We can’t think of many resources more useful to car shoppers than the Consumer Reports reliability ratings. Every year, the nonprofit testing agency crunches the numbers using survey and real-world performance data.
Still, just because a vehicle is reliable doesn’t mean you’re going to love driving it. That’s where owner satisfaction ratings come into play.
Unlike auto journalist reviews, which typically involve a one-week loan, these Consumer Reports surveys include feedback from thousands of people who actually bought the same model. Basing their opinion on comfort, styling, driving experience, and value, owners say whether they’d buy the same car again.
If you’re looking for a new SUV, only eight models landed a top score for owner satisfaction in 2018. We listed them here by how well each model did in the above four categories, leading up to the best model of all.
8. Ford Flex
Between the Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia, consumers have several quality options it the large SUV category. However, only Ford Flex landed a top rating for owner satisfaction.
Comfort, driving experience, and styling all got high marks. Owners said Flex value (MSRP: $30,285) was average.
7. Toyota Land Cruiser
Brands like Toyota always rank near the top in Consumer Reports surveys because of the automaker’s extraordinary reliability ratings and overall value to consumers. That tradition definitely held with the 2018 Land Cruiser, which ranked best among all large luxury SUVs.
While there wasn’t a great deal of data to work with on this model, Consumer Reports learned that owners would definitely buy one again. Not even the new Lincoln Navigator and Range Rover could boast the same satisfaction rating.
6. Porsche Macan
Not surprisingly, Porsche Macan owners raved about their SUV’s performance, style, and comfort level. Overall, the brand ranked No. 2 in owner satisfaction, and this compact utility model was among its highest rated.
The only negative owners mentioned was value. Porsches are expensive to maintain and guzzle a good deal of gas, so even when you start on the low end of the spectrum a Macan ($47,800) will get pricey.
5. Honda CR-V
When a vehicle is among Consumer Reports’ most reliable and has a top owner satisfaction score, you can be sure it’s a good buy. That’s exactly what Honda CR-V achieved for 2018.
It landed high marks for comfort, value, and driving experience along with a top score for styling. Meanwhile, CR-V sits at No. 4 for most reliable SUVs of the year.
4. Tesla Model X
Everyone can agree that Tesla fans will support the company no matter what. We’ve seen it year after year with Tesla Model X, the car that ranked worst of all vehicles for reliability in 2018.
Nonetheless, Model X owners said they would absolutely buy one again. Drive experience and styling got top marks, while comfort was also above the average. Only value got an “average” rating from the falcon-winged SUV’s owners.
3. Audi Q7
Consumer Reports described the redesigned Audi Q7 as “one of the best [vehicles] we’ve ever tested,” and owners agreed. They raved about its styling, drive character, and comfort.
On the other hand, owners saw its value proposition as below average. Maybe avoiding running up the price by adding on every option isn’t the best move with Q7.
Either way, the 96 (out of 100) score on the CR road test tells SUV buyers looking for a great driving car everything they need to know.
2. Audi Q5
Overall, the Audi brand fifth out of 30 auto companies for owner satisfaction. Seeing how highly people think of the Q7 and Q5 SUVs, that’s not a huge surprise.
Like its larger sibling, Q5 ranked among the very best for driving experience, comfort, and curb appeal. Owners only considered its value somewhat below average. (It starts at $41,500.)
Regardless, very few said they wouldn’t buy one again, which is how the Q5 landed among the elite for customer satisfaction.
1. Mazda CX-5
During a CX-5 drive event in San Diego, Mazda confidently trotted out compact SUVs from Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Lexus so journalists could compare the driving experience. Hopping from one vehicle to another, it became clear to most of us that CX-5’s powertrain punched above its weight class (i.e., price point).
The same could be said for its style (especially in Crystal Soul Red), interior comfort, and overall value. CX-5 owners agreed wholeheartedly with this sentiment, and gave Mazda’s compact SUV the highest satisfaction rating of any 2018 SUV.