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July 23, 2020

American Car Brands Have Greatest "APEAL"; Kia Lords Over Japanese Brands

When it comes to driving sales, as well as generating brand loyalty and advocacy, vehicles that create joy for their owners often overcomes any negatives caused by problems they experience. This phenomenon is most effectively seen in the J.D. Power 2020 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study, the 2020 results of which was just released.

Purchasing the “right” vehicle is influenced by a variety of factors, depending on each buyer’s specific tastes, wants, and needs. The J.D. Power APEAL Study measures an owner’s emotional attachment to their new vehicle, and in what areas that vehicle may not be delivering on all of the positive experiences that were hoped for. Understanding this is just as valuable to automakers as knowing about quality issues and owner acceptance of new technologies. The goal for automakers is to delight customers on all these dimensions.

The study, now in its 25th year, has been redesigned for 2020. It complements the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) and the J.D. Power Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study by measuring owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle across 37 attributes, ranging from the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat to the feeling they get when they step on the accelerator. These attributes are aggregated to compute an overall APEAL index score measured on a 1,000-point scale.

Key Findings of the 2020 Study
  • Some vehicles deliver both outstanding levels of APEAL and initial quality: Eight models receiving APEAL segment awards also received awards in the 2020 Initial Quality Study: Audi A3, BMW X6, Cadillac CT6, Genesis G70, Hyundai Veloster, Jaguar E-Pace, Nissan Armada, and Nissan Maxima.
  • Gap between luxury and mass market brands is narrowest ever: The average APEAL score for luxury brands is 861 points, compared with 838 for mass market brands. This 23-point gap is the narrowest in the study’s history.
  • Dodge’s notable achievement: By being the top-ranked mass market brand, Dodge becomes the first domestic brand to rank highest in the mass market segment for both APEAL and IQS in the same year. Only Hyundai has previously achieved the feat in the mass market segment, while Genesis, Lexus, and Porsche have done so in the luxury segment.
  • Tesla profiled for first time: Tesla receives an APEAL index score of 896. The automaker is not officially ranked among other brands in the study as it doesn’t meet ranking criteria. 
Highest Ranking Brands
  • Porsche ranks highest in the luxury segment and overall with a score of 881. Lincoln (876) ranks second, followed by Cadillac (874), BMW (869), and Land Rover (866).
  • Dodge ranks highest in the mass market segment with a score of 872. Ram (871) ranks second, followed by GMC (857), Ford (853), and MINI (846).
  • Mazda climbs the most in the mass market rankings, placing nine spots higher than in 2019. Cadillac climbs six places in the premium rankings, the most in that segment.
Model-Level APEAL Awards
  • The parent company receiving the most model-level awards (given to models ranking highest in their respective segment) is Hyundai Motor Group (five awards), followed by BMW AG and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd., with four each.
Segment Winners
  • Hyundai Motor Group: Genesis G70; Hyundai Sonata; Hyundai Veloster; Kia Stinger; and Kia Telluride
  • BMW AG: BMW 7 Series; BMW X4; BMW X6; and MINI Countryman
  • Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.: Nissan Armada; Nissan Maxima; Nissan Sentra; and Nissan Versa
  • General Motors Company: Cadillac CT6; Chevrolet Blazer; and GMC Sierra HD
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles: Dodge Challenger and Ram 1500
  • Ford Motor Company: Ford Escape and Lincoln Navigator
  • Honda Motor Company: Honda Odyssey and Honda Ridgeline
  • Jaguar Land Rover Limited: Jaguar E-Pace and Land Rover Range Rover Velar
  • Mazda Motor Corporation: Mazda CX-5
  • Toyota Motor Corporation: Toyota C-HR
  • Volkswagen AG: Audi A3
  • The BMW X6 is the highest-scoring model in the study. Receiving a model-level award for a third consecutive year are MINI Countryman and Nissan Maxima. BMW X4, Chevrolet Blazer, Dodge Challenger, Honda Odyssey, and Lincoln Navigator each receive a model-level award for a second consecutive year.
The 2020 U.S. APEAL Study is based on responses from 87,282 owners of new 2020 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. It was fielded from February through May 2020.

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