Trucks have a loyal fan base. Plenty of pickup owners stick with their favorite model for decades. The interesting part of this loyalty is that it sometimes defies logic. No matter how many performance or reliability issues experts such as Consumer Reports point out, fiercely loyal owners stick by their flawed trucks. In particular, three trucks that Consumer Reports rated poorly still made owners happy: the Hyundai Santa Cruz, Nissan Frontier, and Jeep Gladiator. 

About Consumer Reports owner satisfaction scores

We surveyed car owners to find the most satisfying vehicles on the road.
Rounding out the top 3 were the Tesla Model 3, Kia Telluride, and Tesla Model S. https://t.co/hIjgFicIcy

— Consumer Reports (@ConsumerReports) February 4, 2021

Consumer Reports’ owner satisfaction category predicts the likelihood a consumer would buy a certain vehicle again. CR sends out an annual auto survey with the question, “Considering all factors (price, performance, reliability, comfort, enjoyment, etc.) would you get this car if you had to do it all over again?” Consumer Reports determines owner satisfaction ratings by the percentage of owners who answered “definitely yes” to that question.

The factors that are ranked in this survey include: 

  • Driving experience: What is the overall driving feel of the truck?
  • Comfort: How comfortable is the truck to drive, including seat comfort, noise, air conditioning, heating, and ride?
  • Styling and design: How does the truck look from the inside and the outside?
  • Value: Do the owners feel they got what they wanted at the price they paid?

The owner satisfaction rating is a powerful tool because it helps determine consumers’ level of satisfaction with a certain model. It can help direct vehicle shoppers toward that model or similar ones. 

Another interesting aspect of the owner satisfaction rating is that it’s independent of what Consumer Reports reviewers say. So, a particular truck model might be popular among consumers who purchase it year after year, yet critics consider it terrible. It can also go in the opposite direction when critics think a truck is superb but consumers hate it. It’s useful information that gives part of the full picture that shoppers need when considering which model to buy. 

Take, for instance, these three examples of trucks that Consumer Reports dislikes but owners love: 

1. 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz 

consumer reports, trucks

2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz | Hyundai Motor America

The Hyundai Santa Cruz is a compact model that’s basically an SUV/truck mashup. Due to its size, it could be more suitable for consumers who want a stylish vehicle with a car-like ride and feel but also need a short truck bed. 

CR dinged the 2022 Santa Cruz for its emergency handling, rear seat comfort, fuel economy, and trunk/cargo area. These critiques leave the overall score at just above average and not well-liked by CR. Consumer Reports may not like the Santa Cruz, but its near-perfect owner satisfaction rating shows consumers don’t always agree with the critics. 

2. 2022 Nissan Frontier 

The 2022 Nissan Frontier keeps it simple: https://t.co/WO7BbVMO0x pic.twitter.com/48TiSACrjm

— Car and Driver (@CARandDRIVER) September 6, 2021

The Nissan Frontier finally saw a much-anticipated update for the 2022 model, but that didn’t stop Consumer Reports from rating this pickup truck even lower than the Santa Cruz. Despite its strong powertrain and modern infotainment system, it still provides an overly rough ride. Most of its drawbacks come in the “comfort and convenience” category, namely the ride.

Regardless, the owner satisfaction rating is near perfect. The Frontier can thank its owners for its success. 

3. 2022 Jeep Gladiator 

Jeep Gladiator for the weekend. I'd forgotten how long it is, parallel parking is out of the question. Right, to the farms we go. R1.25 million, petrol V6 only. pic.twitter.com/vVRLHXW8Rd

— David Taylor (@DaveTheCarGuy) July 22, 2022

Bringing up the rear is the Jeep Gladiator. It received a much lower overall rating than the Santa Cruz and Frontier. CR rates the Gladiator’s cargo area the highest among these three models but slams the truck’s fuel economy, noise, and emergency handling.

Again, however, the Gladiator’s owner satisfaction score is near-perfect. Drivers especially appreciate the truck’s styling and driving experience. 

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