There are many Americans who prefer to buy domestic cars over a foreign model, either to support local jobs or from a belief that American cars are better made. However, there are many Americans who are the exact opposite, as they were likely burned by a poorly made American car in the past and will never own another. Such individuals will actively avoid a domestic vehicle and find the imported examples to be far more inviting. There is, however, a good reason why such an opinion persists through many consumers’ minds. The big three created many terrible cars that had almost no effort put into their designs and even less effort put into build quality. The imported Mercedes and Hondas of the time must've felt like a breath of well-built fresh air.
Of course, while this may have been true during a certain period of time, there have been many improvements and changes since the ‘70s and ‘80s. These days, domestic cars can compete with foreign competition. Not to mention, when it comes to a car’s quality and longevity, where the car was made matters less than its design. This is more evident when you find out that many cars aren’t built where you think they are. There are many American cars that aren’t produced within the borders and many foreign brands that build cars in the States. So, here are 10 American cars that aren’t made in the US, and 10 American-built cars from foreign brands.
20 Jeep Renegade - Made in Italy
Jeep is a historic American brand that has created many iconic and awarded SUVs throughout its existence. Vehicles like the Wrangler, the Cherokee, and the Grand Cherokee have become icons that are recognized throughout the world. These cars are also every bit as capable as their reputation would lead you to believe. However, there are many Jeeps that have let the brand down. The Jeep Compass and Patriot were terrible vehicles that have finally been replaced with considerably better models.
The Renegade was a more palatable replacement for the Patriot, as it's far more attractive, better made, and more modern.
However, the vastly superior Renegade isn’t produced in any of the brand’s traditional manufacturing plants but instead in one of Fiat’s. Yes, this Jeep is made in Italy, alongside the platform-sharing Fiat 500x.
19 Buick Regal - Built In Germany/Canada
Buick is an undeniably American company. Its brand image is often paired with large, soft land yachts that your grandma loves to drive around. Needless to say, this hasn’t been the most flattering image for the brand, and Buick has been trying to shrug it off for many years. The Buick Regal once fit this picture, until the Grand National and GNX variants were created, both of which were turbocharged beasts.
When the Regal returned from its hiatus, it came back with a performance model, this time under the GS name.
A new generation has since come out, now featuring a wagon and a hatchback variant. However, as GM is a global company, newer Regals have largely been based on the European Opel Insignia, and the current car is built in Germany. Even the previous generation, which was still based on the Insignia, was built in Canada.
18 Chevrolet Equinox - Built In Canada
Crossovers are the new standard for today’s family car, as these SUV-like vehicles are appealing to many buyers due to their practicality and tall ride height. Nearly every brand offers a crossover in their lineup, with the only a few outliers, such as Chrysler and Ferrari, and even those companies likely won’t be holding out for much longer. Of course, a large brand like Chevrolet offers a choice of several crossovers.
Acting as smaller alternatives to the thirsty Suburban and Tahoe, the Chevrolet Traverse and Equinox have become popular choices.
The Equinox is the smaller, five-passenger option that gives customers pretty much all the practicality they want, so long as they’re willing to forego an interesting driving experience. However, despite its Chevy badges, this car is built in Canada, unlike some of its stablemates.
17 Dodge Challenger/Charger - Built In Canada
There aren’t many cars that perfectly summarize the stereotypical American car anymore. However, that doesn’t mean that such cars have completely disappeared. The Hellcat twins are really the last remaining examples of this type of vehicle. These cars are huge, brash, simple, and have far more power than necessary.
While the Charger and the Challenger models are everything people love or hate about American vehicles, it's a little ironic that they’re built in Canada.
Ever since the LX platform that these cars are based on started production, all models built off of it were made in Brampton, Canada. Furthermore, various parts of the platform are based on Mercedes bits, and the Hemi V8 motors are built in Mexico. These cars are really a combination of many different countries coming up with one uniquely American package.
16 Cadillac XTS - Built In Canada
Buick isn’t the only GM brand attempting to separate itself from a troubled past. Cadillac exists in a confusing area for many people who have trouble getting the old Devilles and Fleetwoods out of their head. The brand has even spent most of the last decade building sports sedans that can give German cars a run for their money. However, these cars haven’t found nearly as much popularity as their foreign competition. Despite the many new models defying the traditional Cadillac image, the brand still sells a couple old-fashioned models, such as the XTS.
The XTS is a large, front-wheel-drive boat designed for a comfortable ride instead of being quick around corners.
This is one of the last traditional American luxury cars, yet it’s built in Canada, a country that appears to be more adept at making American cars than America is.
