The 2018 J.D. Power U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study has been released.
This year, the industry average APEAL score increased to 820 points from 810 a year ago, with significantly higher scores in all 10 vehicle evaluation categories. The study also found that 23 of the 31 automakers included made gains in their performance compared to 2017. Other key findings in this year’s study include mass market brands continuing to close in on the luxury segment, with the average APEAL score for mass market hitting 814, marking a 10-point improvement compared to 2017. The luxury segment, meanwhile, improved 6 points to 851. J.D. Power says the gap between the two segments has narrowed to an all-time low of 37 points.
The annual APEAL Study examines 10 vehicle categories: driving dynamics; visibility and safety; engine/transmission; audio/communication/entertainment/navigation; seats; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; exterior; interior; storage and space; and fuel economy.
The highest-ranked brand in this year’s study is Genesis, with a score of 884. Porsche came in second with 883 points, followed by BMW (863), Lincoln (861), and Mercedes-Benz (858). Among mass market brands, Chevrolet and GMC tied at the top with a score of 826. Ram came in third with a score of 825, followed by Dodge and Ford both scoring 824.
The following vehicles earned rewards for being the most appealing vehicle in their segment.
Small Car: Kia Rio
Topping the small car segment is the Kia Rio, beating out the Chevrolet Sonic, Chevrolet Bolt, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, Mitsubishi Mirage, and Toyota Prius c. The Rio received high marks in overall performance and design, comfort, features and instrument panel, and style.
Compact Car: Volkswagen Jetta
Topping the compact car segment is the Volkswagen Jetta, which received high marks in overall performance and design, as well as comfort. The Jetta beat out the Volkswagen Golf, Honda Civic, Chevrolet Cruze, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, Toyota Prius, Subaru WRX, Volkswagen Beetle, Nissan Leaf, Nissan Sentra, Hyundai Ioniq, Kia Forte, Ford Focus, Mazda3, Chevrolet Volt, and Subaru Impreza.
Midsize Car: Honda Accord
The Honda Accord takes home the award for the midsize car category, receiving top marks in overall performance and design, performance, comfort, features and instrument panel, and style. The Accord is the only vehicle in its class to receive top marks in all five J.D. Power factors, beating the Nissan Altima, Ford Fusion, Kia Optima, Toyota Camry, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu, Subaru Legacy, Hyundai Sonata, and Honda Clarity.
Large Car: Nissan Maxima
In the large car segment, the Nissan Maxima tops the list while receiving highest marks in all five J.D. Power factors, just like the Accord. The Maxima is more appealing than the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, and Toyota Avalon.
Small Premium Car: Audi A3
Not a crowded segment, but the Audi A3 beat out the BMW 2 Series and the Mercedes-Benz CLA to claim the small premium car category. The Audi A3 received highest marks in overall performance and design, performance, features and instrument panel, and style.
Compact Premium Car: Kia Stinger
With top marks in overall performance and design, comfort, features and instrument panel, and style, the Kia Stinger goes home with the award for the compact premium car segment. The Stinger beat out some serious competition including the Audi A5, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 4 Series, BMW 3 Series, Audi A4, Lexus IS, Infiniti Q50, Lexus ES, Acura TLX, Lincoln MKZ, Cadillac ATS, and Volvo S60.
Midsize Premium Car: Lincoln Continental
Moving to the midsize premium car category, the Lincoln Continental stole the show with highest marks in overall performance and design, features and instrument panel, and style. The Continental scored higher than the Genesis G80, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CT6, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Volvo S90, Lexus GS, and Audi A6.
Midsize Sporty Car: Ford Mustang
Only the big three American muscle cars competed in the midsize sporty car segment, with the Mustang leaving with the award despite only receiving highest marks in overall performance and design. The Mustang beat out the Camaro and Challenger.
