Roadshow's favorite American-built vehicles
Roadshow's favorite American-built vehicles
With profit margins thinner than ever, even traditionally 'Merican automakers are decamping to foreign soil to build their vehicles. Despite that, there are still tons of vehicles built right here in the USA by brands from around the globe that we love. Here are our editor's favorites.
2019 Acura NSX
The Chevrolet Corvette may be America's sports car, but the Acura NSX is America's supercar. The first-generation NSX was built in Japan, but the second-gen car is built in Marysville, Ohio. The current NSX was even engineered in the US, too.
--Manuel Carrillo III
Why didn't I pick the Ford GT? Because that's built in Markham, Ontario, Canada. The NSX may wear a Japanese nameplate, but this Acura wears its red, white and blue proudly.
But even the original NSX has an American connection. Honda unveiled the NS-X concept car at the 1989 Chicago Auto Show. Back then, NS-X (and eventually NSX) stood for "New Sports Experimental". Today, NSX stands for "New Sports eXperience."
2019 Chevrolet Corvette Convertible
OK, listen, I know there's a lot of stigma that comes along with the Corvette -- and with being a Corvette owner in general -- but few 'Merican sports cars have consistently challenged the best the rest of the world has to offer like this one has. Maybe it's the mixture of history and modern performance, or maybe it's the way that it's impossible to say "Bowling Green, Kentucky" without suddenly adopting the accent, but either way, the 'Vette gets my choice.
The current Corvette is about five years old now and, to be honest, it's had its ups and downs. On the up side, there's the amazing Grand Sport, one of the best performance values of the decade. On the down side, well, both the Z06 and ZR1 had a few teething problems when introduced, but that hardly dampened the enthusiasm of its ardent fans.
And now? Well, with the C8's unveiling coming in just a month's time, Corvette will make the absolutely radical shift to midengine power. How will it look? How will it drive? And, perhaps most importantly, how will those loyal Corvette owners respond? Stay tuned, dear reader.
2019 Ford F-150 Raptor
You can try, but you can't get much more American than a full-size pickup. Similarly, you can't get much more 'Murica than a 2019 Ford F-150 Raptor. This Dearborn, Michigan-built pickup is outrageously capable, yet surprisingly livable day to day. Whether you're bashing along through the desert (with your wheels only occasionally on the ground), sluicing down a muddy fire road, or towing some powersports toys to the lake, the Raptor can do it all.
In my review of the recently updated truck, I proclaimed the Raptor "Murica's Supercar," and I stand by that idea -- there's nothing as capable in as many circumstances. This thing is every bit as impressive in its genre as any supercar you can name, be it from Italy, Germany or America. In fact, an argument could be made that Ford wouldn't be out of its mind to charge six figures based on the Raptor's capabilities alone. Fortunately, this truck is priced from around $55 grand -- about the going rate for a nice, full-size truck these days.
It's tempting to think of pickup trucks as big, dumb beasts of burden, yet the Raptor is anything but. Boasting aluminum-intensive construction, a powerful twin-turbo engine, trick remote-reservoir shocks and a solid infotainment stack, and this is one impressive vehicle, full stop.
2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
When it comes to the pony car wars, I've always been more of a Ford Mustang kind of guy than a Chevy Camaro or Dodge Challenger fella. And having recently driven the updated 2019 Shelby GT350, I don't I've ever been more Team Mustang than I am now. And it's pretty cool that the road course ripper of a 'Stang is built in Flat Rock, Michigan, which isn't all too far from my hometown.
Why does the GT350 do it for me? For starters, the flat-plane-crank V8 is sensational. It delivers a stout 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, features snappy throttle response, and makes all the right noise running up to the 8,250-rpm redline. When paired with a precise Tremec six-speed manual, it's a drivetrain combo that's an absolute riot to romp around tracks or just your favor strips of back roads with.
It's also a remarkable handler. Stickier Michelin tires, recalibrated adaptive dampers, stiffer springs, and a thicker rear anti-roll bar improve reflexes for 2019. It's capable and involving to drive on a race track, but also isn't half-bad driving it around normally on the street with the exception its tendency to tramline on rutted roads. With a base price of $59,140, it's a car that I can without hesitation say is worth the cost of admission.
