DETROIT: Car owners’ attraction to new vehicles remains strong, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. APEAL Study, with a 9-point increase in the index from last year, largely thanks to the inclusion of high-end features in mass-market cars.

The Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study measures 70,000 auto owners’ emotional attachment and level of excitement across 77 attributes, from the power they feel when they accelerate to the sense of luxury they feel when climbing into the driver's seat.

This year, the industry average score rose to 810 points out of a possible 1000. Compared with 2016’s result, 2017’s improvement was driven by positive gains in performance for 19 of the 32 brands in the study.

"Many automakers are getting better and better at giving consumers what they want in a vehicle," said Dave Sargent, vice president, global automotive at J.D. Power.

The index suggests that the industry, as a whole, is creating desirable experiences from their vehicles. “One clear reason,” Sargent observed, “is that non-premium vehicles are increasingly offering technology and safety found in premium vehicles."

Premium and mass market brands are converging in their APEAL ratings, as the non-premium segment has experienced a 10 point year on year increase, compared to just 1 point year on year in the premium segment.

"Manufacturers are making ever-higher quality vehicles, but this is not coming at the expense of performance, styling, utility or features," Sargent added.

Porsche, the German car marque ranked highest in APEAL, its 13th consecutive year in the top spot, with an index score of 884 points. Genesis came in at second, with BMW, Audi, and Mercedes, occupying the subsequent spots.

The proof of mass-market improvement becomes clear among the most improved brands, with Chrysler seeing a 41 point YOY improvement. International mass-market cars with strong improvements include MINI (+30 points), Nissan (+27) and Honda (+25).

Data sourced from J.D. Power; additional content by WARC staff