Special Report

50 Most American Cars

Classic Muscle Car
Source: Thinkstock
Despite the general decline of the manufacturing sector in recent decades, auto manufacturing is one of the largest industries in America. While domestic auto production has decreased by 34% in the last 20 years, the industry still accounts for one in every 22 U.S. jobs. Each vehicle sold in the U.S. market contributes to the U.S. economy in varying degrees. The more a vehicle is designed, sourced, and built in the U.S., the more it contributes to the economy.

A vehicle is made of many components, including the engine, transmission, body, and interior. Some of the components are produced in the United States and some are foreign-made. Similarly, production and assembly locations can vary from American auto plants to factories abroad. To find which car contributes most to the U.S.economy, 24.7 Wall St. reviewed the 2016 Kogod Made in America Auto Index, an annual report released by the American University Kogod School of Business.

Using seven criteria, the index estimates a car’s contribution to the U.S. economy by measuring the share of a car’s total production that is domestic in origin. The criteria include the source countries of the vehicle’s parts, where it is produced and assembled, as well as the country of origin for a car’s research and development. Three cars tie for first place as the vehicles that have the greatest positive impact on the U.S. economy. The Buick Enclave, the Chevrolet Traverse, and the GMC Acadia are the most American in origin. Roughly 90% of the cars’ research, parts, and assembly are domestic. Therefore, they have the largest positive impact on the American economy.

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Across the nation, some forms of manufacturing — most notably computers and electronics — have surged in recent years. Broadly speaking, however, the United States is increasingly seen as an unattractive base for manufacturing production. As a result, over the past half-century, U.S. manufacturing employment has fallen precipitously.

One of the largest factors determining how much of a car’s value stays in America is the source country of the vehicle’s parts. To provide customers with this information when buying a new vehicle, congress passed the American Automobile Labeling Act in 1994. Among other stipulations, this act required manufacturers to label the percentage of parts made in the United States or Canada. All of the 50 vehicles most influential to the U.S. economy have at least half of their parts sourced in the U.S. or Canada. No car is entirely made in America.

Certain manufacturers tend to have a larger impact on the economy than others. One in five cars in the top 50 is a Chevrolet, the most prevalent make of vehicle on the list. Notably, the second most prevalent manufacturer in the top 50 is Japanese company Toyota. While many of Toyota’s models are produced entirely outside of the United States, Toyota assembles six vehicles domestically with at least 65% of the parts sourced from the U.S. or Canada.

To identify the cars contributing the highest percentage of their value to the American economy, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed Kogod Made in America Auto Index from Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington, D.C. 2015 sales figures came from car sales tracking site GoodCarBadCar.net. Manufacturer’s suggested retail prices are from the manufacturer’s website. 2015 sales figures are the total sales for the vehicle’s model and do not only reflect its specific trim level. Starting MSRPs are from the newest model year available on the manufacturer’s website. Excluding the Dodge Ram 2500, MSRP figures also reflect starting MSRP of the base model ignoring any trim levels. Because 2016 was the first model year for the Cadillac CT6, an annual sales figure is not available.

These are the cars with the highest percentages of their value going to the U.S. economy.