• New APEAL study ranks Mazda as most improved nonpremium brand
  • Study surveys thousands of owners for vehicle appeal and satisfaction
  • Hyundai, Porsche topped overall charts for nonpremium and premium brands

J.D. Power has officially released the results of its latest APEAL (Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout) study, which measures automotive satisfaction and appeal -- and Mazda is a big winner. Though the automaker didn't finish first, it took home most-improved honors among nonpremium brands, suggesting that its star is very much on the rise.

According to J.D. Power, Mazda ended up in ninth place among nonpremium brands in this year's APEAL study, earning 790 points out of a possible 1,000. Given that Mazda finished in 16th place last year, the 7-spot jump makes Mazda easily the most improved brand in the 2014 study. The automaker is celebrating the rise in satisfaction, stating that "customers are more satisfied with their new Mazda than ever before."

Much of the reason for Mazda's boost in appeal has to do with its new Mazda6 sedan. Earning a score of 821 points out of 1,000, the Mazda6 took home top honors among all midsize sedans for overall appeal, beating out tried and true rivals such as the Ford Fusion, Honda Accord and Toyota Camry. That's big news for Mazda, which recently released the Mazda6 to widespread praise from auto industry observers.

Beyond Mazda's success, several other automakers are celebrating strong finishes in the 2014 APEAL study. Hyundai ranked the highest among all nonpremium brands, while Dodge and Porsche each took home three awards for segment winners: the Challenger, Charger and Dart for Dodge, and the Boxster, Cayenne and 911 for Porsche. Audi, Ford, Mercedes-Benz and Nissan took home two segment awards each, while Porsche topped the charts for appeal among premium brands.

Conducted annually, the J.D. Power APEAL study asks tens of thousands of new-car owners to rate their vehicles for overall appeal and satisfaction. Categories include overall performance, design and styling, engine and transmission performance, ride quality, comfort and convenience, sound system quality and interior finish.

What it means to you: By moving closer to the top in J.D. Power's APEAL study, Mazda is continuing to assert itself as one of today's top up-and-coming car brands.

author photo

Doug DeMuro has a wide range of automotive industry experience, from work at a Ferrari dealership to a manager for Porsche North America. A lifelong car enthusiast, Doug's eclectic vehicle purchases include a Porsche 911 Turbo, an E63 AMG wagon, an old Range Rover and a Mercedes Benz G-wagen.

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