Baseball may be touted as America’s favorite pastime, but it’s the cars that truly define the country’s culture. American car brands aren’t just recognizable names; they’re intertwined with people’s identities and even considered part of the family.
While some American car companies have managed to withstand the test of time and overcome market challenges, others have leaped forward by utilizing the latest technology and innovations to produce groundbreaking products. Sadly, some have not been as fortunate and have gone out of business despite their best efforts.
The American car industry boasts a wealth of long-standing brands, but a new era of automotive expertise is emerging. The question remains whether the up-and-coming players will be able to compete with the established brands or if they will fade away like a fleeting trend from the past.
This ranking of the top American car brands not only provides a historical perspective but also serves as a glimpse into the future of American roads and ways of life. Here they are!
Best American Car Brands
Step into the world of luxury automobiles, and you’ll find that Lincoln takes center stage as a trailblazer. This American car manufacturer started crafting high-end vehicles at a time when such luxury was considered a luxury for a select few.
It all started when Henry Leland, the founder of Cadillac, left the company and teamed up with his son to establish Lincoln in 1917, named after the iconic President Abraham Lincoln. In 1936, they launched their first luxury car, which cost a whopping $1,320, which would surely be worth millions today!
Lincoln has a rich history of creating classic luxury vehicles such as the Town Car, Zephyr, Mark LT, and Navigator SUV. Today, the brand stays ahead of the curve with its lineup of premium SUVs, including the Nautilus, Aviator, MKC, and the latest addition, the Lincoln Corsair.
- Year founded: 1917
- Annual sales: 86,929 units
- Most popular model: Nautilus
Take a step back in time and discover the oldest car manufacturer in America—Buick! Established in May 1903, Buick has been a trusted name in the automotive industry for a remarkable 120 years. With a rich history dating back to the early 1900s, Buick has made its mark with iconic vehicles that have been preserved in old photographs, newspaper clippings, and magazines. Who could forget the classic 1961 Buick LeSabre?
Buick was founded in the heart of “Motor City” (Detroit) and later moved to Flint. By 1923, the company had already produced over a million vehicles, and in the following decades, they introduced memorable models such as the Riviera, Roadmaster Skylark, and Electra. Today, Buick continues to deliver excellence with its range of SUVs, such as the spacious Terraza and luxurious Enclave. Experience the comfort, quality, and reliability of a Buick today.
- Year founded: 1903
- Annual sales: 103,468 units
- Most popular model is: Encore GX
Meet the visionary behind one of America’s most successful car companies—Walter Chrysler! Nearly a century ago, in June, this man founded a company that would become the third-largest car manufacturer to emerge from Detroit. Despite facing two major financial crises, Chrysler has persevered and continues to produce high-quality vehicles that have stood the test of time.
Throughout the decades, Chrysler has made a name for itself with innovative releases, from the ’80s K-cars and minivans to the sleek and sporty Dodge Viper and the rugged Jeep. The brand has consistently wowed the public with its stunning vehicles, such as the luxurious Chrysler 300, the quirky PT Cruiser, the sophisticated Newport, and the elegant Imperial.
Today, the company is known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles after a merger that brought the two brands together. Despite the change, Chrysler’s commitment to producing top-notch vehicles remains unchanged. Whether you’re looking for a car with style, power, or versatility, Chrysler has you covered.
- Year founded: 1925
- Annual sales: 112,714 units
- Most popular model: Pacifica
This iconic American car brand was once considered the epitome of sophistication and class, and it’s now making a comeback to reclaim its former glory. After years of mediocrity, Cadillac is on a mission to get back to the top, and recent releases like the sleek CT5 sedan and the luxurious Escalade SUV have put the brand back on the map.
Although it still has a way to go before it reaches the heights of its glory years in the 1960s, when the de Ville and Eldorado sedans dominated the scene, Cadillac is once again becoming a major player in the American luxury car market. Owned by General Motors, the brand is committed to delivering top-notch vehicles that offer both style and performance. So buckle up, it’s time for a ride in the world of Cadillac luxury!
- Year founded: 1902
- Annual sales: 134,726 units
- Most popular model: Escalade
Dodge: The Muscle Car Maverick of the American Auto Industry. From supplying auto parts at the turn of the 20th century to revving up the roads with its first car in 1914, Dodge has made a name for itself as a fearless leader in the world of American automobiles.
