Six Speedy Picks From the 2012 J.D. Power APEAL Awards
Market research firm J.D. Power and Associates conducts three major vehicle studies every year, each one measuring different aspects of vehicle owner satisfaction. At the end of winter, the company announces the results of its Vehicle Dependability Study. At the end of spring, J.D. Power releases awards for Initial Quality. And in the summer, it publishes findings about overall vehicle appeal based on consumer satisfaction with aspects of performance and design. Today, J.D. Power released the findings of its 2012 Automotive Performance, Execution, and Layout (APEAL) Study, naming 22 vehicles as award winners in multiple categories and at multiple price points.
Of the three studies, it is the annual APEAL survey that measures satisfaction with vehicle attributes most associated with emotion, the things that surprise, that delight, and that excite a driver. Dependability and quality matter, of course, but overall vehicle appeal is, in our opinion, the most important attribute because it’s what makes someone happy to look at their new car, sit in their new car, and drive their new car.
For this Six Speedy Picks list, we’ve selected the six 2012 APEAL award winners that we at Speedy Daddy love to drive. As a reminder, eligible vehicles need to provide seating for four people, need to wear a base price under $60,000, and must be fun to drive (or at least hold promise in this regard). They’re ordered alphabetically, starting now.
2012 AUDI A6
The 2012 Audi A6 is our favorite mid-luxury sedan, especially in 3.0T specification. This car is attractive, opulent, and athletic, difficult to criticize and easy to praise. Distinctively designed, exceptionally comfortable, and brilliantly engineered, we would buy the A6 over every other car in its class, bar none.
2012 BMW 3 SERIES
Our passion for the BMW 3 Series has waned with the sedan’s redesign, but when the new Driving Dynamics with Eco Pro software is calibrated to Sport mode, the car does a fairly good impression of its former self. Unquestionably, when properly programmed, the new Three is a true driver’s car. It just takes more effort than before to get it set up right.
2012 DODGE CHALLENGER
A throwback to old-school muscle cars of the early 1970s, the Dodge Challenger looks the part, inside and out. Under the retro-styled skin, however, rumble modern mechanicals, at their most potent in SRT8 392 guise, seen here melting its back tires. Certainly, the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang contain greater maximum firepower, but the relatively rare Challenger has serious presence.
2012 FORD FLEX
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that the Ford Flex is a fantastic family car, a crossover SUV that resembles the overfed offspring of a Mini Cooper and a Scion xB. Equipped with the optional twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, the Flex is fast, and thanks to plush seating and an available panoramic glass roof, the Flex is comfortable.
2012 KIA OPTIMA
If ever a case study existed proving that performance and design are critical to sales success, the current Kia Optima is it. Until last year, the Optima was off the radar, a boring vanilla-flavored family sedan best known for its rental lot ubiquity. Today, it’s one of the better selling models in America. Choose between frugal hybrid, fuel-efficient standard, and fun turbocharged engines wrapped in stylish sheetmetal; any Optima is tuned to deliver entertaining handling.
2012 VOLKSWAGEN PASSAT
Take a test drive in the latest Passat, and you might think it rides like a Buick. We did. And then we tossed it down a twisty two-lane mountain road, and became instant fans. Skip the standard, and lame, 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine for the torquey turbo-diesel or the V6, and enjoy upscale design combined with entertaining driving character.
SPEEDY DADDY SAYS…
If you need to choose just one vehicle from this list that can do everything a family requires, our recommendation would be to get the Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost. It blends seating for up to seven passengers with upscale styling, luxury amenities, a 365-horsepower engine, weather-beating all-wheel drive, and 43.2 cubic-feet of cargo space behind the second-row seat.
And if you don’t like the way the 2012 model looks, perhaps the updated 2013 Flex might be more to your liking.
– Christian Wardlaw
Category: 6 Speedy Picks, Audi, Awards, BMW, Car Lists, Car Ratings, Dodge, Ford, Kia, Volkswagen · Tags: 2012 Audi A6 awards, 2012 BMW 3 Series awards, 2012 Dodge Challenger awards, 2012 Ford Flex awards, 2012 JD Power APEAL awards, 2012 JD Power Appeal awards, 2012 Kia Optima awards, 2012 Volkswagen Passat awards, fun family cars