J.D. Power APEAL Study
Why do certain vehicles win over consumers so much that they say they love their cars, while other vehicles — many of them fine machines in their own right — never shed their status as basic, everyday transportation? This can be difficult to determine; however, for more than 25 years global research and analytics firm J.D. Power has been developing a formula to discover which vehicles have the most desirable characteristics among new-car purchasers. The firm calls it the J.D. Power APEAL awards, which stands for Automotive Performance, Execution And Layout.
How the Ratings Work
Ratings are based on consumer evaluations of 2022 model-year vehicles during the first 90 days of ownership across 37 attributes, ranging from the sense of comfort they feel when slipping into the driver’s seat to the exhilaration delivered when they step on the accelerator. These attributes are factored into an overall APEAL score measured on a 1,000-point scale to determine the most loved new cars of 2022.
The 2022 APEAL study revealed the first decline in overall satisfaction since 2014. “The most important factor leading to the industry decline this year is owners’ perception of their vehicle’s fuel economy,” said David Amodeo, director of global automotive at J.D. Power. “The study was fielded as fuel prices were experiencing a meteoric rise, and that pinch at the pump is conveyed in lower vehicle satisfaction. Battery-electric vehicles have not been negatively affected by the increase in fuel costs but do have issues related to battery range and charging time.” Even with higher gas prices, the APEAL study found that hybrids, PHEVs and battery-electric vehicles have lower index scores than conventional gasoline-powered vehicles.
Best Brands — Premium
For the fourth year in a row, Porsche comes out on top as the most APEALing brand overall with a score of 888 in the J.D. Power APEAL study. Genesis ranks a close second with 886 points. Cadillac, Mercedes-Benz and BMW round out the top five premium brands.
Best Brands — Mass Market
For the third year in a row Dodge takes top honors in the J.D. Power APEAL study among mass-market brands, followed closely by Ram in second place. GMC, Chevrolet and Kia complete the top five.
This year is the first time that U.S. automaker Tesla was an official participant in the APEAL study, coming in with a very high score of 887. However, Tesla does not allow J.D. Power access to owner information in certain states, so Tesla models remain ineligible for awards.
The BMW X6 scored highest in this year’s J.D. Power APEAL survey — a top accolade for this sporty, luxurious crossover. Here’s a look at the highest-scoring vehicles in each of the 22 market segments as reported in the 2022 J.D. Power APEAL Study.
Small Car — Nissan Versa
The Nissan Versa used to be the least expensive car in America; that changed with the introduction of an all-new Versa in 2020. Still affordable thanks to a starting price around $15,000, the Versa features premium styling that matches the rest of the Nissan lineup, as well as a healthy list of standard equipment. Nissan’s entry-level model has multiple USB ports, a 7-inch color touchscreen display, Zero Gravity front seats and a rearview monitor. All Versas also come with Nissan Safety Shield 360, which includes automatic emergency braking, high-beam headlight assist, rear automatic braking and lane departure warning.
Compact Car — MINI Clubman
The MINI isn’t as mini as it once was, and the Clubman is pretty large — for a MINI. The 4-door Clubman offers a surprisingly roomy interior and has a unique tailgate that features split rear doors for easy access to the cargo area. It may be larger, but the Clubman still delivers the fun-to-drive experience reminiscent of the original Mini Cooper. Clubman is available as either a Cooper S or John Cooper Works, the latter delivering more than 300 horsepower. The Clubman can also be equipped with MINI’s ALL4 all-wheel-drive system.
Compact Premium Car — Lexus IS
Lexus introduced the IS almost 20 years ago, adding a level of performance to what at the time was Toyota’s relatively new luxury brand. Lexus refreshed the IS last year with bold new styling, improved performance and a more luxurious interior. The 2022 Lexus IS can be configured in two trim levels: IS 300 and IS 350. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and buyers can add all-wheel drive to either trim. For those wanting a bit more potency, Lexus added the high-performance IS 500 F Sport to the lineup, delivering 472 horsepower to the rear wheels from its 5.0-liter V8 engine under the hood.
