What does it mean to buy American?

At a time when 71 percent of consumers believe buying American contributes significantly or substantially to the U.S. economy[i], this complicated question is important. The annual Cars.com American-Made Index provides an answer. The 2018 index, released June 21, helps car shoppers and dealerships determine the “most American” vehicles of 2018 – those that have the greatest impact on the U.S. economy, taking into account which cars:

  • Are manufactured in America.
  • Have the most American parts.
  • Support the most American factory jobs.

According to the 2018 index, the Jeep Cherokee, assembled in Belvidere, Illinois, is the most American vehicle.

And yet, Jeep is a division of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), an Italian corporation headquartered in London, which underscores the global, interconnected nature of the automotive industry. In fact, four of the top 10 American-made vehicles are produced by a foreign-based automaker:


Rank Make/Model U.S. Assembly Plant Location(s)
1 Jeep Cherokee Belvidere, Ill.
2 Honda Odyssey Lincoln, Ala.
3 Honda Ridgeline Lincoln, Ala.
4 Ford Taurus Chicago
5 Chevrolet Volt Detroit
6 Honda Pilot Lincoln, Ala.
7 Acura MDX (excludes MDX Sport Hybrid) East Liberty, Ohio
8 Ford Explorer Chicago
9 Ford F-150 Claycomo, Mo., and Dearborn, Mich.
10 Chevrolet Corvette Bowling Green, Ky.


Buying American means buying a Honda Odyssey minivan or Honda Ridgeline pickup truck, which make our Top 10 most American list. Why? Because even though Honda is a Japan-based automaker, both of these cars are built in Alabama with high domestic content and U.S.-sourced drivetrains. As noted in a press release, the Cherokee comes in as the most American-made car of 2018 due to its high domestic-parts content, U.S.-manufactured engines and transmissions, and FCA’s large U.S. factory workforce.

Many Americans prefer buying American based on a Cars.com survey of U.S. consumers. In fact, before buying a car, two-thirds of Americans say they first find out where a car is built or where its automaker is headquartered. More than eight out of 10 consumers believe that buying American-made vehicles will create more jobs in the United States. And 28 percent of respondents would only consider an American manufacturer when purchasing a vehicle.

Buying a car is an emotional decision made even more emotional when you factor in patriotism as a motivation. The American-Made Index gives dealerships information to temper emotion with facts and make the best decision possible based on a criterion of wanting to support the American economy. As noted, some of the vehicles on our list might surprise consumers looking to support the American economy with their purchase of a vehicle.

As we reported, the American-Made Index ranks cars based on five factors: assembly location, domestic-parts content, U.S. factory employment, engine sourcing and transmission sourcing. The company analyzed more than 100 U.S.-built vehicles to arrive at the top 10. For more information on the 2018 Cars.com American-Made Index, including a deeper dive into the data and methodology, visit www.cars.com/news. Be ready to help your customers navigate the sometimes surprising variety of American made vehicles.


[i] Cars.com internal data. The 2018 American-Made Index surveyed over 1,000 participants from an independent, third-party provider.  The survey fielded on May 23, 2018.