Porsche ranks highest overall in the J.D. Power 2016 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study for a 12th consecutive year, with a score of 877 index points.
BMW ranks second with 859, Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz rank third in a tie at 852, and Land Rover, Lexus and Lincoln rank fifth in a tie at 843. Volkswagen (809) ranks highest among non-premium brands, followed by MINI (808), Kia (807), Ford (803), Ram (803) and GMC (802).
General Motors receives six segment-level awards, followed by Hyundai Motor Company with five and BMW AG and Volkswagen AG with four each. Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. and Toyota Motor Corporation each have two models that rank highest in their respective segments.
Popular driver-assist technologies help make vehicles considerably more appealing to their owners, according to the study.
The study finds that new vehicles equipped with safety features such as blind-spot monitoring and low-speed collision avoidance have overall APEAL scores substantially higher than similar vehicles without the technologies. Overall APEAL scores are higher among the 41% of owners whose vehicles have blind-spot monitoring than among those whose vehicles do not have this technology (821 vs. 787, respectively). Similarly, APEAL scores are higher among the 30% of owners whose vehicles have collision-avoidance technology than among those whose vehicles do not have this technology (828 vs. 790, respectively).
"Technology-enabled safety features help drivers feel more comfortable and confident while driving their vehicles," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power. "These features are also 'gateway technologies' to autonomous driving capabilities, so the continued level of consumer interest in them will be a critical metric to watch as the industry evolves toward including more automation in new vehicles.”
The overall industry APEAL score improves by 3 points to 801, helped by the launch of many new vehicles. In 2016, 22 of the 30 all-new or major redesigned models included in the study score higher than their respective segment average. Over the past 10 years, newly launched vehicles have scored an average of 29 index points higher than their segment average.
"The key to successful models is to launch with very high appeal and limit the decline that often comes in subsequent years," said Stephens. "As automakers continue to add more content, including advanced technologies, to their vehicles, one key way to maintain appeal is to design technology that is easily upgradeable and intuitive. Intuitive designs never go out of style. For example, for infotainment systems, intuitive design may mean simplification: bigger buttons, bigger screens and menus that are laid out in a manner that is easy for the driver to understand."
Among owners whose vehicles have average or above-average APEAL scores (801 or higher) and who report no problems with their vehicle in the first 90 days of ownership, 90% say they "definitely will" recommend their vehicle to others. In contrast, among owners whose vehicle has low APEAL scores (800 or lower), even when their vehicle is problem-free, advocacy drops to 64%. Among those who report one or more problems with their vehicle, advocacy plummets to 49%.