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American-Made Cars in the Spotlight

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author photo by Colin Ryan

There are more than 70 models of American-made cars and light trucks in the U.S., which is roughly 28 percent of the 259 nameplates available at dealers. And this includes the absolute best-sellers. However, not all domestic-made vehicles have American badges. Some come from companies we associate more with places such as Japan, Germany and South Korea.

Toyota makes its highly popular 2013 Camry midsize sedan in Kentucky, using many American-made parts (75 percent, according to the American Automotive Labeling Act report). The Venza and Avalon also come from the same plant. One of the most successful cars in history, the Corolla compact sedan is built (at least for North America) in Mississippi. The Highlander, Sequoia and Sienna are all assembled in Indiana, while the Tacoma and Tundra pickups call Texas home. In all, Toyota produces around 1.25 million vehicles a year in the U.S.

The Camry's traditional rival, the 2013 Honda Accord, hails from Ohio, as do the Accord's Crosstour and CR-V brethren. The Civic comes from Indiana, while the Odyssey, Ridgeline and Pilot are assembled in Alabama. Acura, meanwhile, produces the ILX, MDX, RDX and TL in Indiana.

Alabama is taking on almost as much significance as Michigan these days. Mercedes-Benz makes the M-Class and GL-Class in its Vance factory. And Hyundai's facility in Montgomery is impressive. In go rolls of mild steel that get stamped into body panels; out the other end come the wildly successful Sonata (nonhybrid versions) and Elantra midsize and compact sedans, respectively. In Georgia, Kia has a similar setup producing the Optima sedan (nonhybrid versions, again) and Sorento crossover. It also builds the Santa Fe crossover for Hyundai.

BMW has had a factory in Spartanburg, S.C., since 1994. These days, it makes the X3, X5 and X6 there. In Chattanooga, Tenn., Volkswagen's North American-spec Jetta and Passat are built.

Tennesseans also make Infiniti's JX midsize crossover, as well as Nissan's Altima, Maxima, Pathfinder, Frontier and Xterra. The Altima is also made in Mississippi, along with the Armada and Titan.

Subaru has joined the made-in-USA crowd by setting up shop in Indiana for the Legacy and Outback models. The 2013 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport comes out of the company's Normal, Ill., plant.

So much for the "import" brands. Home-grown brands sometimes have their vehicles assembled in Mexico, Canada and even (ironically) South Korea -- the Chevrolet Spark, for example. But Michigan is still ground zero for vehicle construction, making the following: Buick Lucerne and Verano; Cadillac CTS; Chevrolet Malibu, Volt, Traverse and Sonic; Chrysler 200; Dodge Durango and Avenger; Jeep Grand Cherokee; Ford F-series, Mustang and Focus; GMC Acadia; and RAM 1500.

Chevy also has a Malibu-making facility in Kansas City, Kan., while its Corvette is created in Kentucky, the Silverado in Indiana, the Cruze in Ohio and the Tahoe in Texas.

Chicago is Ford's kind of town for the Taurus sedan, Explorer SUV and Lincoln MKS sedan. Kentucky enhances the F-series quota, and a plant in Missouri provides the Escape compact crossover.

The Jeep Liberty and Wrangler are made in Ohio, while the Compass and Patriot hail from Illinois. GMC's Sierra comes from Indiana; the Yukon from Texas (same factory as the Tahoe, which is virtually the same vehicle).

It's fitting that America's most modern car is built in Silicon Valley, especially since it has what looks like a giant iPad as a dashboard. It's the all-electric Tesla Model S, produced in Fremont, Calif., in a former Toyota plant.

Although many home-built cars and trucks go to North American buyers, much of the output from these factories goes to other countries, contributing to U.S. exports. The Bureau of Economic Analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce issued a report that American-made cars and trucks accounted for 2.5 percent of the nation's GDP in 2011. Big numbers take time to crunch, but that figure could be higher for 2012 and 2013.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
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American-Made Cars in the Spotlight