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Study: New Models Win Over Buyers

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J.D. Power and Associates’ Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study shows that new-car buyers are more impressed by all-new or redesigned models rather than those that stayed relatively unchanged from one model year to the next.

This shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but from 2010 to 2011, the perception gap that new models are superior — at least in terms of appeal — jumped from 18 to 29 points. Since the study, which surveyed 73,000 new-car owners of 2011 models, is created to determine “how gratifying” it is to own and drive a car, it should have less impact on car-shopping decisions than a quality survey, resale, safety or other factors.

Hyundai’s Equus was the top-ranking model this year, and it marks the first time any model besides a BMW 7 Series, Lexus LS or Mercedes-Benz S-Class has taken the top spot. The study has been conducted for 15 years.

Today’s APEAL study has nothing to do with quality. As the brand with the second highest score on the study, Jaguar was well below the industry average on last month’s Initial Quality Study from J.D. Power and Associates that ranks the number of reported problems in the first 90 days of ownership. Mini is ranked eighth in the APEAL study, but was fifth from the bottom on the initial-quality list.

Honda was fifth from the bottom in the APEAL study, but it ranked as the second-best on the initial-quality list.

Only three models ranked at the top of their respective segments in both studies: the Dodge Challenger, Ford F-150 and Honda Ridgeline.

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Former managing editor David Thomas has a thing for wagons and owns a 2010 Subaru Outback and a 2005 Volkswagen Passat wagon. Email David Thomas

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