New vehicle buyers are increasingly attracted to models that offer high levels of comfort and convenience, according to the JD Power and Associates 2005 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study.

The study, now in its 10th year, measures owners’ delight with the design, content, layout and performance of their new vehicles. Overall industry APEAL has increased annually for the past nine years, in part due to the continual introduction of a large number of all-new and redesigned models, which tend to garner higher APEAL scores. The 2005 study includes more than 50 new or redesigned models in 2005-up from 43 in 2004. While styling and exterior design continue to be most important to new-vehicle buyers, features dealing with the vehicle’s interior, such as seats and comfort/convenience, have increased in importance over the past five years.

The study finds that models receiving exceptionally high APEAL ratings from buyers generally stay on dealers’ lots for less time before being sold. For example, the new Honda Ridgeline, which ranks highest in APEAL in the compact pickup truck segment, stay on dealers’ lots an average of 24 days, compared to the segment average of 77 days. This is also true of older models. The Nissan Murano, top-ranked among midsize SUVs, stays an average of 47 days on lots, compared to the segment average of 72 days.

Four Lexus models top segment rankings, while Chevrolet, KIA, Honda and Nissan each receive two segment awards.  This marks the first time Kia models have ranked highest in a segment in the study.

Among all-new or redesigned models included in the study for 2005, the Pontiac G6, Toyota Avalon, Lexus GS 300/GS 430, Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, Honda Ridgeline, Kia Sportage, Lexus RX 400h and Honda Odyssey each rank highest in their respective segments. Also topping segment rankings are the Mini Cooper, Kia Amanti, Lexus IS 300/IS 300 SportCross, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Lexus LS 430, Cadillac Escalade EXT, GMC Sierra HD, Nissan Murano, Nissan Armada, Land Rover Range Rover and Chevrolet Express.

The 2005 APEAL Study is based on responses from more than 115,000 new-vehicle owners who were surveyed during the first 90 days of ownership. Eight categories of vehicle performance and design are measured to assess buyer satisfaction, including: engine/transmission; ride, handling and braking; comfort/convenience; seats; cockpit/instrument panel; heating, ventilation and cooling; sound system; and styling/exterior.