Domestics top imports in appeal study

J.D. Power has released another auto study, this time on Vehicle Appeal - revealing that the domestics beat the imports for the first time in 13 years.

After examining input from over 76,000 consumers regarding roughly 80 different criteria related to vehicle ownership during the first 90 days, J.D. Power says that U.S. automakers have surpassed their foreign counterparts for the first time in 13 years - erasing the five point lead held by the imports last year.

The study is officially known as the Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, which differs from the recent study that measured initial quality, where domestic brands also out-shined their foreign counterparts. This study utilizes a 1,000 point scale, and asks owners to rate their vehicle ownership experience over the first 90 days, with a focus on how gratifying a new vehicle is to own and drive.

A J.D. Power chart shows a steady increase in scoring for domestic brands over the last five years, with the imports generally trending southward. Among the leaders this year were Ford and General Motors, each helping to bring up the overall average of the domestic automakers to 787 - a score that is 13 points higher than the import brands.

Ford led all brands with five segment-level awards (Expedition, Explorer Sport Trac, Flex, fusion and Taurus), with Audi (Q5 and Q7), BMW (3-Series and 5-Series), Chevrolet (Avalanche and Camaro), Mercedes-Benz (E-Class Coupe and S-Class) and Volkswagen (GTI Routan) each receiving two segment-level awards.

"Domestic automakers have performed three important actions during the past two years that have led to their gains," said David Sargent, vice president of global vehicle research at J.D. Power and Associates. "Firstly, they have retired many models that demonstrated low appeal. They have also introduced new, highly appealing models to their lineups, and finally, they have improved their existing models through freshenings and redesigns."

J.D. Power also pointed out that only two vehicles managed to lead their segment for both the Appeal study and the previous Initial quality Study, and those were the Chevrolet Avalanche and the Ford Taurus.

Import luxury continues to top charts
Despite overall averages being in the favor of domestic vehicles, luxury brands continue to be led by foreign nameplates, particularly Porsche which continues to dominate as the top-ranked nameplate for the sixth consecutive year.

Suzuki was the biggest mover of the year, improving more than any other brand from 2009 to 2010.