Buying Guides

The 10 Best American Cars Are Worthy of Respect

American pride in automaking has finally been restored

Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief

Not too long ago, unless you wanted a pickup truck or a muscle car, you'd pretty much steer away from American brand cars from the big three. The styling, reliability and driving experience in many newer American models has been upped in big ways, making American cars truly attractive across the segments. Of the ten cars we've selected, only two of them break the $50K base price mark, and one of the cars happens to be a subcompact car. Regardless of which one you go with, you'll be sure to come away thrilled by what America has wrought.

2017 Buick LaCrosse

 
  • PROS: Excellent American styling, a Buick that's great to drive especially with the adaptive suspension, big rear seat accommodations, solid acceleration and quick shifting transmission, available all-wheel drive appeals to snowbound folk.
  • CONS: Tall and wide center console restricts room for front occupants, cheap-looking buttons and plastic below the display screen, huge shift knob takes practice, expensive when optioned out.

Gone is the awkward and bloated model, and in its place find one of the best-looking American cars in existence. Photos don't do the new LaCrosse ($32,065 base MSRP) justice, and it looks equal parts muscular and sleek with its curves and haunches perfectly complimentary. Though it shares the underpinnings with the Impala, it looks more upscale. The interior has been thoroughly re-worked but the front occupants get less room because of the high and wide center console, though an eight-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and 4G LTE connectivity is standard.

2017 Cadillac CT6

Best

for the executive

  • PROS: Distinct American styling that's not derivative, light and nimble to drive, athletic in the turns, affordable compared to the competition, available all-wheel drive in the V6 models.
  • CONS: Underpowered in 2.0T trim, can be harsh on bumpy roads, strange perforated material in the center stack, some throttle lag, still frustrating and only slightly modified CUE infotainment system.

While the new Caddy CT6 ($53,495 base MSRP) flagship isn't meant to go at the BMW 7-Series or Merc S Class, what it does manage to do is carve out a unique niche that provides luxury an athleticism in the same package. Engine choices provide variety, from a turbo 2.0-liter four, a non-turbo V6 and a potent twin-turbo V6 with 404 horsepower. The car's suspension is taut and lets the sport-luxury sedan take corners like a champ. The cabin is luxurious though a bit overstyled, but the CT6 is more about driving fun than it is about total luxury. We're just glad it doesn't totally disconnect you from the road.

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray

Best

for the power hungry

  • PROS: The best sports car for the money, monstrous V8 thrust, finally a great interior that befits the model, excellent brakes, still comfy as a daily driver, superb handling, ample cargo room.
  • CONS: A bit overstyled on the outside, less-than-perfect touchscreen. Shockingly few flaws.

The world Corvette has finally arrived. The C6 was a stellar performer, but the current C7 Corvette Stingray ($55,450 base MSRP) is a phenom not just in terms of abilities but also what you get for the money. All by itself, it can take on cars costing twice the price, but in Z51, Grand Sport or Z06 trim, it'll wholly embarrass supercars. The 6.2-liter V8 making 455 hp and 460 lb-ft of torque mated to a 7-speed manual (or 8-speed automatic) is voluminous and authoritative. Now the interior matches its performance ethos and no longer has to hide in the shadows.

2017 Ford Fusion

 
  • PROS: Handling unlike a family sedan, stunning exterior, Sport model is a rocket, miserly turbocharged engines, Sync 3 infotainment system is one of the best around, optional all-wheel drive.
  • CONS: Could use more rear seat headroom, some plastics hard to the touch, rear visibility compromised by the sleek roofline.

There's no better looking American sedan (the Chevy Malibu comes close) on the market than the Fusion ($22,12 base MSRP) and that's saying something since the competition is getting stiffer with each model year. Good thing the Fusion has received some tweaks inside and out to keep it fresh. The Fusion is a delight to drive and now in Sport trim, there's more power (325 from its V6 engine). The Hybrid and Energi plug-in hybrid both receive more efficient electric motors for 2017, and the Fusion gets a very responsive Sync 3 infotainment system, and a new rotary shifter shows up a-la-Jaguar.

2017 Dodge Charger

 
  • PROS: Tasteful muscle car looks, great front seats, handles well for a heavy car, great infotainment system, available all-wheel drive, all models feel potent but especially V8 trims and the insane 707 hp Hellcat.
  • CONS: Can get thirsty in V8 trim, back window is small, small-ish on legroom in the 2nd row.

Up there with the Chevy SS, it's a muscle car for the family set. The Charger looks far better, though, now that its fascia has been tweaked, and the interior is appropriately upmarket from the last car. It also rides and handles incredibly well for such a large vehicle and won't balk at taking long trips thanks to ample cargo space and the benefit of all-wheel drive. A 292 hp 3.6-liter V6 is standard, and two Hemi V8s are also available (a 370 hp 5.7-liter or a 485 hp 6.4-liter. The top trim Hellcat gets a supercharged V8 good for a bonkers 707 hp. Driving the kids to school will never be the same.

