Style & Design Rule

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The quality gap among automakers is shrinking, and that means style and design is now king, according to one expert.

"It used to be there was a major difference in quality between foreign makes and domestics, German cars and Japanese cars, for example," said Credit Union Direct Lending CEO Tony Boutelle. "But that quality gap has pretty much closed, so the real differential now is design and features."

Still don't believe it? "When you see that Kia got three cars into the JDPowers & Associates rankings, it's pretty clear the quality gap is shrinking," Boutelle laughed.

But the other differentiator may also become the type of automobile a manufacturer is known for, he added.

The Big Three domestic automakers are seen as specializing in trucks, and that has been a huge market for them, Boutelle noted. With rising gas prices and interest rates, however, people may finally start to shy away from trucks and SUVs in favor of more fuel-efficient cars.

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