Some night when your out having a margarita, you might want to raise a toast to the car in your driveway. There’s a good chance that it, or many of its components, also came from south of the border. A growing number of cars are being built in Mexico as massive auto factories sprout up across the country.
The North American auto industry is moving south, away from the traditional industrial powerhouses of the American Midwest and southern Ontario, Canada. Most of the plants built in the U.S. in recent years have been south of the Mason-Dixon Line, if in the U.S. at all.
Check out the slide show to see just a few of the vehicles that are built in Mexico. You might be surprised to learn that some of the cars and trucks that we think are as American as apple pie are actually imports.
Regular and Crew Cab models of the Ram 1500 and 2500 pickups are made in Ram’s Saltillo, Mexico plant, with the balance of production in Warren, Michigan. Considering that Ram is part of the American-Italian multinational Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, Rams are truly international trucks.
The 2016 Ram 1500 is the No. 2-ranked truck in U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of full size pickup trucks. It is also the winner of our 2016 Best Full Size Truck for the Money award. It’s been praised for its available efficient turbodiesel engine and its interior space and comfort. The bold Ram Rebel and luxury Ram Laramie Limited trim levels were recently added to the lineup.
The Ford Fiesta is appropriately named considering that it’s built in Cuautitlán, Mexico. Ford’s subcompact five-door hatchback and sedan tied with the Chevy Sonic as the No. 2-ranked subcompact car in our ratings. The No. 1-ranked car in the category, the Honda Fit, also comes from Mexico.
Profit margins are traditionally very thin on subcompact economy cars, and that’s one of the reasons why Mexico, with its lower labor costs, has become an attractive location for their production.
The 2016 Fiesta is available with either a tiny 1.0-liter EcoBoost or a 1.6-liter four cylinder engine, and it features an available SYNC 3 infotainment system. Base price for the Fiesta is $14,580.
Pickups are so popular in the U.S. that manufacturers often need to spread their production over several plants to get enough of them built to satisfy demand. Like the Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500, the fully redesigned 2016 Toyota Tacoma is built on both sides of the border.
Many Tacomas will be built in San Antonio, Texas, with the balance built in Baja California, Mexico. The Tacoma holds the No. 3 slot in our rankings of compact pickups, just behind the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. The Tacoma was a finalist for our Best Compact Truck for the Money award.
Four-wheel drive models of the Tacoma have impressive off-road capabilities, though the cabin is a bit tighter than the Colorado and Canyon pickups.
Honda Fit / HR-V
Two of our top-ranked vehicles roll out of the same factory in Celaya, Mexico. The Honda HR-V holds the top slot in the subcompact SUV category. The Honda Fit is our top-ranked subcompact car and the winner of two Best Cars for the Money awards.
The Celaya plant is Honda’s newest and represents an $800 million investment. When it reaches its full production capacity it will be able to crank out 200,000 vehicles per year. Honda estimates that 95 percent of Honda and Acura vehicles sold in the U.S. will be built in North America when that happens.
The Fit is lauded for its spacious and flexible cargo handling, and the HR-V is one of the hottest vehicles in the rapidly growing subcompact SUV segment, with industry experts considering it a great value.
The Fiat 500 family is built at one of the older auto plants in Mexico. Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s Toluca plant first opened in 1968, but it’s perhaps best known for the PT Cruiser. It was built there for ten years before the plant was updated to produce the Fiat 500.
The Fiat 500 ranks No. 14 out of 18 in our rankings of subcompact cars, getting dinged for an underpowered base engine, a small trunk, and lackluster interior materials. On the other hand, the Abarth model has plenty of engine power and a fantastic exhaust note.
A battery-electric variant, the 500e, is available in California and Oregon.
Ford Fusion Hybrid
Ford’s Fusion Hybrid midsize sedan is built in Hermosillo, Mexico. The 2016 model won the U.S. News and World Report Best Hybrid Car for the Money award and is ranked No. 4 in our list of midsize sedans. Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrids are also built at the Hermosillo facility.
Some non-hybrid versions of the Fusion are built in Flat Rock, Michigan.
The Fusion hybrid earns EPA-estimated fuel economy of 44 mpg in the city and 41 on the highway. Prices start at $25,675. Special instrument panel gauges coach Fusion Hybrid and Energi drivers to achieve maximum efficiency.
