Who makes better cars, Americans or Europeans? It’s been a debate for many years now and it’s not going to end anytime soon. This piece will likely only add fuel to the fire for each side. Obviously, for the purpose of this work (and being an American) it would be easy for me to say that Americans make better cars and that’s just how it is. However, depending on how you look at it, that may or may not be true.
There are several aspects that make this debate so close to call that experts generally agree that the deciding factor is cash. Still, we can always dig deeper. Who has the fastest car on the market? Well, that all depends on how much you want to spend. If you want to spend less, than an American car will be the fastest you can buy. On the other hand, if you want to spend a lot of money, you’ll want to get a European car, because the more expensive ones from there are some of the fastest in the world.
The experts are at odds over which cars have the best handling as well. Again, it essentially boils down to how much you are willing to spend. Still, keep in mind that spending more money doesn’t always mean that you’ll get better results. The term “less is more” is perfectly accurate for some of what you are about to learn!
Here are 10 reasons why American cars are better than European ones, and 10 others which say the opposite.
20 American Cars Offer Better Quality
For a good many years, American cars have been considered far inferior to European and Japanese made vehicles. Who doesn’t know someone who has owned a Toyota Camry for twenty years or more that still runs great? Still, American cars are getting better.
Americans are starting to grow tired of coming in second and even third to other countries in terms of vehicle manufacturing, so a lot of progress has been made in the quality department.
Currently, we have better quality in the lower priced to mid-range vehicles. European vehicles are still better in quality for the more expensive cars, but we are closing the gap. Maybe in another fifteen to twenty years we can be on top of the higher class car department as well.
19 American Cars Are More Stylish
Style is another category that American cars seemed to have come in second place for many years. This isn’t a scientific fact though, as style is purely subjective. That doesn’t change the numbers, and for a long time foreign cars got the nod over the American made vehicles. The word “exotic” often gives a foreign car an impressive description before a driver even lays eyes on it.
Over the last several years, a lot of American buyers have turned to muscle cars once again. This has led to America becoming the top of the heap for offering a better style of car. It’s hard to ignore the sound of a revving muscle car motor, and it turns heads whenever that sound fills the air. There is no telling how long we will have the advantage in this category, but we have it currently, and that’s all that matters right?
18 American Cars Offer Better Prices
When it comes time to paying for your vehicle, American made cars have long been the better deal. Here you can get more inexpensive cars - even fully loaded - in comparison to most European vehicles.
When considering price, it’s not just all about the cost of purchasing the car either. Repairs have to play a major part in the equation because let’s face it; every car has issues at some point.
Fixing up your American made car is usually quicker, much easier to do, and a lot less expensive than if you own a foreign car.
If you own a BMW, Volkswagen or Audi, and ever had to repair it, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Price isn’t just about the purchase cost, it’s about your long term investment and American cars give you a much better option.
17 American Cars Offer Better Fuel Efficiency
On any chart that compares European vehicles to American cars in terms of fuel efficiency, you will see American vehicles far behind the front runner. In 2011 and again in 2012, we were way behind the rest of the world in those terms, and most of that is because the fuel efficiency standards in Europe are much higher than they are here. However, that doesn’t mean that American car makers were happy about not being first.
We have come a long way in terms of closing that gap ,because American car makers are getting tired of seeing so many foreign cars on our roads. You can’t blame the consumer for wanting better fuel efficiency, but looking deeper into the numbers shows that we have made good strides and we are pretty much neck and neck with them now. When we are improving and they are remaining stagnant, the advantage has to go to American made vehicles.
16 American Cars Offer Better Size
Most of the roads in Europe are smaller and narrower than American roads. With less space to work with, the car manufacturers over there have to put out smaller cars so they fit into the space allotted on each side of the yellow line. Over there designers are always on the hunt for a new way to fit more people into a smaller car.
In America our roads are wider and not as twisty, so car companies can offer wider, more spacious vehicles. The next time you take off down the freeway in a Hummer or any large SUV think about that.
Pay attention to how much room you have on each side of you in traffic. Then think of what it would be like to drive that thing down a European road when you were far extended over the center line. The results would not be good.
15 American Cars Offer Better Aesthetics
Americans and Europeans look at vehicles from different points of view. Europeans like to have a car in the driveway that has a very sharp looking overall design. To get that, they are willing to sacrifice a few years of the vehicle's life. In America, drivers prefer to have a car that’s built to last. They want to drive it for a long time after they drop a considerable amount of cash on it.
