LOS ANGELES -- Porsche again ranked as the industrys most appealing brand while Dodge and Ford scored big gains in a U.S. rating of the ability of vehicles to excite owners.
Porsches victory was its fifth straight in the annual APEAL study, released last week by J.D. Power and Associates. Dodge jumped 37 points and Ford 17 points to finish above the average.
The results -- which complement J.D. Powers Initial Quality Study, issued last month -- show that the number of reported problems does not necessarily reflect the way people perceive or revere their cars. The APEAL study is based on owner evaluations of more than 90 attributes.
For example, Mini and Land Rover were the last-place finishers in the quality study, yet ranked above average in the APEAL survey. Honda, Toyota and Hyundai were among the industrys top seven in quality but finished below average in their ability to inspire an emotional response.
Porsche and Cadillac placed among the top five of both surveys, indicating that owners of vehicles with the fewest reported defects also can rate their cars high in things done right.
Most automakers are on track in terms of designing new models that are highly appealing, Dave Sargent, J.D. Power vice president of automotive research, said in a statement.
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.
Of the top 15 brands in the survey, 12 were European or Japanese, while Cadillac, Lincoln and Buick were the only domestics. But the overall gap in APEAL scores between domestic and import models narrowed to just 5 index points in 2009 from 15 points in 2008 and 27 the year before.
Four Volkswagen products -- the Passat, CC, GTI and Tiguan -- won their respective segments. Ford, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan each had two segment winners.
This years survey was compiled from responses gathered from February through May from more than 80,900 purchasers and lessees of new 2009 model cars and trucks. They were surveyed after they had owned the vehicles for 90 days