J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Appeal of Newly Launched Models Improves Dramatically in 2009

Volkswagen Receives Four Segment-Level Awards; Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan Receive Two Each

DETROIT, July 16, 2009 /PRNewswire/ – The automotive industry achieved a three-year high in appeal for new and redesigned models, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2009 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study(SM) released today. Seven of these models have received segment-level awards.

In 2009, the APEAL score for all-new and redesigned models averages 790 on a 1,000-point scale–11 points higher than in 2008 and 15 points higher than the 2009 score for carryover models. In addition, seven all-new and redesigned models rank highest in their respective segments, including the Dodge Challenger, Ford F-150 (in a tie), Ford Flex, Hyundai Genesis, Nissan Maxima, Volkswagen CC and Volkswagen Tiguan.

“Most automakers are on track in terms of designing new models that are highly appealing,” said David Sargent, vice president of automotive research at J.D. Power and Associates. “The greater challenge for manufacturers lies in creating models that launch with both strong appeal and high quality, which ultimately lead to improved sales through greater customer loyalty and advocacy.”

Throughout the years, vehicle models achieving high APEAL scores have been shown to benefit from faster sales, less need for cash incentives and higher profit margins on each vehicle sold.

The average APEAL score for all models in 2009 has improved considerably to 779 from 770 in 2008, driven primarily by increased owner satisfaction with fuel economy. This higher satisfaction comes from three main sources. First, fuel prices have decreased significantly during the past year, which has reduced owner concerns about gas mileage. Second, owners are switching to more fuel-efficient vehicles–in 2009, more than one-half of all vehicles included in the study are powered by four-cylinder engines, compared with just 39 percent in 2008. Third, automakers are designing models to be more fuel efficient than their predecessors.

“Although lower fuel prices and the switch to smaller vehicles have undoubtedly helped, there are also many individual vehicles that have made strong improvements in fuel economy ratings,” said Sargent. “For example, the Ford F-150, Cadillac Escalade, Volkswagen Jetta and redesigned Dodge Ram have all made major strides in owner satisfaction with fuel economy through the introduction of more efficient powertrains.”

In 2009, domestic brands comprise the four most-improved nameplates. Dodge posts the largest improvement, followed by Pontiac, Buick and Cadillac, respectively. In addition, the three most-improved models are from domestic manufacturers, including the Dodge Ram, Buick Lucerne and Ford F-150.

“Consumers have a great array of appealing vehicles to choose from by both domestic and import brands,” said Sargent.

The overall gap in APEAL scores between domestic and import models has narrowed considerably during the past several years and is just five index points in 2009, compared with 15 points in 2008 and 27 points in 2007. Among premium models, import nameplates retain a slight edge, while among non-premium models, domestic brands have a similar edge.

APEAL Model-Level and Nameplate Rankings

Volkswagen captures four segment-level awards–more than any other vehicle nameplate in 2009–for the CC, GTI, Passat and Tiguan. Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan each garner two awards. Ford receives model-level awards for the F-150 (in a tie) and Flex. Honda models receiving awards are the Odyssey (for a fifth consecutive year) and Ridgeline (for a fifth consecutive year). Mercedes-Benz earns awards for the S-Class (for a third consecutive year) and SLK-Class. The S-Class achieves the highest APEAL score of any model in the industry. Nissan receives awards for the Armada and Maxima.

Also receiving awards are the Chevrolet Avalanche (for a second consecutive year), in a tie; Dodge Challenger, Hyundai Genesis, MINI Cooper (for a second consecutive year); Porsche Cayenne (for a second consecutive year); and smart fortwo. The Ford F-150 and Honda Ridgeline are the only two models to rank highest in their respective segments in both the 2009 APEAL Study and 2009 Initial Quality Study (IQS) released in June.

Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate in APEAL for a fifth consecutive year.

The APEAL Study examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of more than 90 vehicle attributes. The 2009 APEAL Study is based on responses gathered between February and May 2009 from more than 80,900 purchasers and lessees of new 2009 model-year cars and trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership. The APEAL Study complements the recently released J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study(SM) (IQS), which focuses on problems experienced by owners during the first 90 days of ownership.

Find more detailed findings on new-vehicle APEAL performance as well as model photos and specs by reading an article and reviewing APEAL ratings at JDPower.com.

2009 APEAL Nameplate Ranking
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)
Porsche                            869
Jaguar                             859
Cadillac                           852
Audi                               846
BMW                                844
Mercedes-Benz                      841
Lexus                              837
Infiniti                           828
Land Rover                         822
Lincoln                            820
Acura                              818
MINI                               817
Volkswagen                         807
Buick                              801
Volvo                              793
Ford                               785
Dodge                              784
GMC                                784
Saturn                             779
Industry Average                   779
Honda                              778
Mazda                              778
HUMMER                             773
Scion                              772
Pontiac                            769
Nissan                             768
Mitsubishi                         767
Smart                              767
Chevrolet                          764
Hyundai                            763
Mercury                            763
Chrysler                           757
Toyota                             756
SAAB                               754
Kia                                748
Subaru                             738
Jeep                               727
Suzuki                             715

Top Three Models per Segment
Car Segments
Sub-Compact Car
Highest Ranked: smart fortwo
Scion xD
Honda Fit

Compact Car
Highest Ranked: MINI Cooper
Volkswagen Jetta
Mitsubishi Lancer

Compact Sporty Car*
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen GTI

Compact Premium Sporty Car*
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz SLK-Class
Nissan Z

Entry Premium Vehicle
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen CC
Cadillac CTS
Audi A4/5

Midsize Sporty Car*
Highest Ranked: Dodge Challenger

Midsize Premium Car
Highest Ranked: Hyundai Genesis
Jaguar XF
BMW 5 Series

Large Premium Car*
Highest Ranked: Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Lexus LS

Midsize Car
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen Passat
Mazda 6
Honda Accord

Large Car
Highest Ranked: Nissan Maxima
Pontiac G8
Toyota Avalon

NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market sales within an award segment. There were only two premium sporty models with sufficient sample size, thus no premium sporty awards have been presented.

*No other model in this segment performs above the segment average.

Top Three Models per Segment
Truck / Multi-Activity Vehicle (MAV) Segments
Compact MAV
Highest Ranked: Volkswagen Tiguan
Saturn VUE
Mazda CX-7

Midsize MAV
Highest Ranked: Ford Flex
Buick Enclave
Toyota Venza

Large MAV
Highest Ranked: Nissan Armada
Chevrolet Suburban
GMC Yukon

Midsize Premium MAV
Highest Ranked: Porsche Cayenne
Mercedes-Benz M-Class

Large Pickup
Highest Ranked: Chevrolet Avalanche (tie); Ford F-150 (tie); Dodge Ram Pickup

Midsize Pickup
Highest Ranked: Honda Ridgeline
Toyota Tacoma

Highest Ranked: Honda Odyssey
Volkswagen Routan
Toyota Sienna

NOTE: For a segment award to be issued, there must be at least three models with sufficient sample that comprise 80 percent of market sales within an award segment. There were three large premium MAV models with sufficient sample, but they comprised less than 80 percent of market sales for the segment. There were no large van models with sufficient sample size. As such, no large premium MAV or large van awards have been presented.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, Web intelligence and customer satisfaction. The company’s quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE:MHP) is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor’s, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2008 were $6.4 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

Source: J.D. Power and Associates

CONTACT: J.D. Power and Associates Media Relations, John Tews; Troy, Mich., +1-248-312-4119, media.relations@jdpa.com,
or Syvetril Perryman, Westlake Village, Calif., +1-805-418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

Web Site: http://www.jdpower.com

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