On first glance, General Motors seems to have a lot to crow about in the latest JD Power APEAL rankings. After all, its Chevrolet brand claimed three segment awards – the most of any single brand – and Cadillac finished tied for eighth place overall in the 2012 edition of the study. But upon closer inspection, the results may not be quite so rosy for The General.

The APEAL study ranks new vehicles for how "gratifying" they are, based on owner evaluations of some 80 attributes. Yes, this is something of an automotive popularity contest. And the problem for GM is that, overall, its customers just don't like its products as much as those who buy from other carmakers.

Buick, Chevrolet and GMC all scored below the industry average in the 2012 APEAL study. Despite Cadillac's top ten ranking, the only luxury brands it managed to beat were Acura, Lincoln and Volvo, luxury bottom-feeders all. To be fair, we should note that Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Nissan also failed to finish above the industry average, though both Ford and Chrysler did, but barely.

The Chevrolet vehicles that claimed segment awards sent something of a mixed message. While the Sonic finishing first among subcompacts has to be seen as a huge win for GM, the other segment awards went to the Volt and Avalanche, in the compact and large pickup categories, respectively. The Volt is a great car, but it isn't a volume product and the Avalanche is a dead truck walking, slated to go out of production after the 2013 model year. The only other GM vehicle to make the top three in any segment was the Cadillac Escalade in the mostly moribund Large Premium Crossover/SUV. Nary a Buick or GMC is to be found on the list in any position.

Meanwhile, down I-94 in Dearborn, Ford has six vehicles in the top three in their respective segments, including winners in Large Crossover/SUV (Expedition) and Midsize Crossover/SUV (Flex). Even Chrysler managed to snag two segment awards (Dodge Challenger and Charger) and land three other vehicles in the top three in their segments.

If we really wanted to crown an APEAL winner, that title might just go to Audi, whose A8 had the highest score of any model and also won a segment award for the A6, while placing third overall. Porsche, however, could rightly lay the best claim to the 2012 APEAL championship, considering it had the highest brand score and won two segments, for the 911 and Cayenne.

Scroll down to read the full press release.
Show full PR text
J.D. Power and Associates Reports: As Vehicle Appeal Improves, Owners Find That Downsizing Doesn't Necessarily Mean Downgrading

Chevrolet Receives Three Segment-Level Awards; Audi, Dodge, Ford, Kia, MINI, Nissan and Porsche Each Receive Two


WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 25 July 2012 -- As owners continue to shift toward smaller vehicles, they are finding that the ones they buy are often just as appealing as the larger vehicles they previously owned, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) StudySM released today.

The study finds that 27 percent of new-vehicle buyers who replaced a vehicle downd--meaning they purchased a new vehicle in a smaller segment than the vehicle they replaced. In contrast, only 13 percent of buyers "upd," while 60 percent purchased a new vehicle in the same segment as their previous vehicle.

"New-vehicle buyers who down are not making the sacrifice that they once were," said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates. "Automakers are heavily focused on providing the U.S. market with appealing smaller models, and buyers may be surprised at just how good some of them are."

The vehicles currently being traded in for new ones are approximately six years old, on average, according to data from J.D. Power's Power Information Network(R) (PIN). During that period of time, vehicle appeal overall has significantly increased, and today's smaller vehicles are, in many cases, more appealing than the larger vehicles being replaced. In 2012, the average APEAL Study score for vehicles in the compact/sub-compact segment is 765 points (on a 1,000-point scale), which is the same as the average for mid vehicles in the study in 2008. Similarly, in 2012, the average APEAL Study score for vehicles in the mid premium segment is 844, the same as the average for large premium vehicles in 2008.

"For many years, almost twice as many vehicle owners have downd, compared with those who have upd," said Sargent. "Although larger models continue to attain higher APEAL Study scores than smaller models, as they typically provide higher performance, have more pleasing styling, are more comfortable and include more features, owners who down find that today's compact models are not the 'econoboxes' that they may have once feared. For example, most compact vehicles are more substantial than in the past and perform much better on the road. They also have many of the features and appointments that were previously found only on larger models. Vehicle owners who down are often finding that they are actually upgrading when they buy a new vehicle."

The downsizing trend also has an impact on owner satisfaction with the fuel economy of their new vehicle. While overall vehicle appeal continues to improve, increasing seven points year over year, the greatest improvement is in fuel economy. Furthermore, 47 percent of owners say gas mileage was one of the most important factors in choosing their new vehicle, up from 40 percent in 2011.

Model-Level and Nameplate Rankings
Chevrolet receives the highest number of segment awards of all brands included in the study for the Avalanche, Sonic and Volt models.

