For the first time in the list’s 11-year history, the Jeep Wrangler has been named the overall “most American” vehicle for 2017, according to Cars. com.
In what is a coup for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, its Jeep Cherokee takes second place in the American-Made Index, released just ahead of the Independence Day weekend.
Cars.com analyzed more than 100 light-duty passenger vehicles built in the United States to arrive at the top 10. The number of models meeting the original criteria has fallen due to the globalization of automobile manufacturing, from more than 60 vehicles in the index’s inaugural year to eight last year, said Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com’s executive editor. By the original requirements, only three 2017 models would have qualified this year.
“With that, we've revamped the AMI to account for the changing landscape and to reinforce factors representing the domestic economic impact when a buyer purchases one model versus another,” Wiesenfelder says in a release.
The revamped index now bases the ranking on five key criteria: assembly location, domestic parts content, country of engine origin, country of transmission origin and U.S. factory employment relative to its sales footprint.
Other top 10 finishers were: Ford Taurus, Honda Ridgeline, Acura RDX, Ford F-150, Ford Expedition, GMC Acadia, Honda Odyssey and Honda Pilot.
The domestic-parts content of the Jeep Wrangler and Jeep Cherokee were among the highest figures Cars.com observed in this year’s AMI: 74% for the Wrangler, 75% for the Wrangler Unlimited and 70% for the Cherokee. All engines and nearly all transmissions for the Wrangler and Cherokee are from the United States.
“In an era of build-American sentiment, a sizable portion of shoppers still cares where their car comes from,” Wiesenfelder said. “That said, it is important for shoppers to remember that the logo on the vehicle doesn’t necessarily tell the full story.”
The cars on this year’s list hail from automakers headquartered in Europe and Asia as well as North America. Conversely, some vehicles with distinctively American brand names rank low by AMI standards.
In a recent Cars.com survey among in-market car shoppers, 25% of respondents would consider buying only from an American manufacturer (compared with 13% in 2016), and only 5% would consider buying solely from a foreign manufacturer.
Of the 25% of respondents who consider buying only from American manufacturers, over 50% cite support of the local economy and brand loyalty as their primary reasons. When asked which cars were believed to be the “most American,” nearly three-quarters of respondents included the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford F-150, Ford Expedition and Ford Taurus, and only 10% included the Honda Ridgeline, this year’s fourth “most-American” vehicle.
Nearly 28% respondents who identified as being between 18 and 24 years old would consider buying only from American manufacturers, compared with 21% of those who identified themselves as being at least 55 years old.