Some things just scream "American car." Wide seats. Massive V8s. Tacos.
Tacos? Yes, Tacos. Practically since the advent of the domestic auto industry, Americans have been encouraged to buy American cars to help fuel the economy and provide jobs for American workers. However, as American workers have become more expensive, domestic car companies have moved some operations out of the country, to places like Mexico, to take advantage of lower wages there.
At the same time, foreign car companies have found that in order to appeal to American consumers, not only do they have to increase the size and number of cup holders in their products, they also need to employ American workers -- which leads to presumably foreign cars being built right in the American heartland.
If supporting American workers is important to you when you buy a new car, check out our list of cars and just how "American" they are. The results may surprise you.
As American As: Apple Strudel
When BMW started building the X5 in 1999, many reviewers say the German automaker was starting to understand the American market. American BMW buyers wanted something that drove well, but that was big enough for all the people and stuff American families haul. The X5 was not only a good way to get more family-car buyers into BMW showrooms, it also helped invigorate South Carolina's economy. The X5 and its rakish cousin, the BMW X6, are both built at BMW's Spartanburg, South Carolina assembly plant. BMW says that since 1992, the company has contributed $6 billion to South Carolina's economy.
As American As: a Fiesta
While some domestic car companies have shuttered U.S. plants to focus on smaller, more fuel efficient cars, Ford has decided to build its highly-anticipated Fiesta in Mexico. The spritely small car, which is already a hit in Europe, will be built for the U.S. market at Ford's Cuautitlán, Mexico plant. Though the Fiesta has a Spanish name, its roots are very global -- Ford also has plants building the car in Germany, Thailand, China and Spain.
As American As: Doritos
The Honda CR-V is the go-to vehicle for many American families, offering safety, decent fuel economy and a comfortable cabin. It's assembled for the U.S. market at Honda's East Liberty, Ohio plant. Not only does the plant produce the CR-V, it also employs some innovative manufacturing techniques, including low-emission paint, laser welding and recycled water in the toilets. Still, the CR-V's popularity in the U.S. has caused Honda to look south for more production capacity: In 2007 Honda had its plant in Jalisco, Mexico begin building CR-Vs to keep up with American demand.
As American As: Michael J. Fox
When Dodge decided to bring back the Challenger, they resurrected an American icon - and then they decided to build it in Canada. The Dodge Challenger, which returned in 2008 to inspire another generation of gear heads, is actually assembled in Brampton, Ontario. While the plant was idled for a few months in the wake of Chrysler's bankruptcy, it's since been restarted and Challengers are rolling off the line alongside the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. In the end, this muscle car is a bit like Michael J. Fox: it was born in Canada, but few people know it and no one really cares.
As American As: The Republic of Texas
It seems that Toyota's strategy for wooing American truck buyers is to have on of the biggest half-ton pickups on the road. And what better way to convert those hardcore domestic truck buyers to Toyota than to have the Tundra built in the largest truck market in the United States? The very large Toyota Tundra is built -- as Toyota often reminds Texas buyers -- in Texas, by Texans. The plant opened in 2006 outside of San Antonio and was built just for the Tundra. Some might criticize Toyota for opening the plant in a state that's known for being hostile to unions, but so far, Toyota seems to be treating its workers very well. The company even has an onsite healthcare center for workers and their families.
As American As: The Crack of a Bat
The Suburban is one of the longest running nameplates in automotive history and has shuttled generations of American families since 1935. With its large towing and seating capacity, it remains a good choice for active families. However, in 2008 GM announced it was closing the Janesville, Wisconsin plant that builds the Suburban by 2010, leaving the large SUV to be assembled only at GM's Sialo, Mexico plant. In the end, the Suburban is sort of like baseball: A venerable American icon that's migrated south.