The Cars.com American-Made Index
|What Are the Top American-Made Cars?|
|Cars.com's American-Made Index rates vehicles built and bought in the U.S. Factors include sales, where the car's parts are made and whether the car is assembled in the U.S. Models that have been discontinued are disqualified, as are those with a domestic-parts content rating below 75 percent.|
|Rank||Make/Model||U.S. Assembly Location||Last Rank|
|1.||Ford F-150*||Claycomo, Mo.;|
|2.||Chevrolet Cobalt||Lordstown, Ohio||4|
|3.||Chevrolet Silverado 1500*||Fort Wayne, Ind.;|
|4.||Toyota Tundra||Princeton, Ind.;|
San Antonio, Texas
|5.||Pontiac G6||Orion, Mich.||8|
|6.||Toyota Sienna||Princeton, Ind.||6|
|7.||Ford Escape**||Claycomo, Mo.||9|
|8.||Chevrolet TrailBlazer||Moraine, Ohio||-|
|9.||Chevrolet Malibu||Kansas City, Kan.||7|
|10.||Ford Explorer/Sport Trac||Louisville, Ky.;|
*Rankings based on estimated sales breakouts and/or production data.
While Ford and GM continue their reign on the American-Made Index, the long-running No. 2 car, the Toyota Camry, has fallen completely off the list and, just like last time, Chrysler is still missing from the Index.
Toyota, the index's lone foreign-based automaker, had a mixed year. Spurred by banner sales, the Texas- and Indiana-built Toyota Tundra charged to fourth place, up from 10th. The truck's solid domestic-parts content rating, up to 80 percent for 2008 from 75 percent for 2007, helped its cause. But, as mentioned, the best-selling Camry is gone. Blame the two-door Camry Solara, which Toyota groups with the Camry in its sales results. It's the Camry's millstone this year, with its domestic-parts content rating dropping to 65 percent from 80 percent from the '07 to the '08 models. Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong said via email that the details behind such figures "are usually not made public." (For more info on how we compile the Index, check out the Editor's Note at the bottom of this story.)
The Camry wasn't the only car beset by a lower domestic-parts content rating. We predicted in June's AMI that the Ford Focus would be a strong contender, with a restyled model set to jump-start the nameplate's sales. No dice — the '08 Focus dropped to 65 percent from 75 percent in domestic-parts content, and the car no longer makes the cut. The Ford Escape, meanwhile, saw the steepest domestic-parts content drop of all, from 90 percent for the 2007 model to just 65 percent for the restyled '08. Ford spokesman Wes Sherwood couldn't give a reason for the drop, saying only that Ford "is very proud of the domestically produced parts that go into our vehicles ... but there are changes from year to year."
That 65 percent rating affected the Escape's ranking last time, but strong sales still secured it a ninth-place finish in the July index. With other contenders dropping out this time, the Escape sailed up into seventh place. With those higher-domestic-parts-content '07s leaving dealer lots, however, don't expect to see the Escape in next July's index.
The Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado also saw lower domestic content ratings, but both remain America's best-selling vehicles — by comfortable margins. The Ohio-built Chevy Cobalt posted excellent results, moving up from being the country's 14th-best-selling car last spring to the 12th best-seller today. The '08 model continues to use a high percentage of domestic parts, and it effectively replaces the Camry as the AMI's highest-ranked passenger car.
Other old-timers also made comebacks. The Michigan-built Pontiac G6 retained a domestic content rating in the mid-80s for 2008, improving to fifth place, and the Ford Explorer held the line on sales to forge its way back into 10th. Thanks to decent sales since last spring, the aging Chevy TrailBlazer returned to eighth place.
So where are Honda and Nissan — and, um, Chrysler? Like last time, Chrysler's best-selling Dodge Ram fell just short of the 75 percent domestic-parts content rating cutoff, and most of the automaker's popular minivans are assembled in Canada, also disqualifying them from consideration. We had high hopes for the Ohio-built Jeep Wrangler, but the '08 model has considerably less domestic content than the previous version.
Honda and Nissan build boatloads of cars stateside, but none of them have enough domestic content to qualify. That could change, though. The Honda Civic saw a boom in domestic-parts content this year, up to 70 percent for '08 models from 55 percent for '07 — the highest increase for any model we studied. Honda spokesman Chuck Schifsky said he didn't know exactly why the content jumped, but he speculated that it could be because Honda purchased some major components from a U.S. source instead of a Japanese one. If the trend continues, the Civic could be Honda's ticket into the AMI within a year or two.
What about iconic American cars like the Ford Mustang, Chevy Impala and Chrysler 300? Index placers, they are not. The Michigan-built Mustang has a disappointing 65 percent domestic-parts content rating, while the 300 and Impala are built in Canada. What's more, America's beloved retro hatchbacks, the soon-to-be-discontinued Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevy HHR, are built in Mexico. Not that import automakers fare any better: Hyundai's Alabama-built Sonata has just 37 percent domestic content, while the Ohio-built Honda CR-V comes in at just 10 percent. That portrait of urban frugality, the Toyota Prius? It's imported from Japan.
In today's global economy, there's no easy way to determine just how American a car is. Many cars built in the U.S., for example, are assembled using parts that come from somewhere else. Some cars assembled in the U.S. from strictly American-made parts don't sell very well, meaning that fewer Americans are building those models. Cars.com's American-Made Index highlights the cars that are built here, have the highest amount of domestic parts, and are bought in the largest numbers by Americans.
There are a few options for determining a car's domestic-parts content. We went with the figure that appears alongside the window sticker of new cars as a result of the American Automobile Labeling Act, enacted in 1994. The AALA mandates that virtually every new car display the percentage, by cost, of its parts that originated in the U.S. and Canada. We deemed cars with a domestic-parts content rating of 75 percent or higher eligible for the index.
As consumers compare domestic and foreign automakers, many are making their choice based on how good or bad a car's gas mileage is. To see how domestic and foreign automakers match up in federal fuel efficiency ratings, read our story on corporate average fuel economy linked below.