Ten years ago, if you said Toyota and Honda ran circles around Ford, GM and Chrysler, well, that would be a valid argument.
Today and moving forward, not the case. In fact, the re-emergence of the domestic brands really began five years ago for Ford, and three years ago for GM (forget Chrysler, for now, they have a LOT of ground to make up, and have a good chance to if Fiat plays their hand right, Fiat makes quality products in Europe).
How did this happen? How did the U.S. automakers catch up to the imports so quickly? Part of it is domestic automakers getting serious about cars instead of SUV's, and part of it is the Japanese automakers becoming lazy. Don't believe me? Take a look at the current flagship sedans of Toyota, Honda, Chevrolet and Ford: The Camry, Accord, Malibu and Fusion. Compare their exteriors: The Malibu is elegant, the Fusion is edgy, while the Accord and Camry are monstrosities. In fact, the previous designs of the Accord and Camry are better looking than the current models, and the design of the interiors are better in the older Camry and Accord as well. The interiors of the Malibu and Fusion? First class. I can't begin to tell you how awesome the Fusion's interior is, and the Malibu is not far behind at all. This doesn't even factor in quality: the quality of Honda and Toyota have taken a nosedive in recent years, while the exact opposite has happened with domestic automakers not named Chrysler.
Foreign automakers still have a leg up on the smaller cars, but that's changing with the new Ford Fiesta, Chevy Aveo, Ford Focus and Chevy Cruze. I've blogged enough about the Focus, but I do know that the domestic automakers are VERY serious about smaller cars now. The Fiesta is getting rave reviews and is reportedly above and beyond the current class leading Honda Fit.
Ford has all their ducks in a row and GM is getting theirs aligned. Chrysler? To be determined. But the Japanese automakers have quickly fallen behind the 8-ball...behind Korean automakers Hyundai and Kia, who have their act together too. (check out the new Hyundai Tucson, Kia Sorrento, Kia Forte and upcoming Hyundai Elantra...awesome cars that, like domestics, are better than Japanese cars)
So, in closing, STOP automatically ASSuming that Japanese-made cars are better than U.S.-made cars. Forget what you know: Detroit is back.