Toyota, Mitsubishi and Volvo had the largest improvements among brands with more than one nameplate in J.D. Power’s latest study of new-vehicle appeal, while Porsche paced the industry for the 12th consecutive year.
Luxury brands again ruled the upper tier of J.D. Power’s 2016 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study. BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz, Land Rover, Lexus and Lincoln followed Porsche in the rankings.
J.D. Power says the study measures vehicle owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement across 77 attributes “ranging from the power they feel when they step on the gas to the sense of comfort and luxury they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat.” Brands are scored on a 1,000-pont scale.
Toyota and Mitsubishi gained 15 points from last year -- the most significant boosts of any brands besides Smart, which has only the ForTwo. Smart ranked last, but had a 62-point gain from 2015.
Toyota was aided by improvements in the Corolla, Tacoma and RAV4, said Renee Stephens, J.D. Power’s vice president of U.S. automotive quality. Toyota scored a 796, but was below the industry average of 801. It topped the nonpremium average by two points.
Mitsubishi’s increase was driven by the Outlander. Volvo’s 14-point increase was the product of a strong launch for the XC90 crossover.
Lexus’ score of 843 was up 12 points from 2015.
Ford and Lincoln gains
Among domestics, Stephens said Ford and Lincoln are improving as the move to the Sync 3 infotainment platform pays dividends. Ford announced this week that it will roll out the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto systems across its 2017 models.
The lowest-ranked brands, starting from the bottom, are Smart, Fiat, Jeep, Mitsubishi and Chrysler.
Stephens said brands launching new models tend to do best in the APEAL study.
“New models -- all-new, redesigned -- tend to get a launch bump because they’re so new and they’re refreshed. [Consumers are] excited about those vehicles. As we looked over the last 10 years, a new vehicle will score about 29 index points higher than the vehicle it replaces,” Stephens told Automotive News.
“The year following, some of that excitement tends to wane. Vehicles tend to lose around 5 index points the following year.”
The study says new vehicles with blind-spot monitoring, low-speed collision avoidance and other safety features scored much higher than similar models lacking those systems.
For instance, vehicles featuring blind-spot monitoring scored 821 compared with 787 for those without it. Models with collision-avoidance systems tallied an average score of 828 as opposed to 790 for vehicles lacking that technology.