New vehicle appeal improves in J.D. Power study

J.D. Power credited automakers with providing more features that drivers want as new vehicle appeal received a major boost in a recent study.

In its 2017 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study, nearly 70,000 buyers and lessees of new vehicles were surveyed about how they felt about the model after 90 days of ownership. The questions cover 10 categories and 77 different attributes, ranging from acceleration to comfort.

The APEAL index climbed nine points from the previous year, tying the largest increase in the survey's 22-year history. The index was up to 810 on a 1,000-point scale, with year-over-year improvements in nine of the 10 categories and 19 of the 32 brands in the study.

"Many automakers are getting better and better at giving consumers what they want in a vehicle," said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "The industry is doing a very good job of creating vehicles customers like across every segment, and the APEAL study identifies why this is. One clear reason is that non-premium vehicles are increasingly offering technology and safety features found in premium vehicle."

The gap between the APEAL scores for premium and non-premium vehicles narrowed to its closest point ever. The index for the non-premium segment stood at 804, up 10 points from the previous year. The premium segment's score improved only one point from 2016, standing at 845.

When brands were ranked individually, Porsche had the highest APEAL index for the 13th consecutive year. These vehicles had an average score of 884. This was followed by Genesis at 869, BMW at 855, and Audi at 854. MINI had the highest score among non-premium brands at 838, followed by Honda at 820 and Ford at 819.

The Volkswagen Group had the highest number of model-level awards due to high scores among its Audi and Porsche brands. The Audi A3 tied with the BMW 2 Series for best small premium car, while the A7 tied with the Lincoln Continental for best midsize premium car; the Audi A4 was the top ranked compact premium car. The Porsche 911 was the top ranked midsize premium sporty car, while the Macan rated highest in the compact premium SUV segment and the Cayenne in the midsize premium SUV segment.

BMW earned four model-level awards. In addition to the 2 Series honor, the X1 topped the small premium SUV rankings. The company's MINI models took home two awards, with best compact sporty car going to the MINI Cooper and best compact car going to the MINI Clubman.

Ford, General Motors, and Hyundai each earned three model-level awards. In addition to its Lincoln Continental honor, Ford had the best rankings for large light duty pickup (F-150) and large heavy duty pickup (Super Duty). GM topped the segments of small car (Chevrolet Bolt), large SUV (Chevrolet Tahoe), and large premium SUV (Cadillac Escalade). Hyundai's honors all went to Kia models, including the Cadenza for large cars, the Soul for compact multipurpose vehicles, and the Niro for small SUVs.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Honda, and Nissan each won two awards. FCA received the top ratings among midsize sporty cars for the Dodge Challenger as well as minivans for the Chrysler Pacifica. Honda was ranked at the top for compact SUVs (CR-V) and midsize pickups (Ridgeline). Nissan earned the best rating for midsize cars with its Altima model and midsize SUVs with its Murano model.


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