New Car Buyers Think Most New Models Are Just “Meh…” According to Study

2023 Honda Civic Hatchback
2023 Honda Civic Hatchback

Normally, when new car buyers are on the lookout for the latest models to hit the sales floor, they are looking for something far superior and tantalizing when compared to its predecessors. But according to a recent study by J.D. Power, prospective customers view most new car models as boring and unimpressive.

The study measured customer satisfaction with new cars over the course of 28 years, and 2023 has marked the first year in which there was a decline in rating. “The decline in consecutive years might look small, but it’s an indicator that larger issues may lie under the surface,” says Frank Hanley, senior director of auto benchmarking at J.D. Power.

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How Are New Car Buyers Unsatisfied?

The study based its findings on ten factors, nine of which have been on a downward slope year after year. So far the only factor that has seen positive improvement from new car buyers has been the fuel economy (771), which is 15 points higher than it was in 2022.

Meanwhile, the factor with the most disappointing results year after year has been cars’ exterior design and style. Its score dropped from 894 to 888 in 2023, meaning that being bright and shiny isn’t enough to win new car buyers over in the looks category.

What some may find surprising about this study is that many new car buyers have been unimpressed with today’s infotainment systems. Only 56% of participants claimed to use their cars’ infotainment system to play music, podcasts, or listen to the radio. Less than half of them say they used it to make calls, use voice commands, or use the vehicle’s turn-by-turn navigation system.

Considering that today’s smartphone technology is constantly changing, it makes sense that one’s iPhone or Android’s operating software would out-evolve that of their car’s infotainment system. However, the study found that new car models equipped with Android Automotive Operating System (AAOS) and Google Automotive Services (GAS) managed to score higher in the infotainment category than those without it.

As far as gas-powered vehicles and electric vehicles go, new car buyers are about as equally satisfied with either, with gas-powered vehicles and hybrids scoring at 843, just three points higher than EVs. While automakers like Tesla still remains one of the higher-performing brands on the market, its score has dropped from 887 to 878 in 2023. It has actually been on a steady decline over the course of ten years in all ten of the study’s factors, and Tesla does not allow J.D. Power to access owner info in states where that permission is required by law.

Which Car Brands Had High Scores?

Of course, not all auto brands fell short of expectations. Jaguar, Land Rover, Porsche, and BMW managed to score high for premium brands among new car buyers after still holding high regard for their purchases after 90 days of ownership. Dodge was ranked the highest in mass-market brands when compared to the mass market, followed by Ram, GMC, and Mini.

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