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Some Favorite Great American Cars for 2012

Autobytel and AutoPacific's Most Satisfying American Cars

Lyndon Bell
by Lyndon Bell
July 2, 2012
4 min. Reading Time

There was a time in the not so distant past, when the quality of American cars—once the envy of the entire global automotive industry—had fallen so far behind the rest of the world’s autos American consumers often felt the need to rationalize owning an American car.

The phrase; “Yes, it’s American, but I figure we need to do all we can to help the economy, right?” became a familiar refrain.

Happily, those days are behind us, as now a number of American cars routinely score very highly in customer satisfaction surveys.

We recently partnered with AutoPacific to survey 75,000 new car buyers who were within their first three months of ownership to determine their overall satisfaction with the vehicles they’d purchased. The results were based solely on owner input and the resulting measure of owner satisfaction demonstrated.

Examining the findings revealed 7 great American cars that are made in the United States among the top-rated models.

Further, each one of the traditional American manufacturers were represented.

As proof the American auto industry is indeed once again in the hunt, the lauded vehicles span nearly the entire spectrum of the automotive marketplace. The winning models range from subcompact through luxury cars, in addition to crossovers, SUVs, and of course, the pickup truck which consistently holds the title of the best selling vehicle of any kind in America.

The Most Satisfying Great American Cars: Cadillac Escalade

Boasting a well deserved reputation for brashness, outstanding comfort and exceptional utility, Cadillac’s Escalade is the ne plus ultra of luxury suv’s and is assembled in Arlington, Texas.

Because it so readily lives up to this reputation, the survey respondents polled during the first quarter of 2012 lavished outstanding praise upon the biggest Cadillac model, easily propelling it to the top of the list as the best rated luxury SUV.

Delivering palatial opulence, undeniable presence and reliable competence, the Escalade easily ranks one of America’s most satisfying automobiles. Packed to the gills with over the top luxury features, Cadillac’s Escalade, the top rated luxury sport utility vehicle, seats eight, tows 8,300 pounds and packs a 403-horsepower V8, capable of returning 18 miles per gallon on the highway.


The Most Satisfying Great American Cars: Chevrolet Corvette

Of the 75,000 customers surveyed who bought sports cars, the ones that bought Chevrolet Corvettes were the most consistently satisfied with their purchase. And for good reason; the top rated sports car delivers more go for the dough than any other sports car offering. The Corvette is born and nred in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

For the price of a Corvette, no other sports car offers the same degree of power, handling prowess, or braking capability. In fact, pound for pound, dollar for dollar, the Chevrolet Corvette represents nothing less than the best sports car value on the planet.

While even the base Corvette model offers 430 horsepower; the top-line Corvette ZR1 churns out an awe-inspiring 638 horsepower, with handling and brakes to match. For nearly 60 years, the Chevrolet Corvette has been the ultimate American sports car. It now ranks as one of the finest in the world—period.


The Most Satisfying Great American Cars: Chevrolet Sonic

For an American car to rank as the top rated economy car says a lot about how far the U.S. automotive industry has come in the last 20 years. Until the Sonic came along, four-cylinder gas sippers from Asia and Europe routinely dominated the economy segment. While designed in Korea, the Sonic is being manufactured on American soil in Orion Township, Michigan.

The Chevrolet Sonic wins over its buyers with high style, solid efficiency and an easy to handle price. Reflective of a sport bike, the interior design energizes its occupants with a youthful sense of exuberance.

Offered in both sedan and hatchback formats, the best-rated economy car also offers a choice of engines. A 1.8-liter, 138-horsepower inline four is the base powerplant, delivering 125 ft-lbs of torque. A turbocharged 1.4-liter inline four with the potential for 148 ft-lbs of torque is the enthusiast’s choice, but it also delivers outstanding fuel economy—29 MPG in the city and 40 on the highway.


The Most Satisfying Great American Cars: Chevrolet Traverse

The highest rated crossover utility vehicle, Chevrolet’s Traverse impresses buyers by delivering the cargo space and passenger count of a minivan, but with a lot more style. The Traverse also offers three rows of seating and a 5,200-pound tow rating and is made in Delta Township, Michigan.

Keeping kids happy is a big part of being a satisfying family transportation device, and here, the Traverse pampers the entire family with rear-seat DVD entertainment, and its “Smart Slide” second row seating system which makes ingress and egress to the third row laughably simple.

Storage compartments under the floor make it easier to cart the detritus of modern family life—while freeing up space for more people. The top rated large crossover SUV also features high tech kit like blind spot indicators and rear parking assist.


The Most Satisfying Great American Cars: Ford F-150

When it comes to pickup trucks, the Americans rule the roost. However, one pickup truck consistently outsells all others (and most cars too)—the Ford F-150. The top rated light duty pickup truck winner, Ford’s F-150 comes standard with a huge payload of satisfaction for its buyers. The F-150 is made in both Dearborn, Michigan and Kansas City, Missouri.

The latest crop of F-150s do more than haul though, they are also uber-efficient, thanks to their newfound reliance on turbocharged V6 engines. This enables America’s favorite pickup truck to remain the workhorse it has always been, while also becoming a paragon of fuel-efficiency.

Delivering more work while requiring less expense; what could be more American than that? Add an almost endless array of build options and it becomes very easy to see why Ford F-150 owners are a highly contented lot.


The Most Satisfying Great American Cars: GMC Yukon

Very big numbers define the GMC Yukon; up to 403 horsepower and 417 ft-lbs of torque, an 8,400-pound tow rating, The GMC SUV also features 110 cubic feet of cargo capacity, seating for up to nine people, plus 21 miles per gallon on the highway. No surprise then, when it comes to customer satisfaction, people who bought the big GMC SUV voted it the top rated large SUV in America and it is made in Arlington, Texas and Janesville, Wisconsin.

More than just powerfully capable, the Yukon can also be configured in an extremely luxurious fashion in its higher-level Denali trim. The GMC Yukon has long been recognized as a versatile and rugged offering in the full-size SUV segment. A work of continual progress, years of refinement have endowed the Yukon with capabilities few of its competitors can match.

In fact, the Yukon is so highly regarded by the survey participants, when it came to choosing the second-place vehicle for the Top Rated Large SUV category; the only vehicle that came close to the Yukon was its extended wheelbase Yukon XL sibling.


The Most Satisfying Great American Cars: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Going into the sophomore year of its latest redesign, the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a multi-award winning vehicle. The Autobytel/AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award is merely the most recent accolade bestowed upon the iconic top-rated mid-size SUV. The grand Cherokee is made right in the heart of American automotive manufacturing: Detroit, Michigan.

For the latest model, a host of technologies improve its off-road ability, while endowing it with even more comfort on the road. The optional Quadra-Lift air suspension system gives a choice of five different ride heights, while the Selec-Terrain traction control system matches it with five different drive modes, enabling the ready traversing of sand, mud, snow, rocks—whatever.

Amidst all this dynamic ability, the Jeep also supplies its owner with outstanding comfort and convenience technologies—including Uconnect hands-free telephone connectivity and infotainment, a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, as well as blind-spot warning and adaptive cruise control.

The Jeep’s 3.6-liter V6 gives it a 500-mile cruising range, while the optional 5.7-liter V8 will let the top-rated mid-size SUV tow up to 7,400 pounds.



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