The 19th annual JD Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, which each year attempts to assess how gratifying a new car is to own and drive, finds that when it comes to design, look and feel, consumers are more than happy with their new cars.
Especially if the car in question is a completely new or redesigned model, rather than a model that is being carried over, more or less unchanged from the previous year.
These ‘carryover' cars averaged an APEAL score of 791 out of a possible 1000 points while new models scored an average 805, being marked higher by their owners in terms of fuel economy, styling and interior refinement.
However, when it comes to things like navigation or voice recognition systems, the new technologies added to cars in the hopes of making them even more desirable and appealing, the same consumers are struggling to see the benefit.
"Manufacturers often look to new features and technologies to keep their vehicles fresh and attractive, but designing systems that consumers find intuitive and easy to use has been a challenge," said Renee Stephens, vice president of U.S. automotive at J.D. Power. "Newly launched models surpass carryovers in impressing owners with the look and feel of the vehicle. But as we also see in our 2014 Initial Quality Study, owners are not as comfortable with the functionality of the features. To differentiate new models from the pack, automakers must continue to design systems that are not just attractive, but also intuitive and easy to use."
The overall APEAL score in 2014 averages 794 -- down from 795 in 2013 -- with fuel economy seeing the only major uptick (a six-point climb).
The data for the survey is gathered by polling 86,000 US consumers who have taken delivery of a new car over the past 12 months. They are asked to rate the car in question across 77 attributes and the responses are converted into a 1000-point scale.
Using this scoring system, the car brand with the highest APEAL in 2014 is Porsche, retaining its position at the top spot for the 10th consecutive year.