JD Power Owner Satisfaction 2009 - SUVs

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The most dependable SUV you can buy comes from a manufacturer that has topped the JD Power satisfaction tables nine times on the trot. Yes, it's Lexus again.

1: Lexus RX

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 85.3%
Overall ranking: 1st
Not only is the RX top of the SUV class, but owners voted it overall winner of this year's JD Power survey. The RX scored top marks in almost every area, including mechanical reliability and interior appeal. Owners also loved its looks, and it seems Lexus dealers couldn't do enough at servicing time – just another day's work for the maker that has won the overall JD Power award a record nine years in a row.

The RX wasn't in the 2008 survey, but finished well clear of last year's winner (the Honda CR-V) this time, beating it in every area.

The one fly in the ointment was the audio/navigation system. Owners liked its functionality, but reported a fair few problems. Still, judging from the excellent reports of Lexus dealer service, these were no doubt put right quickly and free of charge under warranty.

2: Honda CRV

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 81.5%
Overall ranking: 9th=
The CR-V scored an almost identical score to last year, when it won the SUV class. Although the CR-V is a way behind the Lexus RX this time, it still manages a top 10 finish overall – largely due to low running costs and good dealer service.

Not all reports were glowing, however. Reliability wasn't up to the standards Honda owners expect, with engine and gearbox woes causing the most whinges.

Most other categories were rated as average – apart from dealer service, which was above average and bettered only by Lexus in the SUV class.

3: Nissan Qashqai

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 81.4%
Overall ranking: 11th=
This was a new entry at number three, and just a whisker away from grabbing second spot. Owners raved about the Qashqai's low ownership costs and were also pretty chuffed with its funky looks and excellent visibility.

If it weren't for shoddy dealer service and a few reliability concerns (mainly related to the air-conditioning system), the Nissan would have finished higher. Average marks for the Qashqai's driving dynamics, seats, and interior storage and space rounded off a strong showing.

4: Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 79.7%
Overall ranking: 34th
It was hit and miss for the M-Class in this year's survey. Owners weren't pleased with the reliability of the engine, gearbox, external electrics or audio/navigation system. High insurance costs also brought a large number of complaints.

On the flip side, drivers reported the rest of the running gear to be largely reliable, and found the seats very sturdy indeed. They weren't blown away with the Mercedes' styling, but did like its engines, gearboxes and general driving dynamics.

5: Land Rover Discovery

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 79.5%
Overall ranking: 38th=
Land Rover has struggled with reliability in the past and, once again, owners have told us it's the worst thing about owning a Discovery. Mechanical problems caused a large number of headaches, and issues with the bodywork and audio/navigation systems also brought about complaints. The biggest offenders, however, were the seats.

Customers were impressed with the interior and driving characteristics, though, and found the service from Land Rover dealers to be decent. Insurance costs weren't too horrific, either, but fuel economy and the cost of servicing and repairs did come under attack.

6: Volvo XC90

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 79.4%
Overall ranking: 40th=
Although owners reported sturdy engines and transmissions, the rest of the XC90's running gear caused some real horrors – as did the audio/navigation system. Customers weren't enamoured with dealership facilities, but thought the service was adequate, and they whinged about hefty fuel and insurance bills, sluggish performance and exterior problems such as wind noise.

The overall score was buoyed mainly by the exterior design and interior appeal. Owners loved the seats and the audio/navigation system (when it was working), and also gave the thumbs-up to the Volvo's air-conditioning system.

7: Rav 4

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 79.3%
Overall ranking: 41st=
Given the reports of excellent dealer service from Lexus RX customers, you might expect similar results from Toyota – after all, it's the same company. Well, not according to RAV4 owners – they rated dealers as only average.

The interior was a let-down, with owners giving below-average marks in every area – including space, storage facilities and the seats. The RAV4's styling and the visibility from the driver's seat were also criticised.

Reliability was generally good, with only the seats lacking traditional Toyota toughness. Low workshop bills and good fuel consumption also helped the RAV to a mid-table finish overall, as did the consistently reasonable scores handed out for the quality of service at dealers.

8: Range Rover Sport

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 79.1%
Overall ranking: 47th=
Owners loved the Sport's styling and cabin – especially the air-con and audio/navigation systems. The engine, gearbox and driving dynamics were also praised.

Unfortunately, the overall score was hit by high running costs. Fuel consumption was rated below average, and high servicing and repairs costs also came in for criticism.

Reliability was mixed. The seats proved sturdy, and the audio/navigation system, engine and gearbox were solid. However, other parts of the drivetrain weren't so robust, and customers reported a high number of exterior electrical glitches.

9: Hyundai Santa FE

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 78.1%
Overall ranking: 60th=
Only interior storage and space received any real praise, with all other areas rated as average or worse. The big gripes were with the audio/navigation system and the seats, but owners also moaned about the Santa Fe's driving dynamics, and weren't keen on its range of engines and gearboxes, either.

Despite Hyundai being perceived as a budget brand, the Santa Fe's ownership costs gained it only average marks. Owners felt that the quality of service was below par and that dealer facilities were totally unacceptable.

10: Land Rover Freelander

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 77%
Overall ranking: 69th=
The Freelander was Land Rover's worst performer in this year's survey. Owners didn't like much about the Freelander, with every single area of vehicle appeal getting average marks at best.

The worst thing about owning one was the hefty costs of servicing and repairs, which was no doubt made worse by a high number of reliability issues – problems inside the cabin and with the engine and gearbox were the worst areas.

Land Rover will be hoping for a better result next year when the Freelander 2 makes its full JD Power debut.

11: Nissan X-Trail

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 74.8%
Overall ranking: 94th=
This is a worrying slide for the X-Trail. Owners slammed the styling, air-con, and audio and navigation systems, as well as high insurance costs and dealer service.

Mechanical reliability was also below par, and lots of air-con faults were noted. The seats were largely trouble-free, but visibility wasn't up to scratch. To round off a fairly poor performance, customers weren't impressed with the driving dynamics, fuel economy or high servicing and repair costs, either.

12: Suzuki Grand Vitara

Vehicle owner satisfaction score: 74.7%
Overall ranking: 96th=
Not a great car, and don't Suzuki owners know it? They really laid into the Grand Vitara's weedy performance and nasty driving dynamics, and were just as damning about the interior and poor fuel consumption. Insurance costs, service and repair bills, and the Suzuki's looks were also given a hard time.

Some areas of reliability were praised, though: the drivetrain and the audio and navigation systems proved particularly dependable. The air-con didn't, however.

How they rated:
Click the image, below, to view a larger version of how all the cars rated.

Name: Tony Feasey Job: Consultant Model: 300 SE-L Mileage: 5000
'This is by far the best car I've ever owned. I've had Porsches, BMWs and others in the past, but none of them can touch the RX for build quality or comfort. My local Lexus dealer has been brilliant, too – the people that work there genuinely seem pleased to see me when I go back for a service! In fact, I'm struggling to think of anything I don't like about the RX. I suppose integrated Bluetooth would make my life easier and the alloy wheels are starting to corrode a bit. Apart from that, the car has been faultless.'

JD Power Owner Satisfaction 2009 - Sports cars


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