Seven brands each receive two model awards: Audi (for the A6 and A8); Dodge (Challenger and Charger); Ford (Expedition and Flex); Kia (Optima in a tie and Soul); MINI (Countryman and Coupe/Roadster); Nissan (Frontier and Quest); and Porsche (Cayenne and 911). The Audi A8 achieves the highest APEAL Study score of any model in the industry in 2012.

Also receiving awards are the BMW 3 Series; Infiniti QX56, Range Rover Evoque; Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class; and Volkswagen Passat in a tie.

Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate for an eighth consecutive year. Dodge, Jaguar and Ram achieve the greatest year-over-year improvements, increasing scores by 21, 20 and 19 points, respectively.

J.D. Power offers the following tips to consumers when purchasing a new vehicle:
  • Have realistic expectations about the fuel economy of your vehicle, and remember that the city/highway/combined mileage ranges listed on the window sticker are merely estimates provided by the EPA. Your actual miles per gallon will vary due to many factors, including driving and weather conditions, driving style, tire inflation and the overall condition of your vehicle.
  • Know the type of fuel your prospective new vehicle requires, including premium unleaded or diesel, and take that into account when budgeting for it.
  • Before you buy, ask your salesperson to demonstrate all of the audio/entertainment/navigation features on the vehicle. Also, have them assist you in connecting your mobile device or portable audio player to the vehicle's communication system or audio interface in order to test for a good hands-free connection and to make sure the system recognizes your commands.
  • Although exterior styling is the highest-scoring category in the 2012 APEAL Study and often the most significant purchase reason for many buyers, consider all aspects of a vehicle to ensure that in addition to looking good to you, it also meets your needs. Some vehicles that look good may have design-related issues, such as being hard to see out of, or may not offer the cargo space you desire.
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 2012 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2012 from more than 74,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2012 model-year cars and light trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership. The APEAL Study complements the Initial Quality Study (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership.


