American automakers are struggling for many reasons, including the credit crunch, poor management, and decades of producing mediocre cars. Experts agree that building the right vehicles is a key to a successful turnaround and to the automakers' ability to be competitive down the road.
We've recently seen signs that Detroit is heading in the right direction, with better-performing models from General Motors and improved reliability from Ford. But they still lack the high level of consistency of the best automakers, such as Honda and Toyota, which build good, all-around vehicles that often excel in performance and reliability.
Based on our rigorous road tests of more than 80 vehicles per year and our exclusive owner surveys on the reliability of about 1.4 million vehicles, here's what we think GM, Ford, and Chrysler are doing right and what they need to improve in the cars they're building.