Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout—APEAL—is how influential data cruncher J.D. Power measures the 'gratification' a car owner experiences with each new model on the market. Researchers survey thousands of new car buyers across the country, asking them to grade their vehicles on 77 different attributes like fuel economy and styling, resulting in an average score that falls between 0 and 1,000.
For J.D. Power’s 2014 APEAL study, it seems that while new cars are coming with more technology and features than ever, the rise in owner satisfaction is not commensurate. The study shows that there isn’t much difference in satisfaction between owners of all-new models with the latest features and owners of models that have been on the market for several years, when it comes to things like the usefulness of the controls and functions in navigation, voice recognition, and other technology applications. These was a significant difference between satisfaction, however, when it came to more conventional attributes such as fuel economy and vehicle styling.
The brand with the highest score this year, 882 points, was Porsche. The German sports car brand has been at or near the top in the study for the past several years. Second was Jaguar with a score of 862 and third was Audi with a score of 858. Last on the list this year was Mitsubishi with a score of only 748. The industry average was 794, just one point below last year’s average.
One major surprise this year was the Dodge brand. Although it ranked 22nd overall, Dodge still managed to tie with Porsche for the most vehicles at the top of their respective segments: in this case, three. Porsche took out the Compact Premium Sporty Car segment with its Boxster, Midsize Premium SUV with the Cayenne and Midsize Premium Sporty Car with the 911. Dodge, meanwhile, took out the Compact Car segment with its Dart, Large Car with its Charger, and Midsize Sporty Car with its Challenger.
The results of the study are crucial for automakers. This is because the vehicles that are the most gratifying, those with the highest APEAL, tend to remain on dealer lots for shorter periods, command higher transaction prices, and are more likely to create owner loyalty when they are ultimately sold or traded-in.