What do drivers want in their new car in order to be satisfied? While drivers may put different emphasis on certain factors and vehicle characteristics, those include vehicle startup, driving feel, fuel efficiency, safety, comfort, exterior and interior appeal, infotainment system, and more. When drivers are not satisfied with these characteristics, motorists let carmakers know. (Also see, America’s least reliable new cars.)
To find the car brand that most Americans hate, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the 2023 J.D. Power’s 2023 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study. The study ranks car brands by owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement with their new vehicle. J.D. Power asked new-vehicle owners to consider 37 attributes, ranging from how comfortable it is to get in and out of the vehicle and driving feel, and computed an overall APEAL Index score on a 1,000 point scale. We included last year’s index score and car sales for each brand for the first half of 2023 from Goodcarbadcar. Ties in the APEAL score were broken using sales figures.
The least-appealing of the car brands were mostly similar to the ones from the survey of a year ago. One notable change was Honda, the most-hated car in 2022, which rose seven spots, improving its APEAL score from 824 to 835, though still well below the segment average score of 837. Honda handed over the most-hated distinction to Chrysler, which was the second-most detested brand a year ago.
The most reviled car brands were mass-market plates, which occupied the bottom 14 spots. Eight of the brands were below the segment average of 837. Notable mass-market outliers that exceeded the segment average were Dodge, Ram, and GMC.
Seven premium brands had an APEAL score less than the segment average of 871. Acura, with a tally of 853, was the most-hated premium car brand.
In terms of notable movement on the list, Genesis tumbled from having the second highest score last year to having the sixth highest score this year, and Cadillac slid from the third highest score to the 10th highest score. Dodge climbed to the top score from the fourth highest score a year ago, and Jaguar vaulted to second highest score from ninth.
Low APEAL scores do not necessarily translate into lower sales. Only six of the car brands on the list had lower first-half sales than for the same period in 2022. Toyota, the third least-liked car brand, recorded sales of 875,959 in the first half of 2023, a 3% increase from a year ago, and the second-highest sales total behind Ford. (This is the best selling car in America.)
Alfa Romeo, the 12th-most liked car brand, posted a sales drop of 26.2% in the first half of 2023, the most of any car brand.
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