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American drivers are falling out of love with the latest car designs and tech, study finds

Buyers are growing less fond of how new cars look and more frustrated with some of the infotainment systems

Complicated entertainment and information technologies continue to frustrate new car buyers, according to a J.D. Power study.


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

That’s how Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, introduces the results of the research giant’s latest study of how Americans are responding to automakers’ latest vehicle designs and performance.

J.D. Power’s U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study measures “owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle.” Researchers poll 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 declined two years in a row. Americans are growing less enamored of new cars.

Overall satisfaction scored a middling B grade – 845 on a 1,000-point scale.

Plus: The deadliest—and least deadly—cars, trucks and SUVs

Infotainment system complexity

Complex entertainment and information technologies continue to frustrate buyers, the study finds. Less than half of owners prefer to use their car’s own built-in technologies to navigate, use voice recognition, and make calls. Most preferred to use their phone in the car (are you listening, GM? GM, -2.36% ). Only 56% of owners use their car’s own systems to play music – falling quickly from 70% in 2020.

But, in a new development, buyers are growing less fond of how new cars look. Satisfaction with exterior design fell further than any other factor measured — 888 from 894.

Check out: 18 new EVs to watch for in 2024

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 TM, +1.04% – 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 000270, -1.78% ) 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

Brand Score (on a 1,000-point scale)
Jaguar 887
Land Rover 883
Porsche POAHY, +1.03% 883
BMW BMW, +0.05% 878
Genesis 877
Mercedes-Benz 876
Lincoln 873
Segment Average 871
Cadillac 865
Lexus 864
Alfa Romeo 859
Volvo VLVLY, +1.51% 856
Audi 855
Infiniti 854
Acura 853

Tesla TSLA, +4.20% and Polestar PSNY, +6.64% are not ranked because they do not allow J.D. Power to access owner information where permission is required by law. Based on the limited data available from states that don’t require company authorization, J.D. Power says, Tesla would have scored 878, and Polestar 865.

Also read: What do car dealers have to be worried about? Plenty, survey says.

Mainstream automaker scores

Brand Score (on a 1,000-point scale)
Dodge 887
Ram 873
GMC 858
Mini 856
Kia 851
Chevrolet 846
Hyundai 844
Nissan NSANY, -1.81% 843
Buick 841
Ford F, -3.42% 838
Segment Average 837
Honda HMC, +0.82% 835
Jeep 831
Mitsubishi MSBHF, +3.40% 831
Mazda MZDAY, -1.60% 828
Volkswagen VWAGY, -0.06% 827
Subaru FUJHY, -0.53% 824
Toyota 824
Chrysler 810

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