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How Porsche Keeps Owning the List of Most-Pleasing Cars

SAN DIEGO ( TheStreet) -- When you're hot, you're hot.

And in Porsche's case, that fact hasn't changed for nearly a decade.

That's according to the recently released J.D. Power and Associates U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study.

The study, now in its 18th year, serves as the industry benchmark for new-vehicle appeal. And for the ninth year running, Porsche tops the survey as the vehicle drivers find most pleasing to own and drive.

So why is it that Porsche has remained at the top for so long?

David Sargent, J.D. Power and Associates' vice president of global automotive, says there are multiple reasons for Porsche's continued dominance.

"The Porsche marries strong performance with pretty good fuel economy, which not everyone can achieve, mainly because Porsche vehicles are fairly light," Sargent explains. "But also the Porsche styling is beautiful. Some of their vehicles are not to everyone's taste. But for people who buy them, they are enthralled with the styling."

"And also the interiors these days tend to be pretty nice. They have fairly good audio entertainment. They tend to be fairly problem free for customers and intuitive to use," he says. "So it's not only the things you would expect, but Porsche is doing a pretty good job across the board."

It seems the overall winner in this year's APEAL survey is Volkswagen, though -- it not only can claim the top-ranked brand in Porsche, but also got the highest number of "segment" awards of all corporations included in the study. Volkswagen got awards for its brands in five segments: its Audi Allroad, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayenne, Volkswagen GTI and Volkswagen Passat.

"I would certainly consider them, if you wanted to pick a company that could feel most pleased with its performance," Sargent says.

The APEAL study ranks more than 200 vehicle models that are categorized in 23 vehicle "segments" such as compact, midsize, medium sports car and more.

The survey asks car owners to evaluate their vehicle within 90 days of purchase or lease on 77 attributes, resulting in a vehicle's overall APEAL score. More than 83,000 drivers take part in the survey. Their responses were gathered between February and May.

Appealing vehicles are critical to an automakers' success because such vehicles sell faster, command higher prices and lead to higher customer loyalty, according to J.D. Power and Associates.

Luxury cars dominated the top 10 slots in this year's survey. Following Porsche was Audi, BMW, Land Rover (TTM), Lexus (TM), Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac (GM), Jaguar, Lincoln (F) and Infiniti (NSANY) -- in that order.

The Dodge Ram was the highest-ranked non-premium vehicle, coming in 11th in the survey.

Sargent says it's no surprise ultra-expensive luxury cars dominate the winners circle.

"We are essentially asking people how much they enjoy a new vehicle. If you spent $70,000 on a vehicle, you should enjoy it more than a car you spend $20,000 on," Sargent says. "When you look at all the things people look for in a car, premium cars have more of that -- whether it's comfort, quietness, performance or the perceived quality of interior materials."

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