J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Domestic Models Outperform Imports in Vehicle Appeal for the First Time in 13 Years

July 15, 2010

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., July 15 /PRNewswire/ — For the first time since 1997, domestic auto brands, collectively, have surpassed import brands as a whole in vehicle appeal, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study(SM) released today.

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In 2010, the APEAL score for U.S. domestic brands averages 787 on a 1,000-point scale–13 points higher than the score for import brands (automakers headquartered in Europe or Asia Pacific). By comparison, in 2009, import brands outpaced domestic brands by five points. Among premium models, import nameplates continue to retain a notable edge, but mass-market models from domestic brands outperform those from import brands.

Domestic brands have been improving steadily in vehicle appeal during the past four years, with the greatest improvement occurring between 2008 and 2010. Improvement in 2010 is driven primarily by high-performing models from Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation, including several models that are all-new or have undergone major redesigns.

“Domestic automakers have performed three important actions during the past two years that have led to their gains,” said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. “Firstly, they have retired many models that demonstrated low appeal. They have also introduced new, highly appealing models to their lineups, and finally, they have improved their existing models through freshenings and redesigns.”

New models introduced by import brands between 2008 and 2010 have similar APEAL scores as models retired by these import automakers during the same period (averaging 784 vs.781, respectively). In contrast, newly introduced domestic models have strongly outperformed the models retired by domestic brands (803 vs. 758, on average).

Historically, vehicle models achieving high APEAL scores have been shown to generate faster sales, higher profit margins, and less need for cash incentives. High levels of vehicle appeal also have a strong influence on customer recommendation rates. Among the most highly satisfied owners (APEAL scores averaging 950 or higher), 97 percent say they “definitely will” recommend their vehicle. However, among the least-satisfied owners (scores averaging below 400), only 8 percent say the same.

“When new-vehicle buyers go through the shopping process, vehicle appeal, along with price and perceptions of quality, is of major importance,” said Sargent. “Attributes such as exterior styling are primary determinants of whether a model makes the customer’s consideration list in the first place, while other attributes–particularly those related to the interior of the vehicle–are critical in determining which model is ultimately purchased.”

APEAL Model-Level and Nameplate Rankings

Ford captures five segment-level awards–more than any other vehicle brand in 2010–for the Expedition, Explorer Sport Trac, Flex, Fusion and Taurus. Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen each garner two awards. Audi receives awards for the Q5 and Q7. BMW models receiving awards are the 3 Series and 5 Series. Chevrolet receives awards for the Avalanche and Camaro, while Mercedes-Benz earns awards for the E-Class Coupe and S-Class (for a fourth consecutive year) and Volkswagen receives awards for the GTI and Routan. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class achieves the highest APEAL score of any model in the industry.

Also receiving awards are the GMC Terrain; Honda Fit; Land Rover Range Rover; MINI Cooper (for a third consecutive year); and Nissan Cube.

Only two models rank highest in their respective segments in both the 2010 APEAL Study and the 2010 Initial Quality Study (IQS) released in June–the Chevrolet Avalanche and Ford Taurus.

Five award recipients in 2010 are all-new models: the Audi Q5; Chevrolet Camaro; GMC Terrain; Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe; and Nissan Cube. According to the J.D. Power Web Intelligence Division, at the time of its launch, the Chevrolet Camaro generated particularly high volumes of online discussion centered on new-vehicle appeal. Compared with other new models released in 2010, discussion volume for the Camaro is twice that of the second-most-discussed model.

Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate in APEAL for a sixth consecutive year. Suzuki improves more than any other nameplate in 2010, compared with 2009.

The APEAL Study examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of more than 80 vehicle attributes. The 2010 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2010 from more than 76,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2010 model-year cars and trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership. The APEAL Study complements the recently released J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership.

