Buying an American-made car isn’t as simple as it used to be. Some automakers that we’d inherently associate with the USA have begun to outsource their manufacturing outside of North America—and that’s not to mention that some foreign auto brands have opened up factories stateside. But there’s an upside: Nowadays, you have a lot more options if you’re committed to buying American-made cars.
2021 American-Made Cars
Why Buy American-Made Cars? What Does It Mean?
Many consumers have stated that buying a car that has a positive impact on the American economy is important to them, and there are multiple factors that ensure a car fits these specifications. Cars.com conducted a study where it ranked cars based on assembly location, parts sourcing, engine sourcing, transmission sourcing, and US factory employment.
Together, these factors help measure which cars had the most positive impact on the US marketplace. They came up with 90 cars that met the specifications—but some were ranked much higher than others. Here’s a peek at some highlights from the top 20.
The Colorado, which comes in at #14 on the list, is assembled in Wentzville, MO. If you’re looking to dip your toe into pickup truck waters, the Colorado is an approachable alternative to more beefy and bulky options. There’s room to upgrade, of course, and if you decide to go the Duramax diesel route, you’ll get impressive towing power that rivals any larger pickup in return.
If you like the Colorado, you’ll love the GMC Canyon. Which is to say they have everything in common. They’re both GM pickups with similar price points. While the Canyon is just a bit smaller than the Colorado, it offers similar towing capabilities and a variety of seating/bed configurations. However, if you’re looking for something a little different…
This choice is actually comparable to the Colorado, but at a significantly higher price point. Why? Well, for one reason, it’s the only American-made pickup with unibody construction, which ensures a smooth ride. This put it at #6 on the list, and makes it a great option for someone who wants to use their truck both for work and for leisure. However, if you’re really serious about finding the best pickup, there’s another option…
The Tundra is probably the best pickup on the list, even though it ranks slightly lower than the Ridgeline at #10. Once you start picking and choosing from the endless list of options that Toyota offers for this model, the price tag can easily top that of the Ridgeline. Luckily, you’re definitely getting what you pay for. If you take care of it, this pickup will outlive any other car you’ve owned—and might outlive you.
Speaking of cars that seem to last forever, who amongst us hasn’t encountered a Honda sedan that just refuses to die? The Accord is one of Honda’s most reliable models, and it’s surprisingly affordable. There’s a reason it’s a best-seller, and it hit #17 on the Cars.com American-made cars ranking. If you’re under the impression that it’s a forgettable choice, keep in mind that the Accord did get a fresh redesign in 2021 that sets it apart from the pack.
Just as the RDX is the Acura equivalent to the Honda Passport, the TLX is the Acura equivalent of the Honda Accord. But then why did it rank so much higher, at lucky #13? Well, they completely revamped the line in 2021, and it’s reflected both inside and outside. The design is sleeker, the chassis is different, and the engine is way more powerful.
We’re talking a 355-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine. So, okay, sure, it’s a relative of the Accord—but I don’t think any Accord could beat what the TLX has to offer.
Just as the Accord is the ultra-ubiquitous sedan of choice, the Honda Odyssey and the Dodge Caravan are the two types of minivans that you’ll see most often in the Costco and soccer field parking lots of the US. However, only one made it into the Car.com American-made cars rankings, and that’s the Odyssey. It’s actually the highest-ranking minivan, coming in at #7.
With endless seating arrangement options and so many handy automatic features, it’s an easy choice if you’re in the market for a minivan.
While Honda dominated the top 20 by a mile, there are a few Ford options on the list, with the Mustang coming in at an extremely impressive #2 on the list. Why so high? It’s classic, it’s got power and looks to match, and Ford improves on it every year without fail. If that’s not enough, the Mustang Mach-E electric version just set a Guinness World Record for efficiency. What’s not to like?
If you’re looking for a sleeker, more modern sports car than the Mustang, you don’t have to go outside of the US to find one, as the fantastic-looking Corvette came in at #5 on the list. Not only that, the 2021 model is the first mid-engine Corvette in history. It’s super luxurious, and with better control than previous models thanks to better weight distribution.
Speaking of sleek, the Lexus ES has been looking especially good since its 2019 redesign. It came in at #20 on the list thanks to its luxe and large interior and the variety of connectivity and safety technologies that it has to offer.
