TROY—On the strength of some very successful new-vehicle launches for 2021, the auto industry continues its trend of producing ever-more appealing vehicles.
The BMW 4 Series, Chevrolet Tahoe, Ford Bronco Sport, Ford Mustang Mach-E, Genesis G80, Kia K5 and Toyota Sienna are all-new or completely redesigned models that achieved segment-topping performances in appeal to owners. These models and others have helped boost the industry’s overall vehicle emotional appeal this year, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study.
“One of the biggest factors driving the industry’s improvement this year is the introduction of several highly appealing new models,” said David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power. “The APEAL Study measures owners’ emotional attachment to their new vehicle, and the product launches that took place this model year have done a really good job. Some are all-new and some are redesigns, but the new launches demonstrate that automakers are getting even better at hitting buyers’ emotional triggers.”
Now in its 26th year, the study complements the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study (IQS) and the J.D. Power Tech Experience Index (TXI) Study by measuring owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle. The APEAL Study asks owners to consider 37 attributes, ranging from the sense of comfort they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat to the exhilaration they get when they step on the accelerator. Vehicle owners’ responses to queries about these attributes are aggregated to compute an overall APEAL index score measured on a 1,000-point scale.
Following are key findings of the 2021 study:
- Mass market brands increase in emotional appeal: Though premium brands continue to outscore mass market brands, the gap continues to narrow. The average APEAL score for premium brands is 864, compared with 845 for mass market brands. The 19-point gap in score this year is down from a 23-point gap a year ago.
- Dodge brand continues to impress: Stellantis’s Dodge brand repeats its top-ranking performance in APEAL among mass market brands this year with a score of 882. At the same time, Dodge’s index score equals the score for Porsche, a perennial premium-brand APEAL leader. Proving that a brand can succeed in both APEAL and IQS, Dodge not only leads mass market brands in APEAL this year, but also was a close second to sibling brand Ram in IQS earlier this year.
- High quality and high appeal: Seven models provide both the highest level of emotional appeal and initial product quality, according to analysis of the 2021 APEAL and IQS studies. The models that receive both APEAL segment awards and awards in the 2021 IQS are: BMW X4, BMW X6, BMW X7, Cadillac CT5, Chevrolet Corvette, Genesis G80, Kia Telluride and Nissan Maxima. The Maxima also is the highest-scoring model in both studies, a remarkable achievement and the first time ever for a mass market model.
- Tesla’s unofficial score is highest in the study: Tesla receives an APEAL index score of 893, which is three points lower than last year. The automaker is not officially ranked among other brands in the study as it doesn’t meet ranking criteria. Unlike other manufacturers, Tesla doesn’t grant J.D. Power permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required. However, Tesla’s score was calculated based on a sample of surveys from owners in the other 35 states.
Porsche ranks highest among premium brands and ties Dodge overall with a score of 882. Genesis (879) and Land Rover (879) rank second in a tie among premium brands.
Dodge ranks highest among mass market brands and ties Porsche overall with a score of 882. Ram (881) ranks second and Nissan (866) ranks third among mass market brands.
Toyota is the biggest gainer in the mass market rankings, placing five rank positions higher than in 2020. Genesis gains the most in the premium brand rankings, up four places year over year. Nissan is the biggest gainer in terms of index points, improving 22 from a year ago.
Model-Level APEAL Awards
The parent company receiving the most model-level awards (given to models ranking highest in their respective segment) is General Motors Co. (five awards), followed by BMW AG with four awards. Hyundai Motor Group and Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. each receive three awards.
The complete list of award recipients is:
- General Motors Company: Cadillac CT5, Chevrolet Blazer, Chevrolet Corvette, Chevrolet Tahoe, and GMC Sierra HD
- BMW AG: BMW 4 Series, BMW X4, BMW X6, and BMW X7
- Hyundai Motor Group: Genesis G80, Kia K5, and Kia Telluride
- Nissan Motor Co., Ltd.: Nissan Maxima, Nissan Sentra, and Nissan Versa
- Ford Motor Company: Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Mustang Mach-E
- Daimler AG: Mercedes-Benz CLA
- Honda Motor Company: Honda Ridgeline
- Jaguar Land Rover Limited: Land Rover Defender
- Stellantis NV: Ram 1500
- Toyota Motor Corporation: Toyota Sienna
- Volvo Motor Corporation: Volvo XC40
The Nissan Maxima receives a model-level award for a fourth consecutive year. The BMW X4 and Chevrolet Blazer receive model-level awards for a third consecutive year. The BMW X6, GMC Sierra HD, Honda Ridgeline, Kia Telluride, Nissan Sentra, Nissan Versa and Ram 1500 each receive model-level awards for a second consecutive year.
The 2021 U.S. APEAL Study is based on responses from 110,827 owners of new 2021 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. The study was fielded from February through July 2021.
For more information about the U.S. APEAL Study, visit https://www.jdpower.com/business/automotive/us-automotive-performance-execution-and-layout-apeal-study.