15 Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback - Made In USA/Mexico
If there’s a sore spot for American companies, it’s the compact-car segment. Small American cars have historically been afterthoughts in their lineups. Past examples were true pieces of junk, with examples like the Chevrolet Chevette and the Dodge Aries. Simply put, these cars were never even close to having the level of build quality that Honda and Toyota offered in similar vehicles. Today's cars are considerably better made, with some of the American options being solid choices, such as the Chevrolet Cruze. It's a solid car that can get over 50 miles to the gallon while being comparable to the Japanese competition. On top of all of this, the Cruze is an American-made car. That is, if you’re talking about the sedan model. The hatchback, on the other hand, being more popular outside the US, is built entirely in Mexico.
14 Chevrolet Silverado - Built In USA/Mexico
Is there anything more American than a full-size pickup truck? There are few of these huge beasts roaming freeways outside of North America. After all, America is one of the few places where people can afford to fill up these thirsty vehicles. Of course, Chevy trucks are some of the most popular examples, with sales only falling short in comparison to the hugely popular F-150.
When it comes to something as American as Chevy Silverado, it’s no surprise that it’s built in the US, for the most part.
The single-cab Silverado pickups are, in fact, built in the US, but many buyers prefer their pickups to have the crew cab that can fit entire families. These four-door Silverados, however, are built in Mexico, instead of the US.
13 Ford Edge - Built In Canada
Ford managed to get a jump on the crossover wagon well before other brands had caught onto the idea. Their history really started with the popular Explorer, which helped push the idea that SUVs could be more useful than the huge Suburbans of the era. Then, there was the Freestyle, which was a high-riding wagon that straddled the gap between car and SUV. However, one of the earliest examples of a modern crossover was the Edge, a uniquely styled SUV-like vehicle built on a car platform. It proved to be popular in the early days but seems to have fallen somewhat out of favor over other, more practical options. If you prefer buying American made cars, it’s worth knowing that the Edge is built in Canada, in the same assembly plant as a few of Ford’s other crossover vehicles.
12 Chevrolet Trax - Built In Mexico
Despite the rising popularity of the crossover and its car-like fuel economy, there were still many people who couldn’t afford such a vehicle. As a result, auto manufacturers started to build much smaller crossovers. These new, tiny examples are cheaper and more fuel efficient yet retain a crossover’s practicality. Vehicles like the Honda HR-V and the Toyota C-HR have become very popular choices for many people for these very reasons. Chevrolet decided to enter this lucrative market with the Chevy Trax.
It’s a very average, cheap choice with styling that doesn’t stand out.
However, it’s another Chevy that’s built in Mexico rather than America, if that concerns prospective buyers. The Trax may be a cheap crossover choice, but it’s not a particularly interesting—or American—one.
11 Ford Transit Connect - Built In Europe
Commercial vans in the US were often old-fashioned truck-based vehicles that were thirsty and difficult to park in cities. While there were a few European examples that entered the market, such as the Mercedes Sprinter, those were few and far between. In 2010, Ford released the Transit Connect in the US. This was the beginning of Ford’s decision to replace the ancient E-Series with their global Transit vans. The Connect was a tiny van, even smaller than some minivans. However, it was enough for many small businesses, and it was sometimes a preferable choice to the gigantic E-Series. However, unlike the E-Series, the Connect isn't made in the US but imported from Europe. In fact, Ford was caught skirting around the commercial vehicle import tax with the Connect, as they were importing them as passenger vehicles, then stripping out the extra seats, turning them back into work vans.
10 Mercedes-Benz R-Class - Made In Alabama
The R-Class is likely a Mercedes that not many will recognize. Yes, Mercedes makes a minivan, and at one point, it was possibly the most interesting minivan ever made in its V8-powered AMG trim. It was also made in Mercedes’s Alabama assembly plant. Needless to say, high-performance minivans proved to be a rather niche market, but even the lower trim models struggled to find buyers. The AMG options were discontinued, and the van was eventually changed to a boring front-wheel-drive setup. This was still not enough to save the model, as it was discontinued in the US and Europe. However, the model found popularity in China, but Mercedes didn’t have the capacity to make R-class vehicles anymore. As a result, new R-class models are instead being built in AM General’s Indiana plant before being shipped to China.
9 Toyota Avalon - Made In Kentucky
Toyota is a brand that's recognized worldwide for its well-built and reliable vehicles. Due to the company’s popularity, it has many different models made throughout the world. Iconic vehicles such as the Camry and the Corolla are built in several different countries, likely for ease of distribution.
Cars like the Camry are built in America, but that's not the only location where the model is produced.
However, the Avalon is a different case. Produced only in Kentucky, this large highway cruiser is a solely American-built vehicle. Even models that are going to be sold outside the US are produced in the same plant as the others. It’s nice to know that many people throughout the world can experience American craftsmanship, even if they don’t realize it.
8 Honda Accord - Made In Ohio
Honda is another popular global brand that makes many of its vehicles all around the world.
Despite being from a Japanese marque, the US Accord is actually produced in Ohio.