Minivan: Chrysler Pacifica
Somehow there are more competitors in the minivan segment than there is in the midsize sporty car category. The Chrysler Pacifica, which received highest marks in overall performance and design, performance, features and instrument panel, and style, beat out the Honda Odyssey, Toyota Sienna, Kia Sedona, and Dodge Grand Caravan.
Small SUV: MINI Countryman
This segment is becoming increasingly more competitive each year and this year the MINI Countryman sits at the top. Receiving highest marks in all five J.D. Power factors, the Countryman is more appealing than the Toyota C-HR, Kia Sportage, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Crosstrek, Kia Niro, Mitsubishi Outlander Sport, Buick Encore, Jeep Compass, Chevrolet Trax, Ford EcoSport, Mazda CX-3, and Honda HR-V.
Compact SUV: Chevrolet Equinox
Another crowded segment, the Chevrolet Equinox takes home the award in the compact SUV category after receiving highest marks in overall performance and design, performance, and comfort. Competition in the segment includes the Volkswagen Tiguan, Honda CR-V, Buick Envision, Mazda CX-5, Ford Escape, Nissan Rogue, GMC Terrain, Mitsubishi Outlander, Jeep Cherokee, Subaru Forester, Toyota RAV4, and Jeep Wrangler.
Midsize SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
One of the most competitive segments in this year’s APEAL Study is the midsize SUV category. The Traverse receives highest marks in all five factors, beating out 18 other vehicles in the segment: Buick Enclave, Nissan Murano, Volkswagen Atlas, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango, Kia Sorento, Nissan Pathfinder, GMC Acadia, Subaru Outback, Mazda CX-9, Ford Explorer, Ford Edge, Hyundai Santa Fe, Honda Pilot, Toyota 4Runner, Toyota Highlander, Ford Flex, and Dodge Journey.
Large SUV: Ford Expedition
Another award winner for Ford is the Expedition in the large SUV category. It also received top marks in all five factors, beating out the GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Suburban, Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Sequoia, and Nissan Armada.
Small Premium SUV: BMW X1
For now, there are only four competitors in the small premium SUV segment, but expect that number to grow in the coming years. The BMW X1 takes home the award this year, receiving top marks in overall performance and design, performance, and comfort. The X1 is more appealing than the Mercedes-Benz GLA, Infiniti QX30, and Audi Q3.
Compact Premium SUV: BMW X3
BMW’s appeal continues in the compact premium SUV category, with the X3 taking home the award. It received highest marks in overall performance and design, performance, comfort, and features and instrument panel. Competitors in the segment include the Porsche Macan, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Volvo XC60, Audi Q5, Range Rover Velar, Lincoln MKC, Lexus NX, Jaguar F-Pace, and Acura RDX.
Midsize Premium SUV: Porsche Cayenne
The popular Porsche Cayenne tops the midsize premium SUV segment, receiving highest marks in all five factors except for comfort. The Cayenne scored better than the Lexus RX, BMW X5, Audi Q7, Volvo XC90, Lincoln MKX, Mercedes-Benz GLE, Cadillac XT5, Infiniti QX60, Lexus GX, and Acura MDX.
Midsize Pickup: Honda Ridgeline
This may come as a surprise to some, but a Japanese model is what’s most appealing in the midsize pickup category. The Honda Ridgeline scored highest marks in all five factors, besting the GMC Canyon, Chevrolet Colorado, Toyota Tacoma, and Nissan Frontier in this year’s study.
Large Light Duty Pickup: Ford F-150
There’s several reasons why the Ford F-150 is a perennial best-selling vehicle. It is this year’s most appealing large light duty pickup truck, scoring highest marks in overall performance and design, and performance. Trailing behind the F-150 is the Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, and Toyota Tundra.
Large Heavy Duty Pickup: GMC Sierra HD
Ford doesn’t dominate large heavy duty pickup category however, as the GMC Sierra HD is the recipient for this year’s award. Scoring top marks in all factors except for comfort, the Sierra HD beat out the Ford Super Duty, Chevrolet Silverado HD, and Ram 2500/3500 models.