The Most 'American Made' Automobiles You Can Buy in 2018
While you still hear people throw around the slogan “American Made” quite a bit when it comes to automobiles, the phrase has grown increasingly meaningless. Even if something is built within the states, parts for it will stream in from across the globe. Other times something may not even be built within the country. For example, the iconically American Dodge Challenger is assembled in Brampton, Ontario and has its 5.7-liter Hemi engines shipped in from Mexico. That’s not a slight to the vehicle, but you just know people have slapped a “Buy American” bumper sticker onto more than a couple of them.
However there are models that still have the majority of their bolts tightened within the United States and that means something to some shoppers. If you’re one of those, here are most American cars you can buy in 2018.
Every year, Cars.com releases its American-Made Index — which weighs every vehicle’s assembly location, domestic-parts content as determined by the American Automobile Labeling Act (AALA), engine sourcing, transmission sourcing and factory jobs provided by the automaker’s U.S. plants. Since the AALA’s domestic-parts content statistics do not distinguish between Canadian and U.S. parts, Cars.com includes powertrain sourcing and factory labor as a way to offset that.
Last year, that formula placed the Jeep Wrangler as the most American automobile money could buy. But the 2018 Wrangler’s decreased domestic content threw it out of the top ten. In its stead, however, is the Jeep Cherokee. The SUV, assembled in Belvidere, Illinois, boasts a domestic-parts content of 72 percent for the current model year.
The Honda Odyssey minivan and Ridgeline pickup took the next two spots. Both models possess a higher-than-average quantity of domestically sourced components, U.S.-built drivetrains, and are manufactured in Lincoln, Alabama. The Chicago-built Ford Taurus pursued the Hondas in forth place, followed by the index’s highest-ranked newbie, the Chevrolet Volt. That was down to the little electric being manufactured in Michigan and sourcing its battery cells from its home state — a rarity within the industry. While GM also gets batteries from outside the U.S. it was still good for a 66-percent domestic content rating for the 2018 model year.
Honda’s Pilot, which is also assembled in Lincoln, Alabama, was up next. It was followed by Ohio’s Acura MDX and Illinois’ Ford Explorer. The jewel of the Midwest, Ford’s F-150, took ninth place. Despite not having the largest content of American parts, its assembly actually employs the most U.S. citizens thanks to Ford having high-output factories in both Michigan and Missouri.
The always-American Chevrolet Corvette rounded out the pack in tenth place. Still assembled in Bowling Green, Kentucky, America’s most-iconic sports car still maintains an exceptionally high level of domestic parts. However its low production volume doesn’t result in a large U.S. workforce.
We kind of wonder where Dodge’s Viper would have been on the list if FCA hadn’t killed it off last year. Pervious model years scored exceptionally high in the AALA’s domestic-parts content but, like the Vette, it didn’t employ a colossal number of people.
While the index is comprehensive, you can weigh this data in a number of ways that would ultimately result in different outcomes. For example, the Kogod School of Business in Washington, D.C. runs its own American Made Index and typically takes into account the AALA content statistics and weighs it against similar metrics as the Cars.com report. But the Kogod index weighs things a bit differently and places an emphasis on where a company is headquartered and the location of its R&D centers. Fortunately, no matter how many studies we’ve examined, there is a commonality between them and a lot of the same models showing up.
For the most part, buying a non-small or wildly popular vehicle from a domestic automaker is a decent way to ensure it’s “American Made.” However, there are certainly exceptions to that rule and Honda should probably be considered for honorary status as a American automaker at this point. The company consistently produces vehicles that were rated high in domestic content and employed a large number of U.S. citizens — especially with its large and popular models.
[Images: FCA; Honda; General Motors]
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