The small stand tall in auto satisfaction study
Downsizing used to mean downgrading for new-vehicle buyers -- sucking it up for better fuel economy or to tighten your belt, and then living with the unhappy consequences as the new car cramps your style.
But according to J.D. Power and Associates' 2012 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, car buyers are choosing smaller vehicles and liking them as much as or more than the bigger models they used to drive.
Sargent: Buyers like smaller cars as much as the bigger models they used to drive.
"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."
The study looked at 74,000 new vehicles bought or leased from November 2011 to February 2012 after 90 days of ownership. More than a quarter were vehicles that replaced larger ones that were 6 years old, on average.
In this year's APEAL study, scores for the compact/subcompact segment averaged 765 (out of a possible 1,000) -- identical to the score for the mid-sized segment in the 2008 study. Similarly, this year's mid-sized premium segment matched the 2008 score (844) of large premium vehicles.
"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," Sargent said. "And the Chevy Volt, Volkswagen Golf and Buick Verano are every bit as appealing as a 4- or 5-year-old mid-sized."