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

July 25, 2013

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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