2019 Honda Accord
I'm a Midwestern man, so it warms the cockles of my cold, cold heart to know that one of the best midsize sedans ever made is built just a couple hours away in Ohio.
The Honda Accord represents one of the best values in the auto industry, with an impressive blend of driving dynamics, standard equipment and, depending on your proclivities, style.
There's history in Honda's Marysville, Ohio plant, too. The second-generation model was the first Accord built in Ohio, all the way back in the 1980s. In fact, it was the first vehicle Honda produced at the facility, which has grown to include models from Acura, as well.
2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE450
Fun fact: Mercedes-Benz has been building the GLE-Class -- and its predecessor, the M-Class -- in the United States since the late 1990s. If you've seen one of these midsize luxury SUVs in America, it's rolled off the line at Mercedes' production facility in Vance, Alabama.
The 2020 GLE-Class is an excellent SUV, with an impressive array of driver-assistance and infotainment tech, as well as comfort and convenience features. It also gets Mercedes' new E-Active Body Control system, which makes the GLE better to drive than ever before.
My personal favorite is the GLE450, which uses Mercedes' sweet new straight-six engine, combined with EQ Boost tech. The mild-hybrid starter generator helps make the stop/start system as smooth as possible, and offers nice bursts of boost without guzzling extra gas.
2019 Tesla Model 3
When thinking about the pantheon of great American carmakers, it's easy to call up the Big Three, but it can be surprisingly easy to forget the Big T. That might be because it's based in California (not traditionally a home to large-scale auto production) or because it's only been around for a few years, but the fact is, its Model 3 is one of the best cars ever designed.
Why do I love the Model 3? It's a rare car that does everything really, really well. Do you need to carry a bunch of groceries? Done. Ferry five adults around in relative comfort? No problem. Go out and blast up a canyon road? It'll happily do that, too.
In addition to being supremely utilitarian, the Model 3 is nice to look at, and its cabin, while minimal, is a pretty nice place to spend time. I love the big center screen, which I found myself getting used to much sooner than I had anticipated. My biggest complaint with the interior of Model 3 is the continued use of old Mercedes switchgear.
2019 Tesla Model S
Regardless of how you feel about Mr. Musk, his cars have been American-made almost since inception (the first Roadster was built using a Lotus chassis). The Model S remains the top-dog in the Tesla line-up, with up to 370 miles of range and all that sweet electric torque.
Off the line you can get a Model S to scoot to 60 miles per hour in just 2.4 seconds and with the Supercharging network drivers can get 130 miles of range in just 15 minutes.
If ADAS features are your thing, there is no doubt that Tesla has one of the best adaptive cruise control/lane centering technology out there. It's a serious stress-buster if your commute involves lots of stop and go traffic. Just remember, it's a hands-on, eyes-up system. No falling asleep on your morning drive time just yet.
2020 Toyota Tacoma
Built at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, the Toyota Tacoma checks all of the right boxes for a good pickup truck: It's well-built, affordable and (most importantly) American-made. Toyota's "ain't broke, don't fix" approach to the last few revisions to the Tacoma means that today's Taco is just as rugged and reliable as ever. It may not be the flashiest truck at the worksite or on the trail, but it's one of the most dependable, and that's what I love most about it.
Up until recently, this slow approach to innovation has left some aspects of its infotainment and cabin technology feeling a bit basic -- which is fine if a spartan cabin is what you want in your truck. The latest-generation Tacoma somewhat remedies this problem with updated Entune tech and standard Toyota Safety Sense-P driver-aid features. Patient buyers will gain Apple CarPlay connectivity and an optional surround-view camera when the facelifted 2020 model lands later this year.
On the other hand, the Tacoma's off-roading technology is much more up-to-date, with the current generation boasting a fairly advanced Multi-terrain Select traction-control system and the surprisingly flexible Crawl Control system that can help partially automate tackling steep and loose inclines and declines and even help unstick the truck from axle-deep sand. Prefer to do it yourself? The Tacoma's 4x4 capabilities and trail-ready reputation precedes itself.