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Frequently Asked Questions: Autos

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Learn more about J.D. Power's Automotive Studies and Ratings

Autos Questions | General Questions 

Why are ratings unavailable for certain models?

Many of J.D. Power's key automotive studies are conducted after a minimum of 90 days of new-vehicle ownership. As such, some newly introduced models have not been on the market long enough to obtain a sufficient sample size to provide accurate ratings. Additionally, for some low-volume vehicles (i.e., Aston Martin, etc.), it is difficult to accumulate enough survey responses during the survey period to make the results meaningful and reliable.

Why doesn't list actual survey (index) scores for specific models?

J.D. Power provides manufacturers and suppliers with diagnostic information to help them improve the quality of the products and services they provide. In most cases, this type of detailed research information is not presented in a "consumer friendly" format. While tables of numbers and volumes of data may be helpful to engineers or manufacturing experts, consumers may desire an easily understandable format such as the Power Circle Ratings on this site. The goal of is to help consumers make more informed decisions through a consumer-friendly rating system that we believe is more helpful and less confusing than actual index scores.

What do IQS, APEAL, CSI, SSI, and VDS stand for?

These are acronyms for J.D. Power's five key automotive studies that provide the data for this site:

  • Initial Quality Study (IQS)—provides manufacturers and suppliers with in-depth diagnostic information on new-vehicle quality after 90 days of ownership. The study uses problems per 100 vehicles (PP100) as a unit of measurement of owner reported problems.  IQS also includes quality comparisons by make and model, as well as by assembly line. More than 230 problems are identified, and all problems are categorized as either defect/malfunction or design-related problems. IQS has been an industry benchmark since 1987.

  • Vehicle Dependability Study (VDS)—measures long-term quality after three years of ownership. Therefore, the 2014 VDS measures the dependability of 2011 model-year vehicles. The Vehicle Dependability Study is used extensively by manufacturers and suppliers worldwide to help them design and build better vehicles, which typically translates into higher resale values and customer loyalty. It also helps consumers make more-informed choices for both new- and used-vehicle purchases.

  • Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL)—identifies new-vehicle owner likes and dislikes during the first 90 days of ownership. The study helps manufacturers and suppliers develop innovative new products and identify key features that “excite and delight” owners. It also helps automakers understand the relative importance of these features as perceived by owners. The study, which may be used to support new-product development initiatives, is based on new-vehicle owners’ evaluations of more than 75 attributes in 10 categories. The APEAL study was first conducted in 1996.

  • Customer Service Index Study (CSI)—measures the satisfaction of vehicle owners who visited the dealer service department for maintenance or repair work during the first three years of vehicle ownership. The study, initially launched in 1981, provides an overall customer satisfaction index score based on five measures: service initiation, service advisor, service facility, vehicle pick-up, and service quality. CSI is a nameplate study, which means that performance is reported at the nameplate level (i.e., Ford, Mitsubishi, etc.), rather than at the model level (i.e., Mustang, Eclipse, etc.).

  • Sales Satisfaction Index Study (SSI)—measures the satisfaction with the entire shopping and buying experience among new-vehicle buyers and lessees (Buyer).  It also examines new-vehicle buyers’ satisfaction with the makes and dealerships they shopped but rejected (Rejecter). The overall sales satisfaction index score is comprised of both the Buyer Index Score and the Rejector Index score each carrying equal weight. The Buyer Index is based on four measures: facility, salesperson, working out the deal and the delivery process.  The five categories of the Rejector Index include salesperson, fairness of price, experience negotiating, facility and variety of inventory.  SSI is a nameplate study, which means that performance is reported at the nameplate level (i.e., Ford, Mitsubishi, etc.), rather than at the model level (i.e., Mustang, Eclipse, etc.).

Why do some vehicles have below average Power Circle Ratings on this site, yet they get positive reviews elsewhere or vice versa?

J.D. Power research is based on consumer responses and feedback from actual vehicle owners. Reviews featured on other Web sites or in enthusiast publications are often based on the subjective opinion of editors, technical experts, or experienced test drivers. Generally speaking, Power Circle Ratings indicate various aspects of a vehicle's quality performance (initial quality, long-term dependability, and appeal) or customer satisfaction (sales and service satisfaction), which comprise a major part of the ownership experience. However, other elements such as the vehicle's dynamic capabilities, cargo capacity, utility, and other subjective factors are not captured by these ratings.

We believe that consumers should consider all valuable sources of information when considering the purchase of a new vehicle. Certainly, Power Circle Ratings are one source; government Web sites such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (; independent sites such as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (; and enthusiast publications can also be helpful in making informed automotive buying decisions.

What is the difference between Consumer Reports and

Consumer Reports is published by a non-profit organization that focuses on testing and reviewing products in various categories. The company has a testing facility in New York and employs experts who review numerous consumer products on a regular basis. By contrast, provides ratings based on "voice of the customer" information, which is derived from independent and unbiased consumer feedback—opinions, perceptions, and expectations of consumers who actually own the products and services being rated.