Americans Losing Enthusiasm for New Cars: J.D. Power Study Reveals

by Warren Seah


“The decline in consecutive years might look small, but it’s an indicator that larger issues may lie under the surface.”

That’s the cautionary message from Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, as he unveils the findings of their latest research on Americans’ response to the latest vehicle designs and performance by automakers.

Understanding the APEAL Study

J.D. Power’s U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study aims to measure “owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle.” Through an extensive survey, researchers gather insights from new car owners on “37 attributes, ranging from the sense of comfort they feel when climbing into the driver’s seat to their exhilaration when they step on the accelerator.”

For the first time in the study’s 28-year history, overall scores have experienced a decline for two consecutive years. This trend suggests that Americans are becoming less captivated by new cars.

Satisfaction Ratings

The overall satisfaction rating received a middling B grade of 845 on a 1,000-point scale.

Infotainment System Complexity

Frustration with Complex Technologies

The study highlights an ongoing frustration among buyers when it comes to the complexity of in-car entertainment and information technologies. Less than half of owners prefer to utilize their car’s built-in technologies for navigation, voice recognition, and making calls. Instead, most owners prefer using their mobile phones while driving. Notably, only 56% of owners now rely on their car’s systems to play music—a significant decrease from 70% in 2020.

Declining Satisfaction with Exterior Design

In an interesting twist, buyers are also growing less satisfied with how new cars look. The satisfaction rating for exterior design has fallen further than any other factor measured, dropping from 894 to 888.


J.D. Power’s latest APEAL Study reveals a concerning trend of diminishing enthusiasm among Americans for new cars. From complex infotainment systems to declining satisfaction with exterior design, automakers need to address these evolving preferences to regain consumer interest.

No Difference Between Best Luxury, Non-Luxury Scores

The winners among luxury cars and mainstream cars tied. Among premium buyers, Jaguar owners were the most in love with their new cars. But new Dodge owners rated their cars just as well.

Acura scored last among luxury brands. Chrysler took the last spot among mainstream cars. Perhaps more surprisingly, Toyota – the world’s largest automaker – barely stayed out of last place.

Genesis, Hyundai, Kia Win More Matchups

Having a particularly large lineup gives an automaker more chances to succeed and to fail. Hyundai Motor Group (Genesis, Hyundai, and Kia) didn’t place any of its brands in the top three of either list. But the company had more models ranking highest in their segments than any other. The Genesis GV60, Hyundai Santa Cruz, Kia Carnival, Kia EV6, Kia Forte, Kia K5, Kia Rio, Kia Stinger, and Kia Telluride all led their categories.

No other manufacturer won in more than five.

Plus: The 2023 Kia Sorento Hybrid offers great fuel economy with plenty of safety features and lively performance

Luxury Automaker Scores

Also Read: What Do Car Dealers Have to Be Worried About? Plenty, Survey Says.

Mainstream Automaker Scores

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