Vehicle Love is Blind in Latest APEAL Study

Ken Zino of on J.D. Power 2020 APPEAL Study

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‘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,” claims J.D. Power when touting its latest study that is for sale to vehicle makers.

The so-called APEAL Study Power contends measures an owner’s “emotional attachment to their new vehicle and in what areas that vehicle may not be delivering on all the positive experiences that were hoped for.” (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study)

Now in its 25th year, the study, as is common at Power, has been redesigned for 2020 for the fourth time. 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 within 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 added 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: 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. “Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant us permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required,” said Doug Betts, president of the automotive division at J.D. Power. “However, we were able to collect a large enough sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states and, from that base, we calculated Tesla’s score.”

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 moved 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.

Complete List of Award Recipients:

  • 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: 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.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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