The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

J.D. Power Reports New Models Make Dramatic Improvements in Customer APEAL

October 19, 2004

A steady flow of all-new and redesigned vehicle models was launched in 2004. Several redesigns successfully boost their appeal over the models they replace with styling and features that connect with owners, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2004 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study released on October 14. Forty-three all-new or redesigned models are in the 2004 APEAL Study, which measures owner delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles—the most launches included in the study in recent years. Among major redesigns, the Chevrolet Malibu and the Chrysler 300/300C stand out with dramatic improvements in APEAL scores over their previous models. While the highest ratings are in the cockpit/instrument panel category for the Malibu and in exterior styling for the 300/300C, both models benefit from a boost in horsepower over the models they replace, with strong improvements in engine/transmission ratings. Among all-new models, Chevrolet Equinox, Pontiac GTO, and the Nissan Armada each debut at the top of the rankings in their respective segments. Lexus continues to rank highest among nameplates, boasting two segment-leading SUV models: RX 330 and LX 470. Among luxury nameplates, Cadillac and Jaguar make the biggest improvements. Cadillac showed improvement on almost all models, and receives strong ratings for the all-new SRX. Jaguar’s improvement comes mainly from the new aluminum XJ, which far exceeds its predecessor in APEAL. Mazda and Mitsubishi make the strongest improvements among non-luxury brands. Mazda benefits from strong ratings for the new Mazda3 and the RX8, while Mitsubishi’s gain rides on the new Galant and the Endeavor. Nissan continues to launch vehicles with high APEAL scores, including strong debuts for the Armada, Titan, and Quest. “High-APEAL vehicles usually do well in the new-vehicle market. They also, however, tend to become among the most desirable used cars. This demand bids up their prices,” said Ivers. “This impact is seen by whoever continues to own the vehicle. Consumers have more equity to trade toward a replacement vehicle, and automakers who re-market off-lease vehicles benefit by profiting twice from the sale of the same vehicle.” The 2004 APEAL Study is based on responses from 102,951 new-vehicle owners who were surveyed during the first 90 days of ownership. The study, now in its ninth year, is based on eight categories of vehicle performance and design: engine/transmission; ride, handling and braking; comfort/convenience; seats; cockpit/instrument panel; heating, ventilation and cooling; sound system; and styling/exterior.
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