GMC Sierra 1500 Crew Cab / Chevy Silverado 1500 Crew Cab
Chevy might be the heartbeat of America, but some of their Crew Cab pickups are built in Silao, Mexico, alongside similar trucks from their sister division, GMC. The rest of the Chevy Silverado and Sierra trucks are built in Flint, Michigan.
The Chevrolet Silverado sits at No. 3 in our rankings of full size pickups, just ahead of the GMC Sierra at No. 4. Both trucks feature available 4G LTE connectivity as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability.
Volkswagen Golf / Beetle / Jetta
Volkswagen’s largest manufacturing facility outside of Wolfsburg, Germany is their plant in Puebla, Mexico. The Puebla plant produces the Volkswagen Golf, Beetle, and Jetta for the United States. It’s being expanded to produce the forthcoming 3-row Tiguan crossover. The 22-acre expansion will add 2,000 employees to the plant’s workforce.
Some of the Volkswagen models do very well in our rankings. The Volkswagen GTI is ranked No. 4 in sports cars, the Golf SportWagen is tied for No. 1 in wagons, and the VW Golf is tied for No. 4 in best compact cars.
Lincoln MKZ Hybrid
The hybrid version of the Lincoln MKZ is built alongside the Ford Fusion Hybrid at Ford’s Hermosillo assembly plant. It features a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 70-kilowatt electric motor producing 188 total system horsepower. The Lincoln MKZ Hybrid has the same $35,190 base price as the standard MKZ.
Despite having excellent fuel economy ratings of 41 mpg in the city and 39 on the highway, the MKZ doesn’t compete well against its rivals, ranking No. 18 of 18 luxury midsize cars. Standard Lincoln Drive Control allows owners to tune the performance of their MKZ Hybrid to match their level of driving enthusiasm.
The first car to roll off the assembly line at Mazda’s new Salamanca plant in Mexico was a Mazda3 sedan destined for the United States. After its recent expansion, the plant will produce as many as 230,000 Mazda and Scion (soon to be Toyota) vehicles.
The highly regarded Mazda3 holds the top spot in our hatchback rankings and the No. 2 slot in both our compact car and small car categories. Compared to others in the class, the Mazda3 handles better, gets better mileage, and has a more upscale cabin. It’s available in four-door sedan and five-door hatchback styles.
Scion iA (Toyota Yaris iA)
The Scion iA, soon to be renamed the Toyota Yaris iA, is built by Mazda alongside the Mazda3 in the Salamanca, Mexico facility. It’s essentially a four-door sedan version of the Mazda2 subcompact with a Toyota-designed front end. The Scion iA is ranked No. 5 in our subcompact car category.
Scion’s iA sedan brings a high level of safety and efficiency to the class with EPA-estimated highway mileage of 42 mpg and standard features that include a backup camera and a 7-inch touch-screen infotainment system.
In 2016, Toyota is expected to break ground on a $1 billion factory in Mexico, which is slated to begin production of Toyota Corollas in 2019.
It’s been the year of the sedan for Nissan, which has introduced a completely redesigned Maxima, along with refreshed versions of the Altima and Sentra in quick succession. The Maxima and Altima are built in the U.S., but the refreshed 2016 Sentra is built in Nissan’s Aguascalientes plant in Mexico.
For 2016, the Sentra is available with a number of technologies not yet common in the subcompact class, including adaptive cruise control, forward emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring. It’s ranked No. 19 of 22 in our ratings of compact cars due to a weaker engine than many in the class.
Mexico’s auto building boom isn’t over. Kia is about to open the doors on a plant that will produce the next-generation Forte. Audi’s Q5 luxury SUV will be produced in a new Mexican facility. Ford has taken tremendous political heat from presidential candidate Donald Trump for its planned small car assembly facility.
With cheaper labor and more liberal trade agreements with countries across the globe, the Mexican auto industry has taken off and shows no sign of slowing. Kia’s newest plant is set to open soon, followed by Audi’s. Nissan and Mercedes-Benz have announced a joint venture plant to produce compact luxury cars. It’s adjacent to the facility where Nissan already builds the 2016 Sentra.