Canstar Blue’s 2021 new car review has seen Isuzu UTE, Mercedes, Mazda, Suzuki, Honda, Hyundai, Toyota, Kia, Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Ford, Nissan, BMW and Audi rated on reliability, value for money, driving experience, after sale service, point of sale service, car servicing and customer satisfaction.
See our Ratings Methodology.
Buying a new car can be one of the more exciting times in your life, as well as one of the most financially draining. As a result, it’s not a decision to be made lightly, with so many options and factors to consider before you even step foot in a dealership.
To help you confidently grab the wheel and find the best new car for your needs and budget, we went around the block to ask more than 2,300 Australian motorists for their feedback on the new cars they’ve purchased from a dealership in the last three years. Respondents rated car models and manufacturers on important factors, including the driving experience, reliability, car servicing, point of sale service, after sale service, value for money and overall satisfaction. Car brands that received a minimum survey sample size of 30 responses are compared in our latest ratings.
In 2021, Isuzu UTE was firmly in the driver’s seat, achieving top five-star reviews in all categories, including overall satisfaction.
Here are the best new car brands in Australia, as rated by consumers in Canstar Blue’s 2021 review:
Isuzu UTE was the only brand to be rated five stars for overall satisfaction, with the majority of brands achieving four stars overall. Subaru, Ford, Nissan, BMW and Audi were all rated three stars for overall satisfaction. While Isuzu UTE was streets ahead, Mercedes was also rated five stars for after sale service and point of sale service, with both Mazda and Toyota also joining in on the five star action for point of sale service. All other brands were a mix of three and four star ratings across the rating categories.
When it comes to finding a new set of wheels, Aussie motorists have plenty to consider, so to help you find a brand that suits your lifestyle and driving style, here is a guide to the 15 car brands in this year’s review.
Known for its range of trucks, Isuzu UTE is perhaps most known for its D-MAX ute, which has been in production since 2002. The D-MAX is available as the X-Terrain, LS-U, LS-M and SX model, with the LS-U and SX models either available as a 4×2 or 4×4 model, while the X-Terrain and LS-M are only available as 4×4 models. With a steel underbody, 800mm wading depth, rear-differ lock, 3.0L turbo diesel engine and a 3.5 tonne towing capacity, the D-MAX is one for those who are keen on going on plenty of adventures, or take plenty with them.
Alongside the flagship D-MAX is the MU-X SUV, which is available as a 4×2 or 4×4 model, with 7-seat capacity across the range of LS-T, LS-U and LS-M models. Featuring a power tailgate, reversing camera, remote engine start, rough terrain mode on 4×4 models to make use of the horses under the engine, the MU-X also features a 9inch infotainment unit with Sat Nav on the LS-U and LS-T models.
Known for its luxury models, you wouldn’t find many people who would turn down a chance to drive a new Mercedes. The brand certainly knows how to please rev heads, with a variety of sporty coupes and roadsters, as well as compact hatchbacks and larger car models such as the G-Class SUV, A-Class Sedan and C-Class Estate. And if you’re really looking to put the foot down, the AMG sports models may get your heart racing, offering plenty of horsepower for you to rein in.
Mercedes also offer a number of electric and plug-in hybrid models, including the E300e, which features a 155kW engine output, 19inch alloy wheels, ambient lighting, leather upholstery, heated front seats and other comforts to help make the road trip more pleasant. But, as one of the sought-after car brands across the globe, expect hefty price tags, with the luxury brand one of the more expensive brands on offer.
A frequent sight on the roads, Japanese brand Mazda offers a wide range of vehicles for motorists to choose from, whether you need room for just yourself or the whole family. Models include the sporty MX-5 and RX-7, as well as the popular SUV range, which includes models such as the CX-5 and CX-9 for those after a bit of extra room. Other models include the smaller Mazda2, with the larger Mazda6 and BT-50 utility also available for motorists to get behind.
The Mazda3 is arguably the most versatile model of the Mazda range, available in a hatch and sedan model, and is one of the more popular models available in Australia, you’ll have no shortage of options to choose from, with models include the G20, G25 and the X20 hybrid model. The base level G20 hatch includes 18inch alloy wheels, Sat Nav, Mazda Radar Cruise Control, rear spoiler, rain-sensing wipers, daytime running lights, two USB ports, manual or auto transmission as well as push button start.
