Dodge and Ram Top Mass Market Segment in J.D. Power APEAL Study

J.D. Power in Troy has released its 2021 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study which showed new vehicles are more appealing than they ever before, with many all-new or completely redesigned models topping their segments.
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A Ram 1500
Dodge and Ram topped J.D. Power’s APEAL study in the mass market segment, with the Ram 1500 (pictured) taking home an award for large light-duty pickups. // Courtesy of RAM

J.D. Power in Troy has released its 2021 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study which showed new vehicles are more appealing than they ever were before, with many all-new or completely redesigned models topping their segments.

“One of the biggest factors driving the industry’s improvement this year is the introduction of several highly appealing new models,” says 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.”

The 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. These attributes are then measured on a 1,000-point scale.

One key finding from the study showed mass market brands have made strides in increasing emotional appeal. The average APEAL score for premium brands is 864 compared to 845 for mass-market brands. This 19-point gap is down four points from last year.

Dodge, a brand of Stellantis, marked it second consecutive year atop the mass market brand segment, with a score of 882, which is on par with Porsche, a perennial premium brand leader in the APEAL study. This score is in line with J.D. Power’s Initial Quality Study (IQS), which showed Dodge as a close second to its sibling brand RAM.

Of every vehicle studied, seven models provide both the highest level of emotional appeal and initial quality, according to a cross-analysis of the studies. The BMW X4, BMW X6, BMW X7, Cadillac CT5, Chevrolet Corvette, Genesis G80, Kia Telluride, and Nissan Maxima. The Maxima is also the highest-scoring model in both studies, the first time a mass-market vehicle has achieved that benchmark.

Tesla receives a score of 893, which is three points lower than last year but still the highest this 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 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, as mentioned, ranked highest among premium brands at 882, with Genesis and Land Rover tying for second with a score of 879. Lincoln, BMW, and Cadillac round out the top five, all scoring above the segment average of 864.

Ram nearly edged out Dodge for first in the mass market segment with a score of 881. Nissan, GMC, and Ford round out the top five of this segment with scores of 866, 861, and 858 respectively. Kia, Hyundai, Mazda, Mini, and Chevrolet all met or exceeded the segment average of 845.

The complete list of model-level awards is:

  • General Motors Co.: 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 Co.: Ford Bronco Sport and Ford Mustang Mach-E
  • Daimler AG: Mercedes-Benz CLA
  • Honda Motor Co.: Honda Ridgeline
  • Jaguar Land Rover Limited: Land Rover Defender
  • Stellantis NV: Ram 1500
  • Toyota Motor Corp.: Toyota Sienna
  • Volvo Motor Corp.: Volvo XC40

The 2021 APEAL study is based on responses from 110,827 owners of new 2021 model-year vehicles who were surveyed after 90 days of ownership. It was fielded from February through July 2021.

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