A hybrid model has topped a UK car owners’ satisfaction survey for the first time.

The Toyota Prius was the equal highest-ranking model in satisfying new car owners, according to the JD Power and Associates/What Car? magazine 2007 UK Car Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) study released on Thursday.

The Prius tied with Toyota’s premium brand Lexus IS model for top ranking among models included in the study.

Miguel Fonseca, Toyota (GB) managing director, said: “This is further proof that Prius, and hybrid in general, has been accepted by the motoring public as the car of the future that delivers today. Irrespective of the great technical achievement of Prius, it needs to succeed as an everyday car for real-world experiences of drivers. We always knew it could and this endorsement by existing owners is evidence they appreciate how Toyota is succeeding in delivering cleaner, more fuel efficient motoring without compromising the performance, convenience and reliability they demand.

“Overall the results demonstrate Toyota’s all-embracing commitment to the highest levels of service to our customers as well as to quality, reliability and high driver appeal in all our products.”

Following the Prius and IS, the top 10 model rankings were dominated by Toyota, Honda and Lexus models, although ŠKoda made an excellent showing with the Octavia and Fabia ranking fifth and seventh overall.

Highlighting the growing focus on environment-friendly cars, the Prius scored 868 index points on a 1,000-point scale and earned particularly high ratings in ownership costs. Prius owners are most satisfied with day-to-day operating costs and also reported high satisfaction for vehicle quality, vehicle appeal and dealer service.

“The Prius clearly demonstrates that car owners think green is good,” said What Car? editor Steve Fowler. “We know that there’s an increase in consumer interest in environmentally friendly cars here in the UK and, with the Prius topping the model rankings in the 2007 study, we may be seeing a trend emerging in people’s thinking about these vehicles.”

In nameplate (brand) rankings, Lexus scored highest for a seventh consecutive year, receiving a customer satisfaction score of 862 points. It continued to receive particularly high ratings in three of the four key measures: quality/reliability, service satisfaction and vehicle appeal. Following were Honda and Škoda tied at 845 points, Toyota (832) and Daihatsu (824).

Lexus UK director Steve Settle said: “The message from these results is clear: the quality of our products and our service to our customers have no equal. In seven years, none of our competitors has managed to improve its performance to a level where it matches, let alone exceeds the all-round rewards of Lexus ownership.

“We are extremely proud of what has been achieved by Lexus GB and by our network of Lexus Centres, and are determined that we will continue to set the highest standards for customer satisfaction the UK motor industry.”

Mercedes-Benz was the most improved nameplate in 2007, increasing 12 points from 2006. Other notable improvements included Citroën, [defunct] MG Rover and Land Rover.

“Mercedes-Benz has made impressive strides over the past two years, with major improvements in vehicle quality and dealer service making a strong impact on satisfaction with the overall ownership experience,” said JD Power director of European automotive research Frank Parisi.

“It is also particularly notable to see a hybrid car perform so well, and that the increasing popularity amongst UK consumers for the green credentials of [the Prius] seems to be matched by levels of ownership satisfaction.”

The 2007 study was based on the evaluations of around 18,000 UK car owners after an average of two years of ownership. The study included 33 brands and 113 models. Owners provide detailed evaluations of their vehicles and dealers, which covered 77 attributes grouped in four measurements of satisfaction.