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Overall Consumer Satisfaction with New Cars Improves


Overall consumer satisfaction has increased 10 points according to the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study. The industry average APEAL score rose to 820 points (on a 1,000-point scale) from 810 points a year ago, propelled by significantly higher scores in all 10 vehicle evaluation categories, with 23 of the 31 brands included in the study making gains in their performance from 2017.

“It’s a great time to buy a new car or truck,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “There are a lot of high-quality, appealing vehicles in every segment of the market and shoppers don’t have to spend a fortune to get one.”

Key findings of the 2018 study include:

  • Mass market brands are closing in on the luxury segment—The average APEAL score for the mass market segment is 814, a 10-point improvement from 2017, while the luxury segment improved six points to 851. Vehicles in the mass market segment are being loaded with more content than in the past, which accounts for much of the improvement. The gap between the two segments has narrowed to an all-time low of 37 points.
  • All categories have improved in 2018: The APEAL Study examines 10 vehicle categories, all of which consumers are finding more satisfying compared to 2017, including driving dynamics (+12 points); visibility and safety (+11); engine/transmission (+10); audio/communication/entertainment/navigation (+10); seats (+10); heating, ventilation and air conditioning (+10); exterior (+9); interior (+9); storage and space (+9); and fuel economy (+4).
  • Lincoln Navigator posted the highest score: The Lincoln Navigator has the highest overall APEAL score (915) of any model this year. This is also the highest level recorded in this generation of the study (2013-2018). 
  • Mitsubishi is the most improved brand, increasing 33 points from 2017.
  • Other brands showing substantial improvements include Dodge (+29), Jeep (+26), GMC (+18) and Chevrolet (+16).
  • The parent company receiving the most model-level awards for its various brands is Ford Motor Co. (four model-level awards), followed by General Motors,  Volkswagen AG and BMW AG with three each.

The 2018 APEAL Study measures owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement across 77 attributes, ranging from the power they feel when they step on the gas to the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat. These attributes are combined into an overall APEAL index score that is measured on a 1,000-point scale. The study, now in its 23rd year, is based on responses gathered from November 2017 through February 2018 from nearly 68,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2018 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership..

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