In a true sign of globalization, the Toyota Camry was named the most “American-Made” car by Cars.com. The website’s annual “American-Made Index” measures how much of a car’s assembly takes place in the United States, and how much a car appeals to Americans.
The Camry has been the number one American-made car four years running. Cars.com based its decision on the Camry’s U.S. Sales, where its parts come from, and where it is assembled.
The Camry may have a Japanese badge, but it is built by Americans, for Americans. In 2011, it was America’s bestselling car and third bestselling vehicle, beaten only by the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado trucks.
Those sales numbers were an important factor in the decision. “U.S. sales are a component of our index for a number of reasons,” said Patrick Olsen, Editor in Chief of Cars.com. “For one thing, it’s safe to say that the more a vehicle sells, the more U.S. workers are involved in production and delivery of the vehicle and the more U.S. dealers are profiting. Additionally, we think it’s valid to give credit for how American buyers embrace a vehicle.”
The editors wanted to choose a car that had a significant positive impact on the American economy. That ruled out low-production models like the Corvette, which is made entirely in the U.S. but only accounts for a small number of sales and jobs.
According to Cars.com, at least 75 percent of the U.S.-built Camry’s parts come from American suppliers. The vast majority of Camrys sold in the U.S. are assembled here, in Georgetown, Kentucky and Lafayette, Indiana, to be exact.
Toyota has gone to great lengths to tailor the Camry to American tastes. Camry-badged NASCAR racers trade paint with Fords, Chevys, and Dodges most weekends. Even the name is an Americanization of kanmuri, the Japanese word for “crown.”
In fact, Toyota may know us better than we know ourselves. American like to romanticize ’57 Chevys and Shelby Mustangs but, in the end, most of them just want a comfortable, reliable, boring midsize sedan. Some people might be ashamed to see a Japanese-branded car dominating U.S. Sales, but what’s really embarrassing is how dull the Camry is. What happened to American car culture?
Saving face for classic American swagger, the F-150 was ranked second. The rest of the top ten was dominated by Toyota and General Motors. Two Honda models, the Accord and Pilot, were numbers three and five, respectively. The sole Chrysler product on the list was the Toledo, Ohio-built Jeep Liberty, at number eight.