Detroit, Michigan - Motorists' love affair with new cars is stronger than ever, as shown by a nine-point increase in the Apeal index compared to 2016, according according to the JD Power 2017 US Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study.
The study measures owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement across 77 attributes, ranging from the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat to the power they feel when they step on the accelerator. These attributes are combined into an overall Apeal index score, measured on a 1000-point scale.
The study, now in its 22nd year, complements the JD Power Initial Quality Survey. It's based on responses gathered from February to May 2017 from nearly 70 000 buyers of new cars, who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. It's used by manufacturers to help them design and develop more appealing vehicles and by buyers to help them choose a new car.
'Giving customers what they want'
The 2017 study showed an increase in the industry average from 801 to 810 points, due to better scores in nine of the 10 categories, while 19 of the 32 brands in the study achieved higher scores than in 2016.
JD Power global automotive vice-president Dave Sargent said: "Carmakers are getting better at giving customers what they want. The industry is doing a good job of building cars that buyers like across every segment - and the Apeal study shows why.
"One clear reason is that mainstream cars are increasingly offering technology and safety features you'd expect to find in premium cars."
Premium and mass-market brands are getting closer.
The average score for the non-premium segment went up 10 points from 794 to 804, while the premium-segment average went up just one point to 845 - reducing the gap between the segments to an all-time low of 41 points.
Some cars achieved outstanding scores in both the Apeal and Initial Quality surveys.
Eight models that rated awards in their segments in both surveys:
BMW 2 Series
Hyundai's new Genesis brand ranked second in both surveys, while Porsche was third in IOS and top in Apeal for the 13th consecutive year, with an index score of 884, followed by Genesis (869), BMW (855), Audi (854) and Mercedes-Benz (851).
Chrysler was the most improved brand, up 41 points from 774 to 815; other brands showing strong improvements were MINI (up 30 points), Nissan (up 27) and Honda (up 25).
Volkswagen got the most model awards, with six across its various nameplates (although not one was for a VW model!), followed by BMW with four.
Segment-Level Model awards:
Volkswagen: Audi A3, Audi A4, Audi A7, Porsche 911, Porsche Cayenne, Porsche Macan.
BMW: BMW 2 Series, BMW X1, Mini Clubman, Mini Cooper.
Ford: Ford F-150, Ford Super Duty, Lincoln Continental.
General Motors: Cadillac Escalade, Chevrolet Bolt, Chevrolet Tahoe.
Hyundai: Kia Cadenza; Kia Niro, Kia Soul.
Fiat Chrysler: Chrysler Pacifica, Dodge Challenger.
Honda: Honda CR-V, Honda Ridgeline.
Nissan: Nissan Altima, Nissan Murano
The Porsche Macan received a model-level award for the third consecutive year, while the BMW 2 Series, BMW X1, Chevrolet Tahoe, Kia Soul, Mini Clubman and Porsche 911 receive a model-level award for the second consecutive year.