Westlake Village, California – According to J.D. Power and Associates’ 2011 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study released today, overall vehicle appeal has reached an all-time high since the study’s inception in 1996, with the industry average increasing to 781 on a 1,000-point scale (up from 778 in 2010).

Furthermore, recently launched all-new and redesigned models are substantially more appealing than their carryover counterparts, widening the gap in score for a second consecutive year. In 2011, the gap is 29 points, compared with 18 points in 2010 and 10 points in 2009. This improvement is partially driven by higher ratings for vehicle styling and fuel economy provided by owners of recently launched vehicles.

“The auto industry has taken a battering during the past few years,” said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. “However, it is clear that throughout this period, automakers have never lost sight of the fact that survival—and ultimately success—only comes from winning over customers in the showroom. Offering highly appealing vehicles is one of the primary means to succeed.”

While the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Initial Quality Study (IQS), which was released in June, found that all-new and redesigned models have more problems, on average, than do carryover models, the 2011 APEAL Study finds that these same models are more likely to offer the styling, performance and features that customers are looking for.

“There are two sides of the quality coin: things gone right and things gone wrong,” said Sargent. “Both are of critical importance, and models that perform well on both measures generate higher levels of recommendation and, ultimately, higher loyalty to the brand. In general, customers are also willing to pay more for vehicles that combine high appeal with high initial quality.”

BMW and Dodge each capture three segment-level awards. BMW models receiving awards are the X3, Z4 Roadster and 5 Series, while Dodge receives awards for the Challenger, Charger and Durango. The Charger, Durango, X3 and 5 Series were all redesigned for the 2011 model year. Ford and Honda captured two model-level awards each, with Ford receiving awards for the all-new Fiesta and F-150 LD and Honda receiving awards for the Ridgeline and redesigned Odyssey.

Also receiving awards are the Chevrolet Volt, Hyundai Equus, Land Rover Range Rover, Lexus IS, MINI Countryman, Nissan Armada, Porsche Cayenne, Scion xB, Suzuki Kizashi and Volkswagen GTI. Of these, the Countryman, Equus and Volt are all-new models, while the Cayenne is redesigned. The Equus achieved the highest APEAL score of any model in the industry in 2011. This is the first year that a model other than the BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS or Mercedes-Benz S-Class has led the overall model ranking.

Three models rank highest in their respective segments in both the 2011 APEAL Study and the 2011 IQS: the Dodge Challenger, Ford F-150 LD and Honda Ridgeline.

Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate in the 2011 APEAL Study for a seventh consecutive year. Hyundai improved from 2010 more than any other nameplate this year, while Jeep and Chrysler also improved considerably.

The APEAL Study examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of more than 80 vehicle attributes. The 2011 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2011 from more than 73,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2011 model-year cars and trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership. The APEAL Study complements the Initial Quality Study (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership.




About Greg Wilson

Greg Wilson is a Vancouver-based automotive journalist and contributor to Autos.ca. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).