Should I Buy a Foreign or an American Car?

March 18, 2013

When researching new and used cars, the question of whether to buy a foreign or American car can cause a lot of heartache for potential buyers. American car companies did a lot of damage to their reputation over past decades by sending out substandard vehicles that did not really meet the needs of most consumers. It looks like Detroit has finally gotten the message and are building cars that rival Japanese cars for quality and are upping their fuel efficiency. In making your decision, it helps to give some thought to both sides of the argument.

Buy American

  • Quality - The quality of American cars has vastly improved in recent years. Consumer reports has rated a number of American cars, especially Fords, as highly as the best cars from Japan. Buick managed a JD Powers rating that is top of the line, tying with Jaguar and beating out Toyota.
  • Styling - Detroit has also stepped up their game in the style department. The latest Camaro, Mustang and Challenger are examples of distinctly American muscle-car style that set the hearts of American car enthusiasts racing.
  • Price - Since Cash for Clunkers ended, American cars are not as cheap as they were a couple of weeks ago, but they are still cheap. The Big 3 are currently offering large rebates and incentives. As the economy turns around the pricing advantage of American cars will probably narrow, but if you are currently in the market for a car this may be a good time to buy American.
  • Fuel Efficiency - While American cars lag behind foreign cars, especially Toyota's, in the green department, they are producing some interesting hybrids.

Buy Foreign

  • Quality - While it is true that American car quality has improved lately it still does not match the overall quality of the majority of foreign cars. The quality of American cars can vary wildly by manufacturer and model whereas with foreign cars you will often find high-quality ratings across their entire range of models.
  • Styling - While America makes some pretty stylish muscle cars, it smaller, more fuel efficient models are not all that exciting. When it comes to fuel efficiency America is playing catch up in a big way with its foreign competitors.
  • Price - American cars are for the most part cheaper thanks in large part to rebates and incentives. When the economy turns around this may no longer be the case.
  • Fuel Efficiency - American manufacturers are jumping on the hybrid wagon but have certainly not caught up with the Toyota Prius, which sets the standard for hybrid vehicles. Detroit is producing smaller vehicles with improved fuel efficiency, but it does not have the same lineup depth that foreign manufacturers do.

Its also important to remember that in this age of globalization, just because a vehicle has an American manufacturer nameplate on it does not necessarily mean it was built in America. Ford and GM build cars in both Canada and Mexico. The reverse is also true, Toyota, Honda and many others build alot of their cars on American soil. In the end your decision will often come down to the car that fits your needs, makes you happy and gives you the best value for your money.

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