2017 Chevrolet Cruze

Best

for the commuter

  • PROS: Handles surprisingly well for an economical car, sport-tuned suspension ups that factor even more, big trunk makes for easy travel, stylish sheetmetal, optional leather seats are excellent, slick-looking hatchback is on its way.
  • CONS: Could use more horsepower or an additional engine choice, can't deactivate auto start/stop.

The first Cruze was decent. This one is excellent thanks to better looks, a much better driving experience and everyday practical room and comfort. Too bad there isn't more power available than the 153 hp 1.4-liter turbo four to match the great chassis and suspension. On the bright side, a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is standard, as well as 4G LTE for on-board connectivity. It's a bonafide contender against the Civic and actually comes better outfitted.

2017 Chrysler Pacifica

Best

for the family

  • PROS: Makes minivans great again, convincingly stylish, V6 is potent, outfitted like a Swiss Army Knife on wheels, great for people and gear, superb ride comfort, vivid touchscreen, plug-in hybrid minivan is a brilliant idea.
  • CONS: Can look dowdy in lower trims, too much front end chrome trim, still a minivan.

Redefining the minivan isn't easy, especially when you've rested on your laurels for so long. Now Chrysler brings its A-game with the Pacifica ($29,590 base MSRP) in a way that should make the Sienna, Odyssey and Sedona cringe in fear. The Pacifica's level of comfort and utility are unparalleled in a minivan, and the sheer number of standard and optional features is dizzying (over 100). A robust set of safety features shows up such as surround-view camera, adaptive cruise control, and forward-collision alert. The brilliant Stow ’n Go seats are standard. In a pioneering move for minivans, the Pacifica plug-in hybrid is on its way. Check mate.

2017 Lincoln MKX

 
  • PROS: Plush ride that's complemented by very good steering for a crossover, handsome and comfortable interior, big space in back for passengers, potent turbo V6 engine available.
  • CONS: Pushbutton transmission selector takes getting used to, MyLincoln Touch interface needs work, small rear window impedes ideal visibility, some hard plastic surfaces inside.

It's high time the last MKX was replaced, and though Lincoln waited a long time, the wait was worth it. Totally redesigned, the new MKX ($38,260 base MSRP) is better in every way, including the driving experience -- something we didn't expect. The interior is more comfortable, as well as roomier. You can also now opt for a powerful turbo V6 that'll move you and the crew, and all-wheel drive models get a great new adaptive suspension. Just make sure you wait for the updated infotainment system later this year, when Ford replaces the Lincoln will replace less-than-great MyLincoln Touch with the excellent Sync 3 system.

2017 Ford Fiesta ST

Best

for the enthusiast

  • PROS: Go-kart handling and fun that never ends, an interior that belies its affordable price, ample thrust from its 197 horsepower engine and 2,720-pound curb weight, new Sync 3 systems eliminates UI frustrations.
  • CONS: Looks like a bit of a toy, interior is limiting in terms of space, no one will take you seriously at the Michelin Star restaurant valet.

The Fiesta is good, but the ST ($21,610 base MSRP) is remarkable. How Ford packs so much driving goodness into such a small package is a feat of brilliance. It's a car that was built for pure fun, and boy how the ST delivers. The manual tranny (the only one available) is ready and willing to wring out the potent engine. It also gets an awesome brake-based torque-vectoring system that lets you thrash corners like a boss.

2017 Chevrolet Impala

 
  • PROS: Serene and quiet ride; satisfying V6 engine; sleek, feature-rich cabin; big backseat and trunk; excellent crash test scores
  • CONS: Looks a little tall from some angles, base 4-cylinder engine isn't powerful enough, some cheap interior trim, not as fetching as its brother, the Buick LaCrosse.

The Impala ($27,300) no longer looks like part of a less-than-desirable rental fleet. This is one big sedan that doesn't disappoint with its big interior, comfy digs, and plush ride. It also happens to finally look the part thanks to sculpted haunches and aggressive creases that increase its visual cred. If possible, go with the strong 3.6-liter V6 engine over the 2.5-liter four-cylinder. The Impala also handles and steers well, eliminating the boring commute almost entirely. Also, the Impala now includes Apple CarPlay capability and wireless cell-phone charging.

Why Buy American

  • Many models sport excellent styling that's no longer back-of-the-pack
  • Customer satisfaction with American cars continues to climb
  • Some of the best versions of car systems like auto start/stop and adjustable suspension come outfitted on American cars

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