Many car shoppers want to choose an American car, whether it is to maintain brand loyalty or to put their payments toward stimulating the national economy. Thing is, defining “American” has become increasingly difficult in this global market.
The good news for car-buying patriots is that American-made products are available from most mainstream brands. Of course, many models from traditional American nameplates are imported, especially from Canada and Mexico.
For this list, we focused on the vehicles that scored highest in our road tests that are built in the USA—meaning assembled in the lower 48 states. Further, we emphasized choices that use domestic engines and transmissions. A couple models here stretched the rules a little since some powertrain components may come from elsewhere.
Embarrassingly, perhaps, it’s easier to find great all-American cars that have Japanese nameplates than Detroit labels. Here are 10 really good cars and SUVs made in the USA. Listed by vehicle type.
Sports car: Chevrolet Corvette
Base MSRP price range: $54,000 - $83,000
Built in Bowling Green, Kentucky, since the 1980s, “America’s Sports Car” moved into its seventh generation for 2014. With its 460-hp V8, the newest Vette delivers ferocious acceleration, precise handling, and excellent braking, all for thousands less than such high-performance competitors as the Porsche 911. With the adjustable driving modes the car can be a civilized cruiser or track-ready race car. While the seven-speed manual gearbox is made in Mexico, the new eight-speed automatic is a GM design made in Toledo, Ohio.
Large SUV: Chevrolet Traverse
Base MSRP price range: $30,995 - $43,935
One of the better three-row SUVs, the quiet and comfortable Traverse seats up to eight, handles with agility, and has a steady ride. A recent freshening brought the better MyLink infotainment system and head restraints. Handling is relatively agile and secure, and the Traverse steers nicely. The Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia are close cousins. The Traverse is assembled in Lansing, Mich., with a V6 and a six-speed transmission also made in Michigan.
Luxury SUV: Acura MDX
Base MSRP price range: $42,765 - $56,980
A hallmark of Honda’s luxury Acura division, the MDX is easy to live with. Comfortable, quick, and quiet, it offers generous space for five. In a pinch, it can accommodate seven if third-row passengers aren’t too big. The 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed transmission are smooth, silky, and provide competitive acceleration. We measured an excellent 20 mpg overall. The MDX is made in Lincoln, Alabama, with powertrains manufactured at Honda’s Ohio factories.
Midsized SUV: Toyota Highlander
Base MSRP price range: $29,415 - $49,990
With seating for seven or eight in a pinch, the excellent Highlander handles responsively and has a steady, absorbent ride and comfortable seats. The 2.7-liter four cylinder and the smooth 3.5-liter V6 are matched to a six-speed automatic. Hybrid models use the V6 with an electric motor and a CVT. In our tests the AWD V6 Highlander averaged 20 mpg, while the Hybrid got 25 mpg. It’s assembled in Indiana using a V6 powertrain made in West Virginia.
Midsized sedan: Honda Accord
Base MSRP price range: $22,105 - $35,055
The Accord has long been an excellent car, with impressive overall road test scores, fuel economy, and reliability. The current Accord is very spacious inside, it rides and handles well, and both the V6 and four-cylinder are smooth and fuel-efficient. We got 30 mpg overall with the Four and 26 mpg overall with the V6. Reliability has been average or better for all versions of late. It’s assembled in Marysville, Ohio, with powertrains coming from other Ohio Honda plants.
Midsized sedan: Toyota Camry
Base MSRP price range: $22,970 - $31,370
A perennial best seller, the well-rounded Camry has an absorbent ride, good handling, and a well-made, comfortable, convenient interior. It was reskinned for 2015, with refinements made throughout. Most Camrys are assembled in Kentucky with overflow coming from an Indiana plant co-operated with Subaru. The V6 powertrains come from Kentucky, while the four-cylinder engine is made in Alabama.
Large sedan: Chevrolet Impala
Base MSRP price range: $27,060 - $40,660
One of our highest-rated vehicles, car or truck, the Impala is spacious, comfortable, very quiet, and engaging to drive. The V6 accelerates and brakes capably, with secure and responsive handling. It even rides like a luxury sedan, feeling cushy and controlled. The full-featured cabin stays very quiet, with a sumptuous backseat and a huge trunk. The V6 version is assembled in Oshawa, Ontario, while the four-cylinder is made at GM’s Detroit Hamtramck plant and its transmissions are made in Warren, Mich.
Large sedan: Toyota Avalon
Base MSRP price range: $32,285 - $41,700
The newest Avalon looks stylish and handles well. Its quiet interior is well made, luxurious, and spacious, even though rear seat room isn’t quite as generous as expected. The lively 268-hp V6 is teamed with a smooth six-speed automatic and delivers a commendable 24 mpg overall. The hybrid's 2.5-liter four-cylinder is teamed with an electric motor, returning an impressive 36 mpg overall. Upscale materials and finish details give the spacious cabin a lush, luxurious ambiance. The Avalon is build alongside the Camry in Kentucky with powertrains sourced out of West Virginia.
Minivan: Honda Odyssey
Base MSRP price range: $28,975 - $44,600
The ultra-practical Odyssey is a versatile hauler that combines clever and generous packaging with responsive handling and a supple ride. The Odyssey can seat eight with ease, with varying configurations for cargo and passenger needs. Easy access, excellent child-seat accommodations, and abundant cabin storage add to the family-friendly quotient. The Odyssey is built in Alabama and uses a good, strong V6 and a smooth six-speed transmission both made at Honda plants in Ohio.
Electric car: Tesla Model S
Base MSRP price range: $69,900 - $104,500
The Tesla Model S is a great four-door luxury sporty car that happens to be electric. A large, low-slung hatchback, it easily seats five, or seven with the optional rear-facing jump seats. With its optional 85 kWh battery, the largest available, it can travel between 180 and 225 miles per charge and can be fully charged in as little as five hours on a dedicated Tesla connector. Performance is exceptional, with thrilling acceleration, pinpoint handling, and a comfortable ride. The Model S is made in Fremont, California, at a former GM/Toyota facility. Tesla itself builds the complex armor-plated battery packs for the Model S, using thousands of small battery cells sourced from Panasonic.
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