With the Swift likely one of the models you’ll picture when you think of a small car, Japanese brand Suzuki has been a staple on Australian roads, whether it’s on two wheels or four. With the four-wheel variety including models such as the Baleno, Ignis, S-Cross, Grand Vitara and Jimny, in addition to the popular Swift, drivers have plenty to choose from, whether you’re after a small car or SUV.
The Swift includes features such as a 1.2L dualjet engine, 7inch infotainment unit, 16inch alloy wheels, daytime running lights, rear privacy glass, Sat Nav, Bluetooth connectivity and reversing camera on the base model, with Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure Warning, dusk-sensing headlights, paddle shifters and rear parking sensors on the more expensive models.
Honda is working to give motorists the ‘power of dreams’, offering a variety of vehicles to suit families, first-time drivers, sports car fans and anyone in between. The Japanese manufacturer is also responsible for some of the most popular and well-known cars in the country, including the Civic Hatch and Accord sedan.For those who need something spacious, the Honda Odyssey and CR-V are some of the brand’s largest models, with the Honda HR-V finding the middle ground for those not after a large SUV.
The Honda Odyssey is one of the brand’s longest serving models, with the Vi L7 or Vi LX7 models available, each coming with 7-seats, 17inch alloy wheels, LED headlights, upwards of 322L of storage capacity and Honda SENSING safety features. The Vi LX7 also comes with an electric sunroof, hands free power tailgate and tri-zone climate control for additional comfort and convenience.
South Korean brand Hyundai has become a mainstay on Australian roads, thanks in part to its very popular i30 range. With a vehicle fleet that also includes the Sonata sedan, IONIQ hybrid range as well as multiple SUVs – including the Venue, Kona, Tucson, Santa Fe and Palisade – Hyundai seemingly offers something for everyone.
If you’re after something sporty, the Hyundai i20 N may be more your style, including 150kW of engine output, 6speed manual transmission, bucket seats, sports alloy pedals, sports steering wheel, multiple driving modes (including Eco, Normal, Sport, N and N Custom), the i20 N also features a 10.25inch infotainment unit, 18inch alloy wheels, rear spoiler, wireless phone charging, rain-sensing wipers and daytime running lights, rear view monitor and parking guidance along with Sat Nav.
Another major Japanese brand, Toyota has long been a favourite for many Aussie motorists, and it’s not surprising considering the range available. With the Hilux ute consistently claimed to be Australia’s top selling model, and Toyota at the forefront of hybrid and electric models, you’ll more than likely see plenty of Toyota models while out on the road. Toyota’s range includes the smaller Yaris and Corolla, with the Camry and Prius available for those after a sedan model. If you’re chasing something bigger, Toyota has the C-HR, RAV4, Kluger, Fortuner, Prado and flagship LandCruiser available, with sports cars and even buses also on offer for those after something specific.
The LandCruiser 300 is available as a GX, GXL, VX, Sahara, Sahara ZX or GR Sport model, with the GX coming with 4WD, a 3.3L diesel engine, auto transmission, the choice between a 5-seat or 7-seat option, as well as features such as 17inch wheels, LED headlights, daytime running lights, rear spoiler, multiple driving modes and Toyota Safety Sense for additional comfort and safety.
Kia is another car brand that has gathered momentum over recent years, especially among those looking to treat themselves to a new set of wheels while still keeping an eye on their budget. If you’re not sure what you’re after, Kia has a wide variety of models on offer, from the compact Picanto or Rio, all the way through to the eight-seat Kia Carnival. The South Korean car manufacturer also has a few SUV lines, including the Stonic and Seltos for smaller SUVs, Sportage for a medium-sized option, and the Sorento for a larger vehicle designed for big families.
The Kia Cerato is one of the brand’s more recent, and more popular models, available as either a hatch or sedan, and coming in an S, Sport or Sport+ model. The Sport+ model features 17inch alloy wheels, 10.25inch touchscreen infotainment unit with Sat Nav, autonomous emergency braking, rear cross traffic collision avoidance assist, push button start, heated front seats and electronic parking brake.
