JD Power APEAL Study
J.D. POWER SURVEY: U.S. buyers find more pleasure in foreign cars
European mass-market vehicles, Japanese luxury brands favored
Oct 08, 2003
Detroit Free Press
While the Detroit automakers continue to appeal to buyers of big pickups and sport-utility vehicles, most American consumers prefer European mass-market vehicles and Japanese luxury brands, according to J.D. Power and Associates' annual study of owners' delight in the content, layout and performance of their new vehicles.
The APEAL study -- which stands for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout -- is essentially a measure of things gone right. This differs from most J.D. Power surveys, which generally probe car and truck buyers for what went wrong.
Sports and luxury carmakers Porsche AG and BMW AG ranked highest, followed by Volkswagen AG and the Japanese Big Three -- Honda Motor Co., Nissan Motor Co. and Toyota Motor Corp.
Not only did General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler AG rank below average, they also trailed Hyundai Motor Co., the entry-level automaker.
With a new powertrain on the Santa Fe SUV and a face-lift to the Sonata sedan, the Korean automaker is raising its profile.
"Each new launch seems to be a home run," said Joe Ivers, a J.D. Power executive director. "Hyundai is clearly producing vehicles now that are not just the utility vehicles that they were when they first launched their franchise. They are moving more mainstream and being very successful at it."
Ford and GM each had two vehicle-category winners. DaimlerChrysler, including Mercedes, did not win any. Ford's Mercury Marauder was named top full-size car, and its Excursion was the highest ranking full-size SUV. The Cadillac Escalade EXT was the highest-ranking full-size pickup, and the GMC Savana was the top full-size van.
Although no Mercedes vehicles topped their categories, the Mercedes-Benz nameplate tied Cadillac as the fifth most appealing brand.
The study found that non-luxury European brands far exceed Japanese, Korean and Detroit brands in exterior styling, cockpit and instrument panel, ride, handling and braking.
But Japanese luxury brands, such as Lexus, Infiniti and Acura, enjoy moderate advantages in the interior, including sound system, heating and cooling, and seats.
"Traditionally they've done very well in minimizing things gone wrong, in our initial quality and dependability studies," said Ivers. "But it is pretty clear that they have been focusing on things gone right, particularly in the luxury end of the market."
94 E320 58000 Miles