Which Drive-Thru Restaurants Are the Fastest (and the Slowest) in 2022?

KFC may have topped the list for total speed, but other factors come into play with how customers rate their drive-thru experience.

QSR recently released their annual Drive-Thru Report
Photo: Svetlana Davis / Getty Images

Fast food has two components: Sometimes you're going for the food; other times, you're more concerned about the fast. For those keeping track of the latter, QSR Magazine recently released their annual Drive-Thru Report and over three minutes separated the fastest drive-thru on their list from the slowest one.

Topping the list — which was compiled from 1,537 total visits — was KFC with a total time spent in the drive thru taking an average of about 303 seconds (just over five minutes). The rest of the list was Taco Bell (318 seconds), Hardee's (323 seconds), Dunkin' (328 seconds), Carl's Jr. (347 seconds), Arby's (357 seconds), Burger King (363 seconds), McDonald's (411 seconds), Wendy's (431 seconds), and, finally, Chic-fil-A at a whopping 509 seconds (nearly 8.5 minutes).

But as QSR points out, total drive thru times don't tell the entire story. "Calling Chick-fil-A the country's 'slowest' drive-thru falls well short on context, as customer sentiment backs," the report states. "The chain was given a 93 percent for speed of service satisfaction, per the survey, which trailed only Arby's (96 percent)."

So how are people so happy when getting food takes so long? It turns out, the type of wait can matter. Chic-fil-A's drive-thrus were also the most popular with an average of 4.74 cars in line per visit. By comparison, though KFC was fast, their lines had a mere 1.98 cars in line. And when you divide out the average time total time by cars in line, Chic-fil-A was the quickest per car, meaning the drive-thrus were busy, but the brand kept things moving.

Meanwhile, speed can be pointless if the restaurant gets your order wrong, and so the report also looked into accuracy. Those numbers paint a different picture: Arby's and McDonald's were the most accurate, getting 89 percent of orders correct. From there, the list continues with Burger King (87 percent), Carl's Jr. (86 percent), Hardee's (85 percent), Taco Bell (84 percent), Chick-fil-A and KFC (83 percent), Dunkin' (82 percent), and finally Wendy's at a paltry 79 percent.

Overall, however, Matt Abercrombie, Chick-fil-A's senior director of service and hospitality, explained that some important factors can't be counted with math. "We know in the drive-thru the guest wants speed and accuracy, but they don't want to feel rushed," he told QSR. "We believe that looking eye-to-eye with the customer allows for a connection that happens at the beginning of the drive-thru."

It helps explain why Chick-fil-A tied with Carl's Jr. at the top of the list for customers' satisfaction with service. Both had a 95 percent satisfaction rating. The speed leader KFC was towards the bottom of the pack with 87 percent satisfaction.

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