and owners loved the responsive steering and dynamic handling. They also rated it best in class for performance, and although acceleration was a little slower off the mark than some rivals, it wasn’t laboured and gearchanges were silky smooth.
In the workshop, every aspect of the dealer service was well rated, particularly the cleanliness and comfort of the waiting areas. Only Volvo dealers were rated by S40 owners as being more friendly and helpful than Toyota’s.
The Prius beat off all competition when it came to running costs, however, and by quite a distance. Service and repair bills were perceived to be the lowest in class, while fuel consumption was remarkably frugal. Even insurance premiums were deemed reasonable.
There’s more good news for contented Prius owners: the face-lifted car, on sale this spring, has been given even smarter trim, suspension and steering upgrades – and yet another cupholder.
2 Skoda Superb
A fantastic performance for this JD Power debutante. The Superb couldn’t quite match the Prius on dealer service, but it smashed rivals in most other categories. Classy styling, low running costs and big-car interior space won it praise.
3 VW Passat CC
Owners loved the CC’s handsome styling, although it just tailed the Superb on interior trim. Cabin space was below average, but the boot was satisfactory, as was fuel economy. It was difficult to get a workshop slot, but the service itself was good.
4 Toyota Avensis
Despite a slightly lower score, the Avensis creeps up one place. Owners reported few problems, the most significant being Bluetooth, sat-nav and radio reception. Exterior appeal wasn’t as strong as some rivals’, but interior quality was better.
5 Volvo S40
Owners gave their S40s an almost clean bill of health. They also rated their dealers top in every category. On a bad note, the audio controls were hard to use and radio reception was poor, although sound clarity was good.
6= Honda Accord
After two years at the top of its class and a second-place overall ranking, the Accord’s halo has slipped. A raft of brake, lighting, wiper and infotainment problems didn’t help. At least Honda’s dealers were still highly rated by owners.
6= Volvo V50
Not a bad performance from the V50 this year; owners liked the reliability, but complained about wind noise and remote keyless entry problems. They rated the looks, but rear passengers got a rum deal on space and comfort.
8 Volkswagen Passat
This return to eighth after a short spell at number four showed the Passat as the class average performer. Owners had little good to say, but nor were there many problems. Handbrake woes persisted; economy stood out positively.
9= Citroen C5
The C5 attracted more than the class average number of criticisms, with lighting, handbrake, wiper, cupholder and engine warning light problems. Owners liked the quiet cabin and ample boot, though, and dealers were praised for their friendliness.
9= Ford Mondeo
Owners found little to inspire them about the Mondeo, with average scores across the board. Problems were few and far between, though. Space and accessibility were praised; however, dealer service was rated as well below par.
11 Mazda 6
A fall of three places for the Mazda 6 came on the back of high fuel bills and a level of dealer service unlikely to make Mazda proud. Service costs were deemed pricey, too, while wind noise and tyre pressure monitoring system problems didn’t help.
12 Vauxhall Insignia
The Insignia dropped two places in this year’s survey. Owners loved the styling, but felt the interior material quality didn’t match it, with an unusual number of parcel shelf problems. The engine light and fuel economy were also issues.
13 Renault Laguna
Maybe it’s just as well the Laguna is no more, judging by this survey. This year, owners had problems with the doors, wipers, water leaks and suspension tracking. Audio and heating systems were fragile, and cabin materials poor.
14 Peugeot 407
A drop of seven places and one star were driven by a raft of problems, including wind noise, unwieldy fuel caps and paint glitches. Juddering brakes generated excessive dust. Sat-nav issues and sluggish heating topped off a poor showing.
15 Vauxhall Vectra
It’s bottom of the class for the second year in a row for the Vectra, and bottom of the entire JD Power survey. The catalogue of complaints is long: paint imperfections, corrosion, strange noises, ineffective air-conditioning and heating, a poor audio system and reluctant and extremely thirsty engines. Substandard dealer service and high running costs played their part, too. Owners didn’t even rate the Vectra for visual appeal.
Click on table for larger view
Featured in this story