We’ve already established that Jeep has once again firmly cemented itself as the most patriotic automotive brand in an article you can read here. But what about the most American cars? To establish a clear distinction here, the most patriotic brand ranking study included all American companies, not just the ones inside the realm of the auto industry. On top of that, the rankings are based on a consumer-survey basis and only account for a single value. On the flip side, the Cars.com annual American-Made Index (AMI) is much more rigorous and involves more concrete data as opposed to pure consumer opinion. You won’t be surprised to see names like Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, and Jeep Cherokee among the top of the AMI. It may surprise you that only half of the top 20 cars on the list are from US-based companies.
The Cars.com American-Made Index has been around since 2006, and the criteria for what makes a certain model the most American alters slightly year by year. Keep in mind that in order to qualify for the rankings, the models must be built (partially American built models are marked with an asterisk) and bought in the US. The nationality of the vehicle brand does not matter for the rankings (but they do to us). The 2021 American-Made index focuses on five criteria in the 90 vehicle rankings:
Location(s) of final assembly
Percentage of U.S. (and Canadian) parts
Countries of origin for all available engines
Countries of origin for all available transmissions
U.S. manufacturing workforce
The Top 20 Most American Cars
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, Tx.
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
17. Honda Accord: Marysville, Ohio
18. Toyota Avalon: Georgetown, Ky.
19. Lexus ES: Georgetown, Ky.*
20. Lincoln Navigator, Navigator L: Louisville, Ky.
American Brands Do Well, Thankfully
American-brand manufacturers take up 10 of the 20 spots on the 2021 AMI, which is good news. You’ll notice that the Ford Mustang ranks 2nd on the AMI list. Surprisingly enough, the 2020 AMI list ranked the Ford Mustang at 34th place. The massive jump, according to Cars.com, comes from Ford’s effort to increase the Mustang’s American and Canadians parts content. It’s helped by the fact that the final assembly of the Ford Mustang happens at the Ford Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan.
The Jeep Cherokee lands at a respectable 4th place. The Cherokee is manufactured in Belvidere, Illinois and is made about as American as it gets. The controversy surrounding the vehicle’s namesake may have swayed the Jeep Cherokee’s ranking in a consumer survey, however the compact SUV seems to meet all of the AMI criteria.
The Chevrolet Corvette takes 5th place and rightfully so. The C8 Corvette Stingray is assembled right in Bowling Green, Kentucky and sports the American-made LT2 V8. Unfortunately, the 8-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission that controls the power from the LT2 motor comes from Tremec, which is owned by KUO Group based out of Mexico City.
No, we didn’t forget the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y sitting pretty at 1st and 3rd place for the most American cars. The final assembly for both of the all-electric cars happens in Fremont, California. It’s not exactly clear how Cars.com assigns value to Tesla’s “engine”, considering that the batteries that are used to power the cars are purchased from Panasonic, who manufactures them overseas. Nonetheless, it’s satisfying to see that the top five cars in the American-Made Index are all American brands. Anything else would be blasphemy.
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The 2170 batteries for the Model 3/Y are built at Tesla/Panasonic’s Gigafactory in Nevada. The 18650 cells in the Model S/X are made in Japan, which is why they don’t appear on the list.