Compact Sporty Car – MINI Cooper
One of the most recognizable cars on the road, the MINI Cooper has a rich history dating back more than 50 years. The modern-day version of this fun-to-drive small car rejoined the American market in 2002, and since then the brand has expanded — the cars are larger and the line now includes versions with four doors, all-wheel drive and even an electric powertrain. For 2022 the MINI Cooper gets updated with a larger grille that stretches to the bottom of the car, framing an inner hexagon trimmed in chrome. A body-color bar stretches across the grille, housing the license plate and giving the MINI a wider-looking stance. Headlights for the 2022 MINI Cooper have been redesigned and are now LEDs on all trim levels.
Midsize Car — Kia K5
Many car companies in America have done away with the traditional family sedan, going all-in on the increasingly popular crossover. Not only is Kia sticking by the sedan, the automaker is doubling down with the all-new K5. Replacing the Optima in the heart of Kia’s sedan lineup, the Kia K5 is built on an all-new platform with fresh styling, updated features and a range of powerful, efficient engines. The new Kia K5 is longer, lower and wider than the outgoing Optima, which not only gives it a more aggressive stance but also creates more interior space. The K5 comes well equipped even in the base-level trim with features such as a standard 8-inch display screen, wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, and the type of materials that provide a premium vibe.
Upper Midsize Premium Car — Genesis G80
After Hyundai launched the Genesis luxury brand about five years ago, the G80 became the second model in the lineup. Completely updated for the 2021 model year, the car takes many styling cues from the flagship G90: the new G80 wears the large Crest Grille flanked by double-lined quad headlights — now a signature look for the brand. Power comes from either a turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a V6 powerplant, and both are available with rear- or all-wheel drive. The interior of the G80 exudes luxury thanks to available leather and open-pore wood trim, narrow air vents that span the dashboard, and a 14.5-inch infotainment system display.
Large Premium Car — Mercedes-Benz EQS
The first full-electric luxury sedan from Mercedes-Benz, the 2022 Mercedes-EQ EQS shares the same level of luxury expected from an S-Class but on a new EV architecture. The 2022 EQS is initially available in two trim levels. The most efficient EQS 450+ features a single electric motor producing 329 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque to drive the rear wheels. According to Mercedes, the 107.8-kWh lithium-ion batteries can reach a full charge in about 11 hours on a Level 2 charger, while a DC fast charger can bring the juice to 80 percent in 31 minutes. A more powerful EQS 580 AWD is available, as is the first AMG performance edition.
Premium Sporty Car — Porsche 911
The Porsche 911 has carried the same basic shape since the first generation premiered at the Frankfurt Motor Show more than 50 years ago, and folks at Porsche remain locked on that look. Porsche moved the 911 into its eighth generation (992) a few years back, equipping it with the latest technology, more power, better performance and a more muscular look — at the same time remaining as familiar as that first-generation car. Available as a coupe or convertible and with rear- or all-wheel drive, the 911 powertrains range from the 379-horsepower turbocharged engine in the Carrera to the all-new Porsche 911 Turbo S that has 640 horsepower and the ability to reach 60 mph in a mere 2.6 seconds.
Small SUV — Ford Bronco Sport
The smaller member of the new Bronco family, the Bronco Sport compact SUV shares styling cues and off-road capability with its larger Bronco sibling. Classic Bronco styling cues, a stepped-up roofline and upright body panels give the Bronco Sport a bolder look compared to many of today’s compact SUVs. The Ford Bronco Sport is offered in four trim levels: Base, Big Bend, Outer Banks and Badlands. The standard engine for Bronco Sport Base, Big Bend and Outer Banks is a 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine producing 181 horsepower while the Badlands gets a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine producing 245 horsepower and 275 lb-ft of torque.
