Top-Rated 2012 Coupes: Performance & Design

The annual J.D. Power Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study (APEAL) is designed to measure how satisfied consumers are with their new vehicles in terms of performance, design, comfort, interior layout, standard and optional features, and more. Thousands of people who bought new 2012 model-year vehicles and have owned them for at least 90 days respond to the survey, sharing their experiences and opinions of their new cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans.

Based on the findings of the 2012 APEAL Study, and listed below in alphabetical order, are the coupe models that achieved the highest ratings for the 2012 model year.


2012 BMW 3 Series

In the 2012 APEAL Study, both the BMW 3 Series Coupe and the BMW 3 Series Convertible are ranked among the most appealing models in their respective vehicle categories. The 3 Series Coupe has a fixed hardtop roof. For 2012, the only change was that real-time traffic reporting is added to the optional navigation system.

Diversity is the name of the game with the 3 Series Coupe, which is offered in 328i, 335i, 335is, and M3 variants. All four versions are rear-wheel drive; the 328i and 335i are offered with xDrive all-wheel drive as an option. Engine power output ranges from 230 horsepower in the 328i to 414 horsepower in the M3. A manual gearbox is standard in all BMW 3 Series models, with an automatic transmission optional in the 328i and 335i. Automated manual transmissions are offered for the 335is and M3.

BMW offers a long list of optional upgrades for the 3 Series models, and provides 4 years or 50,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance. Crash-test ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) are "Good" (the highest possible) for frontal-, side-, and rear-impact assessments. The IIHS gives the 3 Series Coupe an "Acceptable" rating for its roof crush strength.

2012 Dodge Challenger

Though the 2012 Dodge Challenger is built upon a shortened version of the platform that underpins the full-size Charger sedan, this is still a big car, with room for five people and a trunk that's roomier than many family sedans.

For 2012, Dodge revises the Challenger model lineup, offering SXT, R/T, and SRT8 392 versions with various sub-trim designations. A new 18-speaker premium sound system debuts this year, along with paddle shifters for some models. The SRT8 392 adds an adaptive damping suspension, heated flat-bottom steering wheel, and a new Radar Red leather option.

A modern muscle car, the Challenger's engines generate between 305 horsepower and 470 horsepower, enough to smoke the rear wheels with no trouble at all. But while the Challenger might look retro, it doesn't perform that way, especially in SRT8 392 guise. That model runs to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds, does 182 mph when equipped with the manual gearbox, grips a skidpad at 0.90g, and stops in less than 120 feet. It does by Dodge's measurements, anyway.

2012 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Think "E-Class," and most people picture a 4-door sedan in their heads. The E-Class is also offered as a 2-door coupe and a 2-door convertible (cabriolet), and those are the models that rank highly in the 2012 APEAL Study.

For 2012, Mercedes replaced all three of the engines offered in the E-Class Coupe. The new V-6 engine in the E350, V-8 in the E550, and twin-turbocharged V-8 in the E63 AMG generate between 302 horsepower and 550 horsepower. A new 7-speed Touch Shift automatic transmission improves fuel economy for E350 and E550 models, while all variants receive a new steering wheel and color instrumentation displays. Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist technology also debut for the E-Class Coupe.

Though well equipped in standard format, the E-Class Coupe models are offered with a number of extra-cost upgrades, including several sophisticated safety-related technologies.

2012 Mini Cooper Coupe

People love their Mini Coopers, and for 2012, that's true of the Cooper Coupe, the new 2-door, 2-seat variant of the traditional Cooper Hardtop model. To create the Cooper Coupe, Mini started with a Cooper Hardtop, shaved off the roof, replaced it with something resembling a helmet, and removed the rear seats.

Three versions are offered: the 121-horsepower Cooper Coupe, 181-horsepower Cooper S Coupe, and the 208-horsepower John Cooper Works Coupe. The new 2012 Mini Cooper Coupe can be customized in numerous ways, to the point that no two might be exactly alike. All, however, include 3 years or 36,000 miles of free scheduled maintenance, and all have a 9.8 cu.-ft. trunk.

Not surprisingly, the John Cooper Works version of the car performs the best, providing acceleration to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds, according to Mini. Choosing the standard version of the Cooper Coupe results in less rapid acceleration but provides the best handling balance of all versions of the car.

2012 Porsche 911 Carrera

Porsche redesiged the 911 for the 2012 model year, rolling out new versions of the standard Carrera and Carrera S models in both coupe and convertible format. Longer, lower, and wider, the new 911 models add power and performance while simultaneously improving fuel efficiency.

Mounted in the rear, as is tradition, a direct-injection, 3.4-liter 6-cylinder "boxer" engine makes 350 horsepower in the standard 2012 Porsche 911 Carrera. The 911 Carrera S has a direct-injection, 3.6-liter 6-cylinder "boxer" engine good for 400 horsepower. Both engines include automatic start/stop and "sailing" technology that shuts the engine off when idling or coasting, and are available with the world's first 7-speed manual transmission.