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Porsche once again grabs the top spot (for the sixth time in a row) in the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study. This year's study asked 76,000 owners 90 days after purchasing their 2010 model-year cars "how gratifying their new vehicle is to own and drive." The answer, for the first time since 1997, was that the domestic brands were more "appealing" as a whole than the imports (the domestics earned a score of 787 on a 1,000-point scale – 13 points greater than the imports).

When it comes down to specific awards (as shown in the segment-level graphics), Ford leads with five. The automaker earned one each for the Expedition, Explorer Sport Trac, Flex, Fusion and Taurus. Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen each garner two awards. The Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Avalanche, both segment leaders, are the only two models that ranked highest in the 2010 APEAL study and in the 2010 Initial Quality Study (IQS) announced in June. Suzuki is credited with the greatest improvement this year, while Jeep drops one slot from last year's 2009 APEAL Study and falls to the bottom of the list for 2010. Check out the gallery for the graphics, and read the full press release after the break.

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J.D. Power and Associates Reports:

Domestic Models Outperform Imports in Vehicle Appeal for the First Time in 13 Years

Ford Receives Five Segment-Level Awards; Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen Receive Two Each

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif.: 15 July 2010 - 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) StudySM released today.

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 EClass 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 StudySM (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership.

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 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

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