For 2017, Cars.com proclaimed the Jeep Wrangler the "most-American" vehicle although not everyone agrees.

The most American vehicle made is the Jeep Wrangler … except when it’s the Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave.

Trying to determine what constitutes “most American” is an exercise that plenty of experts seem to be more than willing to take on, but rarely produces consensus.

For the record, the Wrangler was proclaimed the “most-American” vehicle by Cars.com after it topped the website’s “American-Made Index.”

The 2017 Cars.com American-Made Index is in fact topped by two Ohio-built SUVs from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the Wrangler, including the Wrangler Unlimited four-door, and second-place Jeep Cherokee.

(GM vehicles top Kogod’s “most American” list for 2017. To see the differences, Click Here.)

“Over the American-Made Index’s 11-year history, the number of models meeting our original criteria has fallen due to the globalization of automobile manufacturing – from more than 60 vehicles in the index’s inaugural year to eight last year,” said Joe Wiesenfelder, Cars.com’s executive editor.

The GMC Acadia is one of three GM crossover named the "most-American" vehicles by Kogod.

“By the original requirements, only three 2017 models would have qualified this year. With that, we’ve revamped the AMI to account for the changing landscape and to reinforce factors representing the domestic economic impact when a buyer purchases one model versus another. Cars.com analyzed more than 100 light-duty passenger vehicles built in the U.S. to arrive at the top 10.”

The top 10 list for 2017, according to the American-Made Index is:

  1. Jeep Wrangler
  2. Jeep Cherokee
  3. Ford Taurus
  4. Honda Ridgeline
  5. Acura RDX
  6. Ford F-150
  7. Ford Expedition
  8. GMC Acadia
  9. Honday Odyssey
  10. Honda Pilot

Of course, the first question that comes to mind is what is the criteria for such a list. This is where the problems begin as no two lists ever seem to use the same standards. For Cars.com’s list, here are the five criteria:

  1. Assembly location: The location (i.e. city) in which the vehicle’s assembly plant is located
  2. Domestic parts content: Percentage of a vehicle’s parts content originating in the United States and Canada as determined by the American Automobile Labeling Act
  3. Country of engine origin
  4. Country of transmission origin
  5. U.S. factory employment: Each automaker’s direct U.S. factory employment relative to its sales footprint

The two Jeeps had the highest domestic-parts content: 74% for the Wrangler, 75% for the Wrangler Unlimited and 70% for the Cherokee. All engines and nearly all transmissions for the Wrangler and Cherokee hail from the U.S., and FCA assembles both nameplates in Toledo, Ohio.

(Click Here to see more about falling June new car sales.)

“In an era of build-American sentiment, a sizable portion of shoppers still care where their car comes from,” said Wiesenfelder. “That said, it is important for shoppers to remember that the logo on the vehicle doesn’t necessarily tell the full story.

“The cars on this year’s list of the ‘most-American’ hail from automakers headquartered in Europe and Asia as well as North America. Conversely, some vehicles with distinctively American brand names rank low by AMI standards.”

The aforementioned Kogod Made in America Auto Index did have many of the same vehicles on its “most American” list, but they weren’t in the same order and, of course, the criteria are different.

Here is the complete list of “most American” vehicles:

  1. Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse
  2. Ford F-150
  3. Chevrolet Corvette
  4. Jeep Wrangler Rubicon and Unlimited Big Bear 4×4
  5. Ford Expedition and Jeep Wrangler Sport 4×4
  6. Lincoln Navigator and Ford Taurus
  7. Cadillac ATS sedan, Cadillac CT6 and Chevrolet Colorado Z71 AWD
  8. Jeep Cherokee
  9. Honda CRV, Ridgeline and Pilot, Acura RDX, Kia Optima 2.0 and Toyota Camry
  10. Ford Explorer and Chevrolet Malibu LTD Hybrid

(Fuel economy ratings still drive new car purchases. Click Here for the story.) 

The index accounts for several factors that go into the assembly of a car. This includes the percentage of U.S. or Canadian parts used, the location of the factory where the vehicle was assembled, the source of the engine and transmission and whether more than 15% of the parts came from a foreign country. Each category receives its own score.

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