It's hard to believe as we get ready to celebrate the nation's birthday today, but the most "American" car sold today is a Toyota, according to an annual study by Cars.com.
How is it possible? The website, a competitor to AOL Autos, ranks vehicles for their Americanness based on mashing up facts such as where the car is built, the percentage of parts sourced in the U.S. and total number of vehicles sold. When the website factors those together, a popular Toyota model edged out the Ford F150 pickup truck.
It is the fourth year in a row a Toyota has taken the top honor.
"When people think about buying an 'American' car, they might just think automatically of the Detroit Three," said Patrick Olsen, Editor in Chief at Cars.com. “"n reality, this classification isn’t as cut and dry as it used to be. Today, Fiat owns a majority stake in Chrysler, companies like Toyota are increasing production of their vehicles in the U.S. and parts are coming in from all over the globe. Our index accounts for all of these factors to determine where vehicles rank."
Some popular models from General Motors and Ford – such as the Chevrolet Silverado and Cruze, and the Ford Fusion and Focus – do not make the list because too much of cars' content is sourced from outside the U.S. In the case of the Fusion, that car is also assembled in Mexico.
This year, Toyota, Honda and General Motors combined for 8 of the 10 vehicles on the list.
Why do GM, Ford and Chrysler build models, or source a lot of parts, in other countries, especially Mexico? The North American Free Trade Agreement makes it easy for manufacturers build products in Mexico and Canada. Hourly pay-rates are lower in both of those neighboring countries. And Canada and Mexico have national healthcare. The high cost of employer-based pay-for-service healthcare, the system we have in the U.S., is a key impediment to creating more middle-class manufacturing jobs. The U.S. system is not only expensive, but private insurance companies are free to jack up premiums at will, making healthcare costs highly unpredictable for employers.
Not everyone is happy with how Cars.com does its annual study. The American Automotive Policy Council (AAPC) pushed back on the site's findings this week, calling them "deeply flawed."
The AAPC--a lobbying organization representing GM, Ford and Chrysler, and U.S. parts makers--though tries to make the case that, for example, all Fords are more American because Ford employs and builds more cars by far in the U.S. than Toyota.
The function, though, of the Cars.com study is to rank individual models, not companies. "The Cars.com study is a very legitimate exercise," says AOL Autos Editor-in-Chief David Kiley. "This gives consumers information they deserve to have when making a car purchase, and it also educates people who read it about what happens in real life to jobs in a free-market global economy when most countries have national healthcare while the U.S. does not."
How much is a car's Americanness likely to sway a car buyer before they sign on the dotted line? A lot, it turns out. According to a separate Cars.com survey conducted in May, nearly 25 percent say they do prefer to buy American and nearly half of those people would be swayed to buy a foreign make if they knew it was assembled in the U.S.
Check out the gallery here of the top ten "most American cars," and why they made the list.
MSRP: $36,500 - $45,765
Invoice: $34,675 - $43,477
Fuel economy: 17 mpg City, 24 mpg Highway
The Lansing, Michigan-built Enclave is what is known now as a full-sized crossover. It is big and roomy with three rows of seats, but gets better mileage than the full-sized truck-based SUVs that the Enclave and other GM crossovers have replaced.
Research the Buick Enclave
Buick Enclave Photos & Information
Buick Enclave Specs
Buick Enclave Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $32,835 - $46,810
Invoice: $31,193 - $44,470
Fuel economy: 17 mpg City, 24 mpg Highway
The Acadia is mechanically idaentical to the Buick Enclave, but with different styling and interior appointments. These big crossovers, so named because they are built on front-drive unibody platforms rather than rear-drive truck chassis, are comfortable and can be optioned well above $40,000.
Research the GMC Acadia
GMC Acadia Photos & Information
GMC Acadia Specs
GMC Acadia Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $23,395 - $28,995
Invoice: $22,722 - $27,960
Fuel economy: 16 mpg City, 22 mpg Highway
Unfortunately, while the Liberty is very American, it is also one of our least favorite SUVs because of its sluggish engine and rough ride. The Toledo, Ohio-built Liberty will be replaced by Chrysler with an all new designed SUV next year that will probably be named Cherokee.