Small Premium SUV — Mercedes-Benz GLA
Since its introduction in 2014, the GLA has been one of the more popular models for first-time Mercedes buyers, and the company has continued that trend with the latest version of GLA introduced last year. The GLA features expressive LED headlights flanking a more aggressive grille, sleek two-part taillights and a wider cargo opening at the rear. Inside, this entry-level Mercedes-Benz crossover feels upscale with available dual 10.25-inch displays. Large chrome vents with piano-black trim also contribute to the SUV’s high-end looks. The GLA 250 comes with a 221-horsepower engine, but those looking for more performance can opt for one of two AMG versions, the AMG GLA 35 or AMG GLA 45, the latter making 382 horsepower from its turbocharged 4-cylinder engine.
Compact SUV — Kia EV6
The EV6 crossover is an all-new electric vehicle, and Kia’s first dedicated electric model built on the company’s new electric-global modular platform. The EV6 is the first of several electrified models that make up the company’s Plan S electrification strategy to produce 11 new electric models globally by 2026. Available with rear or all-wheel drive (single or dual motor), power outputs range from the base 167-horsepower single motor to the dual-motor GT producing 576 horsepower. Inside, the EV6 offers a modern, eco-friendly interior with extensive use of recycled plastic, synthetic vegan leather surfaces for some trims, LED lighting and slim front seats to maximize rear-seat room.
Compact Premium SUV — Genesis GV70
The second SUV from Genesis, the GV70 joins the GV80 as the second SUV in the brand’s growing lineup. In a time when so many crossovers look alike, the GV70 stands out with its signature Crest Grille and quad headlights — a look that can be found throughout the Genesis lineup. With a coupelike roof and character line that runs from the headlights to the rear hatch, the GV70 carries a powerful stance. The interior possesses an elegant blend of luxury and tech with comfortable, stylish seats and a large horizontal display screen. With 375 horsepower on tap as well as full-time all-wheel drive, the GV70 has performance cred to match its sporty styling.
Midsize SUV — Nissan Murano
One of the more stylish crossovers on the market, Murano received exterior updates a few years ago that included a larger, more prominent V-Motion grille flanked by redesigned LED headlights and new LED fog lights. Nissan’s Safety Shield 360 suite of advanced safety features is standard on all Muranos, and those systems helped the crossover make the Top Safety Pick + list of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The safety suite includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind-spot warning, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning and rear automatic braking. Nissan adds a new Midnight Edition for 2022, characterized by a blacked-out front grille, lower fascia, exterior trim and special gloss black 20-inch aluminum alloy wheels.
Upper Midsize SUV — Hyundai Palisade
Hyundai introduced the Palisade a few years back as a strong competitor in the large three-row SUV segment. With bold styling, an elegant interior and room for up to eight occupants, the Palisade holds its rightful place as the flagship of the Korean brand’s SUV lineup. Palisade features a wide cascading grille flanked by composite headlights and signature daytime running lights for more upscale styling. For the 2022 model year Hyundai makes blind-spot collision avoidance assist and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance assist standard equipment on all Palisades. Look for an updated 2023 Palisade to arrive in showrooms later this year.
Midsize Premium SUV — Infiniti QX60
The best-selling model in the Infiniti lineup, the QX60 is completely updated for the 2022 model year. Easily recognized as an Infiniti, the freshened QX60 features the brand’s signature double-arched grille with unique mesh inspired by folds found in Japanese origami. Slim LED headlights flank the top of the grille, seeming to flow into the sides of the vehicle. With styling similar to the headlights, the piano-key LED taillights give the QX60 a commanding presence at night. Although multiple trim levels are available, the top-level AUTOGRAPH is most impressive with Saddle Brown semi-aniline leather and open pore wood trim, pleated leather on the dashboard and soft ambient lighting. An available 17-speaker Bose Performance audio system completes the experience.
Upper Midsize Premium SUV — BMW X6
BMW introduced the X6 about 10 years ago, bringing to market a unique vehicle that combines the attributes of a sport-utility vehicle with a coupelike roofline. For 2020 BMW introduced the third generation of this sporty crossover with updated styling that features slim, trapezoidal Adaptive Full LED headlights and slim L-shaped LED taillights. The roofline flows into a double bubble at the rear, with twin spoilers above the rear glass. Three trim levels are offered, topping out with the X6 M sporting a twin-turbocharged 4.4-liter TwinPower V8 engine producing 600 horsepower.
