According to this year’s J.D. Power and Associates 2012 APEAL (Automotive Performance Execution and Layout) Study results, the adage that “good things come in small packages” is finally beginning to ring true with U.S. consumers. The company’s APEAL study questions vehicle owners about the appeal of their own recently-purchased vehicles, and what attracted them most about the vehicle they purchased. The study not only indicated that the U.S. was beginning to show a greater interest in smaller cars, but also that owners of smaller vehicles were often just as satisfied with their vehicles as those who owned larger ones.
According to the study, 27% of all new car buyers have downsized in the last year. While the number is still relatively small, it was significantly better than the number of those who up-sized, at 13%. The remaining 60% of new car buyers stayed within their same class.
J.D. Power and Associates believe the results can largely be attributed to the leap in quality and equipment found in today’s small car offerings. Rather than being stripped-down, bare bones, econo-boxes that past generations had become accustom with, modern small cars are smaller versions of some bigger models that are associated with a higher level of quality, and are offered higher-up in a manufacturer’s vehicle range.
According to David Sargent, vice president of global automotive at J.D. Power and Associates, the results clearly reflected the fact that new-vehicle buyers who downsize are no longer having to make the sacrifice that once accompanied the switch. While small cars have already been massive sellers in Europe, Japan, and other parts of the world, automakers are now focused on providing the U.S. market with appealing smaller models. Sargent also added that buyers may be surprised just how good some small cars are.
Beyond the fact that today’s smaller cars come equipped with more features, are safer, quicker, roomier, and all-around more fun to drive compared to the small cars of yesteryear, one of the main things that convinced consumers to make the switch is that they’ll get better gas mileage with smaller vehicles. According to the study, 47% of owners said that gas mileage was one of the most important factors in choosing a new car. Fuel savings continues to gain momentum of last year’s findings, climbing by 7% from 2011 alone.