Chevrolet tops three categories in the latest J.D. Power and Associates’ Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout study, released today.

The APEAL survey measures what consumers like about their vehicles based on rankings of 80 attributes collected between February and May of this year.

The Chevrolet Sonic subcompact, Volt compact car and Avalanche pickup all place first in their respective categories.

Results are spread across U.S., Asian and European auto makers alike, with Audi, Dodge, Ford, Kia, Mini, Nissan and Porsche each receiving two first-place honors, and BMW, Infiniti, Range Rover, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen each taking home one.

The Audi A8 large premium car is the highest-rated vehicle in the APEAL study, which surveys owners 90 days after taking delivery on their new vehicles.

Other top-ranking cars include the Mini Coupe/Roadster (compact sporty cars segment); the Mercedes-Benz SLK (compact premium sporty cars); BMW 3-Series (entry premium cars); Audi A6 (midsize premium cars); Kia Optima and Volkswagen Passat (tying in midsize cars); and Dodge Charger (large cars).

In the truck sector, the Ford Expedition is the leader among large crossover/CUVs. The Ford Flex is the top midsize crossover/SUV and the Nissan Frontier is No.1 in midsize pickups.

The Volt is one of three alternative-powertrain vehicles in the survey that included the Honda CR-Z, also a compact car, and Toyota Prius V, considered an MPV by J.D. Power.

At 887 out of a possible 1,000 points, Porsche is the highest-ranking nameplate in the APEAL study for an eighth consecutive year. The industry average is 788 points.

The study notes Jaguar, Dodge and Ram have had continuous year-over-year improvements, a key accolade for the latter two brands as Chrysler rebuilds itself under Fiat ownership. Dodge increased by 21 points, though it was just three points shy of the industry average. Jaguar gained 20 points and Ram 19.

In addition to Dodge, brands at or below the industry average include Kia (788), Buick (784), Hyundai (784), GMC (780), Toyota (780), Chevrolet (777), Honda (771) and Mazda (769). The worst-ranking brand was Suzuki, which notched 745 points.

At the top of the heap, Jaguar is positioned just below Porsche with 877 points, followed by BMW (859), Audi (848), Mercedes-Benz (844), Land Rover (833), Cadillac (823) and Infiniti (823).

J.D Power says the number of consumers downsizing their vehicles continues to climb as more compacts and subcompacts offer perks typically found in larger vehicles. Results show 27% of new-vehicle buyers downsized, while only 13% upsized and 60% remained in the same segment.

“Although larger models continue to attain higher APEAL Study scores than smaller models, owners who downsize find that today’s compact models are not the ‘econoboxes’ that they may have once feared,” David Sargent, vice president-global automotive for J.D. Power and Associates, says in a news release.

The study notes that current vehicles being traded in are about 6 years old, and that small-car quality has improved markedly over that period. The average APEAL score for all compact cars this year is 765, which was the same average for midsize cars in 2008, J.D. Power says.

afoley@wardsauto.com