By on June 27, 2017

2016 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon Hard Rock

While there are some who still proudly use the old slogan “Buy American,” the concept is only loosely applicable to automobiles. While you can certainly support American brands, every automobile on the road is an amalgamation of parts from all over the world — and has been for quite some time.

This year, the automotive research website Cars.com, which began ranking the country’s “most-American” vehicles in 2006, was forced to change its criteria after only three models qualified under the old system of measurement.

For 2017, Cars.com has added country of engine origin, country of transmission origin, and U.S. factory employment relative to a company’s sales to its previous criteria of American parts content and final assembly location. It was also forced to lower the overall percentage of domestic parts a car needs to qualify by a full fifteen percent — from 75 to 60 percent. 

“Even if a car is from a brand headquartered in one place, you have to keep in mind what goes into a vehicle,” Joe Wiesenfelder, executive editor of Cars.com, told Bloomberg in an interview. “Automakers ultimately have to build their vehicles based on the numbers.”

Using the updated system, the “most American” vehicle within the United States was the Jeep Wrangler, built in Toledo, Ohio by the Italian-American Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. The Wrangler was followed closely by the Jeep Cherokee and Ford’s Taurus, the latter of which forecaster LMC Automotive believes will move production from Chicago to China after news of the Focus’ far-east exodus broke last week.

The next highest ranked vehicles were the Honda Ridgeline, Acura RDX, Ford F-150, Ford Expedition, GMC Acadia, Honda Odyssey, and Honda — in that order.

While interest in buying American seems to have been bolstered in the wake of President Trump’s election campaign, rising from 13 percent of prospective car buyers in 2016 to 25 percent in 2017, Wiesenfelder suggested most shoppers don’t really care about their car’s country of origin. “Consumers are more interested in the other factors like how well a vehicle meets their needs and how well it fits their family,” he said.

Still, 25 percent is not an insignificant figure and one domestic manufacturers are likely to take note of. Global suppliers may make the physical act of assembling a truly American vehicle an impossibility, but that won’t keep automakers from marketing them that way.

[Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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24 Comments on “Irrelevant ‘Most-American Car’ Ranking Changes Criteria, If Only to Flesh Out Results...”


  • avatar
    JohnTaurus

    You didn’t list the second Honda model after Odyssey. I’m guessing its the Accord or Pilot.

    “….Ford’s Taurus, the latter of which forecaster LMC Automotive believes will move production from Chicago to China after news of the Focus’ far-east exodus broke last week.”

    That assumes we’re getting another Taurus generation here, which is unlikely.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh no. It’s coming. I recently saw one with manufacturer’s plates.

      • 0 avatar
        brn

        My current “American Made” Taurus is one heck of a car. It doesn’t get the credit it deserves.

        I’m not looking forward to a Chinese made Taurus.

        • 0 avatar
          Featherston

          @ brn – It doesn’t necessarily align to the current US market, but I’ve had the 6th-gen Taurus a couple of times as a rental and like it. (A couple of time-consuming layovers on a trip this week has me pining for a vehicle in the Avalon-Taurus class.)

          Explorer production stays at the Torrence Ave/Chicago Assembly plant for the time being, I’m guessing? Per Wikipedia, it’s Ford’s oldest continuously operated plant. Kind of cool that Model T’s and Model A’s used to come from the same factory.

          I’ll also add that assembly quality was good on those two rentals and on a friend’s Explorer, so the designers and the workers on the South Side seem to be doing something right.

    • 0 avatar
      Guitar man

      The survery divides the content figure by the number sold ; hence falling Jeep sales makes them at the top.

      The F-150 which is sold in the millions probably has the actual highest local content.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Make Asia Great Again

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      Lou, that’s the direction the money and trade is heading in.

      A couple hundred years ago Europe was the centre of the world. Then the US.

      Currently money is moving to Asia and lots of it. People need to realise this isn’t going to change any time soon.

      Its good to have the faithful, but 75% (that magic number) don’t care.

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        Big Al from Oz – I suspect that the ones that make the most noise about “American Made” vehicles don’t see beyond the badge. Ram HD’s are a prime example. We have both been on blog sites where they have been the most nationalistic and oblivious to the cognitive dissonance.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          That’t attitude is prevalent in Australia between the Holden and Ford guys.

