J.D. Power 2022 APEAL Study:High Gas Prices Negatively Affecting New-Vehicle Appeal

Jeff Youngs | Jul 21, 2022

Ah, high gas prices. The gift that keeps on giving. Not only are prices at the pump hitting consumers in their pocketbooks, but they're also harming new-vehicle appeal.

2022 Porsche 911 GT3 Touring Gentian Blue Front Quarter View

According to the J.D. Power 2022 U.S. APEAL Study, which measures owners' emotional attachment and excitement with their new vehicle, overall satisfaction with new-vehicle appeal is down slightly compared to the previous year. The dip in satisfaction directly results from a noticeable decrease in fuel economy/range satisfaction among owners of gas-powered vehicles. It also represents the first time since 2014 that overall appeal has fallen and only the fifth year-over-year decline in the study's 27-year history.

The APEAL Study asks owners about such things as the sense of comfort they feel when climbing into the driver's seat or the exhilaration they get when they step on the accelerator. From this consumer feedback, the company determines the top-performing makes and models industry-wide.

"The most important factor leading to the industry decline this year is owners' perception of their vehicle's fuel economy," said David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power. "The study was fielded as fuel prices were experiencing a meteoric rise, and that pinch at the pump is conveyed in lower vehicle satisfaction. Battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) have not been negatively affected by the increase in fuel costs but do have issues related to battery range and charging time."

Gas-Powered Cars Still Rule, But EVs Making Gains - Find the best car deals!

2022 Dodge Challenger SRT Super Stock Orange Front Quarter View

According to the latest APEAL Study, internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles still excite their owners more than electrified vehicles. Indeed, ICE vehicles, with a composite index score of 846 (on a 1,000-point scale), outperform hybrids (832), plug-in hybrids (835), and battery-electric vehicles (838).

But considering the performance potential of today's EVs, with their torquey electric motors and sharp styling, it might not be long before the roles are reversed. Or, better yet, suppose Ford records audio of the intoxicating sound of a Mustang Shelby GT500 under full-throttle acceleration and pumps it through the speakers of the Mustang Mach-E when it launches from rest. Perhaps automakers engineer artificial shift points into their EV "transmissions" that make your neck snap… just a little.

Digging deeper, owners of gas-powered cars, trucks, and SUVs are more satisfied with their vehicle's fuel economy/range than are owners of BEVs regarding their vehicle's range/charging speed. But, according to the 2022 APEAL Study, that gap has narrowed to the point where it's virtually non-existent. While satisfaction with charge times and driving range among BEV owners also fell slightly from last year, the angst gas-powered-vehicle owners are experiencing has nearly closed the overall satisfaction gap among the two constituencies.

While most segment leaders in APEAL are traditional gas-powered models, a couple of all-new EV entries—the Kia EV6 (Compact SUV) and Mercedes-Benz EQS (Large premium car)—have had early success delighting their owners and rank highest in their respective segments. Other all-new, non-EV models to lead their segments include the Genesis GV70 (Compact Premium SUV), Hyundai Santa Cruz (Midsize Pickup), Jeep Wagoneer (Large SUV), Jeep Grand Wagoneer (Large Premium SUV), and Kia Carnival (Minivan).

Other highlights from the 2022 APEAL Study include:

  • Owners of premium-brand vehicles are more satisfied than mass-market brand owners. In 2021, the differential between the two was 19 points. In 2022, the gap widens to 31 points, thanks to an 8-point gain for luxury models and a 4-point dip for mainstream models.
  • Once again, Porsche leads the premium-brand rankings (and the industry), thanks to a 6-point improvement from 2021.
  • Dodge, the unabashed Stellantis performance brand, ranks highest among mass-market nameplates for a third consecutive year.
  • For the first time in the study's history, Tesla owner feedback contributes to the industry calculation, with the brand achieving a score of 887. However, the Austin, TX-, based EV maker is not rank- or award-eligible because Tesla Motors does not allow J.D. Power access to owner information in the states where that permission is required by law.

How J.D. Power Calculates APEAL Scores - Find the best car deals!