If the luxury of the Lexus appeals to you but you’re looking in the SUV range, the always classic Lincoln Navigator made it onto Cars.com’s rankings at #20. The entertainment tech is unbeatable—it even comes with its own wi-fi hotspot—but it’s not all not just a nice place to sit. The 2021 Navigator has a ton of horsepower, a 10-speed automatic transmission, and if you can believe it, a towing capacity that outmatches many pickups.
If the blend of luxury and power of a Navigator appeals to you but the price point doesn’t, consider the Expedition. While the Explorer is much more ubiquitous, the larger Expedition offers a look that’s simultaneously more classic and upscale than any other Ford SUV offering. Its turbocharged engine and excellent standard features, including wireless charging and a hotspot, land it at #11 on the list.
Jeep Grand Cherokee
If you’re looking for a more rugged-looking SUV, then the Jeep Grand Cherokee makes a great choice. The Grand Cherokee comes in at #16 on the list of American-made cars, with a whole variety of versions that provide for different needs, like the Trailhawk or the Summit. The Grand Cherokee L blows a lot of the midsize competition out of the water with three whole rows of seating—not always easy to find in SUVs.
If you’re not the gaggle-of-passengers type but you like the size of the Grand Cherokee, consider the Honda Passport. It may not have the name recognition for an off-road capable SUV that Jeep has, but with its size and high clearance, the Passport is just as able to handle the environment, no matter where you take it. It came in at #9 on the list.
There’s little difference between the Passport and the RDX, which came in #12, but there are a number of features worth noting about the RDX. First of all, there’s the new VTEC Turbo 2.0-liter direct-injection engine. Its exterior can’t be denied either, with a 2019 redesign giving it a very different look from its Honda counterpart. Safety is also paramount here—the LED headlights are brighter than most, and the updated AWD system helps with a variety of weather and road conditions.
Coming in just in front of the Passport is the Honda Pilot at #8, a midsize winner with all the Honda reliability that people love. The Pilot line has been going strong for just under 20 years—and just about matches the longevity of the V6 engine that the Pilot packs in. On top of that, the safety technologies that Honda offers across the board are just another reason to consider a Honda this year.
All of that sounds fantastic, but you’re looking for a small crossover SUV? Great news—the Jeep Cherokee ranked even higher than its sister SUV on the list, coming in at a hot #4. It has all the features that people have come to know and love about Jeeps, including the off-road capabilities, but with none of the bulk.
And that’s not to mention the fact that it’s finished off with luxury touches like leather seating and a panoramic sunroof. However, it’s not the highest-ranking SUV…
Tesla Model Y
Is there any surprise that the Tesla Model Y is the highest-ranking SUV on the list at #3? It’s the newest Tesla, it’s an absolute best-seller, and it’s the most fuel-efficient crossover available in the US. If that’s not enough, it also has adaptable seating that can fit up to seven people—and I guarantee, if your friends find out you have a Tesla, they’ll be lining up to ask for a ride. It sounds like an exaggeration, but I’ve witnessed this very phenomenon in person before!
Upon first glance, it’s easy to discount the Toyota Avalon from this race—even though it came in at #19. It’s as unassuming as the Accord, but with a much higher price point. Why is that? Well, the Avalon is Toyota’s offering for the consumer who wants largesse and luxury, but not in an SUV or crossover. For this reason, the roomy, comfortable interior is one of its more appealing selling points.
The Avalon may seem basic at first glance, but it’s not, and it features new high-performance tires on the Nightshade and TRD models, a new option for AWD, and great in-car tech. But, after all this, can you guess what #1 is?
Tesla Model 3
Is anyone surprised that Tesla’s ended up with two cars in the top five? The Model 3 is the more affordable option that brought Tesla to the people without sacrificing any of the things that people love about their cars. It’s got the performance and the looks of any other Tesla, and the standard equipment outclasses any other car company’s offerings.
And, if you’re in an area where charging stations aren’t as prevalent, no worries—there’s a Long Range trim that offers a significantly larger battery. The Tesla Model 3 came in at #1 on Cars.com’s American-made cars for 2021, but I have a feeling this won’t be the last year we see them absolutely dominating this list.