Large SUV — Jeep Wagoneer
The Wagoneer name that has been around the Jeep brand for decades — in 1962 the Jeep Wagoneer was the first 4-wheel-drive vehicle with an automatic transmission. Last year the Wagoneer returned with advanced capability, driving dynamics and technology, tying it to the original with styling cues such as the iconic 7-slot grille. Above the grille the name Wagoneer gets spelled out in bold letters on the front edge of the hood. Available with rear- or four-wheel drive, the Wagoneer is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 engine producing 392 horsepower. An extended-length Wagoneer L joins the lineup later this year.
Large Premium SUV — Jeep Grand Wagoneer
The Wagoneer and Grand Wagoneer share the same basic underpinnings, but, as the name implies, the Grand Wagoneer is more luxurious with higher levels of content. The Grand Wagoneer stands out from the standard version with paint-over-chrome laser-etched grille rings, similar to a knurled finish, as well as a contrasting black roof and chrome window surrounds. Inside, the Grand Wagoneer adds a 12.3-inch digital gauge cluster and a 12-inch center touchscreen along with a 10.25-inch comfort display touchscreen below and a 10.25-inch comfort display touchscreen for the second row. Also available is a 10.25-inch passenger display.
Midsize Pickup — Hyundai Santa Cruz
With the comfort and features of a crossover and the utility of a small pickup truck, the Hyundai Santa Cruz brings a fresh choice to the crowded SUV segment in what Hyundai refers to as a Sport Adventure Vehicle. The Santa Cruz is easily identified by its stylish front end that features signature lighting hidden in the grille that only becomes visible when the vehicle is turned on. The Santa Cruz’s truck bed is not long — about four feet — although for many consumers that is more than enough length and space for trips to the nursery or for hauling muddy cargo that might otherwise mar the interior. In addition to its trucklike bed, the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz has additional lockable in-bed storage that functions like a trunk — hidden, watertight and secure.
Minivan — Kia Carnival
Minivans are among the most versatile vehicles on the road, but there is a stigma associated with the name, so Kia refers to its new Carnival as a multipurpose vehicle, or MPV. Replacing the Sedona minivan, the new Carnival features bold styling cues similar to those on the brand’s latest SUVs, including a modern version of Kia’s familiar “tiger nose” grille that integrates with new signature LED running lights and slim headlights. A 3.5-liter V6 engine motivates all versions of the 2022 Carnival producing 290 horsepower and providing a tow rating of 3,500 pounds. A standout feature on the Carnival are optional VIP lounge seats that turn the second row into fully reclined first-class seating.
Large Light-Duty Pickup — Ram 1500
The Ram 1500 is the most important vehicle in the entire portfolio of parent company Stellantis. This full-size truck features bold exterior styling, and the interior is one of the nicest on the market. Multiple trim levels are available, as well as a new lineup of powertrains that includes a potent diesel and eventually a hybrid system. For 2022 a new Ram 1500 10th Anniversary Edition joins the lineup with a range of high-end features including a multifunction tailgate, cold air intake, quilted leather seats, a 19-speaker premium audio system and 22-inch polished wheels.
Large HD Pickup — Ford Super Duty
Ford introduced an updated Super Duty pickup for the 2020 model year with fresh styling, more capability, new features and an all-new off-road Tremor package. Ford also upgraded the 6.7-liter Power Stroke turbodiesel V8 to produce 475 horsepower with a class-leading 1,050 lb-ft of torque at a mere 1600 rpm. With the right configuration, the Super Duty F-450 can tow up to 37,000 pounds — almost five times its own weight — and is also best in class for heavy-duty trucks. A diesel-powered F-350 with dual-rear wheels can haul up to 7,850 pounds — also the top of the heavy-duty class. The Super Duty packs plenty of high-tech features including the innovative Pro Trailer Backup Assist, making this difficult trailering task surprisingly easy.