You don't have to look very hard to find great American cars these days. In fact, it's pretty hard to find a bad car almost anywhere in the new car landscape. Still, there are some clear standouts, so as we celebrate this July 4th we'd like to give a nod to some of our favorite American-made automobiles.
2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist
Buick isn't calling this a hybrid, but that's basically what it is. What's remarkable about the 2012 Buick LaCrosse is that whether you choose the V6 engine or the eAssist hybrid the price is the same, about $30,000. The LaCrosse with eAssist uses a 2.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with a belt-driven, liquid-cooled electric motor/generator. It adds about 15 horsepower, making the LaCrosse's total output 182 horsepower. The payoff is a midsize luxury sedan that gets 25 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway. That's about the same fuel economy as a Honda Fit subcompact.
2011 Chevrolet Volt
Leave it to GM to build an electric car that eliminates the drawbacks of an electric car. Actually, the Chevrolet Volt doesn't need to be plugged in at all. Of course you can plug it in, and when you do the Volt functions like full electric vehicle using no gasoline at all for the first 35 miles or so. Should you need to drive further, a gasoline engine/generator kicks in and provides the energy needed to drive as far as you'd like to go (you just have to stop and fill it up with gasoline about every 300 miles).
2011 Chrysler 300
The 300 was completely reworked for 2011, and Chrysler left no stone unturned in an effort give the 300 some serious luxury. The interior materials, available options and a new V6 all give the car the look and feel of a $50,000 luxury sedan. The LED running lights up front add a swagger we haven't seen from Chrysler in decades, and even the taillights add a sort of hand-crafted elegance to the car. But the real kicker is that pricing for the 2011 Chrysler 300 starts under $30,000. Opt for the Limited with a little more luxury and the price is still a very reasonable $33,000.
2012 Ford Focus
The 2012 Ford Focus is one of the best compact cars around. True, most new cars shoppers usually look at import brands first when it comes to small cars, but if you're shopping for a compact like the Toyota Corolla or Honda Civic, you've got to test drive of the Focus, too. The interior is more like the European premium compacts we've only read about in the past, and the number of tech options alone will leave the folks at the Honda and Toyota dealerships scratching their heads. The new Focus is also amazingly quiet compared to other compact cars.
2011 Lincoln MKX
Think of a few features you'd like to have in a luxury crossover SUV. Odds are, the Lincoln MKX has them all plus a few you didn't even know existed. Sync and MyLincoln Touch are on board offering an amazing array of re-configurable displays and tons of tech options, including dual USB ports and the ability to make the MKX into a rolling Wi-Fi hotspot. And yet, Lincoln has managed to do all this in a way that actually keeps the driver's attention on the road. The 3.7-liter V6 is strong yet quiet, and the luxury side is well represented with soft leather seats that are both heated and ventilated. There's a 10-speaker stereo, dual zone climate control, remote start, and a power rear liftgate all included in the MKX's $40,000 price.
Of course this is just a partial list of great American cars. Many American vehicles are now among the best cars in their respective categories, including the new Dodge Grand Caravan minivan, Ram pickup, Cadillac CTS luxury sedan, Chevrolet Cruze compact, Ford Fusion Hybrid family sedan and Ford Fiesta subcompact.
The bottom line is that when it comes to new cars, the assumptions of the past no longer hold true. A list of the best American cars is quickly becoming a list of the best new cars, period.