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How to Tell If a Car Is Made in the USA

by Jerry Edgerton / December 20th, 2016


If you’re like some buyers, you might be the type of person who wants to be sure that any car you buy is made in the USA. But in this era of globalization, deciding which cars deserve that label is trickier than ever.

German and Japanese companies hire American workers assembling cars in this country. Honda and Toyota make parts here as well. But the profits from all those auto sales still go home to foreign companies.

An index calculated by an American University professor takes all those factors into account—not only parts and assembly but where the parent company is based and where research and development is done. The result is higher rankings especially for cars made by General Motors. Ford Motor Co. is second. Chrysler Group, part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles now, ties with Honda and Toyota for the number of vehicles in the Top 10.

Professor Frank DuBois of American’s Kogod School of Business, an expert on the global supply chain, notes that his index goes beyond the data required by the American Automotive Labeling Act. “A vehicle’s domestic manufacturing composition plays a key role in determining its overall impact on the American economy,” says DuBois.  

To see the entire rankings of American University’s Made in America cars, click here. As two examples, we take a closer look at a well-ranked midsize sedan and an SUV.

                           

                                                MIDSIZE SEDAN: HONDA ACCORD

Despite being manufactured by a Japanese company, the Accord ranks fifth on the Kogod index with a total domestic content of 81%. It’s perennially one of the two best-selling sedans in the U.S. along with the Toyota Camry. The Accord, assembled in Marysville, Ohio, has a redesigned interior for 2016 that involves high-end materials and roomy, comfortable seats. The Accord’s base four-cylinder engine is rated for 27 MPG (miles per gallon) in city driving and 37 on the highway. An optional V-6 is rated 18 city, 28 highway. The list price ranges from $22,205 to $34,680.

 

                                                            SUV: BUICK ENCLAVE

The Buick Enclave ties for first both on the American University Made in America index and U.S. News rankings of best large SUVs. Reviewers like the roomy seating for up to eight passengers and the stylish interior. And if it is cargo you want to haul, the Enclave boasts 115 cubic feet of space with the second and third rows of seats folded down. The Enclave is powered by a V-6 engine, which test drivers say generates sufficient power to go up steep hills. The Enclave has an EPA rating of 15 MPG in city driving and 22 on the highway. List price for the Enclave ranges from $39,065 to $49,515. It is assembled in Delta Township, Mich.

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