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How Patriotic is Your Car?

As a kid, I enjoyed the warm weather and watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, but as an automotive journalist, it makes me think about buying American.

It’s easy to assume that a Chevrolet is more American than a Honda, but many foreign automakers have plants that manufacture vehicles here in the U.S., and buying a car or truck that supports domestic workers may not be as simple as buying an American brand.

Each year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration details the percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts used in vehicles under the American Automobile Labeling Act. You may think that you’re buying American, but sometimes choosing an import might put more money back into the U.S. economy.

For a closer look at the least American cars, check out our slide show.

Most American Import

Percentage of U.S. and Canadian Parts

Least American Domestic

Percentage of U.S. and Canadian Parts

Most American Domestic

Percentage of U.S. and Canadian Parts

Affordable Small Car

Honda Civic

70%

Chevrolet Aveo

2%

Ford Focus

60%

Affordable Midsize Car

Toyota Camry/Honda Accord

80%

Ford Fusion

20%

Dodge Avenger

83%

Affordable Large Car

Toyota Avalon

80%

Buick Lacrosse

57%

Chevrolet Impala

77%

Affordable Compact SUV

Honda CR-V/Toyota RAV4

60%

Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain

66%

Jeep Wrangler 4-door

79%

Affordable Midsize SUV

Toyota Venza

75%

Dodge Journey

38%

Ford Explorer

85%

Affordable Large SUV

Toyota Sequoia

80%

Ford Expedition

50%

GMC Yukon

65%

Compact Truck

Nissan Frontier

50%

Ford Ranger

65%

Dodge Dakota

84%

Full Size Truck

Toyota Tundra

80%

Ford F-Series

60%

Dodge Ram

70%

Minivan

Toyota Sienna/Honda Odyssey

75%

Chrysler Town & Country

80%

Dodge Grand Caravan

82%

*Vehicles in bold have the highest percentage of U.S. and Canadian parts in their segment.

Least American Small Car: Chevrolet Aveo

With just 2 percent of its parts coming from the U.S. and Canada, the Chevrolet Aveo is the least American small car you can buy. However, the Aveo is in its last year of production, as General Motors is replacing it with the Chevrolet Sonic for 2012.

Small car shoppers might be surprised to find out that the Honda Civic is built with more domestic parts than the Aveo. With 70 percent of its parts sourced from the U.S. and Canada, the Civic beats competitors like the Ford Focus, which is only 60 percent domestic.

Least American Midsize Car: Ford Fusion

The Ford Fusion is marketed as a close competitor to the similarly-priced Toyota Camry, but the Fusion’s DNA is significantly less red, white and blue. With just 20 percent of its parts coming from domestic sources, the Fusion is significantly less American than both the Camry and the Honda Accord, which are built with 80 percent domestic parts.

Meanwhile, shoppers looking for the most American midsize car might prefer the Dodge Avenger, which gets 83 percent of its components from the U.S. and Canada.

Least American Large Car: Buick Lacrosse

If you’re looking at U.S.-bred affordable large cars, none beats the Toyota Avalon. Eighty percent of the Avalon’s parts come from the U.S., 3 percent more than the Chevrolet Impala, which comes in a close second. However, the least American large car is the Buick Lacrosse, which gets just 57 percent of its parts from the U.S. and Canada.

Least American Compact SUV: Chevrolet Equinox/GMC Terrain

The Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain may impress compact SUV shoppers with good fuel economy and spacious interiors, but patriotic shoppers should know that both use more imported parts than any other domestic compact SUV. Thirty-four percent of the Equinox and Terrain’s parts come from outside the U.S. and Canada.

Ironically, the most American compact SUV also has a fitting name. The Jeep Wrangler four-door maintains a strong lead against the competition, with 79 percent of its parts coming from domestic sources. The Wrangler leads the class, beating the Chevy and GMC, as well as its top import competitors, the Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, which are only 60 percent domestic.

Least American Midsize SUV: Dodge Journey

The Ford Explorer will likely please shoppers on the hunt for an American midsize SUV, as 85 percent of its parts come from the U.S. and Canada. That’s 10 percent more than the Toyota Venza, which uses more domestic parts than any other import SUV. However, if you’ve been considering the Dodge Journey, you’ve set your sights on an SUV that gets 62 percent of its parts outside the U.S. and Canada.

Least American Large SUV: Ford Expedition

If you’re looking for a large SUV, you’ll have a hard time finding one that’s more American than the Toyota Sequoia. Eighty percent of the Sequoia’s parts come from the U.S. and Canada, which is 15 percent more than its closest domestic rival, the GMC Yukon. The Sequoia is also 30 percent more American than the Ford Expedition, which sources 50 percent of its parts internationally.

Least American Compact Truck: Ford Ranger

Compact truck shoppers who want to buy American can stick with U.S. brands, at least for 2011. The Dodge Dakota is made with 84 percent domestic parts. That’s 34 percent more than the most American import, the Nissan Frontier, but the Ford Ranger is decidedly the least American truck from a domestic automaker. The Ranger sources 35 percent of its parts from countries other than the U.S. and Canada.

Least American Large Truck: Ford F-Series

Full-size truck buyers may be surprised that the Toyota Tundra uses more domestic parts than any of its rivals. With 80 percent of its parts from the U.S. and Canada, the Tundra is 10 percent more American than its closest domestic rival, the Dodge Ram, and significantly more American than the Ford F-Series, which gets 40 percent of its parts from other countries. 

Least American Minivan: Chrysler Town & Country      

When it comes to minivans, the top choices are pretty close, especially since Chrysler is the only domestic brand that still makes a minivan. The Dodge Grand Caravan sources 82 percent of its parts from the U.S. and Canada. However, its corporate cousin, the Chrysler Town & Country, is 2 percent less American than the Dodge. Rivals like the Toyota Sienna and Honda Odyssey follow closely, with 75 percent of their parts coming from domestic factories.