With a history of powerhouse performance models, like the legendary Challenger and Charger, it’s no wonder Dodge continues to leave its mark on the industry. But the brand isn’t just about speed, it’s also about versatility, offering a lineup of rugged and refined SUVs like the Durango and Journey that have a dedicated fan base.
- Year founded: 1900
- Annual sales: 191,347 units
- Most popular model: Charger
The Jeep: a shining example of ingenuity born from adversity. Amid World War II, the need for a dependable, all-terrain vehicle was paramount. Enter the Jeep, crafted by John North Willys to meet that very need. With its motto of “Go anywhere. Do anything,” the Jeep proved to be a game-changer, paving the way for the future of off-road transportation.
Since its inception, the Jeep brand has earned a reputation for quality and durability, creating classic vehicles such as the Wagoneer, Cherokee, Wrangler Rubicon, Grand Cherokee, and its newest additions, the Renegade and Compass. With a proud history of serving both soldiers and civilians alike, the Jeep is a true American icon.
- Year founded: 1941
- Annual sales: 684,613 units
- Most popular model: Grand Cherokee
Tesla’s rapid rise to the top of the American automotive industry is nothing short of remarkable. In just 20 years, the company has made a name for itself and cemented its place as a leader in the world of electrification.
Everywhere you look, from the busy streets of America to the roads of countries far and wide, the sleek and stylish Model S and Model X are becoming ubiquitous sights. Tesla is at the forefront of a new era in automotive technology, pushing the limits and paving the way for a brighter, more sustainable future.
- Year founded: 2003
- Annual sales: 1.3 million units
- Most popular model: Model 3
From the birthplace of the American automobile industry comes Chevrolet, a name synonymous with iconic and reliable vehicles. Born from the partnership between entrepreneur William Durant and racecar driver Louis Chevrolet, this Detroit-based car manufacturer has been making waves for over a century.
With a legacy built on timeless models like the Suburban, pickup truck, Corvette, and Camaro, it’s no surprise that Chevrolet continues to be a favorite among American drivers. Today, Chevrolet remains at the forefront with game-changing models like the Colorado, SS, Malibu, and the electric Bolt. Join the ranks of the proud Chevrolet community and experience a true piece of American automotive history.
- Year founded: 1911
- Annual sales: 1.4 million units
- Most popular model: Silverado
Rev your engines, folks! Get ready to take a trip down memory lane with the Ford Model T, a car that changed the game and left a lasting impact on the world of automobiles. It was 1908 when Henry Ford, the man who could very well be dubbed the “Father of the American Automobile,” introduced the Model T. With its affordability, reliability, and ease of use, the Model T went on to sell a staggering 19 million units by 1927 when the United States population was only around 119 million.
From the Model T on, Ford continued to innovate and bring us classic American vehicles such as the Thunderbird, Mustang, Taurus, Explorer, and the beloved F-Series line of pickups. So buckle up, and let’s pay homage to the car that put America on the map and paved the way for the exciting world of automobiles we know today.
- Year founded: 1903
- Annual sales: 1.86 million units
- Most popular model: F-150
GMC: a brand that has been making waves in the American automotive scene for over a century. From its humble beginnings as the Rapid Motor Vehicle Company, GMC has evolved into a powerhouse in the world of trucks and commercial vehicles. With its roots dating back to 1900, GMC has a rich history that spans
generations of American drivers.
But that’s not all there is to this versatile brand. Did you know that GMC also produced coaches up until 1980? Talk about range! Today, GMC continues to lead the charge with a diverse lineup of SUVs, vans, and, of course, its trademark trucks. Whether you’re looking for a rugged workhorse or a family-friendly vehicle, GMC has you covered. No wonder it’s still one of the most popular truck brands in America!
- Year founded: 1911
- Annual sales: 2.27 million units
- Most popular model: Sierra 1500
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: What are American car brands?
Automakers that originated in the United States are referred to as American car brands. Some of these brands, such as Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler, have a rich history dating back over a century, while others, like Tesla, are relatively new, with a history of fewer than two decades.
Q: Are there new car companies in the US?
From electric pioneers like Tesla to innovative start-ups like Rivian, Karma, Bollinger Motors, Lordstown, and Lucid, the US is home to a vibrant and rapidly growing community of new car companies. These exciting young brands are challenging the established order and pushing the boundaries of what’s possible
in the world of automobiles.