What happened
Ford and Chevrolet all but eliminated a quality gap with Toyota in J.D. Power and Associates’ rankings for new cars and trucks. In all, the 2009 models of GM, Ford, and Chrysler vehicles improved 10 percent, versus an 8 percent quality jump for imports. (Reuters)

What the commentators said
“Finally, some good news for Detroit,” said Joann Muller in Forbes. Despite the “unprecedented challenges” that pushed GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, Detroit’s passenger cars are now as good as those of foreign competitors, and their trucks are slightly better. The Big Three may be falling apart, “but at least their cars aren’t.”

Still, the narrowing quality gap is “a story line I’ve heard before,” said David Welch in BusinessWeek. Unfortunately, Ford, GM, and Chrysler never quite catch up with Toyota and Honda. Detroit’s cars really have been getting better for years, but coming in a close second place isn’t enough to “send the loyal Toyota Camry or Honda Accord owner to a Chevrolet dealer.”

And it’s not like the world’s new No. 1, Toyota, is going to stand still, said Chris Shunk in Autoblog. Its new CEO, Toyota scion Shoichiro Toyoda, explicitly warned his executives not to “emulate bankrupt General Motors” by seeking short-term gains in big and expensive cars, trucks, and SUVs.

Detroit doesn’t just need to try catching up with Japan, said Micheline Maynard in The New York Times. It also needs to watch the “rear-view mirror” at Korea’s Hyundai, which jumped to No. 4 on the J.D. Power list and, including its Kia brand, controls 7.3 percent of the U.S. market. Sounds like Japan four decades ago.