From Ford to Tesla, Chevrolet to Jeep, these car brands proudly carry America on their shoulders

The United States of America is home to some of the biggest automakers in the world, and for more than 120 years, American-made car have been deeply ingrained in the history of the business. These days, some of America’s biggest car brands have become global brands, dominating several markets all over the world. American car makers like Ford, Chevrolet, and Jeep are as popular in other countries as they are in the U.S.

Upstarts like Tesla have also become major players in the business on the back of their aggressive pioneering efforts in auto-related technologies. Then there are brands like Cadillac that are coming back in big-time ways. Through the years and for more years to come, America will remain home to some of the biggest and most popular car manufacturers in the business.

Ford

The Best American Car Brands
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Like Chevrolet, Ford sits at the top of any list of best American automakers. In fact, Ford is probably considered the best American car brand in history. The automaker’s origin story dates all the way back to 1903 when Henry Ford pioneered mass production cars through the introduction of many innovations that are still used today by the industry.

Ford’s place in automotive lore is secure; it’s the biggest carmaker in the U.S. with models like the Mustang, F150, and Explorer leading the way. Go beyond our borders and Ford also has a claim of being one of the biggest carmakers in the world.

Chevrolet

The Best American Car Brands
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What’s there to say about Chevrolet as one of the most popular American car brands that haven’t been said already? You have to go back to 1911 to trace the origins of Chevrolet, and in the century-plus since, Chevrolet has been at the forefront of the American car scene.

It’s advertised as a company that sells affordable vehicles, and that’s held true for the better part of the automaker’s existence. Of course, Chevrolet is most famous for its two performance models, namely the Camaro muscle car and the Corvette sports car. The two headliners sit at the top of a vehicle lineup that also includes the Suburban SUV, which happens to be the longest-living nameplate in the world after debuting in 1933.

Dodge

The Best American Car Brands
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Any mention of the U.S. car industry should include Dodge in the first few sentences. Dodge started off as an auto parts supplier in 1900 before producing its first automobile in 1914. Since then, Dodge has become one of the most famous American car brands on the back of a slew of popular performance models it released last century.

These days, models like the Challenger and Charger remain popular monikers in the company’s lineup. Dodge has also become a player in the SUV scene with popular offerings like the Durango and the Journey.

Tesla

The Best American Car Brands
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In a span of 17 years, Tesla has catapulted itself to the forefront of the American automotive scene. While that’s an achievement in it of itself, Tesla’s rise has coincided with the industry’s shift to electrification.

Of course, Tesla’s stature as a pioneer of that movement is the big reason why the California-based automaker is now regarded as one of the most popular American car brands, not only in its home soil but all over the world.

You can go to a lot of countries in the world and see just as many Model S and Model X units on the road as any car model that’s out these days.

Cadillac

The Best American Car Brands
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Once considered the gold standard of American automotive luxury, Cadillac is turning the page to getting back to that level after years of being mired in mediocrity. Recent releases like the CT5, CT6, and the next-generation Escalade have propelled Caddy back to automotive prominence.

It still has ways to go before it can reach its glory years from the 1960s — that’s when the de Ville and Eldorado sedans became huge hits — but the General Motors-owned automaker has once again become a major player in the American luxury car scene.

Jeep

The Best American Car Brands
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Rising from the ashes of World War II, Jeep has earned its keep as the quintessential American SUV brand. Models like the Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, and Wrangler are all highly touted for their off-road abilities as much they are for their simple yet identifiable designs. Since its first model — the Willys MB — arrived after the Second World War, Jeep has become a leader in the American SUV market. Its place in the industry is as secure as any automaker in this list.

RAM

The Best American Car Brands
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RAM actually started off as a truck model under the Dodge brand. But the nameplate was so popular that, after Fiat’s takeover of Chrysler in 2010, RAM was turned into its own brand of light and heavy-duty trucks. Today, RAM trucks are some of the most popular models in its segment. The RAM 1500, in particular, is the brand’s most popular model. It comes in a variety of sizes and functions, each unique to the other. For a brand that started as a lineup of trucks back in 1980, RAM has become synonymous with the American pickup truck scene.

GMC

The Best American Car Brands
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Unlike RAM — it only became its own brand in 2010 — General Motors Truck Company has been around since 1911. Yes. 1911.

The brand can even trace its roots further back to 1900 to the founding of the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company. GMC is best known for manufacturing trucks and commercial vehicles dating back to the early part of the 20th century, but the company also produced coaches up to 1980. That’s a kind of variety that not a lot of people know about. These days, GMC continues to uphold its identity as a brand that offers a steady diet of SUVs, vans, and, of course, a wide range of trucks. The General Motors-owned company remains one of the most popular truck brands in America.

Hennessey

The Best American Car Brands
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Hennessey isn’t a lot like the brands in this list. It doesn’t have as rich of a history as GMC. It doesn’t have as expansive a model lineup as Ford. Heck, Hennessey is regarded as a tuner as much as it is an automaker. But if you’re the company that builds one of the fastest cars in the world on the bones of a Lotus Elise, you deserve a spot in this list.

The Hennessey Venom F5 is the fastest American supercar in the world with a top speed approaching 300 mph. You don’t need to know a lot about the auto industry to understand what a car that was named after the F5 rating on the Fujita scale (highest possible) is capable of.

Chrysler

The Best American Car Brands
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Chrysler’s spot on this list might have a lot to do with its history over its current place in the American automotive scene. It’s one of the oldest American car brands, and it’s regarded as one of the “Big Three” automobile manufacturers in the U.S. But that statement in itself is misleading; Chrysler is now part of the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles conglomerate, and these days, it’s nowhere near the automotive presence that it once was. That comes with the territory of having only three models in the U.S. market: the Pacifica and Voyager vans and the 300 sedan.

What are American Car Brands?

American car brands are automakers that originated in the U.S.A. Some car brands like Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler have been around for more than 100 years while other car brands like Tesla are no older than 20 years old.

What car brands are American?

Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles are the “Big Three” of American car brands. Each of these auto conglomerates has sub-brands that fall under their umbrella. Lincoln, for example, is a car brand owned by Ford. Perhaps the most famous car brand owned by any of these three automotive titans is Chevrolet, which is owned by General Motors.

What car brands are American made?

There are different answers to this question, though the simplest one is to name the American car brands that originated in the U.S. as American-made. These days, though, numerous models from American automakers are assembled outside of the U.S. while foreign automakers — Honda, Toyota, Mercedes, and BMW, to name a few — have all set up production facilities in America.

Are there a lot of American car brands?

Today, there are 11 foundation American car brands in existence. This list includes Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Ford, GMC, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM, Lincoln, and Tesla.

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert - kirby@topspeed.com
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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