Porsche again tops J.D. Power study of vehicle appeal

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

The Porsche brand ranked highest for the 12th straight year in a J.D. Power study that measures the appeal of owning and driving new vehicles.

General Motors Co. received the most segment awards — six — followed by Hyundai Motor Company with five, and BMW AG and Volkswagen AG with four each, in the company’s 2016 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study released Wednesday.

The study found that vehicles with driver-assist technology features like blind-spot monitoring or low-speed collision avoidance have better overall ratings than vehicles without them.

“Technology-enabled safety features help drivers feel more comfortable and confident while driving their vehicles,” Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive quality at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “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.”

J.D. Power based its rankings on responses from more than 84,000 people who bought and leased 2016 vehicles and who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The vehicles were registered between February and May.

After Porsche, BMW came in second. Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz tied for third, while Land Rover, Lexus and Lincoln tied for fifth place. Volkswagen ranked highest among non-premium brand.

The average APEAL score is based on a 1,000-point scale that evaluates 77 vehicle attributes. The overall industry APEAL score rose three points to 801, J.D. Power said, thanks to the launch of a number of new vehicles.

“The key to successful models is to launch with very high appeal and limit the decline that often comes in subsequent years,” Stephens said. “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 upgradable 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.”

The study found that problems persist for navigation systems; two of the lowest-rated vehicle attributes are “usefulness of the navigation features” and “ease of using the vehicle’s navigation system.”

Among the 10 vehicle categories examined in the study, nine improved. The only blemish came in the engine/transmission category, where customers reported problems with transmission smoothness while shifting.

GM’s Buick Cascada, GMC Sierra HD, Chevrolet Camaro, Colorado, Sonic and Tahoe all earned segment-best awards. Hyundai earned the second-most segment awards for its Tucson, Kia Optima, Kia Sedona, Kia Sorento and Kia Soul.

“These awards are a great recognition of the progress we are making in the design and development of our vehicles,” Tony Francavilla, General Motors vice president of quality, said in a statement. “We realize that every touch point, whether it is the vehicle’s appeal, initial quality or long-term durability, impacts our ability to earn customers for life.”

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Segment winners

These vehicles were the top models for their segments in the J.D. Power APEAL study:

City car: Smart ForTwo

Small car: Chevrolet Sonic

Small premium car: BMW 2 Series

Compact car: Mini Clubman

Compact sporty car: Buick Cascada

Compact premium car: Lexus RC

Compact premium sporty car: Porsche Boxster

Midsize Car: Kia Optima

Midsize sporty car: Chevrolet Camaro

Midsize premium car: Audi A6

Midsize premium sporty car: Porsche 911

Large car: Nissan Maxima

Small SUV: Hyundai Tucson

Small premium SUV: BMW X1

Compact SUV: Toyota RAV4

Compact premium SUV: Porsche Macan

Compact MPV: Kia Soul

Midsize SUV: Kia Sorento

Midsize premium SUV: BMW X6

Midsize pickup: Chevrolet Colorado

Minivan: Kia Sedona

Large SUV: Chevrolet Tahoe

Large premium SUV: Land Rover Range Rover

Large light-duty pickup: Nissan Titan

Large heavy-duty pickup: GMC Sierra HD

Source: J.D. Power