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New-car owners found Lincoln Motor Co.'s Navigator to be the most gratifying model on the market, J.D. Power said Wednesday.

The Navigator had the highest overall score in the J.D. Power 2018 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, which measures the satisfaction of new car owners. Its APEAL score was 915 out of 1,000, the highest level recorded since 2013.

"To be top of the industry, you have to do everything well," said Dave Sargent, J.D. Power's vice president, global automotive. "They hit it out of the park."

Specifically, owners liked the exterior look of the Navigator, especially its front, Sargent said. They also liked its entertainment system and the power.

J.D. Power surveyed nearly 68,000 people who bought or leased 2018 model-year vehicles after their first 90 days of ownership. Respondents evaluated their vehicles across 77 attributes, from acceleration to comfort. The industry average increased 10 points to 820 in overall satisfaction from 2017.

Mass-market brands saw a 10 point increase from the 2017 survey, while luxury brands improved by six points. The gap between the luxury and mass-market segments have shrunk to an all-time low of 37 points. Sargent said technology, especially driver-assistance features such as blind-spot detection, have helped close that gap.

"A few years ago, you had to buy a premium vehicle to have that," Sargent said. "Now it’s more common placed on mass-market vehicles."

Increases by more than 15 points for Dodge, Jeep, GMC and Chevrolet also helped to shrink the spread. Sargent said launches of Chevrolet's Equinox and Traverse, which led their model-type segments, and GMC's Terrain boosted their APEAL scores.

GMC and Chevrolet also topped the list of mass-market brands with a score of 826. Genesis, with 884 points, was the top brand. The Ford brand received 824 points, tying fourth overall with Dodge and placing just behind Ram.

Ford Motor Co. took home four model-level awards, the most of any other parent company.

One such vehicle was the Ford F-150, the top large light-duty pickup truck for two years in a row. The Audi A3, BMW X1, Chrysler Pacifica, Lincoln Continental, Honda Ridgeline and Porsche Cayenne also held top positions for a second year.

"It's always useful to know how other consumers feel," Sargent said. "If other people like it, chances are you may like it, too."

APEAL winners

Highest overall brand: Genesis (884)
Highest in the mass-market: Chevrolet and GMC (884)
Lowest overall brand: Mitsubishi (783)
Lowest luxury brand: Acura (821)
Most-improved brand: Mitsubishi (+33 from 2017)
Most-awarded parent company: Ford Motor Co. (four model-level awards)
Top small car: Kia Rio
Top small premium car: Audi A3
Top compact car: Volkswagen Jetta
Top compact premium car: Kia Stinger
Top midsize car: Honda Accord
Top midsize sporty car: Ford Mustang
Top midsize premium car: Lincoln Continental
Top large car: Nissan Maxima
Top small SUV: Mini Countryman
Top small premium SUV: BMW X1
Top compact SUV: Chevrolet Equinox
Top compact premium SUV: BMW X3
Top midsize SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
Top midsize premium SUV: Porsche Cayenne
Top midsize pickup: Honda Ridgeline
Top minivan: Chrysler Pacifica
Top large SUV: Ford Expedition
Top large light-duty pickup: Ford F-150
Top large heavy-duty pickup: GMC Sierra HD
bnoble@detroitnews.com

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