In researching new-vehicle appeal, J.D. Power surveys tens of thousands of verified original owners of new vehicles after 90 days of ownership. The APEAL Study collects owner feedback across 10 major categories, including:

  • Driving comfort
  • Driving feel
  • Exterior styling
  • Feeling of safety
  • Fuel economy
  • Getting in and out
  • Infotainment
  • Interior design
  • Powertrain
  • Setting up and starting

The 2022 APEAL Study gathered responses from 84,165 owners of 2022 model-year vehicles after 90 days of ownership. J.D. Power fielded the study from February 2022 through May 2022, based on vehicles registered from November 2021 through February 2022. Based on this Voice of the Customer data, the company calculated the makes and models that are most and least appealing to their owners.

Top-rated Makes and Models for APEAL - Find the best car deals!

2022 BMW X6 Sports Activity Coupe Front Quarter ViewThree German nameplates are among the top five premium brands in the 2022 APEAL Study. According to the study, Porsche, with a score of 888, ranks highest in overall vehicle appeal. Genesis (886) ranks second, and Cadillac (885) ranks third. Cadillac, InfinitiJaguar, and Mercedes-Benz improve the most rank positions among the premium brands, each moving up three spots. The most improved brand is Infiniti, gaining 24 points from a year ago.

Among mass-market brands, Dodge (882) ranks highest (fourth overall among all brands), followed by Ram (863) and GMC (856). Jeep sees the biggest improvement in rank positions among the mass-market brands, climbing seven spots compared to 2021.

According to the 2022 APEAL Study, the following premium brands delight their owners most:

  • Porsche (888)
  • Genesis (886)
  • Cadillac (885)
  • Mercedes-Benz (876)
  • BMW (875)

In the mass-market category, these are the highest-ranked brands:

  • Dodge (882)
  • Ram (863)
  • GMC (856)
  • Chevrolet (851)
  • Kia (849)

Among automakers, Hyundai Motor Group receives the most model-level awards with seven, followed by BMW AG, Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., and Stellantis NV with three awards each. Among brands, Kia receives the most segment awards (three), followed by Ford, Genesis, Hyundai, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, and Nissan, with two awards each.

According to the 2022 APEAL Study, these are the highest-rated premium-brand models for overall vehicle appeal:

  • Compact Premium Car—Lexus IS
  • Premium Sporty Car—Porsche 911
  • Upper Midsize Premium Car—Genesis G80
  • Large Premium Car—Mercedes-Benz EQS
  • Small Premium SUV—Mercedes-Benz GLA
  • Compact Premium SUV—Genesis GV70
  • Midsize Premium SUV—Infiniti QX60
  • Upper Midsize Premium SUV—BMW X6
  • Large Premium SUV—Jeep Grand Wagoneer

Following are the top-rated 2022 mass-market SUVs and pickup trucks:

  • Small SUV—Ford Bronco Sport
  • Compact SUV—Kia EV6
  • Midsize SUV—Nissan Murano
  • Upper Midsize SUV—Hyundai Palisade
  • Large SUV—Jeep Wagoneer
  • Midsize Pickup—Hyundai Santa Cruz
  • Large Light Duty Pickup—Ram 1500
  • Large Heavy Duty Pickup—Ford F-Series Super Duty

These are the highest-rated mass-market cars and minivans:

  • Small Car—Nissan Versa
  • Compact Car—Mini Cooper Clubman
  • Compact Sporty Car—Mini Cooper
  • Midsize Car—Kia K5
  • Minivan—Kia Carnival

The model with the highest overall appeal in the 2022 APEAL Study is the BMW X6. Notably, the BMW X6, Nissan Versa, and Ram 1500 each receive model-level awards for a third consecutive year.

Summary - Find the best car deals!

Overall vehicle appeal dips slightly in 2022, thanks mainly to owner displeasure with their vehicle's fuel economy/range—a direct result of record high gas prices. Premium brands continue to widen the gap with their mass-market counterparts. Porsche and Dodge continue their runs atop the premium and mass-market brand rankings, respectively. And while ICE vehicles still outperform their electrified competition, the gap is closing.

To learn more about the top-performing models in J.D. Power's automotive studies, including vehicle dependability and initial quality, check out our Award Summaries.

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