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Volkswagen, Chevrolet Score Big In J.D. Power's APEAL Study

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J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study

J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study

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Every year at this time, J.D. Power releases its annual U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, better known as the APEAL Study. Last year, the study proved that small, fuel-efficient vehicles could hold their own against bigger, badder luxury cars -- provided they were well designed.

Sadly, the 2013 APEAL Study is a little less revealing. This year's big news is that "appealing vehicles tend to remain on dealer lots for shorter periods, command higher transaction prices, and are more likely to create owner loyalty when they are ultimately traded-in". But you probably already knew that, right?

The APEAL Study surveys folks who've bought or leased new vehicles and asks them to evaluate those vehicles on 77 different attributes (e.g. infotainment, safety, fuel-economy). Each attribute is assigned a score of 0 to 1,000. The 2013 study was fielded between February and May 2013 and incorporated responses from over 83,000 individuals.  

This year's major findings should be of particular interest for automakers:

Cars with strong APEAL scores command higher prices: "Owners of vehicles with an APEAL score of 100 points or higher than the segment average typically spend at least$1,800 more on their new vehicle than do owners of vehicles with a score of at least 100 points lower than the segment average."

Cars with strong APEAL scores sell more quickly: "[V]ehicles with APEAL scores at least 100 points higher than the segment average remain on dealer lots an average of three days less than vehicles with scores at least 100 points below the segment average."

Cars with strong APEAL scores generate brand loyalty: "Nearly two-thirds (64%) of owners whose vehicle achieved an APEAL score at least 100 points above the segment average repurchase the same brand the next time they shop for a new vehicle, compared with just 55 percent of those whose vehicle scored at least 100 points below the segment average."

Embiggen the chart above, and you'll see that premium brands aced the APEAL study, with all 12 of those included coming in at the top of the chart. Their dominance was interrupted only by Ram, which clocked in at #11, besting Volvo and Acura.

Volkswagen, MINI, Buick, and Kia also earned scores above the 795 industry average. All other brands fell below that -- though in fairness, many scored above the non-premium-brand average of 786.

At the bottom of the barrel, we find Toyota, Jeep, Subaru, Mitsubishi, and bringing up the rear, Smart, with a score of 739.

But that's not the full story. J.D. Power also doles out awards by segment, and on that front, the Volkswagen family walked away the big winner. The Audi allroad, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen GTI, and Volkswagen Passat each came in at the top of their respective classes.  

Chevrolet also deserves a nod: it was the only individual brand to ace three categories, thanks to the Chevrolet Avalanche, Sonic, and Volt.

And the highest score for any model went to the Land Rover Range Rover, with a total APEAL score of 898. That's the first time in the study's 18-year history that the highest score hasn't gone to a vehicle in the Large Premium Car segment. 

For a rundown of segment winners, check out the full list on the J.D. Power blog.  

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Comment (1)
  1. I'm really not surprised by the jump in appeal for VW.
    ------
    VW with Audi's influence has really moved upscale.
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    Case in point...
    Last Summer, I bought a new Touareg TDI Executive Edition over the Audi Q7 TDI mainly because I preferred the size and better proportioned look of the VW over the Audi. Add to this, the more tangible facts that the VW costs much less (about $10k less and had 0% financing) yet still possesses a high quality feel, meant that the Audi struggled in almost every way to convince me of changing my mind.
    -------
    Final words...
    To me, the VW Treg is the "under the radar" luxury vehicle provides all the appeal but without the costs that go along with the "badge."

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