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J.D. Power Study: Domestics Take The Lead In Vehicle Appeal

July 15, 2010
2010 Ford Fusion Sport AWD

2010 Ford Fusion Sport AWD

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO uses the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which pairs gasoline direct injection with twin turbochargers to generate an estimated 365 horsepower.

The 2010 Ford Taurus SHO uses the new 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which pairs gasoline direct injection with twin turbochargers to generate an estimated 365 horsepower.

No doubt about it at this point, domestic-brand vehicles are more reliable than they used to be. And if you still snicker dismissively when we say that a number of domestic-brand vehicles really do get our pulse going and are better than many imports, it might serve to know that J.D. Power is noting this in the numbers, too.

In fact, domestic brands have pulled ahead of import brands on the 2010 APEAL study, Power’s annual measure of appeal and outperformed them for the first time in thirteen years.

David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates, says in a release that the retirement of older unappealing models, the introduction of more appealing models, and the improvement of existing models with refreshes and redesigns have all played a part.

All the news about better quality and reliability probably hasn’t hurt either. But this is big news for the domestics, and it might help them keep on track financially as well. J.D. Power says that models with high APEAL scores have historically sold better, had higher profit margins, and are less dependent on incentives.

Among automakers, Ford fared the best, with five segment-level awards—including for the Expedition, Explorer Sport Trac, Flex, Fusion, and Taurus. Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen each earned two segment-bests, with the 2010 Audi Q5 and Q7 utility vehicles, the BMW 3-Series and 5-Series sport sedans, the Chevrolet Avalanche pickup and Camaro sports coupe, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and S-Class sedan; and the Volkswagen GTI hatchback and Routan minivan.

The 2010 Mercedes-Benz S-Class scored the highest among any single model, achieving segment-best for the fourth year in a row, while the MINI Cooper achieved segment-best for the third consecutive year. The GMC Terrain, Honda Fit, Land Rover Range Rover, and Nissan Cube were also among the top-performers in APEAL.

2010 Suzuki Kizashi

2010 Suzuki Kizashi

Suzuki was most-improved in APEAL versus last year—perhaps a sign that its new 2010 Suzuki Kizashi is hitting the mark, along with special initiatives and incentives to help improve dealerships and bring more shoppers in.

Overall, Porsche remained the highest-rated brand overall—for the sixth consecutive year.

The APEAL study, which stands for Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout, essentially measures how satisfied new vehicle owners are with their choices after the first three months of ownership. Questions survey a wide range of attributes such as styling, perceived quality, and satisfaction with performance, comfort, and fuel economy (more than 80 in all); it includes responses from more than 76,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2010-model-year vehicles, in the first 90 days of ownership.

Last year, J.D. Power noted that APEAL scores were up significantly, mostly due to better product introductions and higher satisfaction with fuel economy.
[J.D. Power and Associates]

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