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      msspamrefuge
      • 2 Years Ago
      Aspirational brands up, mainstream brands down? Shocker.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        OptimusPrimeRib
        • 2 Years Ago
        I see so many older American cars, especially trucks used for work, on the road and still running. Compare how 70's and 80's American cars you see compared to how Asian cars.
          Dean
          • 2 Years Ago
          @OptimusPrimeRib
          How the f**kl do any of you yokels out there take my reply the wrong way? I was stating a fact. The Japanese car market was not as established as the American car market back in the 70s, and 80s. I can't believe I really need to say this, but there is something to be said for having almost 40 year old cars on the road.
          Dean
          • 2 Years Ago
          @OptimusPrimeRib
          You have to keep in mind that in the 70s, and 80s, the Japanese manufacturers were still new to the US market, and they had yet to catch on (in terms of sales volume, and popularity), whereas the US auto industry was well established at that point.
        merlot066
        • 2 Years Ago
        Ignoring your mornic blanket statements about how long cars last, this is JD Power's APEAL study, the study that measures how enjoyable it is to own a particular car. Even if your incorrect statistics about the longevity of American cars were correct, I'd much rather drive an exciting American car that I looked foward to driving every day for 10 years than have a dreadfully boring Toyota for 30 years that would make me wish myself dead everytime I drove it.
        carguy1701
        • 2 Years Ago
        Hi colombianricer
        • 2 Years Ago
        [blocked]
        Walt
        • 2 Years Ago
        Toyota and Honda are the recall queens for the past four years, leading all other makes. Wards auto just reported that through the first six months of this year, Toyota is in the recall lead with Honda hot on its heals. I don't think Asian vehicles deliver quite the quality you think they do. Plus, I've had several domestic vehicles last over 200,000 miles - living out their life not in the warmth and sunshine of the south but the snow, cold and rust of the northern U.S. That's rare for an Asian vehicle, as rust has always severely shortened their life span.
        msspamrefuge
        • 2 Years Ago
        I think much of your post off-base, but I'd imagine that long-term reliability concerns for some of the usual suspects is offset somewhat by comprehensive warranties and many of their cars having migrated to their second or third 'owner' by the time significant mileage is on the odometer.
      wrestleprocbt
      • 2 Years Ago
      Said it once and i'll say it again. GM your stuff is boring, your Pontiac brand had some exciting products that I owned then you killed it. Your Oldsmobile brand managed to lose it's old man stagger and became kinda cool to own the Bravadas with all the toys when my buddies were driving boring Blazers. Oh, you killed that brand too. Then test drove the Hummer H3 which my buddy bought and loves...well loved till he found out he can't get a new one any more...wait, you killed that cool brand too. Then SAAB, for years I always wanted to own a SAAB, any SAAB, got the chance and bought one sadly after you Americanized and added your yawn effect to the brand but still got the 9-7x, I know a blazer in SAAB dressing but still my first SAAB. Stuffed it with your nice v8 (which was rebuilt twice in under 70k miles) but I began looking finally at the convertable and what happens. Oh, you killed that brand too. Actually you seem to be beating it with a stick because you don't want anyone else to succeed with it. Can't say I jinzed Saturn, though I did consider the Sky till you killed off that brand too. Sorry but your Chevy Volt, i mean cruze, i mean impala i mean....well hell, they all look the same and I can't tell them apart! Get my point? BORING CARS GENERAL! I don't want an old man Buick, Leave the brand catering to old crowd and stop trying to make a Buick cool, it's not. GMC/Chevy trucks, good trucks, that can stick to work trucks/haulers, no excitement what so ever. Cadillac, probably your only hope. Love your Escalade especially the EXT but heard that is on the chopping block too. Who's running that company? Or do we even have to guess?
      Alex Fischer
      • 2 Years Ago
      Does anyone else think this car is super ugly? It's so 90s ricer. Maybe i'm alone on this...
        NightFlight
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Fischer
        You aren't alone. It IS ugly and the headlamp and taillamp assembly are stupid that they don't have a full cover lens. Good luck picking bugs out of it, or it packing with snow in extreme climates.
        lsawallish
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Fischer
        You are not alone Alex. I look & I wonder..... who would buy this?
        Kahz
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Alex Fischer
        I don't think it's 'super ugly', but find it old, like a 2000s car. Reminds me of last gen Sonata, Evo, Commodore, that all have been out for ages.
          Kahz
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Kahz
          @hudkina RELAX. Yes, I'm talking about the headlights. And you're saying that they've been around 'longer than the 2000s' - further highlighting my point that this Sonic looks very OLD. And what's with your anti-bias approach to the Sonata - a great car.
          hudkina
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Kahz
          The Sonic doesn't look old. There are plenty of modern designs that incorporate dual headlights. The 5 Series and XJ being two examples. In any case, the styling of the Sonata is like the '96 Taurus. Within a few years it will become outdated and even more off-putting than it currently is.
      CorManDallasTX
      • 2 Years Ago
      The commentary on this is so biased.. particularly against GM... and very much in favor of the European segment. GM ranked above the average as did Ford and Chrysler "barely".. note that Toyota, Honda, Hyundai and Nissan also failed to finish above the industry average yet are not chewed up as was GM. Toyota and GM have very comparable volume. The article dismisses the Volt and Avalanche due to volume (Volt) and that the Avalanche is about to cease production (but it is still well made!). Audi's A8 should rank so high.. it's a very expensive premium automobile. Cadillac ranked 8th... admirable. The article doesn't mention Mercedes-Benz nor BMW. Porsche ranked high... which should be expected given the costs of those cars and the relatively low-volume of the marque. Where is VW in this article? Buick and GMC are mentioned specifically for not ranking. The article is tooting Chevrolet's horn but then picks apart the study. Why write about it then... and write in such a biased fashion. I guess GM doesn't advertise enough on the site. Your credibility from my perspective is really poor.
        hudkina
        • 2 Years Ago
        @CorManDallasTX
        You should have been here a few years ago when every other article was talking up Hyundai as if it was god's gift to mankind. It's sort of interesting that the Hyundai-lovefest ended around the same time the story broke that Hyundai was essentially paying bloggers to say nice things about the company and its vehicles...
      Dom
      • 2 Years Ago
      Chrysler did very well, especially considering how dark its dark days were just a few years ago. However, Volkswagen looks to be the winner here. Between its VW, Audi, and Porsche brands, it seems to have the most wins/top 3s. I don't know why AB talked about GM's awards as a whole, but pointed out Audi and ignored the fact that it's part of its own corporate conglomeration.
      ROLO
      • 2 Years Ago
      i like the way they picked apart the appeal study in chevys case an in no other case EVER featured at this blog. lol
      Avinash Machado
      • 2 Years Ago
      Why so much bias against Chevy?
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Avinash Machado
        [blocked]
      Jan Calloway
      • 2 Years Ago
      The best looking GM cars are not sold in the USA.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      SpikedLemon
      • 2 Years Ago
      This survey sounds like a mini-halo effect. if I love my car: I'll tell you all about why that brand is great
      Jason Krumvieda
      • 2 Years Ago
      What a weird study. Cadillac was above industry average, but Chevy Buick and GMC were below. We all get to hear how everybody on this site and people who comment hate Lincoln.... but is doing pretty well. For being enthusiastic about cars we sure don't know much about what the public thinks.
    • Load More Comments