As the nation prepares to celebrate Independence Day, July 4, the editors at Total Car Score mark the occasion with a list of the 10 Best American Cars. Beyond just a patriotic gesture, the ranking serves to showcase the strength and quality of the domestic auto industry.
At the top of the list is the 2012 Cadillac CTS. In fact, six of the top 10 American-made cars are from General Motors: three Cadillac models, and one each from Buick, Chevrolet, and GMC. The two other Big Three Detroit automakers, Ford and Chrysler, are represented with two spots each on the list.
Total Car Score, a car comparison website and comprehensive auto rating system, assigns a Total Car Score (or TCS) to each vehicle in the market. The TCS score is an overall industry assessment combining quantitative car reviews from all the major automotive authorities (including The Car Connection).
Karl Brauer, editor in chief and CEO of Total Car Score, commenting on the list, said, “It’s worth noting that while no compact domestic models made the list, Ford’s 2012 Focus was less than half a point behind the [Chrysler] 300 SRT8.
“With a growing interest on small cars and high fuel efficiency, it’s likely we’ll see a domestic economy car in next year’s Top 10 Best American Cars list,” Brauer said.
Here is the list of this year’s winners, with excerpts of Total Car Score comments, along with a few of our own garnered from The Car Connection reviews.
1. 2012 Cadillac CTS – With an overall “superb” Total Car Score (TCS) of 86.49, the 2012 Cadillac CTS is not only an appealing American entry luxury car, but its first-place ranking is illustrated when “reviewers compare it favorably to European rivals, which used to have the segment sewn up.” The Car Connection review of the 2012 Cadillac CTS concludes: “It has a styling leg up, and the 2012 Cadillac CTS backs up its looks with good dynamics, good build quality and a competitive set of body styles and options.”
2012 Buick LaCrosse
2. 2012 Buick LaCrosse – Noting that the 2012 Buick LaCrosse posted the highest score in the large sedan category, the overall 85.01 TCS score receives reviewer praise for its “quiet ride, responsive handling, strong V-6 engine and available all-wheel drive.” Here’s what our editors have to say: “As a sophisticated, roomy, tech-savvy premium sedan—now with up to 36 mpg—the 2012 Buick LaCrosse hits the mark for a lot of shoppers who want luxury on a limited budget.”
2012 Chevrolet Traverse
3. 2012 Chevrolet Traverse – The family-friendly eight-passenger and the “uncommonly adult-friendly third-row seat” are obvious attractions, contributing to the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse TCS of 84.87. The Car Connection editors comment: “A very spacious interior, seating for eight, and a smooth, quiet ride make the 2012 Chevrolet Traverse a top pick for families.”
2012 Ford Flex
4. 2012 Ford Flex – While its style may not appeal to everyone, there’s no arguing the 2012 Ford Flex has a lot to offer, as borne out by its overall 84.44 TCS. Among the positive attributes are its “roomy, comfortable interior and excellent crash test ratings.” On The Car Connection side: “One of our top-rated vehicles, the 2012 Ford Flex has real distinction, along with top-shelf turbo power, great seats and great features.”
2012 GMC Acadia Denali
5. 2012 GMC Acadia – With a TCS of 84.18, the 2012 GMC Acadia, note editors, “is located in the sweet spot between truck-based SUVs and minivans.” The Car Connection has equally high praise, saying the 2012 GMC Acadia is “the most carlike of GMC vehicles,” is “better for people than a big SUV, better looking than a minivan,” and has top overall safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
2012 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe
6. 2012 Cadillac CTS-V – The high-performance version of the CTS, the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V is, according to Total Car Score editors, “a genuinely strong contender among the usual German suspects in the premium sport sedan segment.” Its overall TCS of 83.65 bears that out. Of course, there are sedan and wagon variants of the CTS-V line as well. Our editors get right to the point: “With its ZR1-derived powertrain, the 2012 Cadillac CTS-V stuffs Vette excitement into a track-ready coupe, wagon or sedan.”
2012 Chrysler 300
7. 2012 Chrysler 300 – Its overall 83.29 TSC is credited largely to the comfortable ride, powerful engines, all-wheel drive capability and new eight-speed automatic transmission. The Car Connection editors, meanwhile, say that the 2012 Chrysler 300 is “riper and more mature,” has “classically handsome looks and, in the right versions, big rear-drive fun.”
2012 Ford Taurus SHO
8. 2012 Ford Taurus SHO – Although it “isn’t exactly your typical family car,” what really sets the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO apart – and leads to its overall 83.22 TCS, is its “gutsy” 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine and firmer suspension tuning delivering confident handling. Our editors have this to say about the 2012 Ford Taurus SHO: “In top SHO guise, it’s a strong, tech-loaded 365-horsepower luxury performance sedan that can sticker at $45k or even higher.”
2012 Cadillac SRX
9. 2012 Cadillac SRX – Giving kudos to the new 3.6-liter V-6 engine under the hood of the 2012 Cadillac SRX (replacing two smaller engines), handsome styling inside and out and standard suspension delivering smooth ride and confident handling, Total Car Score editors weighed in with an overall 83.01 TCS. The Car Connection says: “With a smooth new engine and a rich, uniquely American interior, the 2012 Cadillac SRX appeals to those who want a lot of luxury and flair but don’t require driving excitement.”
2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8. Photo by Alex Bellus
10. 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 – Hailed by critics as “one serious high performance automobile,” the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 achieves its spot in the Top 10 Best American Cars (with overall TCS of 82.59) thanks to its 470-horsepower HEMI V-8 “that hurtles the car from a standing stop to 60 mph in less than five seconds.” Our review of the 2012 Chrysler 300 (including SRT8), says that the “SRT8 belts out a meaty, NASCAR-ish throb that few cars—even muscle cars—can match.”