Which Cars Are The ‘Most American’ For 2021?

The Tesla Model 3 is the vehicle sold in the U.S. with the most domestic

The past year has been the proverbial roller coaster ride for society, and it should perhaps come as no surprise that U.S. consumers have become more steadfast about buying local-made made goods to help bolster the economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Vehicles are no exception, according to a just-released study conducted by the autos website Cars.com

The research shows that 72 percent of new-car shoppers consider car’s geographic origin as part of the being a significant or deciding factor in their vehicle purchase, with 29 percent feeling it would be “unpatriotic” to buy a to buy a non-domestic-built model.

Unfortunately the days are long gone when one could walk into a Chevrolet or Ford dealership confident that any of the vehicles on the showroom floor were built in U.S. factories with 100 percent American parts and labor. Today, given global parts sourcing and assembly, a model carrying an Asian- or European-brand badge may actually contain more U.S. labor and content than a competing vehicle from a Detroit-based automaker.

At that, consumers are often confused about the geographic origin of some popular vehicle brands. For example, Cars.com’s survey indicates that 37 percent of those queried think Hyundai is a Japanese or Chinese automaker than those who correctly identified it as hailing from South Korea (29 percent). As many respondents (26 percent) thought the Lexus brand was either American or German as did those who correctly identified it as being as Japanese. Only half of all respondents believed Tesla to be an American automaker. 

To help consumers make more informed decisions as to where their car or truck dollars actually wind up, Cars.com has issued its 15th annual American-Made Index to determine which are the “most domestic” vehicles sold in the U.S. 

“The 2021 AMI arrives against a backdrop of scarce inventory amid a microchip shortage and heightened consumer demand,” says Kelsey Mays, Cars.com’s assistant managing editor and the report’s lead researcher. “Despite this, there remains a high consumer focus on buying American-made vehicles as the economy is still emerging from the effects of the pandemic. For those interested in making the biggest impact here, the index gives shoppers a way to purchase the most American-made vehicle.” 

While the AMI top-20 list, as one might expect, includes some classic American nameplates like Mustang, Cherokee, and Corvette, a full 10 out of 20 come from Japanese automakers Honda and Toyota (including their luxury brands Acura and Lexus). In fact the Honda Odyssey minivan (built in Lincoln, Ala.), is determined to be the fifth most American vehicle sold in the U.S. By contrast, the top-selling vehicle in the U.S., the Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck, could only muster 44th place in the list of the top 90 models that see final assembly within U.S. borders for at least some portion of their total sales.

Among automakers, General Motors placed 19 vehicles on the index, followed by Honda (13), Toyota (12), and Ford (11). Nearly half of the most American models this year are SUVs, followed by sedans and/or hatchbacks (28%) and pickup trucks (17%). 

The website’s rankings are based on five factors: assembly location, U.S. and Canadian parts sourcing, U.S. factory employment relative to vehicle production, and engine and transmission sourcing. Not considered are vehicles coming from manufacturers that build fewer than 1,000 models per year, fleet-only cars, and those scheduled to be discontinued after the current model year. Hybrids and plug-in vehicles are treated as separate models for purposes of the report as well as variants within a given vehicle line that ride on separate platforms (i.e. the Hyundai Elantra and Elantra GT), as well as those with common underpinnings and components sold under different brand names (like the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon).

The American Automobile Labeling Act requires automakers to include data regarding a vehicle’s country of origin, noting on each new car and truck’s so-called “Monroney” price sticker the percentage of U.S./Canadian parts content used, where the vehicle is assembled, and countries where the engine and transmission are built. One catch here is that the labeling act treats Canadian parts and assembly as essentially coming from the U.S., so perhaps it’s more appropriate to treat the list as being the “most North American” vehicles. 

Here are the 20 “most American” models for 2021 according to Cars.com and where they are built:

  1. Tesla Model 3 (Fremont, Calif.)
  2. Ford Mustang (Flat Rock, Mich.) 
  3. Tesla Model Y (Fremont, Calif.)
  4. Jeep Cherokee (Belvidere, Ill.)
  5. Chevrolet Corvette (Bowling Green, Ky.)
  6. Honda Ridgeline (Lincoln, Ala.)
  7. Honda Odyssey (Lincoln, Ala)
  8. Honda Pilot (Lincoln, Ala.)
  9. Honda Passport (Lincoln, Ala.)
  10. Toyota Tundra (San Antonio, Texas)
  11. Ford Expedition, Expedition Max (Louisville, Ky.)
  12. Acura RDX (East Liberty, Ohio)
  13. Acura TLX (Marysville, Ohio)
  14. Chevrolet Colorado (Wentzville, Mo.)
  15. GMC Canyon (Wentzville, Mo.)
  16. Jeep Grand Cherokee (Detroit, Mich.)
  17. Honda Accord (Marysville, Ohio)
  18. Toyota Avalon (Georgetown, Ky.)
  19. Lexus ES (Georgetown, Ky.)
  20. Lincoln Navigator, Navigator L (Louisville, Ky.)

You can read the full report here.