Given the significant cost of owning a new vehicle, delighting customers is challenging for auto manufacturers. That challenge is being met, as evidenced by a 10-point increase in overall satisfaction from 2017, according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study,SM released today.

The industry average APEAL score increases to 820 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from 810 a year ago, propelled by significantly higher scores in all 10 vehicle evaluation categories, with 23 of the 31 brands included in the study making gains in their performance from 2017.

The automotive industry is performing exceptionally well, with manufacturers making record-breaking improvements year over year," said Dave Sargent, Vice President, Global Automotive at J.D. Power. "It's a great time to buy a new car or truck. There are a lot of high-quality, appealing vehicles in every segment of the market and shoppers don't have to spend a fortune to get one."

Following are some key findings of the 2018 study:

  • Mass market brands continue to close in on luxury segment: The average APEAL score for the mass market segment is 814, a 10-point improvement from 2017, while the luxury segment improves 6 points to 851. Vehicles in the mass market segment are being loaded with more content than in the past, which accounts for much of the improvement. The gap between the two segments has narrowed to an all-time low of 37 points.
  • All categories improve in 2018: The APEAL Study examines 10 vehicle categories, all of which consumers are finding more satisfying vs. 2017: driving dynamics (+12 points); visibility and safety (+11); engine/transmission (+10); audio/communication/entertainment/navigation (+10); seats (+10); heating, ventilation and air conditioning (+10); exterior (+9); interior (+9); storage and space (+9); and fuel economy (+4).
  • Lincoln Navigator posts highest score of any model: The Lincoln Navigator has the highest overall APEAL score (915) of any model this year. This is also the highest level recorded in this generation of the study (2013-2018). The U.S. APEAL Study, which was first published in 1996, is currently in its third generation.

Highest-Ranked Brands

Genesis ranks highest in overall APEAL for the first time, with a score of 884. Porsche ranks second overall (883), followed by BMW (863), Lincoln (861) and Mercedes-Benz (858).

In the mass market segment, Chevrolet and GMC rank highest in a tie with a score of 826. This is the first time either brand has ranked highest. Ram ranks third (825), followed by Dodge and Ford (824 each).

Mitsubishi is the most improved brand, increasing 33 points from 2017. Other brands showing substantial improvements are Dodge (+29), Jeep (+26), GMC (+18) and Chevrolet (+16).

Segment-Level Model APEAL Awards

The parent company receiving the most model-level awards for its various brands is Ford Motor Co. (four model-level awards), followed by General Motors, Volkswagen AG and BMW AG with three each.

  • Ford Motor Co.: Ford Expedition; Ford F-150; Ford Mustang; and Lincoln Continental
  • General Motors: Chevrolet Equinox; Chevrolet Traverse; and GMC Sierra HD
  • Volkswagen AG: Audi A3; Porsche Cayenne; and Volkswagen Jetta
  • BMW AG: BMW X1; BMW X3; and MINI Countryman
  • Honda Motor Co.: Honda Accord and Honda Ridgeline
  • Hyundai Motor Group: Kia Rio and Kia Stinger
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: Chrysler Pacifica
  • Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.: Nissan Maxima

Receiving a model-level award for a second consecutive year are Audi A3, BMW X1, Chrysler Pacifica, Ford F-150, Lincoln Continental, Honda Ridgeline and Porsche Cayenne.

The 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study measures 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. These attributes are combined into an overall APEAL index score that is measured on a 1,000-point scale. The study, now in its 23rd year, is based on responses gathered from November 2017 through February 2018 from nearly 68,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2018 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study, which complements the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study,SM is used extensively by manufacturers worldwide to help them design and develop more appealing vehicles and by consumers to help them in their purchase decisions.


Genesis Topples Porsche In 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study

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