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Drivers dig premium-branded audio systems in their new cars, study says

The latest JD Power study highlighted increased owner satisfaction with premium systems.

2019 Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design
Better audio systems make for a happier car owner.
Sam Bendall

New-car buyers face a plethora of optional equipment when selecting a vehicle, but when it comes to infotainment and entertainment, premium audio systems are well-loved. The latest JD Power Multimedia Quality and Satisfaction Study highlighted a major uptick in satisfaction when owners opted for a premium audio system.

For years, high-end audio systems were often reserved for luxury makes, but in recent times, big names like Harman Kardon and Bang & Olufsen have trickled down to more mass-market brands. The study showed a direct correlation between branded-audio satisfaction and overall vehicle satisfaction. The extra cost directly translated to perceived value for new-car buyers, per the findings. It's easy to pinpoint the correlation since buyers can literally hear the difference, and more often than not, there's a major difference in sound quality.

The study looks at quality, design and features of audio, communication, entertainment and navigation technology in the first 90 days of ownership. JD Power judges the vehicles on a scale of problems per 100 vehicles; the lower the score, the higher the quality and satisfaction.

Hyundai and Kia largely dominated the mass-market segments with top performers in the small, compact and midsize segments. The Hyundai Accent, Kia Soul and Hyundai Santa Fe each earned the top honors. In the large segment, the Nissan Titan was the top dog.

On the luxury side of things, the Mercedes-Benz GLA took the small segment award, the Genesis G70 won the compact award, the Audi Q8 and Porsche 911 tied for the midsize award and the BMW 7 Series earned the large segment honor.

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