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Porsche, Dodge top J.D. Power's 2021 APEAL study

People are more attached to their new cars than ever in 2021, according to over 110,00 owner surveys.

Dodge has tied Porsche for owner attachment according to the 2021 J.D. Power APEAL study.

Andrew Krok/Roadshow

Most of us know J.D. Power from its Initial Quality Study or even its Tech Experience Index study, but it also does a yearly study which it calls the APEAL study, which stands for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout. It measures owners' emotional attachment to their cars based on 37 attributes, translated into a score out of 1,000 possible points. The 2021 version of the study was released on Tuesday and the results are interesting.

There are several trends that the folks from J.D. Power are noticing. The biggest one is that mass-market vehicles -- aka not premium or luxury vehicles -- are generating much higher attachment levels from their owners. This makes sense to us as journalists because we are seeing cars at all price points offer great tech, style and driving experiences: A car's price tag no longer directly correlates with how good it is to drive or ride in or own.

Another exciting find is that Dodge owners feel as strongly about their new cars as Porsche owners do and both, overall, are the highest-scoring brands in the study. On the surface, this seems kind of weird. Porsche builds some of the world's best sports cars and even their family vehicles border on epic where driving engagement is concerned. Dodge makes mostly affordable muscle cars based on ancient platforms, but what seems to connect them is the cult-like devotion people have to the brands. The sayings "Mopar or no car" and "Accept no substitute" exist for a reason.

Something that maybe isn't surprising if you've spent time on Twitter talking about EVs is that Tesla has the highest APEAL score out of all the brands. However, its score is unofficial for the same reason that it's not officially included in the other J.D. Power studies: Tesla won't let J.D. Power talk to its customers in the states where that approval is required. The Tesla score of 893 tops the Dodge and Porsche tied score of 882 -- and given how rabid Tesla owners are, it makes total sense.

The 2021 APEAL study results are based on the responses from 110,821 owners of 2021 model year vehicles. The owners were surveyed after their first 90 days of ownership, same as with the Initial Quality Study. The survey period occurred between February and July of 2021.

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