A new study shows that exterior and interior styling is becoming a key decision-making factor for new car buyers, moving ahead of quality as a differentiator between brands and models.

Management consulting firm A.T. Kearney found that new vehicle quality ratings have improved across the board in recent years, to the point where consumers just expect a satisfactory level of quality in most new cars. At the same time, styling has become more important in differentiating between brands.

The study showed a clear increase in sales for models with new or refreshed styling, even with mediocre quality ratings. The desirability of a new design seems to last for two or three years, after which sales decline.

And don't forget interior design. The study found that body styling gets people interested in a new car, but it's the interior design that often closes the deal.

Interested in automotive design trends? Check out Car Design News.

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