Car manufacturers take this into consideration each time they come up with a new design. Here in America, the top goal is always to come up with something tough that is going to last. There is a reason that you hear “built to last” in certain truck commercials. In that department America comes out on top again.
14 American Cars Offer Better Handling
The speed limits in Europe are much higher than here in America. There are actually some roads that allow you to go up to 150 miles per hour, so when European car makers come up with a new design, they have to be sure that it can handle well at those high rates of speed.
Just because the speed limits are lower in the United States doesn’t mean that our cars don’t have to have good handling, though. Our car designers do a fantastic job in making sure the vehicles here can handle very well for the speeds they will go.
If you compare the handling in Europe for the higher speeds to the handling in America for our lower speeds, the American cars come out on top by a small margin.
13 American Cars Offer Automatic Transmissions More Often
At one point in the history of American cars, the manual transmission ruled the roost. Then the automatic was introduced to the country and things evened out a bit. Over the years, people have become lazy and don’t want to be bothered with a manual transmission.
Why go through all of that effort if you don’t have to? If the cars will shift gears for you, why would you purposely put yourself through that effort?
Some people actually do prefer the manual and will drive nothing but that. However, the automatic is now heavily favored in the United States and has become the norm. That’s not the case in Europe though, as folks over there prefer to have a manual and change gears themselves. Maybe it has to do with feeling the power work its way up to 150 miles per hour.
12 American Cars Offer Better Braking
Many car experts around the world dispute the fact that American cars have better braking systems, but in May of 2014, Motor Trend pitted a $75,000 2014 Chevy Camaro Z/28 against a $117,000 2015 Nissan GT-R and a $185,000 2014 Porsche 911 Turbo, and the results were surprising.
The Camaro was the slowest off the line but won the race in a very close finish. Experts say the reason it won was because of the better handling for its speeds and the braking system it has.
Now, this probably wouldn’t be the result with a lot of other American cars, but the Camaro won this one and showed that it indeed does have an overall better braking system. You just have to spend a little more to get it.
11 American Cars Offer Better Retro Styles
When you take a look back through the history of cars, you will find a lot of beauties in the American archives. Old Mustangs, Challengers, Corvette Stingrays are all beautiful, and we can't forget about that 1965 Shelby Daytona Coupe. There are so many that it’s really impossible to name all of the great looking classic cars of the American past.
If you take a look into the history of what European car makers have done over the decades, you won’t see that same beauty. Sure, things have changed and progressed over the years, but they don’t have anything in their history that can match up to the look of those awesome pieces of machinery mentioned above. Maybe it’s a muscle car type of thing, but in the retro department, American cars win hands down.
10 European Cars Offer Better Quality For Higher Priced Cars
While American cars have better quality for low to mid-range priced vehicles, the Europeans get the nod when it comes to the higher priced machines. They use better materials, have better suspension systems, and use only top of the line material for the interiors of the more expensive cars.
It’s a bit odd that they don’t incorporate the practice for every price range they have, but maybe they just care more about the higher end vehicles.
The same can be said for the Americans though. It’s odd that they don’t put the care into the higher priced vehicles that they do for the lower to mid-range vehicles. Maybe both sides are happy with the way things are and have simply accepted that that’s the way it is.
9 European Cars Offer Better Engineering
The European companies put a considerable amount of time into making sure their higher end vehicles are some of the best in the world. They pass this cost on to their consumers, but in return the drivers get some of the best possible machines to drive.
Since American car makers want to keep costs down for consumers, they tend not to put the high amount of work into engineering. That doesn’t mean that we skip it all together, because we don’t. We just don’t put in the countless hours of effort and research that the Europeans do. The difference certainly shows up in those higher end cars, and you can also usually tell just by looking at the price.
8 European Cars Go Faster (Depending On How Much You Spend)
Here is a quick breakdown of the three main car groups as far as speed is concerned. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money, but want to go fast, you should be good to buy an American car. If you don’t mind spending a lot of money, you can purchase a European car and go way faster than you could in an American car. Finally, if you don’t want to go fast at all, you’ll want to get a Japanese car. They may be durable, but they aren’t built for speed.
A good example of this is the comparison between a Mustang and an Audi. A 2017 Mustang GT goes for around $30,000 and has 425 horsepower under the hood. It can reach 60 miles per hour in 4.3 seconds, which is not bad at all. On the other hand, the lowest level of Audi has the exact same specs but it will cost you more, at around $60,000.
