J.D. Power APEAL Study

Toyota, Mitsubishi and Volvo had the largest improvements among brands with more than one nameplate in J.D. Power’s latest study of new-vehicle appeal, while Porsche paced the industry for the 12th consecutive year.

Luxury brands again ruled the upper tier of J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study. BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Lexus and Lincoln followed Porsche in the rankings.

J.D. Power says the study measures vehicle owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement across 77 attributes “ranging from the power they feel when they step on the gas to the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat.” Brands are scored on a 1,000-pont scale.

Toyota and Mitsubishi gained 15 points from last year — the most significant boosts of any brands besides Smart, which has only the ForTwo. Smart ranked last, but had a 62-point gain from 2015.

Toyota was aided by improvements in the Corolla, Tacoma and RAV4, said Renee Stephens, J.D. Power’s vice president of U.S. automotive quality. Toyota scored a 796, but was below the industry average of 801. It topped the non-premium average by two points.

Mitsubishi’s increase was driven by the Outlander. Volvo’s 14-point increase was the product of a strong launch for the XC90 crossover.

The study says new vehicles with blind-spot monitoring, low-speed collision avoidance and other safety features scored much higher than similar models lacking those systems.

For instance, vehicles featuring blind-spot monitoring scored 821 compared with 787 for those without it. Models with collision-avoidance systems tallied an average score of 828 as opposed to 790 for vehicles lacking that technology.

Hyundai Motor Co. had five segment winners, while BMW AG and Volkswagen AG earned four segment awards apiece.

Navigation systems are still a sore spot for the industry. J.D. Power said two of the lowest-rated vehicle attributes are “usefulness of the navigation features” and “ease of using the vehicle’s navigation system.”

J.D. Power says there’s a correlation between strong APEAL scores and brand loyalty. The study is based on responses gathered from February through May from more than 80,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2016 model cars and light trucks who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

“APEAL scores affect advocacy and the likelihood a consumer will recommend their vehicle,” Stephens said. “Ultimately, it affects their brand loyalty.”


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