Research the Jeep Liberty
Jeep Liberty Photos & Information
Jeep Liberty Specs
Jeep Liberty Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $25,155 - $43,595
Invoice: $23,394 - $40,326
Fuel economy: 16 mpg City, 20 mpg Highway
Toyota has been trying for many years to crack the full-sized pickup truck market that is more than 90 controlled by GM, Ford and Ram. The Tundra has high ratings for quality and has impressive towing capacity. But, so far, it has not been fully embraced by the hard-core audience for pickup trucks--the construction industry, trailer towers, etc.--who are very brand loyal.
The Tundra is built in San Antonio Texas, and apparently has more U.S.-sourced parts and content than the Chevy Silverado.
Research the Toyota Tundra
Toyota Tundra Photos & Information
Toyota Tundra Specs
Toyota Tundra Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $29,660 - $41,035
Invoice: $28,177 - $38,983
Fuel economy: 17 mpg City, 24 mpg Highway
The Chevrolet Traverse is the Chevy version of the Buick Enclave and GMC Acadia built in Lansing, Michigan.
Research the Chevrolet Traverse
Chevrolet Traverse Photos & Information
Chevrolet Traverse Specs
Chevrolet Traverse Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $28,620 - $40,970
Invoice: $26,179 - $37,444
Fuel economy: 18 mpg City, 25 mpg Highway
The Lincoln, Alabama-built Honda SUV is solid, steady and has consistently scored well on quality rankings. One of the features we like on the Pilot is cylinder de-activation, which allows the V6 engine to use just three cylinders when the vehicle is cruising on the highway. That saves gas, and is a very smart technology.
Research the Honda Pilot
Honda Pilot Photos & Information
Honda Pilot Specs
Honda Pilot Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $25,060 - $40,570
Invoice: $23,431 - $37,324
Fuel economy: 19 mpg City, 24 mpg Highway
The Princeton, Indiana-built minivan is the top-selling minivan in America. Chrysler builds more minivans by virtue of the fact that it sells minivans under two brands--Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country--but Sienna is the top selling minivan model.
We like the styling, driving comfort and features, and apparently so does America.
Research the Toyota Sienna
Toyota Sienna Photos & Information
Toyota Sienna Specs
Toyota Sienna Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $21,480 - $30,030
Invoice: $19,667 - $27,465
Fuel economy: 23 mpg City, 34 mpg Highway
The Accord is built in Honda's sprawling manufacturing complex in Marysville, Ohio. The car has perennially been ranked among the top three passenger cars sold in the U.S. Honda will be introducing an all-new Accord this Fall. Right no, great deals can be had on the 2012 Accord as the company sells down dealer inventory before the new one arrives.
Research the Honda Accord
Honda Accord Photos & Information
Honda Accord Specs
Honda Accord Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $23,500 - $52,305
Invoice: $22,100 - $47,124
Fuel economy: 17 mpg City, 23 mpg Highway
The best-selling pickup truck in the U.S. is made in Ford's hometown of Dearborn Michigan. It has been the top-selling vehicle in America for many years.
Loyalty to Ford pickups is fierce, especially in middle-America. But it is also the best selling Ford on the coasts.
Research the Ford F-150
Ford F-150 Photos & Information
Ford F-150 Local Dealer Price Quote
MSRP: $22,055 - $30,115
Invoice: $20,181 - $27,404
Fuel economy: 25 mpg City, 35 mpg Highway
Often called bland and beige, and an "appliance" by the motor press, the Camry perennially hits the right notes with the largest number of U.S.mid-sized sedan buyers.
The Camry was recently redesigned and the current model was all-new for the 2012 model year. The interior of the car was substantially upgraded from the previous model, potentially winning over even more buyers.
Research the Toyota Camry
Toyota Camry Photos & Information
Toyota Camry Local Dealer Price Quote
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