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Latest Safety Technology Enhances New-Vehicle Owners' Satisfaction in J.D. Power 2015 U.S. APEAL Study

Latest Safety Technology Enhances New-Vehicle Owners' Satisfaction in J.D. Power 2015 U.S. APEAL Study

By Philly Murtha, July 22, 2015

New-vehicle buyers and lessees were more delighted with the performance and design of their new cars, trucks, SUVs, or vans during the first 90 days of ownership this year than in 2014, according to the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM This increase in satisfaction among owners is due in part to their sense of added security from more advanced safety technology and features in their new vehicles.

The addition of safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and warning systems--in both premium and non-premium models--contributed to a 4-point increase in the overall index score in this year's study (798 vs. 794 in 2014, based on a 1,000-point scale).

Now in its 20th year, the APEAL Study examines 77 vehicle attributes to determine what owners like and dislike about their new vehicle's design, content, layout, execution, and performance during the first three months. APEAL complements J.D. Power's Initial Quality Study (IQS), which examines short-term quality.

Unlike the challenges of voice-recognition technology identified as a trouble spot in the 2015 U.S. IQS, the latest safety technology that provides information intuitively boosts owners' positive experience with their new vehicles, according to Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. "Not only are models increasingly offering features that improve safety and visibility, but owners are also using them on a regular basis. This can go a long way toward generating positive feelings about vehicles overall." Stephens said.

This year's APEAL study finds that more than one-third (36%) of owners have blind-spot monitoring and other warning systems in their vehicles (up 7 percentage points from 2014); more than one-fifth (21%) have lane-departure warning systems (up 5 points); nearly one-half (46%) have park-assist/backup warning (up 4 points); and one-fourth (25%) have collision-avoidance/-alert systems (up 4 points).

Another key finding from this year's study is that the gap in overall appeal between premium and non-premium brands is the narrowest it has been in the past 10 years. The overall non-premium index (790) improves by 5 points from 2014, while the average index score for premium brands (841) increases by just 1 point.

Notably, "Non-premium brands are offering more types of in-vehicle technologies that used to only be available to premium buyers," said Stephens. She added that owners of non-premium vehicles with the latest technologies register higher APEAL scores (up by 50 points) than do owners of premium vehicles with the same technologies (up by 29 points).

Porsche Brand Ranks Highest for an 11th Consecutive Year
Porsche sets the bar for gratifying new-vehicle owners for an 11th straight year, earning a score of 874. The German premium brand also ranked highest in short-term quality in this year's IQS. Premium nameplates rounded out the top 10 in the APEAL brand rankings: Jaguar (855); BMW (854); Mercedes-Benz (853); Audi (852); Land Rover (843); Lincoln (842); Cadillac (838); Infiniti (835); and Lexus (831).

Mini, achieving the 11th rank position, receives the highest score among non-premium brands (825). In addition, nine other nameplates--including two premium (Volvo and Acura) and seven non-premium brands (Hyundai, Volkswagen, GMC, Ram, Buick, Ford and Kia)--receive scores equal to or above the industry average (798).

Chevrolet, Ford, Porsche Each Receive Three Segment Awards
Eight brands receive multiple model awards in the 26 vehicle (car, SUV, truck, and van) segments in this year's U.S. APEAL Study. Chevrolet, Ford, and Porsche each receive three awards, while Audi, BMW, Dodge, Mazda, and Mini earn two. The highest-ranked models in each segment are listed below (in alphabetical order by brand):

Additional Research:

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