10 Cars More American Than Yours

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- If you're looking for an “American-made” car, prepare to be extremely flexible with that definition.

The subject of American-made cars is a bit tricky to begin with, but becomes even more so when you change the rules as you go. The folks at vehicle pricing site Cars.com decided it isn't enough to know where the car was assembled or how many U.S.-made parts went into it: "American" apparently also means popular.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration strongly disagrees. The agency admits freely there's no such thing as a 100% American car and notes that one of its most American vehicles, the 70% U.S.-produced Ford Edge, has a base motor made in Mexico and is assembled in Canada. You can have a car with 70% American-made parts, such as the Chevrolet Captiva, which doesn't mean much if it's assembled elsewhere, or a car such as the BMW AG that is assembled right here in the U.S., but gets only 20% of its parts from this country.

More than 20 years ago, Congress passed the American Automobile Labeling Act requiring cars to have labels specifying their percentage of U.S./Canadian parts, the country of assembly and the country of origin for the engine and transmission. The NHTSB has compiled lists of these vehicles for each model year to help consumers who care about such things get more homegrown product for their money.

The NHTSB has its own list of vehicles assembled in the U.S. using the most U.S. and Canadian parts, but Cars.com's insistence on popularity led it to devise a list of its own. These may not be the “most” American-made cars available, but they're the American-made cars that the site feels American drivers are most likely to own. Keep that caveat in mind for the first entry on this list:

10. 2014 SRT Viper
Assembled: Detroit, Mich.
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

This ranked No. 3 on the AALA list, but Cars.com didn't think all that much of its U.S. sales.

But this is one of the few vehicles that can actually claim it was built in in Detroit itself. This six-figure supercar comes absolutely stacked for the price, too. Its all-aluminum 8.4-liter V-10 engine produces 640 horsepower while electronic stability control, traction control, four-channel antilock brake system, carbon fiber and aluminum skin, Pirelli P Zero Z-rated tires, four-piston Brembo brakes, low seating position and 7-inch full-color customizable instrument clusters come track-ready ... if it ever sees one.

Just in case it never makes it beyond the strip in South Beach, there's a Uconnect in-vehicle connectivity system, Harman Kardon audio system, bi-xenon projector headlamps with LED daytime running lamps and LED turn signals, LED taillights and snakeskin texture lens all look and sounds sweet at cruising speed. The Viper tops out at 206 mph, but looks best at about 25.

9. 2014 Honda Crosstour
Assembled: East Liberty, Ohio
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

The AALA considers this the seventh most-American car on its list, but that pesky popularity contest gets the better of the Crosstour as well.

Honda makes its first appearance thanks to its commitment to working in Ohio and its embrace of the big family vehicle. The Crosstour is basically an Accord wagon and was actually named the Accord Crosstour until last year. Honda wants it to be considered a crossover so badly, but the Crosstour continues to pick up the wagon market competitors such as Subaru and Volvo are leaving for dead. A redesign last year gave it a more powerful engine and a rearview camera, but that combined 22 miles per gallon is gluttonous even for an American crossover.

8. 2014 Honda Ridgeline
Assembled: Lincoln, Ala.
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

We're going to go ahead an call this an odd inclusion.

Cars.com bumped the Dodge Avenger off the list because it's being discontinued and doesn't have a clear successor. But the Ridgeline goes out of commission after 2014 and doesn't have a 2015 model in the works. There have been rumors of a ground-up redesign of the Ridgeline for 2016, but we've seen nothing concrete and only vague photographic evidence.

Meanwhile, the Ridgeline has always been a compromise for drivers who couldn't decide between a pickup and an SUV. Its 1,500 pounds of payload capacity is great for tailgating, but about half that of the Ford F-150 and other, more popular pickups. Honda may fix that by 2016, but in the meantime this is an American made truck with few of the features American truck owners want.

7. 2014 Chevrolet Corvette
Assembled: Bowling Green, Ky.
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

Wow, knocking the Corvette down from No. 5 to No. 7 because it's a costly sports car with an exclusive buyer base? That's a gutsy call for the most iconic version of the 'Vette produced in a generation.

