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The J.D. Power U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) study just came out, and it shows that new car owners in 2023 continue to hate their purchases. Maybe not so much the whole car, but at least the tech piled upon tech. What’s meant to increase customer satisfaction doesn’t. 

Overall satisfaction numbers in the study are down for the second year in a row. J.D. Power says this is the first time it has shown a drop two years in a row. But it isn’t just tech that has drivers pointing thumbs down. Exterior rankings are actually dropping the most in the 2023 study.

How were the new car rankings determined?

Jaguar Land Rover signs on building
Jaguar Land Rover headquarters | Jeremy Moeller via Getty

That’s an indication that new car design isn’t compelling enough in 2023. “Saying that, you know, the designs that are out there are not invoking that passion with customers that we’ve seen in the past,” Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power, told Automotive News. “The industry definitely is not headed in the right direction right now. Customers are not very happy right now.”

The APEAL study is a survey of almost 85,000 new car owners responding to 10 different categories. Almost all of them saw lower numbers. Only fuel economy did better than last year. 

What are some things in new cars owners don’t like?

Chrysler Jeep Ram dealer sign with American flag
Chrysler Jeep Ram dealer sign | Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty

One of the big problems the study shows is with built-in infotainment systems. Buyers don’t want what companies are offering. Instead, they prefer to plug their own phone into the car for things like music, calls, and navigation, which are mostly what drivers use.

There are some surprises in the J.D. Power rankings. For example, the top three premium brands are Jaguar, Land Rover, and Porsche. Both Land Rover and Jaguar tend to have a bad reputation for reliability. So this study flies in the face of how these two brands are perceived. 

And there are some surprising brands lurking at the bottom for mass-market vehicles. Chrysler has the worst score, followed by Toyota and Subaru. The last two are always high up in owner satisfaction surveys, so Toyota and Subaru at the bottom are somewhat startling

What are the top three new car brands?

GMC truck front end in traffic
GMC truck front end | Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty

The top three brands in the mass market category are Dodge, Ram, and GMC. Both Korean brands had above-average numbers, as did Mini, Chevrolet, Nissan, Buick, and Ford. Of all GM brands, only Cadillac had a lower-than-average ranking. 

There was once a big gap between gas-powered cars and EVs, with gas leading rankings. But that divide is narrowing almost to the point of being dead even. So this is a sign that despite some manufacturers being startups, quality and satisfaction are improving. 


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