From one of the largest models on the market to one of the smallest, some highly anticipated new vehicles are succeeding in eliciting the kind of reaction automakers are seeking, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2002 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study(SM) released Oct. 8. The all-new MINI Cooper, Cadillac Escalade EXT and Ford Thunderbird capture top segment rankings in the study, which measures owner delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles. In all, the study finds that 26 of the 31 all-new launches and redesigns meet or exceed the average performance of their respective segments. "Radical designs and concepts are paying off," said Brian Walters, director of product research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Manufacturers that are willing to take bold risks with revolutionary concepts and bring them to fruition are creating new icons that are proving to be very popular." Ford and Lincoln brands rank highest in five APEAL segments. American Honda, General Motors and Toyota Motor Sales brands each receive three top segment rankings. "Ford's achievement is crowned by the Thunderbird's impressive debut," said Walters. "Along with topping the competitive entry luxury car segment in APEAL, the Thunderbird also ranked highest in its segment in our Initial Quality Study earlier this year. This is an exceptional achievement for a vehicle in its first year of production." Other notable study findings:
  • The all-new MINI Cooper captures the top ranking in the compact car segment, replacing the Volkswagen Beetle, which had topped the segment since its introduction in 1998.
  • Versatility is proving to be well received by owners of full-sized pickups. Following the Cadillac Escalade EXT in this segment is another pickup crossover, the Chevrolet Avalanche.
  • For the first time, a Hyundai model tops an APEAL segment ranking. The redesigned Hyundai Sonata receives the top ranking in the entry midsize car segment. The Sonata is followed by the Kia Optima, giving Kia its first top-three ranking in APEAL. The 2002 APEAL study is based on responses from more than 117,800 new-vehicle owners and comprises eight specific areas of vehicle performance and design that identify what consumers like and dislike about their new vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership. These areas are: vehicle exterior styling; engine and transmission; comfort and convenience; ride, handling and braking; seats; heating, ventilation and cooling; cockpit and instrument panel; and sound system. The study is in its seventh year. About J.D. Power and Associates Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services firm operating in business sectors including market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually.