If a car salesman is waving the flag at you, hopefully he is using more than the badge on the hood. The Kogod School of Business Made in America Auto Index proves on an annual basis that it takes more than a Detroit brand name to call a vehicle American. Consumers should have an idea whether the car was built in the U.S. from parts made here and where the money went for each part of the transaction.
The most American-made cars and trucks can claim as much as 90% of U.S.-sourced content. This number includes content in the body, chassis, interior, and electrical components (50%); site of engine (14%) and transmission (7%) production; where the vehicle was assembled and stored (11%); site of corporate headquarters (6%) and research and development activity (6%); and site of assembly (6%).
Car dealers might wave the flag, but are the vehicles made in America?
General Motors sells multiple cars in the U.S. that have less than 14% American-made content, with the Chevy Spark (13%) trailing even the Korean-made Nissan Rogue (13.5%). The global auto industry is a complex, ever-changing beast, so we hesitate to criticize one company or another for choices in production sites and places they source their parts. Instead, we hope to spread the word about which cars are worthy of the name American and which are best left labeled “from parts unknown.”
Here are the 10 most American-made cars on the road in 2016, according to American University’s Kogod School of Business. When GMC and Chevy versions of the same platform existed, we combined them in the same entry.
10. Chevrolet Suburban
Suburban is among the most American-made cars available.
Is the Chevy Suburban the symbol of Detroit auto excess? Perhaps, but this gigantic SUV is also one of the most American-made vehicles on the road with 82.5% of its contents traced back the the U.S. Suburban shares this spot with Chevy Tahoe and the GMC Yukon, vehicles built on the same platform. The group is tied for fourth place overall on the Made in America Auto Index. Only 17.5% of its interior and electrical work is sourced overseas.
9. Cadillac Escalade
Like its cousins Suburban and Yukon, Cadillac Escalade is about as American and outsized as they come. A whopping 82.5% of its contents are made in the U.S., including everything from engine and transmission to the labor and storing of the finished product. A four-wheel drive model bottoms out at 15 miles per gallon in the city, so this one works best in areas where gas is cheap.
8. Buick LaCrosse
While Buick LaCrosse shares the same total of American content as Suburban, Yukon, and Escalade (82.5%), this sedan is in a different class when it comes to fuel economy. The eAssist model, a mild hybrid available in the 2016 model year, offers up to 29 miles per gallon combined. Since Buick does not charge a premium for the more economical edition, LaCrosse with eAssist offers the best value of any hybrid on the market.
7. Chevrolet Malibu
Chevy has been very aggressive in its marketing of the redesigned Malibu, and the 28% sales gains in 2016 suggest the strategy is working. In terms of American-sourced content, Malibu could hardly be better. It joins its GM cousins in fourth place with 82.5%. The 17.5% coming from overseas consists of body, chassis, interior, and electrical parts. Both Malibu LTD and standard models fall under this banner.
6. Chevrolet Impala
The domination by GM continues on the Made in America index with Chevy Impala scoring 82.5 out of 100. Like the Malibu, LaCrosse, and the full-size SUVs from its many brands, less than one-fifth (17.5%) of this car is sourced in foreign countries. Since its redesign, Impala has been among the sales leaders in the full-size class. It is made at the Detroit Hamtramck plant.
5. Chevrolet Equinox
Chevrolet Equinox may not have the most personality of any vehicle out there, but the economical (32 highway miles per gallon) crossover is about as American as they come. Equinox joins its GM corporate cousins with an impressive score of 82.5 on the Kogod Made in America index. About one third of its electrical and chassis components are sourced overseas. Though its sales pace has slowed a bit in 2016, Equinox remains in the top 20 of all automobiles on the U.S. market.
4. Chevrolet Corvette
You can’t ask for much more power (460 horses) or style than you get in a 2016 Corvette Stingray for the reasonable price of $55,400. That is, unless you opt for the Z06 ($79,400) offering up 650 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2-liter engine. Either way you go, your ‘Vette will be one of the most American-made cars on the road. Kogod gave it a score of 83.0, the third highest on the index. About one-third of its body and interior components comes from foreign countries.
3. Ford F-150
America’s best-selling truck is its most American, part for part.
It’s been America’s best-selling vehicle for decades, and the Ford F-150 is the industry’s most American pickup truck once you track the source of every part. It notched a score of 85.0 on the index, with less than one-third of its body and electrical components sourced from overseas plants. Since the last time Kogod published its list, F-150 has actually gotten more American parts inside it, giving it the second highest score of 2016.
2. Chevrolet Traverse
Situated between Equinox and Suburban, Chevy Traverse is yet another highly American SUV produced by General Motors. On the Kogod index, Traverse scored 90.0, good enough for the best mark of any vehicle on the U.S. market. Only 20% of its body components were sourced from factories outside America. Otherwise, the R&D, corporate profits, assembly, engine and transmission build, labor, and inventory are all American. GMC Acadia, Traverse’s slightly taller mirror, shares this spot on the list.
1. Buick Enclave
Buick Enclave shares the platform of Acadia and Traverse and the highest Made in America Auto Index score of 90. Only a small percentage of Enclave’s components are sourced from foreign countries. Buick’s Michigan headquarters, the Lansing Delta Township Assembly plant where Enclave is put together, and the U.S. home of engine and transmission construction all contribute to this top score of 2016. No other automaker can match GM’s dominance on this list.