7 European Car Companies Care More About Brand Value
The way companies do business in America and in Europe are quite different. An American company (like Ford for instance) will make several different models of cars that are decent quality for a decent price. Then, to round out the brand, they will make several models of much lesser quality and sell them for a more inexpensive price. This practice leads the consumer to sometimes undervalue the company and its products.
This type of thing would never happen in Europe, or even in Japan. Sure, lots of companies make lower end vehicles to sell, but in Europe they would break them off into another brand so the original brand could keep its high quality image with its consumers. The European car makers care a lot about how their brand looks to the public while companies in America really don’t. For us it’s about making a buck, no matter the level or quality of the product.
6 European Cars Get Better Mileage
When you compare fuel efficiency between European and American cars, you’ll see that great strides have been made with the American cars. That gives them an advantage, as we said earlier, because the progress continues to be made each year.
However, the European vehicles have been much better for a long time simply because they have much higher fuel prices over there. They had to address the issue much sooner than we did here, thus they are more advanced.
Americans are getting better and closing the gap, and the work over the last several years says they might have a slight advantage in this department, based on recent history. However, since the Europeans have been doing it longer and are still neck and neck with the Americans, if you break it down to brass tacks, the Europeans have a slight advantage.
5 European Cars Have Better Rides
You may not be able to tell from standing next to a vehicle, but there are some pretty large differences between American and European cars. An American driving a European ride for the first time will immediately notice the longer gear ratios. The gearboxes there, along with the suspension systems, are much different than what we are used to. The American would also notice a much firmer ride due to the suspension that is much stiffer than we are used to.
On the other hand, if a European were to drive an American car for the first time, they would immediately notice the amount of cheap plastic that is used here. They aren’t used to that over there, but that’s why they have much higher prices. The higher price gets them a better ride though, unfortunately for us.
4 European Cars Have A Better Look
European car makers take a lot of pride in the vehicles they turn out for the public to buy. They take it very seriously and, when they are working on a new car, they won’t stop designing until the look is absolutely perfect. This, again, leads to higher prices, but the general public doesn’t seem to mind paying more for better quality.
If you line up the top three European cars against the top three American cars side by side, you’ll quickly be able to tell which is which, simply by the sleek look to the European ones.
Don’t take that as meaning that Americans don’t care about their product, because they do. We hope they do anyway. Europeans are just much better at coming up with designs that are more pleasing to the eye.
3 European Cars Have Better Durability
Americans are very safety conscious. This doesn’t mean that car makers overseas are not. The two sets of car makers just handle things differently. The American car is set up to be able to take a solid crash and still protect the driver and their passengers. The plastic and fiberglass used are meant to crumple upon impact. This activates airbags and protects everyone inside. The drawback to that is sometimes even the weakest contact can cause significant damage to your vehicle.
European car makers design their vehicles to be safe as well. However, they use stronger parts because they DON’T want their cars to crumple. This leads to them lasting longer and gives them a better shelf life than their American counterparts. Dodge makes a very durable product, but other than that, European car makers make more durable vehicles.
2 European Cars Are Built For Close Quarters
Most of the roadways in Europe are very narrow. A lot of these roads were built before cars were even imagined, so when you consider that horses and buggies were the main method of transportation when they were built, you can understand why they are so space challenged now. They are also very twisty so they tend to need a vehicle that is smaller and can work better in close quarters. That’s why the European car makers concentrate more on those types of cars. It’s what their customer base needs.
There's also the fact that houses and property over there are usually smaller and only have single car driveways. Those driveways aren’t all that big either, so in most cases, a smaller car is needed.
American roads are always being worked on and widened so we can better sustain the larger vehicles. You won’t see a lot of large SUVs on the road in Europe.
1 European Cars Cost More But It’s Usually Money Well Spent
When you are going to spend a good chunk of change, you want to get the most value for the money you are going to spend. This is the same no matter what the purchase is going to be. If you are buying a house, cell phone, television or a new vehicle you want the best that you can get for the money you are going to shell out.
When it comes down to bare bones, you’ll usually always get a better bang for your buck if you buy a European car. American car makers have made a lot of progress in catching up and closing that gap but when you take everything into consideration, it’s better to spend a little more and get better quality. You’ll consider it money well spent in the long run.
Sources: caranddriver.com, wikipedia.org