One of the more affordable German manufacturers, Volkswagen, or VW as it’s more commonly known, has proven to be a popular option for motorists over recent years. With VW’s smaller models, including the Polo and Golf, the backbone of the brand, larger vehicles such as the Passat and Tiguan are proving a popular option for motorists after something bigger. With VW also offering larger vans and trucks, there’s plenty to consider, regardless of if you’re looking for business or for personal use.
The newer T-Roc SUV is available as a 110TSI or 140TSI Sport model, with power outputs between 110 and 140kW, 8inch infotainment unit, an integrated Digital Cockpit, ambient lighting, 4MOTION Active Control, in addition to the IQ.DRIVE safety system, which includes parking sensors, lane departure warning and active cruise control.
Mitsubishi is one of the most well-known global manufacturers, spreading across a range of major industries, including air conditioners and heavy machinery. Marketed as a mid-tier brand, Mitsubishi Motors offers drivers one of the more affordable options in the market, regardless if you’re looking for a small model such as the Mirage, or a larger option like the Triton or Pajero. If you’re looking for something more environmentally-friendly, Mitsubishi Motors offers the Outlander plug-in hybrid electric vehicle range.
Mitsubishi’s SUV range has also grown over recent years to include the ASX, Eclipse Cross and Outlander, with the smaller ASX featuring 18inch alloy wheels, a 60:40 rear seat folding split, forward collision mitigation, rear view camera, 8inch infotainment unit, USB ports and paddle shifters, leather seats and other features in the more expensive models.
Subaru is well-known for its Impreza and Liberty models, with the WRX adorning plenty of bedroom wall posters. If an SUV is your speed, Subaru offers the Outback, Forester and XV models, with the BRZ sports car available for those looking to put their foot down. While it may not be the option for those after a smaller car or large SUV car, if you’re looking for a reasonably priced and sporty-looking ride, Subaru may be the option for you, with the Japanese brand a regular on racing circuits.
The Subaru Impreza is currently available as a hatch or sedan model, with the top-of-the-line 2.0i-S AWD hatch including a 4-cylinder petrol engine, 115kW engine output, 18inch wheels, multiple driving modes, Lane Keep Assist, Pre-Collision Braking System, daytime running lights, sports pedals, 4.2inch instrument cluster and two USB ports.
Another brand to cease manufacturing locally, Ford runs on imports from its overseas parent company. Despite the manufacturing hit, Ford still offers plenty of models for motorists to choose from, including the smaller Focus, larger Puma, Escape and Everest, along with the popular Ranger utility and heart-racing Mustang.
The popular Ford Ranger ute has no shortage of models to choose from, with both 4×4 and 4×2 models available, along with Super Cab, Double Cab, Single Cab chassis available, all of which run on diesel. Models are further split into XL, XLT, Wildtrak and Raptor X, with plenty of features packed into the workhorses, with the Raptor X Double Cab model featuring standard features such as Lane Keeping Aid, Traffic Sign Recognition, Autonomous Emergency Braking, Pedestrian Detection, a maximum braked towing capacity of 2,500kg as well as an 8inch infotainment unit, Sat Nav, two USB ports and an engine output of 157kW.
Nissan has a wide range of models and car types to excite Aussie drivers, from the sleek GT-R to the family-friendly Patrol, and all the way to the tradie-approved Navara. The Japanese manufacturer has all driving-types catered for, with those after an EV-friendly model potentially interested in the Leaf. But if you’re still not sure, smaller SUVs such as the Juke and Qashqai are also available, as is the popular X-Trail.
The Nissan 370Z is one of the brand’s sleek sports models, and is available with a manual or auto transmission, 2WD drivetrain and petrol engine across a number of models, including the Coupe and NISMO Coupe. Additionally powered by a V6 3.7L engine, the base level 370Z Coupe features an engine output of 245kW, as well as 19inch alloy wheels, BOSE audio system, heated seats, reversing camera, three-pod gauges, 7inch infotainment unit with Sat Nav, with the NISMO coupe coming with additional power, sleeker aerodynamics and improved brakes.
