Three Chevys capture top ratings in J.D. Power study
Porsche ranks as top brand for 8th consecutive year
Photo credit: J.D. Power
DETROIT -- Three Chevrolet models captured top rankings in their segment, the most of any brand in the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study released today.
The study named three Chevys best in segment in Power's 21 categories: the Sonic for subcompact cars, Volt for compact cars and Avalanche for large pickup.
Porsche continued to dominate the overall study, finishing first among brands for the eighth consecutive year, J.D. Power said. Dodge, Jaguar and Ram posted the largest year-over-year gains, increasing their scores by 21, 20 and 19 points, respectively, the report said.
Despite landing three vehicles in "best of segment" territory, Chevy as a brand remained below the overall industry average of 788 points. Chevy's score improved three points from last year to 777.
The annual APEAL study "examines how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive, based on owner evaluations of more than 80 vehicle attributes," J.D. Power says.
Seven other brands each received two model awards: Audi (A6 and A8), Dodge (Challenger and Charger), Ford (Expedition and Flex), Kia (Optima in a tie and Soul), Mini (Countryman and coupe/roadster), Nissan (Frontier and Quest) and Porsche (Cayenne and 911).
On a brand level, luxury brands captured 13 of the top 14 positions, led by Porsche, Jaguar and BMW. The four mass-market brands that finished above industry average are Volkswagen, Ram, Ford and Chrysler.
Smaller vehicle scores rise
But in a surprise finding, the study found many American buyers are choosing smaller vehicles but liking them more than the bigger models they replaced.
"Historically the smaller the vehicle, the less appealing it is," said David Sargent, Power's vice president of global automotive. "But people who are downsizing now often find the smaller vehicle is better than the car they replaced."
Three out of five new-vehicle buyers stick with the same size they had before, but those changing sizes are more than twice as likely to downsize than go larger, the study found.
More than a quarter of the new vehicles bought or leased in the study replaced larger ones. But those buyers, who are on average trading in six-year-old models, are no longer sacrificing by going smaller.
"Now downsized doesn't mean downgraded," Sargent said. "For example, the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact delivers a high level of functionality and appeal that before would have required buying a mid-sized car to get. And the Chevy Volt, Volkswagen Golf and Buick Verano are every bit as appealing as a four- or five-year-old mid-sized."
And it shows in the scores. In this year's APEAL study, scores for the compact/subcompact segment averaged 765identical to the score for the midsized segment in the 2008 study. Similarly, this year's midsized premium segment matched the 2008 score of large premium vehicles.
What's different? Today's small vehicles aren't the "econo-boxes" they once were, Sargent said. Today's smaller vehicles are more substantial and better performing than in the past, with many features and appointments that they lacked in the past.
This year, the average score for the entire industry improved 7 points to 788, an unusually large year-to-year improvement, Sargent said.
The 74,000 respondents in this APEAL study are the same group used in Power's Initial Quality Study released last month, reflecting vehicles purchased between November 2011 and February 2012 after 90 days of ownership.
But the studies use separate sets of questions and measure different attributes, Sargent said. He informally calls the IQS the "things gone wrong" study and APEAL "things gone right."
But both studies showed greater than normal improvements this year, Sargent said.
"The industry is turning out better cars than it ever has before," he said. "They have both better quality and more appeal."
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