American cars still have advantages

Phil Nobile

Over the course of 2009, the American automotive industry faced what was quite possibly its worst year since the creation of Ford. By the summer of this past year, Chrysler and General Motors, better known for Dodge, Jeep, Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles, collectively filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Throughout the rest of the year, Pontiac and Saturn would be no more, and both Saab and Hummer would be sold to other foreign companies.

Despite all of these factors that have left American motors seemingly dead, I believe that for the first time in a few decades, the best option might be buying American.

Due to the oil crisis at the end of the last decade, the mindset of the automotive consumer changed rapidly and almost immediately. What was once an industry dominated by the thirst for power and appearance has become a battle for the most fuel-efficient and durable car. Hybrid models have seen a heavy increase in popularity, and makes like the Prius have been not only the choice of the common man, but also renowned celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio. For once the average American citizen could drive the car of their favorite actor and save the planet at the same time.

American cars seemed doomed from the get-go. Traditionally focusing on power and aesthetic value, American companies had to shift their focus into their opponent’s territory, attempting to beat foreign autos at their own game. But for the first time in a while, American cars have taken the lead of the pack. The following is a list of why the next time you go car shopping, you may want to consider some home-grown transportation:

ONE-UP. In response to Toyota and Honda controlling the markets for fuel-efficient cars, American companies have one-upped every model the foreign companies have put out. This past year’s Motor Trend Car of the Year belonged to the Ford Fusion, beating out the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic. While the Prius still leads as the most fuel-efficient vehicle, coming at the end of 2010 is the Chevy Volt, which is considered an electric-hybrid, running on both electricity and gasoline. What’s even more shocking is that it is estimated by General Motors to get up to 230 miles per gallon in the city. American car companies have also created numerous hybrid models for SUVs and trucks, such as the Cadillac Escalade hybrid. We have truly become a hybrid nation.

MORE BANG FOR YOUR BUCK. Along with providing the most fuel-efficient cars on the market, American motors still deliver the most power for the least cost, and do it with more excitement than ever. The Corvette ZR1 puts out more than 620 horse power for about $100,000; a third of the price of more exotic autos like Lamborghinis and Ferraris.

WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS… Over the past few months, the Japanese automotive industry has had numerous pitfalls. Toyota has recalled more than 5 million vehicles due to accelerator problems, and has also ceased to produce at least eight of its popular models. Honda has also had its fair share of recalls, taking back more than 1 million cars due to airbag issues and overheating of interior parts. For two companies that have prided themselves on product quality over the past years, it seems the tide has begun to turn.