When it comes to automotive quality, three things are certain, according to the Chicago Tribune
: Toyota and Honda are still the leaders; American manufacturers have closed thegap in the last 10 to 20 years; and nothing else is certain."The domestic industry is making major improvements in keeping pace with the rest of the industry," said Brian Walters, director of product research for J.D. Power and Associates, who oversees the dozens of studies his firm conducts on automotive issues.One of the biggest of these studies is the Initial Quality Survey, which rates cars according to the average number of reported problems in the first 90 days of service. Results of the 2001 survey, released in May 2001, showed that even if American cars areclosing in on imports, there's still a quality gap.Asian companies averaged 140 problems per car and Europeans 141, while American makeswere at 153, below the industry average of 147.