          The Ranger, Everest, BT50 and Bronco work in Australia has created many high paying jobs.

          Oh, I’m still waiting for TTAC to do a the Ranger Raptor article with a 2.7 EB.

          Seems my insight has been accurate.

          Just looking at the front control arms and Watts link assend, itt might become Ford’s best off road pickup yet.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I thought the Model S had very high American content, but I don’t recall the metrics used for it.

    • 0 avatar
      RV1458

      I’m also surprised Tesla didn’t make this list. I suppose when your cars have neither a transmission or an engine that hurts you when those are two of the major factors in the ranking…

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    What? There are no Lotus Evoras on this list. Wonder what our Euro lover friends Jack and Ronnie say about lack of Lotus Evoras with Camry engines on most American car list ?

  • avatar
    Fred

    If folks are calling Volvo and now Lotus a Chinese car company then I don’t see how a Jeep can be American.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Three of my Toronados were built in Lansing, Michigan. The 1985 was produced in Linden, New Jersey.
    All three of my Buicks were built in the USA.
    All three of my Eldorados were built in the USA.
    My GMC Motor Home was built in Pontiac, Michigan in 1976.
    Both of my Auroras were built at Lake Orion, Michigan.
    My SAAB was built in Trollhattan, Sweden, where you will find the largest American Car Show in the world, annually!
    My Intrigue was built in Kansas City.
    Make Avanti Great Again!

  • avatar
    brn

    I’m glad to see them making some appropriate adjustments. It’d be nice of they also listed vehicles made in North America. I’d rather purchase a vehicle with a high Canadian content than one with a high Chinese content.

  • avatar
    zip89123

    I wouldn’t say irrelevant. There were times in the past where if my choice was a Japan built Accord or American built Accord, I’d seek out the Japan vehicle.

  • avatar
    65corvair

    I had a coworker make a negative comment about my Honda being Japanese. My reply was that my old Ford was made in Mexico, our Dodge was made in Canada by an Italian company and my Honda was around 70-80% USA. His GM product turned out to be made in Mexico.

  • avatar
    Garrett

    Most people assume the Big 3 produce all their cars in the USA and so you have people that want to buy US made cars not even realizing their cars are made in Canada/Mexico with a ridiculous amount of Chinese-made parts.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      This is very, very true.

      I bet if you questioned Envision owners on where their CUV was assembled you’d have to ask around 40 before one said China and most would reply that it was built in the US.

      In general the normies know very little about their vehicle.

    • 0 avatar
      CoastieLenn

      I’d imagine that this same metric also applies VERY well to the fervent “I’ll never buy an American car!! Rabble rabble!” Japanese car buyers that look at all Ford/GM products in disgust as they drive off in their Honda Accord or Toyota Camry.

      After having previously worked in the auto dealer industry for over a decade, I can honestly say that Honda/Toyota buyers are MUCH more clueless and ignorant about their cars than domestic buyers.

  • avatar
    threeer

    I’m still one of the 25 percenters that thinks it matters, even if it doesn’t (or at least is really, really difficult to fully figure out). However, I’m also not clueless as to the fact that many “foreign” cars have more American-produced content than many “Big 3” vehicles do. I attempt to search out those vehicles with a high US content, assembled in the US by US-owned companies. Was a little disappointed to find out that my Ford Escape does not beat with an American heart (engine foreign). Still, I try. And many of the clothes I wear I purchase from places like All-American clothing. Same goes for appliances in the house (that I source them from an American manufacturer, assembled at least in America). Maybe I’m too “get offa my lawn” old and stuck in my desire to support my country, but there it is. I realize that a vast number (75%, apparently) of Americans don’t really give a rat’s butt where their cars are made…but I’m guessing if one of their family lost a job related to auto assembly, they just might. Then again…GM is selling Envisions and Ford is soon to bring the Focus over from China, so what do I know?

    • 0 avatar
      Freddie

      When I go car shopping, I am rooting for the home team. I HOPE that the car I like the best turns out to be American (however you measure “American”), but I am still going to buy the car I like best regardless of where it’s made.

  • avatar
    Freddie

    As an engineer, I’d be interested in knowing the domestic “design content” of each vehicle. Anyone know where that kind of data might be available?


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