The Most 'American Made' Automobiles You Can Buy in 2018

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
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, 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, 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 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]

Join the conversation
3 of 53 comments
  • Conundrum Conundrum on Jun 25, 2018

    To get back to the point, free of utter BS right wing horse manure who, on the one hand figure the world owes them a living but who cannot sanction having universal healthcare for their own countrymen, who believes this list? Does have the resources to properly analyze US content? Did Toyota suddenly change the way it makes the Camry? And yet this outfit's results are regarded as definitive for some reason. Who are they and why should anyone trust the results?

    • SC5door SC5door on Jun 26, 2018

      Domestic part content. Toyota may very well have changed suppliers for particular components. Example being the Taurus and Explorer (built in the same plant) that use sedan or SUV specific components that come from different suppliers.

  • Steve From Japan Steve From Japan on Jun 26, 2018

    "Fortunately, no matter how many studies we’ve examined, there is a commonality between them and a lot of the same models showing up." Not, really. The top ten models in the Kogod School of Business' American Made Index does not contain a single Japanese brand - they are in fact all American brands. I personally think the Kogod ranking is much more accurate, since factors like where a company is headquartered, does its Research and Development, has the bulk of its high paying jobs (management, administration, engineering and design, etc.), and pays most of its corporate taxes are extremely important. Anyone who doubts this should compare the economy of Detroit/Michigan with that of Toyota City in Aichi prefecture in Japan. Whereas Detroit/Michigan has been stuck in terminal decline, Toyota City/Aichi where Toyota has its HQ has been flourishing and thriving.

  • Lou_BC " GMC Canyon sales during the second quarter of 2023 kept Big Red’s midsize pickup last in its segment when ranked by sales volume. The Toyota Tacoma continued to command the top spot, while also being the only model to be in the green with a 14 percent bump to 63,262 units year-over-year, representing nearly half of all segment deliveries. The  Chevy Colorado (see running  Chevy Colorado sales), the Canyon’s corporate cousin, placed second with a 12 percent dip to 19,909 units. The Nissan Frontier took third with a 17 percent slide to 17,213 units, followed by the Jeep Gladiator in fourth with a 34 percent drop to 13,751 units. The  Ford Ranger (see running  Ford Ranger sales) took fifth with a 22 percent decline to 12,618 units. The GMC Canyon (see running  GMC Canyon sales) finished out the short list with an 11 percent slip to 6,708 units"
  • 2ACL If you weren't throwing away your Mercedes after the warranty expired, this will fix that. This is an overly complex answer to the AMG question I don't think will endure the test of time.
  • Kwik_Shift Looks like what a redesigned Nissan Murano would be. I believe Murano is done.
  • MaintenanceCosts This is a Volvo EX90 with swoopier styling and less interior room. I'm really not sure I understand the target audience.
  • Stuki Moi If government officials, and voters, could, like, read and, like, count and, like, stuff: They'd take the opportunity to replace fixed license numbers, with random publicly available keys derived from a non-public private key known only to them and the vehicle's owner. The plate's displayed number would be undecipherable to every slimeball out there with a plate reader who is selling people's whereabouts and movements, since it would change every day/hour/minute. Yet any cop with a proper warrant and a plate scanner, could decipher it just as easily as today.