J.D. Power Releases Results of 2021 APEAL Study

Chris Teague | Sep 15, 2021

The J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, now in its 26th year, assesses the emotional attachment and excitement that new-vehicle owners feel 90 days after the big purchase. The study asks vehicle owners to consider 37 attributes that range from the sense of comfort they feel behind the wheel to the level of excitement the car delivers when they put their foot down on the accelerator. J.D. Power then aggregates the responses to generate an overall APEAL score on a 1,000-point scale.

2021 Nissan Maxima Red Front Quarter View

According to the 2021 APEAL Study, automakers are building new vehicles that are more appealing than ever before. At least some of the growth in overall appeal is due to the rollout of attractive new models. Indeed, many of the top-performing models in the 2021 study are all-new or redesigned:

“The APEAL Study measures owners’ emotional attachment to their new vehicle, and the product launches that took place this model year have done a really good job,” said David Amodeo, J.D. Power’s director of global automotive. “Some are all-new, and some are redesigns, but the new launches demonstrate that automakers are getting even better at hitting buyers’ emotional triggers.”

Highlights from the 2021 APEAL Study include:

  • Dodge tugs at its owners’ heartstrings. The brand landed a top score of 882 (in a tie with Porsche), adding to its second-ranked performance in the J.D. Power 2021 Initial Quality Study (IQS). Together, Dodge’s scores suggest a close connection with its customers, which may not be all that surprising, given the automaker’s small-but-mighty lineup of muscle cars and SUVs.
  • Quality and appeal go hand-in-hand. A correlation between models that scored well in both initial quality and vehicle appeal shows that quality plays a vital role in developing buyers’ love for their cars. Seven models earned top marks in their respective segments in both IQS and APEAL for 2021:
  • Tesla’s score earned an impressive but unofficial score. Tesla does not grant J.D. Power permission to survey its owners in 15 states where it is required. Owners in 35 other states were surveyed, resulting in an unofficial score of 893 for the brand—three points lower than last year but higher than any other brand.
  • People are warming to mass-market brands. The 2021 APEAL Study shows that owners are becoming more attached to everyday car brands. The average APEAL score for mass-market brands is 845, which is 19 points lower than the average score for premium brands. The gap between the two is closing, however, as it measured 23 points just last year.

Among all brands in the study, Porsche ties Dodge at 882, placing the German automaker at the top of the premium brand rankings. Genesis and Land Rover tie for second among premium brands at 879. Ram and Nissan rank second and third among mass-market brands, with scores of 881 and 866, respectively. With a gain of five rank positions in the study, Toyota makes the most progress of any mass-market brand, while Genesis is the most-improved premium brand with a jump of four spots.

In terms of individual models, several automakers have multiple top-ranked models in their respective market segments. General Motors lands five segment-level APEAL awards, and BMW captures four, while Hyundai and Nissan have three winners each. The top five automakers for individual segment-level APEAL awards are:

General Motors


  • BMW 4 Series
  • BMW X4 (third consecutive award)
  • BMW X6 (second consecutive award)
  • BMW X7

Hyundai Motor Group

  • Genesis G80
  • Kia K5
  • Kia Telluride (second consecutive award)



  • Ford Bronco Sport
  • Ford Mustang Mach-E

The 2021 APEAL Study gathered responses from 110,827 owners of 2021 model-year vehicles after 90 days of ownership.

J.D. Power is the source of information for this article. It was accurate on September 15, 2021, but it may have changed since that date.

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