What if we told you a Toyota Camry was more American than a Jeep Grand Cherokee? You’d probably want evidence, and fortunately academics can provide it for you. Frank Dubois, a professor at America University’s Kogod School of Business, digs in deep with the numbers every year to compile the Made in America Auto Index.
Using data detailing the origin of car’s production, DuBois and his team have a precise formula for determining how American a car actually is. If each element of the body, interior, chassis, and electrical work of the car is American, it gets a perfect score of 50, for example. The site of engine production (14%), assembly (11%), transmission production (7%), general labor (6%), R&D (6%), and corporate headquarters (6%) factor into the equation as well.
At the end of the calculation, we get a convincing estimate of just how American a U.S.-branded car is. In 2015, General Motors dominated the field, though Ford did turn up with several models on the top group. Here are the 15 most American vehicles on the road according to the Kogod Made in America Auto Index.
Note: Each of the 15 vehicles is involved in ties for the top three places.
(Tie 15-10) Chevy Equinox
Consumers in the market for a compact SUV will get plenty of American bang for their buck in a Chevy Equinox. According to the Kogod data, the Equinox scored 82.5 out of 100. The 17.5 points docked for parts sourced overseas came in the SUV’s body, chassis, and electrical works. Otherwise, everything could be made in America was in the Equinox, all the way down to the GM corporate headquarters in Motor City, U.S.A. This vehicle and five others were tied for third place overall, or places 10 through 15.
(Tie 15-10) Cadillac ATS
GM’s luxury brand Cadillac has more than its share of cars at the top of the Made in America Auto Index. Tied with the Equinox and four Ford vehicles for third place overall was the ATS; like its corporate cousin, the ATS had everything American going for it other than about a third of its body, chassis, and electrical components. With 17.5 points deducted from that category, ATS scored 82.5 points overall.
(Tie 15-10) Ford Taurus
Ford Motor Company landed four vehicles in the top 15 on the Kogod index for 2015. Tied with three other Blue Oval rides and a couple GM models was the Ford Taurus, the brand’s full-size sedan that is not the player its midsize predecessor was. Nonetheless, Taurus put up 82.5 points out of 100, losing the full 17.5 on its foreign-sourced body and electrical parts as well as its chassis.
(Tie 15-10) Ford F-150
Americans will probably be relieved to know the country’s top-selling vehicle (for several decades running) ranks rather high in its America quotient. The Kogod index gave F-Series models like the omnipresent F-150 a score of 82.5 overall, tying the pickup for third best score overall. About one third of the F-150’s body, chassis, and electrical gear comes from outside the U.S., which resulted in 17.5 points coming off the total.
(Tie 15-10) Ford Explorer
You’ll find U.S. workers assembling the Ford Explorer SUV in Chicago, and most everything else about this vehicle is American, too. Ford’s corporate headquarters in Dearborn factors into the equation, as does the Explorer’s transmission and engine production. The only demerits come from the interior and body parts that come from outside the U.S. Explorer notched 82.5 points, which was the third highest score.
(Tie 15-10) Ford Expedition
Ford’s run in the top 15 of the Made in America Auto Index ends with the Expedition, tied for third best score and places 10 through 15. This full-size SUV had a perfect score on R&D, site of engine production, labor, assembly, and every other category. About one third of its body and chassis components come from overseas, resulting in a total score of 82.5 points.
(Tie 9-6) GMC Savana
Inside the top 10 of the index is strictly GM country. The automaker has all the spots tied up with vehicles from across its four brands. Tying for places six through nine was the GMC Savana, the passenger and utility van. Savana notched an overall score of 83, the second highest on the index. Demerits included the foreign-sourced transmission (minus seven points) and interior/chassis components (10 points off).
(Tie 9-6) GMC Canyon
The GMC Canyon is as American as the Savana according to the Kogod School of Business research. This midsize pickup put up 83 points overall on the strength of its U.S. production site and components. Everything except some body, interior, and electrical parts is done on U.S. soil with locally sourced parts. The 17 points taken all came from this area. Still, Canyon had the second highest score overall, and the researchers even included the Canyon SLT crew cab as a separate vehicle (We put them together here).
(Tie 9-6) Chevy Express
While one could feasibly tie the Express in with the GMC Savana and call it a day, we believe it’s important to call out the American factor of both. Like its corporate van cousin, Express does not have a transmission made in the U.S., which takes seven points off its total score. The higher content of body and chassis components (40 points overall) brought it up to the score of 83, second best overall.
(Tie 9-6) Chevrolet Colorado
The Chevy Colorado has the same makeup as the GMC Canyon and thus the same score (83) on the Made in America Auto Index, second overall and tied for sixth through ninth places. Everything from research, assembly, corporate provenance, and engine production take place on U.S. soil. The 17 points deducted come from foreign-sourced body and electrical components used on the midsize Chevy pickup.
(Tie 5-1) GMC Acadia
The top five places on the Kogod Made in America index belong to General Motors. Each of the automobiles scored 87.5 points out of 100, good for the highest overall score in the annual study. In the case of the GMC Acadia, the SUV had everything American going for it other than 25% of its body, electrical, interior, and chassis components. The Acadia Denali is a variant that also scored 87.5 points, putting it atop the list.
(Tie 5-1) Chevrolet Traverse
The Chevy Traverse midsize SUV joined its corporate cousins at the top on the basis of its highly American construction and assembly. Overall, Traverse put up 87.5 points, losing 12.5 point on the foreign elements of its chassis, interior, and electrical components, giving it a five-way for the best score of 2015. If you want to shop American, this vehicle is one of the reliable options.
(Tie 5-1) Cadillac CTS
GM’s luxury brand also had a top-scoring model in the CTS coupe, even if it was discontinued in 2014. Cadillac shoppers on the preowned market can get a CTS knowing it has the 87.5 score on the Made in America Auto Index, second to none (and tied with four others). This Caddie has the 12.5 points taken away for the overseas production of some interior and electrical parts.
(Tie 5-1) Buick Enclave
There is nothing that says “America” quite like a large Buick. In 2015, the conception has changed somewhat, but you can still find a giant Enclave if you need a boat of a Buick in your driveway. This SUV shares the top score of 87.5 points with its GM cousins, and the breakdown is the same. The only deductions (12.5 points) came from the Enclave’s foreign-sourced elements in the body and chassis.
(Tie 5-1) Chevrolet Corvette
Corvette lovers can pride in the fact that no car has a higher American-made quotient than this Chevy supercar. The Dodge Viper, possibly the only equivalent vehicle on the market, falls way down on the list (tied for 16th with 72.5 points). Everything about the Corvette is American except one-third of its body, chassis, and interior parts.
Looking for the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger, those icons of American muscle? While Mustang tied for 10th overall (77.5), Camaro was way down on the list, tied for 24th (66.5). Challenger, tied for 35th place, just qualifies as American at 57.5 points. Challenger SXT (43.5) and RT plus (36.5) are more like foreign cars.
Source: Made in America Auto Index