2017 U.S. APEAL Study:Consumers Find New Vehicles More Appealing Than Ever

Joseph Dobrian | Jul 26, 2017
Car owners’ general satisfaction with their new vehicles shows one of the strongest gains ever, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.SM Overall vehicle appeal increases by 9 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from last year—from 801 to 810—which ties for the largest gain in the 22-year history of the APEAL Study.

Accounting for this jump in overall customer satisfaction with vehicle performance and design are better scores in nine of the 10 categories that the study measures compared with 2016, plus increases in satisfaction with 19 of the 32 brands included in the study.


2017 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study graphic“Many automakers are getting better and better at giving consumers what they want in a vehicle,” said Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive at J.D. Power. “The industry is doing a very good job of creating vehicles customers like across every segment, and the APEAL Study identifies why this is. One clear reason is that non-premium vehicles are increasingly offering technology and safety features found in premium vehicles.

Gap Narrows between Premium, Mass-Market Brands

The latest study shows that the satisfaction gap is narrowing between premium and mass-market vehicle brands. The average APEAL index score for the non-premium segment (804) improves by 10 points over the 2016 study, while the premium segment (now 845) improves by just one point. The gap between the two segments now stands at an all-time low of 41 points.

Several models score high both in the APEAL Study and in the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Initial Quality StudySM (IQS). Eight of the models that earn APEAL segment awards also receive awards in the IQS: BMW 2 Series; Chrysler Pacifica; Kia Cadenza; Kia Niro; Kia Soul; Mini Cooper; Porsche 911; and Porsche Macan. The all-new Genesis brand ranks second in both APEAL and IQS this year, while Porsche is the highest-ranked nameplate in APEAL and third in IQS.

“Manufacturers are making ever-higher quality vehicles, but this is not coming at the expense of performance, styling, utility or features,” Sargent added.

Porsche Stays On Top; Chrysler is Most Improved

For a 13th consecutive year, Porsche (884) receives the highest overall APEAL score. Genesis (869) ranks second overall, followed by BMW (855), Audi (854) and Mercedes-Benz (851). Chrysler (815) is the most improved brand—scoring 41 points higher than last year (774). Other badges that improved dramatically year over year include Mini (+30 points), Nissan (+27 points), and Honda (+25 points).

Volkswagen AG leads all other automakers with six segment-level awards for its various models, followed by BMW AG with four. The Porsche Macan scores a hat trick in this year’s study, receiving an award for a third consecutive year. The BMW 2 Series, BMW X1, Chevrolet Tahoe, Kia Soul, Mini Clubman, and Porsche 911 each receive segment awards for a second consecutive year. The individual award winners are as follows:

Consumer Tips

Based on the study, J.D. Power offers the following consumer tips:

  • Consider vehicles from automakers that consistently win awards for multiple models, especially those that win consecutive awards.
  • Consider vehicle brands that show dramatic improvement in customer satisfaction compared with the previous study.
  • Consider vehicle brands that show a consistently high level of customer satisfaction over a period of several years.
  • Many vehicle owners form an emotional bond with their new car. Treat the APEAL rating as a factor in your purchase decision, but not as the deciding factor.

About the Study

The 2017 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study measures owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement across 77 attributes, ranging from the power they feel when they step on the gas to the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat. These attributes are combined into an overall APEAL index score that is measured on a 1,000-point scale. The study, now in its 22nd year, is based on responses gathered from February through May 2017 from nearly 70,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2017 model-year vehicles, surveyed after 90 days of ownership.

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