Best American Cars: Top Picks for 2017

Buying American is a priority for many car buyers. To help them choose a great car, Consumer Reports annually compiles a list of American Top Picks, highlighting exceptional models. These are the top-scoring domestic-branded cars—based on a composite of road test score, reliability, safety, and owner satisfaction—across 10 popular categories. (Learn more about our Overall Score.)
We need to get an important footnote out of the way: Because the automobile industry is global, many cars are manufactured in countries far from their corporate headquarters. It doesn’t make things easier that Chrysler is owned by Italy’s Fiat. Therefore, for simplicity’s sake, we have defined an “American” car as one coming from the three traditional domestic manufacturers: Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. To help gauge its patriotic pedigree, we have also listed where each vehicle is built and its percentage of North American content.

Thanks to reinvigorated competitiveness, buying American doesn’t require sacrificing quality—far from it. Two cars on this list—the Chevrolet Impala and Ford F-150—also show up on Consumer Reports’ official Top Picks list. They’re the prime choices in their respective categories, besting all global competition.

The American Top Picks list also shows Ford’s strength in building refined, fun-to-drive cars. Many also benefit from improving reliability as Ford works out their bugs. But the list also reveals that some weak spots still exist among the domestic manufacturers.

Sports Car under $40,000: None qualify

Mazda MX-5 Miata
Mazda MX-5 Miata

Ford dominates this category with a wide variety of models: the Fiesta ST, Focus ST, and Mustang. We greatly enjoy driving all of them, but they all have poor reliability, knocking them out of the running. Competition from Chrysler and GM is sparse: the Dodge Challenger has below average reliability, and we’ve just started testing the new Chevrolet Camaro so the verdict is still pending.

Pickup Truck: Ford F-150

Ford F-150

 

With last year’s move to an aluminum-body, Ford’s latest redesign of their top-selling vehicle really rolled the dice. But the gamble paid off, with best-in-class fuel economy among gasoline-powered full-sized trucks. Top-tier crash test results, an enormous and quiet cab, and plenty of clever features help the F-150’s appeal. While the Chevrolet Silverado and Ram 1500 out-point the Ford in road test score, both of those trucks are unreliable. Above-average first year reliability puts the Ford on top, and makes it a Consumer Reports Top Pick.
Built in Michigan and Missouri
U.S./Canada content: 70 percent

Minivan: None Qualify

Chrysler Pacifica
Chrysler Pacifica

Chrysler created the modern minivan, but their Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan are outclassed among their peers. After a long model run, reliability has finally clawed its way to average, but a Poor in the IIHS small offset crash test takes them out of contention. Perhaps the upcoming Pacifica minivan will be Chrysler’s comeback in a segment that they pioneered and used to own.

Large SUV: Dodge Durango

Ford Edge

Easily Chrysler’s best current product, the Durango is something of a jumbo-sized Swiss Army knife. Excellent owner satisfaction scores show that buyers love this brawny-yet-sleek SUV. Even though it has room for seven full-sized adults in its three rows of seats, its size doesn’t get in the way of handling with the nimbleness of a smaller vehicle. Quiet and well-finished, the interior also features the optional excellent UConnect infotainment system. The Durango also tows a big trailer and, rare for troubled Chrysler, has average reliability.
Built in Michigan
U.S./Canada content: 67 percent 

Midsized SUV: Ford Edge

Ford Edge

If there were awards for “Most Improved Redesign,” the Edge would certainly be in the running. The 2015 makeover transformed Ford’s two-row crossover from being musclebound and uncouth into a sophisticated car that graduates with honors from finishing school. Like many other Fords, the Edge excels at balancing being both fun to drive yet quietly subduing the road’s annoying imperfections with a roomy interior.
Built in Canada
U.S./Canada content: 77 percent

Small SUV: None Qualify

Ford Escape
Ford Escape

We enjoy driving the refined and nimble Ford Escape, but below-average reliability and a Poor score in the IIHS offset crash tests disqualify it from consideration. All of Jeep’s small SUVs—the Compass, Patriot, and Cherokee—are both unreliable and uncompetitive. GM lacks a true small SUV; their dated Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain are more midsized than small. And the Buick Encore subcompact SUV is both too expensive and too tiny to challenge small SUV stalwarts like the Subaru Forester or Toyota RAV4.

Large Car: Chevrolet Impala

The Chevrolet Impala is one of the American cars that made Consumer Reports list of top picks for 2016

Long relegated to the inglorious life of airport rental fleets, the current version of the Impala puts the competition in its rearview mirror. The Impala is a fully contemporary and very accomplished large sedan. It combines what made big traditional American road cruisers great—plenty of room inside a plush and quiet interior—with surprisingly good road manners that make the Impala rewarding to drive. It’s one of Consumer Reports’ Top Picks for 2016.
Built in Canada and Michigan
U.S./Canada content: 65 percent

Midsized Car: Ford Fusion

Ford Fusion

Yearn for a European luxury sports sedan, but can’t swing those payments? The Fusion is a satisfying substitute. While many midsized sedans prove to be a snooze to drive, this Ford’s sharp steering makes even a routine commute fun, while still providing the absorbent ride and quiet cabin needed to churn out those miles. A broad line-up includes a 39 mpg hybrid, a plug-in hybrid, and available all-wheel drive. You still need to put up with the frustrating MyFord Touch infotainment touch screen in the Fusion (one of the last holdouts with this system), but Sync 3 arrives for 2017 along with other updates.
Built in Mexico and Michigan.
U.S./Canada content: 26 percent 

Compact Car: Ford C-Max

Ford C-Max

Returning 37 mpg overall, the Ford C-Max hybrid doesn’t match the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius, but it is more enjoyable to drive and more refined.The tall body makes for easy access, good visibility, and abundant cargo space. Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment system is also a big improvement over the buggy and unintuitive MyFord Touch system it replaced. It also comes as a plug-in hybrid with 18 miles of electric only range.
Built in Michigan
U.S./Canada content: 46 percent