For the twelfth straight year, Porsche has taken top honours in a study that measures owners’ emotional attachment to their car using 77 attributes, including the power they feel when accelerating; and the luxury they experience while in the driver’s seat.

Automotive research firm J.D. Power released the results of its 21st annual APEAL study – it stands for Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout – late July. The study combines 77 attributes into an APEAL Index score measured on a 1,000-point scale.

This year’s results highlighted the importance of driver-assist technologies to consumers, as vehicles with safety features such as blind spot monitoring and collision mitigation performed notably better in the study than vehicles that did not have them.

Overall, APEAL scores were higher among 41 percent of owners whose vehicles have blind spot monitoring that those that do not (the scores were 821 versus 787 on average, respectively). Results were similar with respect to collision mitigation tech, where scores were higher for 30 percent of owners whose vehicles are equipped with these features (828 versus 790, respectively) than those without.

On the opposite end of the scale are factory-installed navigation systems. Two of the lowest-ranked vehicle attributes in the study were those associated with navigation: usefulness of the system’s features and ease of use were commonly ranked low across brands.

Another interesting metric is the rise of the importance of fuel economy, which posted the largest gain (14 points) in the study. Audio/communication/entertainment/navigation (AECN); and visibility and safety also enjoyed significant gains, of six and four points, respectively.

The only category, out of ten total, to experience a decline in overall owner satisfaction was engine/transmission, by one point, largely because owners felt transmission smoothness when shifting had been getting worse. This may be explained by the increasing use of eight and nine-speed transmissions in cars.

In the end, Porsche ranked first in the study with an index score of 877 points, followed by BMW (859 points), and then Jaguar and Mercedes-Benz, which tied for third (852 points). Land Rover, Lexus and Lincoln tied for fifth with 843 points.

Volkswagen ranked first among non-premium brands with 809 index points, followed by MINI (808), Kia (807), Ford (803), Ram (803) and GMC (802).

(J.D. Power)