WESTLAKE VILLAGE, CA – J.D. Power’s 2012 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study found that as American car buyers are finding the smaller vehicles just as appealing as the larger ones they previously owned. For fleet managers who want to know whether smaller, often more fuel-efficient models will not only meet business needs but also appeal to company drivers, the J.D. Power APEAL study says they likely will.

First, the study found that 27% of new-vehicle buyers who replaced a vehicle purchased one in a smaller segment than the one they replaced. Only 13% of buyers purchased a vehicle in a larger segment, and the majority, 60%, purchased a vehicle in the same segment as the one they owned previously.

In addition, in 2012 the average APEAL study score for vehicles in the compact and sub-compact segments was 765 out of 1,000 points. This is the same average score that mid-size vehicles achieved in 2008. Another category, those in the mid-premium segment, achieved an average score of 844, which is the same average that the large premium category got in 2008.

In terms of which brands did the best in the study, GM’s Chevrolet received the highest number of segment awards out of all brands. The automaker received awards for the Avalanche, Sonic, and Volt models. A total of seven other brands received two model awards apiece. Audi received two awards for the A6 and A8; Dodge for the Challenger and Charger; Ford for the Expedition and Flex; Kia for the Optima, in a tie, and the Soul; MINI for the Countryman and Coupe/Roadster; Nissan for the Frontier and Quest; and Porsche for the Cayenne and 911. Notably, the Audi A8 achieved the highest APEAL Study score of any model in the industry in 2012 in the study.

J.D. Power stated that they gathered data from more than 74,000 purchasers and lessees of new 2012-MY cars and light trucks, surveying them after the first 90 days of ownership. The organization stated that this study complements its Initial Quality Study, which was published earlier this year.