Chevrolet hasn't produced a Stingray version of this vehicle since 1986, but this version has the most U.S. parts and labor put into a Corvette in roughly that same span. The pace car of last year's Indianapolis 500, the Corvette delivers on its looks with a 6.2-liter small block V8 engine that cranks out 455 horsepower. Unless you're the one clown who strips this beauty down to its absolute base, chances are you're also enjoying a package that includes a Bose 10-speaker surround-sound audio system; Sirius XM satellite radio with one-year subscription and HD radio receiver; color head-up display; memory package; navigation system; heated and ventilated seats with power lumbar and bolster adjustment; and a leather-wrapped dash. It's the lavish all-American sports car with the parts and labor to back it up.

6. 2014 Toyota Avalon
Assembled: Georgetown, Ky.
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

The not-quite-luxury car is a dying breed, but Toyota breathed new life into its Avalon by listening to a very specific clientele.

With its streamlined Lexus ES frame and a combined 35 miles per gallon, it has the look of an efficient Japanese luxury car. The Avalon is an American-built vehicle built specifically for American car buyers, though, and all its extra room and added luxury features give it a slight edge over the ES -- which is produced mainly in Japan.

5. 2014 Toyota Tundra
Assembled: San Antonio, Texas
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

This Toyota should have been the first pickup on the list, but at least you'll be able to buy one next year.

As the first full-sized pickup truck built by a Japanese manufacturer, the Tundra had a lot of baggage heaped into its cargo bed that the smaller, popular Tacoma never did. But the San Antonio-based plant that makes the Tundra gave it a Texas-sized upgrade last year that included a larger grille, brawnier fenders, a redesigned tailgate and taillights, as well as a completely redesigned interior. The Toyota practicality comes through inside, however, as a 3.5-inch information screen, Bluetooth connectivity and back-up camera are now among the features that take second billing to its towing and payload capacity.

4. 2014 Toyota Sienna
Assembled: Princeton, Ind.
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

Hey, families like minivans, and lots of families are buying the next two on our list, hence the Sienna's bump from No. 10 to No. 4.

Japanese automakers have not only embraced the all-American family minivan, but are the only companies making them in the United States. Chrysler may have dominated the minivan market in the '90s, but today they only assemble their Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & Country in Canada. The Toyota Sienna gives families the room they need with the V6 power they want when family road trips need to end a bit more quickly. Still, the Sienna somehow still can't manage to accelerate past the next vehicle on our list.

3. 2014 Honda Odyssey
Assembled: Lincoln, Ala.
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

It can carry five family members, store drinks and snacks in a center-console cool box and collapse its third row to offer 93.1 cubic feet for more storage. Oh, and there's the optional 16.2-inch split-screen entertainment system that lets passengers watch two programs at once and has an optional built-in vacuum cleaner to pick up and crumbs and road snacks left behind.

It's just your average American road trip vehicle built by a company based in Tokyo, but its increased number of U.S.-made parts is only making it more American by the year.

2. 2014 Toyota Camry
Assembled: Georgetown, Ky.
Percentage made In U.S.: 75%

The Camry gets a much-deserved bump based solely on the fact that no car in the U.S. is more popular on the lots.

Georgetown has been cranking out Toyotas since 1988 and uses the same platform to produce the Camry and its slightly more spacious and swank Avalon sibling. The Camry has put some serious mileage between itself and its troubled, recall-plagued past and remains the most popular car in the U.S. Its sales are nearly identical to the Chevy Silverado and exceed those of the Dodge Ram.

For yet another year, it's going to be the best-selling non-pickup vehicle in the U.S. Is it the combined 30 miles per gallon? The pindrop-quiet interior? The Bluetooth connection or the Entune App Suite entertainment and information center? Or is it just the fact that it's reliable enough to buy and forget about? Camry owners take a whole lot of trips in their vehicles, but few of them are to the repair shop.

1. 2014 Ford F-150
Assembled:
Dearborn, Mich., and Kansas City, Mo.
Percentage made In U.S.:
75%

The fact that it's been the best-selling truck and best-selling vehicle, period, for decades vaults the F-150 to No. 1 with ease.

The truck that's been carrying Ma and apple pie to the baseball game since 1948 is an American icon, but has the same amount of American parts and production as the Tundra. Still, Ford consistently culls three-quarters of the F-150's material from the U.S. and assembles it here. The same can't always be said for the 66% American-made Ram and the paltry 40% U.S.-built Chevy Silverado and Ram, which are sometimes assembled in Mexico.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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