A vehicle purchase is a highly emotional decision. Sure, some folks buy a new car out of pure necessity to get from point A to point B, but if they were the majority, we'd see more car commercials featuring drivers stuck in traffic or loading up the trunk after a Walmart excursion. Instead, car commercials show epic adventures in the wilderness, road-tripping dogs, and hard-working ranchers getting their shiny new trucks dirty.
Automakers know that car shoppers buy vehicles for the lifestyles they represent and the excitement they can add to their lives. Although quantifying feelings like attachment and excitement about a vehicle or brand isn't easy, J.D. Power sets out to do just that with the APEAL Study. This year, Dodge and Ram came out on top among mass-market brands for the most enthusiastic owners. The two FCA brands came within one point of each other with Dodge earning 872 points, and Ram earning 871. These results are significantly above the mass-market brand average of 838.
J.D. Power APEAL Study
The J.D. Power's Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL Study) questioned 87,000 owners of new 2020 vehicles after 90 days of ownership to determine their sentiments about emotional attachment, excitement, and overall experience with their vehicles. The questions take into account nearly 40 attributes like design, performance, safety, usability, comfort, perceived quality, and more. The responses are computed to determine a score out of 1000 which is the APEAL index score.
“The APEAL Study measures an owner’s emotional attachment to their new vehicle and in what areas that vehicle may not be delivering on all of the positive experiences that were hoped for. Understanding this is just as valuable to automakers as knowing about quality issues and owner acceptance of new technologies. The goal for automakers is to delight customers on all these dimensions. Some are better than others at doing this,” said Dave Sargent, vice president of automotive quality at J.D. Power.
Dodge Lands on Top
Dodge took the award of the top mass-market brand, making history as the first domestic brand to rank highest for both the APEAL study and the Initial Quality Study in one year. The Dodge Challenger took the first place spot in the Midsize Sporty Car category, while the Dodge Charger came in second for Large Car, and the Dodge Durango was third in the Upper Midsize SUV category.
Dodge knows how to get the hearts of drivers racing with vehicles like the Challenger and the Charger. The Challenger is offered with 5 engine options ranging from a more practical 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower to a Supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 with 797 horsepower in the SRT Hellcat Redeye for a truly hair-raising driving experience. The 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat Widebody can go from 0-60 in as little as 2.9 seconds with a top speed of 196 mph, and even the 3-row Dodge Durango SRT 392 SUV can handle a day at the track with 475 horsepower and just 4.4 seconds to get from 0 to 60 mph.
Ram is Close Behind with a Second Place Finish
Although Ram owners may not find the same 0-60 times or 700+ horsepower in their trucks, they have plenty of other reasons to be excited about their vehicles. The Ram 1500 captured the top spot in the competitive Large Light-duty Pickup segment thanks to its package of drivability, comfort, space, luxury, and technology. For 2020, the light-duty truck gets 4 engine options including a 5.7L HEMI V8 with eTorque for an impressive 12,750 pounds of towing capability and 2,300 pounds of payload.
In addition to its capability, the 1500 has driver-centric features like the multifunction tailgate, luxurious interiors, and leading in-car technology with the excellent Uconnect system and a 12-inch touchscreen. A long list of special editions, like the Limited Black Edition and the Built-to-Serve series honoring the U.S. military, personalizes the trucks and adds to owners' attachment and loyalty.