JD Power: Improved technology makes for happier new-car buyers

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News
Ram, the most-improved brand from 2018, ranked the highest in the mass-market segment with a score of 851. The trucks are noted for their advanced infotainment systems.

Advanced driver-assistance features and better infotainment systems are making for happier new-car buyers.

J.D. Power's annual Automotive Performance Execution and Layout (APEAL) study found that the average satisfaction-index score increased by three points from 2018 to 823 on a 1,000-point scale. Twenty-two of 32 brands in the study improved from 2018. The study measures vehicle owners' emotional attachment and level of excitement after the first 90 days of ownership.

“Satisfaction with new technology is improving, but infotainment remains an area where automakers can get better,"  Dave Sargent, vice president of Global Automotive at J.D. Power Dave Sargent, said in a statement.

 "Owners have higher satisfaction if their vehicle is equipped with safety features such as blind-spot monitor, collision-avoidance and lane-departure warning. This should serve as a positive sign for manufacturers, as these features are some of the early building blocks for fully automated vehicles."

The satisfaction gap between cars and sport utility vehicles is shrinking, the study found, but because cars are lighter, they continue to outperform SUVs for fuel economy and engine/transmission. SUVs have advantaged in several other areas including driving dynamics; storage and space; visibility and safety; and seats.

The study also found that the gap between luxury and mass-market brands has narrowed. The average APEAL score for luxury brands is 853 compared with 818 for mass-market brands. The 35-point gap is the narrowest in the study's 24-year history. 

Highest-ranked brands

The Porsche brand ranked the highest in the luxury category with an overall score of 891. BMW and Genesis were tied for second with 868 points, followed by Audi at 867 and Volvo at 863.

The Porsche brand ranked tops in owner satisfaction.

Ram, the most-improved brand from 2018, ranked the highest in the mass-market segment with a score of 851. Dodge came in second with a score of 848. Mini came next with 835, followed by Volkswagen at 829 and Ford at 828.

Leading models

Ford Motor Co. had five vehicles that came out on top in their market segments. The Ford Expedition, F-150, Ranger, Super Duty and Lincoln Navigator all ranked at the top of their segments.

BMW followed Ford with four awards: the BMW 2 Series, BMW X4, Mini Cooper and Mini Countryman. General Motors Co. came in third with awards for the Chevrolet Blazer and GMC Terrain.

The Audi A7 was the highest-scoring model overall. The Ford F-150 and Porsche Cayenne each received model-level awards for the third consecutive year. The Ford Expedition, Honda Accord, Mini Countryman and Nissan Maxima each received a model-level award for a second consecutive year.

The APEAL study is based on responses gathered from February 2019 through May 2019 from about 68,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2019 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership.


Twitter: @bykaleahall