BMW is one of several German luxury car brands dominating the market, parked alongside Mercedes and Audi. For some, the high-end car manufacturer can prove to be too hard to pass up. There are plenty of sporty models available from the BMW X Range, BMW M range and the BMW i range. This includes everything from spacious SUVs and hair-messing convertibles, to plug-in hybrids like the i3 and i8. So, there’s no shortage of options when you step into a BMW dealership.
The BMW 3 Series 330i Touring model includes a 190kW engine output from sports Steptronic petrol engine, with automatic transmission, and is available as the M Sport model or as part of the Luxury Line if you’re looking for some high-quality trims and interior.
German luxury car manufacturer Audi has a wide range of models for drivers to get excited about. The A range includes sleek sedans for the city, while Audi’s Q range will be for those looking to drive away in an SUV model. If something sporty is more your style, Audi offers the TT Coupe and anything from the RS line, to help you get your car and heart racing. There’s also the Audi e-tron, Audi’s first-ever all-electric vehicle.
The Audi A8 sedan model includes HD Matrix LED headlights, Audi Space Frame construction for improved aerodynamics and safety, 210kW of output from the 3.0L TDI engine, as well as AWD, 360-degree cameras, Collision Avoidance Assist, Cross Traffic Assist, ambient lighting, and a range of personalised and customisable interior features for additional comfort and convenience.
Staying consistent with last year’s results, Aussies are spending, on average, over $40,000 on their new car purchase. 38% of survey respondents stated that their most recent car purchase was their dream car, with 20% said that the car they most recently purchased was their first car. So while it’s understandable that you might spend a bit more on your dream car or your first car, you’ll want to be sure that you’re getting a good deal, and aren’t being taken for a ride.
Check out our article on average car cost to see a further break down on what Aussie motorists are spending on.
According to our survey respondents, their previous car lasted about six years. Over half (57%) said they opted for a new set of wheels because they wanted an upgrade, while slightly less than two-fifths (19%) of consumers needed more space. Alternatively, a handful of those we surveyed said they actually needed less seating or boot space (6%).
Another reason our survey respondents headed to the dealership was to snag a specific model (11%), such as for off-roading or for work. Just 13% of the people we surveyed bought a brand new car because their old car stopped running, while 6% headed to the dealership after crashing their old car.
If you want to join the 88% of people who believe they got a good deal on the price of their new car, here are some things they did before making the big purchase:
There’s a lot to consider when it comes to buying a new car, especially if you’re looking to get a good deal. You’ll have to remember that buying a new car often comes with additional expenses, like stamp duty, insurance, and even that shiny coat of paint! On top of that, running costs such as car tyres and heading to a car servicing chain can also have a big impact on your bank account, meaning you will have to consider plenty of aspects before you sign on the dotted line. Regardless of which model, make or brand you decide on, be sure to shop around and haggle on price, as you may be surprised by how much you can save if you do your research and drive a hard bargain!
Photo Credit: Dragon Images/shutterstock.com
This report was written by Canstar Blue’s Content Projects Lead, Dean Heckscher. He’s our resident expert on all things automotive, health & fitness, streaming and more. Dean is also one of Canstar Blue’s customer research report producers, helping to turn complicated subjects into easily-digestible information for our readers. He’s passionate about helping consumers make better-informed purchase decisions on all manner of consumer goods and services.
Canstar Blue surveyed more than 12,000 Australian adults across a range of categories to measure and track customer satisfaction, via ISO 26362 accredited research panels managed by Qualtrics. The outcomes reported are the results from customers within the survey group who have bought a brand new car from a dealership in the last three years – in this case, 2,364 people.
Brands must have received at least 30 responses to be included. Results are comparative and it should be noted that brands receiving three stars have still achieved a satisfaction measure of at least six out of 10. Not all brands available in the market have been compared in this survey. The ratings table is first sorted by star ratings and then alphabetically. A rated brand may receive a ‘N/A’ (Not Applicable) rating if it does not receive the minimum number of responses for that criteria.
Here are the past winners from Canstar Blue’s new car vehicle ratings:
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