2013 APEAL Study Results

Jeff Youngs | Jul 24, 2013
J.D. Power has completely redesigned its study that serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle appeal. J.D. Power 2013 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM detailed findings may be used by manufacturers who are working on designs for more appealing vehicles and want to know the impressions that their current products are making on customers. Published findings may serve as a guide for car shoppers who are contemplating a new-vehicle purchase.

The APEAL Study, now in its 18th year, was completely revised for 2013: updated to better measure the appeal of today's vehicles, particularly with respect to the new technologies and features now being offered. Participants in the study are owners and lessees of new vehicles, who evaluate their purchases across 77 attributes. Based on verified owner responses, each car, truck, SUV or van model receives an overall APEAL score (based on a 1,000-point scale). Models are further grouped into vehicle segments, so that models of a similar type may be compared, i.e., the APEAL score of one premium car can be compared with other premium cars.

Higher Level of Vehicle Appeal Means More Loyal Owners, Higher Profits

The study finds that owners of models that scored 100 points or more above their segment average were willing to pay more for their vehicles, and were more likely to remain loyal to the vehicle's manufacturer. Also, according to the study, owners of models with an APEAL score 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. Further, models with APEAL scores at least 100 points higher than the segment average remain on dealer lots an average of three days fewer than models with scores at least 100 points below the segment average. This shows a clear link between higher levels of APEAL and dealer profitability.

"Appealing vehicles are simply good news for both consumers and automakers," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. "Even within the same vehicle segment, consumers are willing to spend substantially more on vehicles that they find attractive, provide the performance and utility they are looking for, and have well-executed interiors. These vehicles also sell more quickly."

Vehicles with higher APEAL scores tend to build customer loyalty, as well. By comparing this year's APEAL Study with those of previous years, it can be determined that nearly two-thirds (64%) of owners whose vehicle model 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 55% of those whose vehicle model scored at least 100 points below the segment average.

"One percentage point of loyalty is worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to automakers," said Sargent. "These companies are fighting for every last customer, and it is clear that appealing products remain the key to achieving this."

Volkswagen Group Scores Six Model Awards, Range Rover Achieves an Industry First

The Land Rover Range Rover achieves the highest APEAL score of any single model in the study in 2013--the first time a model outside the large premium car segment has done so. Porsche is the highest-ranked nameplate for a ninth consecutive year. Ram is the highest-ranked non-premium nameplate.

Volkswagen Group receives the highest number of segment awards of all manufacturers included in the APEAL Study, earning recognition for the Audi Allroad, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen GTI, and Volkswagen Passat. Chevrolet receives the highest number of segment awards of any brand in the study, for the Avalanche, Sonic and Volt models. All three Chevy models also received APEAL awards in 2012.

Ford and Nissan brands each receive two model awards: Ford, for the F-250/F-350 Super Duty and for the Mustang; Nissan, for the Armada and the Murano. Also receiving awards are the BMW 5 Series; Buick Encore; Dodge Charger; Fiat 500; Honda Odyssey; Kia Soul; Land Rover Range Rover; Lexus LS; Lincoln MKZ; Mazda CX-5; and Mercedes-Benz SL-Class.

Consumer Tips

J.D. Power offers the following tips to consumers when purchasing a new vehicle:

  • Have realistic expectations about the fuel economy of your vehicle, and remember that the city/highway/combined mileage ranges listed on the window sticker are merely estimates provided by the EPA. Your actual miles per gallon will vary due to many factors, including weather conditions, driving style, tire inflation, and the overall condition of your vehicle.
  • Before you buy, ask your salesperson to demonstrate all of the audio/communication/entertainment/navigation features on the vehicle. In particular, ensure the voice recognition system (if available) responds accurately to your commands. Also, have the salesperson assist you in pairing and connecting your wireless devices to the vehicle's audio and communication system.
  • Although exterior styling is an important part of a new vehicle's appeal for many consumers, consider all aspects of a vehicle to ensure it meets your needs. You want to enjoy your vehicle ownership for many years, not just for a few months.

About the Study

The 2013 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2013 from more than 83,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2013 model year cars and light trucks, who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership. The APEAL Study complements the Initial Quality Study (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership.

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