Three-peat: Chevy Volt Is J.D. Power Apeal Study’s Top Compact

For the third straight year, the Chevrolet Volt scored as the number one compact in the annual J.D. Power Apeal study, an industry benchmark for new vehicle appeal, as the acronym, would suggest.

The Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study was based on responses gathered between February and May 2013 from more than 83,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2013 model-year cars and light trucks who were surveyed after the first 90 days of ownership.

This was the 18th annual such study and J.D. Powers changed the way the data is parsed by asking owners to evaluate their vehicles on 77 attributes. This collective info was then rolled into a 1,000 point scoring system.

“Appealing vehicles are simply good news for both consumers and automakers,” said David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power. “Even within the same vehicle segment, consumers are willing to spend substantially more on vehicles that they find attractive, provide the performance and utility they are looking for and have well-executed interiors. These vehicles also sell more quickly.”

No other hybrid or electric car topped a car segment in this year’s study which is considered pivotal to manufacturers hoping for repeat customers.

A key stat underlining that assertion is that J.D. Powers found that 64 percent of owners whose vehicle scored at least 100 points above the segment average repurchase the same brand the next time they shop for a new vehicle. This compares with just 55 percent of those whose vehicle scored at least 100 points below the segment average.

“One percentage point of loyalty is worth tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars to automakers,” said Sargent. “These companies are fighting for every last customer, and it is clear that appealing products remain the key to achieving this.”

As a brand, Chevrolet received the highest number of segment awards. These were for the Avalanche, Sonic and Volt models, all of which also received awards in 2012.

“We are driven by the positive recognition from our customers on the things they love about our vehicles,” said Alicia Boler-Davis, senior vice president Global Quality and Global Customer Experience for Chevrolet. “This is a key measure of how successful we are at exciting and delighting our customers.”

The Volkswagen Group received the highest number of segment awards of all corporations included in the study for the Audi allroad, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen GTI and Volkswagen Passat.

Porsche was the highest-ranked nameplate for a ninth consecutive year. Ram was the highest-ranked non-premium nameplate.

And while we hear it often enough, after analyzing thousands of consumer responses, J.D. Powers noted that the U.S. EPA mileage estimates are just that, estimates, and how a person drives a car thus makes a difference as to whether the target will be hit.

Following is advice J.D. Power offered for consumers purchasing a new vehicle:

• Have realistic expectations about the fuel economy of your vehicle, and remember that the city/highway/combined mileage ranges listed on the window sticker are merely estimates provided by the EPA. Your actual miles per gallon will vary due to many factors, including weather conditions, driving style, tire inflation and the overall condition of your vehicle.
• Before you buy, ask your salesperson to demonstrate all of the audio/communication/ entertainment/navigation features on the vehicle. In particular, ensure the voice recognition system (if available) responds accurately to your commands. Also, have the salesperson assist you in pairing and connecting your wireless devices to the vehicle’s audio and communication system.
• Although exterior styling is an important part of a new vehicle’s appeal for many consumers, consider all aspects of a vehicle to ensure it meets your needs. You want to enjoy your vehicle ownership for many years, not just for a few months.