Some good news for this recession: according to J.D. Power and Associates, the cars on sale today are more appealing than ever before—all the better to win consumers in this difficult economy.
Most appealing? How is J.D. Power able to gauge this seemingly-subjective criteria? Through customer surveys of 80 vehicle attributes, combined with sales figures, which is what J.D. Power does best. Since 1996, the Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) has been an attempt for the company to determine how much consumers enjoy the cars they’ve just bought, and despite difficult times for both the economy as well as the auto industry, people are indeed still buying cars and still giving their opinions on them.
The APEAL study found that new or redesigned models are both better-looking and have better fuel economy than their outgoing examples: two points that attract consumers more than anything else. J.D. Power maps this on a 1000-point scale, and from 778 total points in 2010, the industry average of overall vehicle appeal has jumped to 781 points—the most it’s ever been since the survey’s inception in 1996.
“The auto industry has taken a battering during the past few years,” said David Sargent, vice president of vehicle research. “However, it is clear that throughout this period, automakers have never lost sight of the fact that survival—and ultimately success—only comes from winning over customers in the showroom. Offering highly appealing vehicles is one of the primary means to succeed.”
The survey may be industry-wide, but certain manufacturers still stood out. BMW had three cars that received satisfactory ratings: the X3, Z4 and 5-Series all drove away with awards, as well as Dodge’s Challenger, Charger, and Durango. Ford and Honda each captured awards for the F-150 and Fiesta, as well as the Ridgeline and Odyssey, respectively. Some cars of note included the Chevrolet Volt, Range Rover, Lexus IS, MINI Countryman, Nissan Armada, Porsche Cayenne, Scion xB, Suzuki Kizashi, Volkswagen GTI, and the Hyundai Equus—which walked away with the highest APEAL score in the industry, beating out the usual suspects BMW 7-Series, Lexus LS and Mercedes S-Class for the first time, a point that will come to a Hyundai network television ad near you soon.
For the seventh year in a row, Porsche carried the highest APEAL score at 879. Suzuki, despite its aforementioned Kizashi, slithered by with the lowest. For the full ranking, click the jump to view lots of J.D. Power’s famous graphs.