    2010 APEAL Nameplate Ranking
    (Based on a 1,000-point scale)
    Porsche                                                            877
    Jaguar                                                             854
    BMW                                                                846
    Mercedes-Benz                                                      842
    Land Rover                                                         836
    Audi                                                               832
    Lexus                                                              827
    Acura                                                              822
    Lincoln                                                            820
    Cadillac                                                           818
    MINI                                                               816
    Infiniti                                                           805
    Buick                                                              802
    Volkswagen                                                         797
    Volvo                                                              795
    Ford                                                               794
    GMC                                                                792
    Chevrolet                                                          789
    Ram                                                                780
    Industry Average                                                   778
    Mazda                                                              774
    Mercury                                                            769
    Mitsubishi                                                         767
    Honda                                                              766
    Scion                                                              764
    Nissan                                                             763
    Dodge                                                              761
    Kia                                                                761
    Hyundai                                                            760
    Subaru                                                             755
    Suzuki                                                             750
    Chrysler                                                           748
    Toyota                                                             745
    Jeep                                                               727

    Top Three Models per Segment
    Car Segments

    Sub-Compact Car
    Highest Ranked: Honda Fit
    Scion xD
    Toyota Yaris

    Compact Car
    Highest Ranked: MINI Cooper
    Volkswagen Golf
    Volkswagen Jetta

    Compact Sporty Car*
    Highest Ranked: Volkswagen GTI

    Compact Premium Sporty Car*
    Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe

    Entry Premium Car
    Highest Ranked: BMW 3 Series
    BMW 1 Series
    Acura TL (tie)
    Audi A4/5 (tie)
    Mercedes-Benz C-Class (tie)

    Midsize Sporty Car*
    Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Camaro
    Dodge Challenger

    Midsize Premium Car
    Highest Ranked: BMW 5 Series
    Mercedes-Benz E-Class Sedan
    Jaguar XF

    Large Premium Car
    Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
    Porsche Panamera
    Lexus LS 460

    Midsize Car
    Highest Ranked: Ford Fusion
    Buick LaCrosse
    Volkswagen Passat

    Large Car*
    Highest Ranked: Ford Taurus
    Nissan Maxima
    NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three
    models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market
    sales within an award segment.  There were only two premium sporty
    car models with sufficient sample size. Thus, no premium sporty car
    awards have been presented.
    *No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.

    Top Three Models per Segment
    Truck / Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV) Segments

    Compact Crossover/SUV
    Highest Ranked: GMC Terrain
    Volkswagen Tiguan
    Chevrolet Equinox

    Compact MPV
    Highest Ranked: Nissan Cube
    Chevrolet HHR
    Kia Soul

    Entry Premium Crossover/SUV*
    Highest Ranked: Audi Q5
    Mercedes-Benz GLK-Class

    Midsize Crossover/SUV
    Highest Ranked: Ford Flex
    Honda Accord Crosstour
    Buick Enclave

    Large Crossover/SUV*
    Highest Ranked: Ford Expedition
    Nissan Armada

    Midsize Premium Crossover/SUV
    Highest Ranked: Audi Q7
    Porsche Cayenne
    BMW X5

    Large Premium Crossover/SUV
    Highest Ranked: Land Rover Range Rover
    Mercedes-Benz GL-Class
    Land Rover Range Rover Sport

    Large Pickup*
    Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Avalanche
    Ford F-150 LD

    Midsize Pickup
    Highest Ranked:
    Ford Explorer Sport Trac
    Honda Ridgeline
    Nissan Frontier

    Highest Ranked: Volkswagen Routan
    Honda Odyssey
    NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three
    models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market
    sales within an award segment.  There were no large van models with
    sufficient sample size. Thus, no large van awards have been
    *No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies:

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) is a global information and education company providing knowledge, insights and analysis in the financial, education and business information sectors through leading brands including Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts, and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2009 were $5.95 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

J.D. Power and Associates Media Relations Contacts:

Angela Bianchi; Troy, Mich.; (248) 312-4729; media.relations@jdpa.com

Syvetril Perryman; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates

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