Foreign or Domestic: Which Cars Are Best in the US?

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In the latter part of the 20th century, where your car came from was a big personal and political sticking point. While many people chose to buy American for patriotic reasons, most consumers couldn’t deny that many foreign models were more affordable and more reliable. 

Today, most people don’t think twice about the country of origin of their vehicle. They’re much more concerned about the reputation of the actual brand. Thanks to a more connected world economy, the differences between domestic and foreign cars are both much less apparent and important. 

With all that said, does the battle of foreign vs domestic cars still matter at all? In a sense, yes.

A car is a major investment. And, while the differences might be less significant, they’re still definitely worth considering before you make your next purchase. So continue reading and we’ll walk you through the most important differences between foreign and domestic cars that you need to know about!

What Makes a Car Domestic or Foreign, Anyway?

In today’s connected world, it’s been harder than ever to truly distinguish a “foreign” vehicle from a “domestic” one. In fact, believe it or not, there is no car that’s commercially available today that was made entirely in the United States. Virtually every vehicle on America’s roads contains foreign parts. 

There is also a federal law known as the American Automobile Labeling Act (AALA) that requires car manufacturers to disclose how many of their parts are American. 

Why would one choose to buy American over foreign in the first place? First off, if you buy a car with mostly American parts, then it could be quicker and cheaper to repair and replace those parts. This is true partly because of tariffs that are levied against foreign parts. 

You also might want to buy domestic in order to boost the national economy and hopefully create more jobs. 

With all that said, many brands that we often associate with specific countries have manufacturing plants all over the world. For example, Toyota manufactures cars in Texas while GM manufactures many in Mexico.

It should also be noted that those “made in America” parts, according to the AALA, can also originate from Canada. 

When you take in all of this, you realize that in today’s modern world, many of the differences between foreign and domestic cars are abstract and ideological.

For example, when people think of vehicles made in America, they tend to think of large SUVs and rugged all-terrain vehicles. Most people consider Japanese cars to be more crossover vehicles that focus on reliability and fuel efficiency. 

Of course, no matter what car you have, it’s important that you take care of it. You should understand the importance of detailing as well as keeping your vehicle well-maintained. 

Pros of Buying a Domestic Car

While vehicles made in America aren’t the most affordable options, they tend to provide consumers with higher-end value at lower prices. This is known as accessible luxury. You can get features that you’d find in more expensive foreign cars for less money with a domestic one. 

You’ll also likely have to pay less money for parts. Parts for American cars tend to cost less money and are quicker to replace. This is especially true when compared to more luxurious European cars. 

Cons of Buying a Domestic Car

Cars made in the United States tend to get mediocre rankings from various surveys on things like reliabilities, customer satisfaction, road tests, and performance. Some American brands, like Lincoln, don’t struggle with these rankings, however.

Domestic vehicles are also less reliable than foreign ones. You’re more likely to take your domestic car in for repairs when compared to a Japanese one. 

Another major con of domestic cars is that they have worse fuel efficiency. Fuel efficiency standards are among the lowest in the world in the US, and this means that domestic manufacturers are not as motivated to sell cars that use less gas. 

Also, domestic carmakers are reducing their car output and increasing their SUV output. If you want to buy a domestic sedan, your options are quickly shrinking. 

Pros of Buying a Foreign Car

Foreign cars, and Japanese ones, in particular, tend to be more reliable overall. In fact, Japanese vehicles almost always have higher future resale values over domestic ones. 

Cars made in Asia are also less expensive. 

Cons of Buying a Foreign Car

Some cars made in foreign countries do have worse performance than American ones. British vehicles, like Land Rover and Jaguar, tend to rank poorly when it comes to performance. 

It can also be more difficult and costly to replace car parts. If the parts are made overseas, then it can be much more intensive to replace them. And as the global trade war continues to heat up, foreign parts are only more likely to go up in cost.  

The Importance of Knowing About Foreign vs Domestic Cars 

Thankfully, people are less militant today when it comes to foreign vs domestic cars. They now care more about the brand’s reputation as well as the actual qualities of the vehicle itself. With that said, there are still some key differences between these two kinds of vehicles. 

If you’re looking to potentially spend less money on replacement parts, you may want to go with a domestic car. But if you want fuel efficiency, then foreign is probably the way to go.

Are you interested in reading other helpful auto articles like this one? If so, then make sure to check out the rest of our blog today for more!