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Detroit Finally Passes Foreign Competition in Quality

They said it would never happen.

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CNBC

They said the "Big 3" would always be the "Forgettable 3" when it comes to building quality cars and trucks.

They said reliability would always be the downfall for Detroit's automakers.

Now those critics of the Big 3 have been proven wrong.

For the first time ever, the J.D. Power Initial Quality Study has found America's automakers build new models with fewer problems than their foreign competitors.

A watershed moment? You bet.

A surprise? Not at all.

First, look at the results. J.D. Power surveyed more than 82,000 new car owners about what problems they've found in their new models in the first 90 days of ownership.

Three results stand out:

* Owners of domestic models reported fewer problems than owners of import models. The first time that has happened in the 24 years of the J.D. Power Study.

* Ford improved to #5 in brand quality, ahead of both Honda and Toyota. The first time ever Ford has cracked the top 5. The results:

  1. Porsche
  2. Acura
  3. Mercedes
  4. Lexus
  5. Ford

* Toyota tumbled 15 places from #6 to #21, falling below the industry average for quality.

So how much of the Big 3 passing up foreign competition is because Ford, GM and Chrysler are cranking out better made cars and trucks? Or is this a case of the foreign automakers —especially Toyota — dropping the ball on quality?

Actually, both played a role.

Yes, the massive recalls by Toyotaearlier this year clearly lead to many new owners reporting problems. It was a major problem that is clearly going to hit Toyota in quality studies. At the same time, don't dismiss the strides in quality made by the Big 3, especially Ford. Under CEO Alan Mulally, improving quality has been a top priorityand it's steadily gone up since Mulally took over in 2006. Now the goal at GM and Chrysler has to be catching Ford.

Ford shows that Americans can build some of the most reliable cars and trucks on the road. For those who said Detroit couldn't match the competition, it's time to sing a different tune.

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