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APEAL Study: Premium, Non-Premium Brands Listen to Consumers

APEAL Study: Premium, Non-Premium Brands Listen to Consumers

By Jeff Youngs, July 30, 2012
The bar continues to rise in terms of how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, according to results in our 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which is based on evaluations of more than 80 vehicle attributes by more than 74,000 new-vehicle buyers and lessees during the first 90 days of ownership.

This year, the industry improves by 7 points to earn an overall index score of 788 (on a 1,000-point scale) vs. 781 in 2011. In comparison to past years' results, the industry average also rises 18 points compared with our 2008 APEAL Study, and represents the largest gain since 2009.

Results across the board are good for the industry. Every one of the 10 vehicle attribute areas analyzed improves from 2011, with the greatest advance being observed in fuel economy. Interestingly, the downsizing trend that we have observed also has had an impact on owner satisfaction with the fuel economy of buyers' new vehicles. Nearly one-half (47%) of owners say gas mileage was one of the most important factors in choosing their new vehicle, up from 40% in 2011, according to study results.

At the nameplate level, Porsche makes news, improving for a fifth consecutive year and ranking highest among all brands in the 2012 APEAL Study with a score of 887. Among Non-Premium brands, Mini receives the highest score (815).

Dodge is the most improved brand this year, improving by 21 points and moving up seven rank positions, while Jaguar, which receives the second-highest score among all brands, also is the second-most improved nameplate, with dramatic gains from one model in particular--the XJ--which earns a score of 901. Ram is the third-most improved brand in the study and advances by eight rank positions.

Only five of the 17 nameplates that rank above industry average are non-premium nameplates. They are, in rank order: Mini, Volkswagen, Ram, Ford, and Chrysler. The five brands that delight their owners the most overall are European premium brands. Rounding out the top five after Porsche are: Jaguar, BMW, Audi, and Mercedes-Benz.

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