However, it wasn’t enough that the American Accord was produced domestically; it was also a unique model. For the USA and China, the Accord was a larger, mid-size vehicle that had plenty of interior room. In the European and Japanese markets, the Accord was a completely different, smaller car, as that likely made it more appealing than the larger American model. However, when the Accord was redesigned for the 2013 model year, the smaller European and Japanese model was dropped, with the larger American model replacing it worldwide. However, these larger Accords are now also made outside the US.
7 Toyota Tundra - Made In Indiana/Texas
If there’s one truck brand that can scare the big three, it would be Toyota. Ever since the ‘70s and the ‘80s, Toyota has gained a reputation for producing long-lasting and durable pickups. Despite early models only being offered as small pickups, the larger Tundra was eventually added to their lineup, and it was ready to throw down with the established American models. While the Tundra has proven to be a popular vehicle with a large fanbase, it's become long in the tooth. Its last real update was in 2007, and the other four big trucks on the market have seen considerable improvement during that time. However, one criticism that can’t be had with this truck is that it's a foreign pickup, as it was built in Indiana, initially, before production was moved to Texas, making it more American than some domestic offerings.
6 Nissan Titan - Made In The USA
The Nissan Titan was an interesting pickup when it entered the market. It was a full-size truck that employed a rather angular and muscular design that made it look more like a fun vehicle instead of a commercial workhorse. While it was a compelling option for many years, it started to hang around for too long.
Its once powerful 5.6-liter V8 was starting to seem anemic in comparison to the competition, and no one found the exterior to be quite as interesting after sitting untouched for so many years.
After 12 years of production with very few changes to the model, Nissan mercifully updated the design, even offering it with a new Cummins diesel V8 that allows it to sit between light and heavy-duty pickups. Regardless of generation, all Titans were built in Mississippi.
5 Honda Pilot - Made In Alabama
If there’s a vehicle that really made the crossover a legitimate alternative to the boring minivan, it would have to be the Honda Pilot. Despite being based on a minivan, the Pilot offered SUV-like styling along with three spacious rows of seating. Combine that with a maneuverable size, and the Pilot became more palatable to minivan-phobic families than full-size SUVs, such as the Ford Expedition. The Pilot has seen plenty of changes over the years, with its looks becoming more boxy and angular before basically coming full circle and looking like the minivan it's based off. As these types of vehicles have grown in popularity, you might not expect that the Pilot has solely been produced in Honda’s Alabama plant for its entire production, alongside its platform mates, the Odyssey and the Ridgeline.
4 Volkswagen Passat - Made In USA
The Volkswagen Passat isn’t normally considered a particularly interesting vehicle. Despite having a German badge, the Passat isn’t much more enticing than a Toyota Camry. While there have been powerful Passat offerings in the past, such as the W8 motor, such alluring options have since been dropped.
This German vehicle has been offered in several different flavors, including a wagon model called the "Alltrack."
That's if you live outside North America. Produced in Tennessee, the American Passat is larger than its original European counterpart and features considerably blander styling as well. This was all done to reduce the price of the American model, possibly making it more competitive with other mid-size cars. This US-built Passat is also sold in South Korea and the Middle East.
3 Toyota Highlander - Made In USA/China
Before Honda released the Pilot, Toyota offered the Highlander as a three-row SUV and minivan alternative.
Seating up to eight passengers, this Japanese vehicle was practical, while being more efficient than other three-row alternatives.
It was also ahead of the competition on the technology front, as these were offered in hybrid form, an option that's still largely absent in its competitors. The original model was produced in Toyota’s home country of Japan. However, by the second generation, production had moved to the US and China on top of the original Japanese plant. But when the third generation started its production run, only the Chinese and American plants remained. Much like the Honda Pilot, this Japanese crossover is more American than some American options.
2 Volkswagen Atlas - Made In Tennessee
Volkswagen has produced a few SUVs over the years to obtain some of the sweet crossover money throughout the 2000s. Its first model was the Touareg, which was meant to be a luxury SUV from a time when Volkswagen was attempting to become a premium brand. That particular model was offered with exotic engine choices and became the base for the Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne. Later, the company released the smaller Tiguan to appeal to buyers who wanted a smaller, more efficient crossover. As both models were only five-seater vehicles, the larger Touareg fell out of favor. In the US, the model was replaced with the larger seven-seater Atlas for the North American, Chinese, and Middle Eastern markets. The Atlases destined for the North American market are all made in Tennessee.
1 BMW X-Series - Made In USA
BMW doesn’t have much of a history of making their cars outside of their home turf. However, that doesn’t mean that it never happens. BMW produced a few of its Z3, Z4, and 3-series vehicles in their South Carolina Assembly plant. However, that plant produces a very different kind of vehicle today. With the exception of the X1, every BMW X car, the X3, the X4, the X5, and the X6, are all produced in the US. While some of these models first entered production in other countries, their assemblies were eventually moved to America. And don’t be confused—it’s not just the US market X cars that are produced in America. Every single BMW X car, regardless of its eventual destination, is produced in solely in the US.