Best American cars

The best American cars - from muscle cars to SUVs and EVs - deserve a place in the USA hall of fame, next to monster trucks and drag racers

James Wilson
Aug 1, 2022

A vital part of living the American Dream is having the right car to drive and what better option than one of the best American cars. These desirable machines from across the pond are made by some of the biggest brands in motoring and are amongst the most iconic cars around - in some cases helped by appearing in countless Hollywood blockbusters.

By ‘made by’, we are referring to cars that were, at the very least, designed and developed by an American company. This distinction is necessary because many car makers have manufacturing plants dotted around the globe, meaning they assemble their cars closer to the markets they are selling into. As a result, there is less distance to transport finished products - which saves money. Tesla, for example, has manufacturing facilities in America, Germany and China.

Modern-day American cars can be every bit as good as their European alternatives and in some cases, even better. Take Jeep, which makes some truly impressive off-road cars that can give Land Rovers a run for their money. It took some time for US cars to reach this point, as for years models from the likes of BMW and Mercedes were typically built to a higher standard, were more enjoyable to drive and promised lower running costs than their American counterparts.

As the cars below demonstrate, there is a great breadth to the best American cars, covering models with both the traditional American format of gas-guzzling petrol engines and cleaner models with electric power. Whether you are on the hunt for a sports coupe, a convertible or a family SUV, there should be an option to suit.

Best American cars

1. Ford Mustang

Our pick Ford Mustang 5.0 V8 GT
Used deals from £27,994
Monthly finance from £411*

Nothing quite says ‘welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave’ like a Ford Mustang. This is largely helped by the fact that it wasn’t until the sixth-generation Mustang (which is the version shown here) that you could actually order a right-hand-drive model - so if you wanted one of the previous models you had to import it from America. Truth be told, the sixth generation is the best version of Mustang for driving on UK roads, so there's no need to look for an older version.

No model will be particularly affordable to run in terms of fuel bills, but Ford does offer a 2.3-litre petrol engine for those who cannot stomach the fuel-hungry 5.0-litre V8 petrol - which counters its greater thirst by offering significantly more power and a classic American V8 soundtrack.

There is the option of a convertible Mustang which is better for cruising around the countryside and enjoyinng the sound of the engine in a more relaxed fashion than zipping around lots of bends on a 60mph backroad. If you want to race around, the coupe version handles corners better thanks to the fixed metal roof making the body stiffer. Things aren’t perfect as some of the fit and finish of the cabin isn’t up to the same standard as alternatives from the likes of BMW, but in return the Ford does generally come well equipped.

FORD MUSTANG BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Jeep Wrangler

Jeep Wrangler front three quarters view

Our pick Jeep Wrangler 2.0 GME Overland
Used deals from £33,000
Monthly finance from £500*

Jeep makes some of the best off-road cars in the world, with its most famous model being the Wrangler. In fact, with the number of movies the Wrangler has been in, it is probably more famous than most A-listers. The latest version of the Wrangler was launched in 2019 although the styling remained very similar to previous generations in that it is big, chunky and boxy.

One of the most curious features of the Wrangler is that it has been designed so that some of the body panels are removable. Therefore, if you happen to be a safari keeper and are forever hopping in and out of your Jeep, you don’t need to worry about opening doors or banging your head on the roof as you can simply remove the panels. It would be a brave driver to do this in the UK, considering our weather…

Inside is where the latest Wrangler shows up its ancestors. There is very much a utilitarian design theme thanks to a big gear knob and chunky buttons, but many of the materials feel upmarket, making this more than just an off-road toy. Additionally, the central touchscreen media system (which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible) makes sure the cabin feels modern and user-friendly.

JEEP WRANGLER BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Tesla Model S

Our pick Tesla Model S Dual Motor
Used deals from £38,000
Monthly finance from £694*

While the first two cars in this list are bonafide American legends, the Model S is something of a new kid on the block. In fact, Tesla as a whole is a very new company. Not that this has stopped the Model S from becoming one of the most iconic electric cars of all time or Tesla from becoming the most valuable car company in the world.

Part of this success has come from Tesla rewriting the rule book for interior design. Hop in a Model S and the first thing you'll notice is the huge touchscreen media system in the middle of the dashboard. You might think it's like an iPad, but it's much larger than that. Then you might notice how little clutter there is on the dashboard - thanks to this touchscreen.

Tesla has cleverly packed as much as possible into the media system and to avoid the system becoming antiquated and slow-to-use like car media systems and phones of yesteryear, there are regular over-the-air updates to keep things fresh. This sleek but techy setup has more than a little whiff of ‘Eau de Apple Store’.

Things are a little more plain Jane on the outside. The styling isn’t offensive in any way, it's just rather conservative. It is under the bodywork that things get more unusual, though, as the Model S can offer one of the longest official ranges of any electric car - especially if you go for one of the newer ‘Long Range’ models.

Meanwhile, some of the more powerful Model S versions can beat many supercars in a sprint from 0 to 62mph - most versions are seriously quick, with the more powerful ones having four-wheel-drive for the best possible traction when accelerating.

4. Jeep Grand Cherokee

Our pick Jeep Grand Cherokee 3.0 CRD Night Eagle
Used deals from £19,980
Monthly finance from £511*

Compared to the Jeep Wrangler, the Grand Cherokee is a more upmarket, plusher SUV. As it's a more comfortable and refined vehicle, it is better suited to everyday use in the UK for most drivers. That said, the generation of Grand Cherokee highlighted here is the previous version, so it has more of an old-school vibe with things like large chunky buttons and dials for air-conditioning controls, instead of the shiny touchscreens that many new cars come with.

If you want more tech and flashy screens then the latest version of the Grand Cherokee is well worth a look. New models are available as a plug-in hybrid, which come with a petrol engine, two electric motors and a battery pack.

The battery is large enough to enable up to 25 miles of battery-powered range from a full charge, after which the petrol engine will need to fire up to help out. As with all plug-in hybrids, it can be very economical if you do lots of short trips and charge the car regularly, but surprisingly expensive to fuel if you don't regularly charge it, as the petrol engine has the extra weight of the electric motors and battery pack to cart around, with little electric assistance.

Regardless of which Grand Cherokee you are considering, the big Jeep should prove very capable off-road. If you live somewhere that gets badly affected by snow, the Jeep is well worth considering for its impressive four-wheel-drive system alone. If you need to tow a trailer or caravan then again the Jeep will have you covered, especially the 3.0-litre diesel models which can tow up to 3,500kg - which is as good as it gets for a car.

5. Tesla Model 3

Our pick Tesla Model 3 Long Range
Used deals from £38,980
Monthly finance from £600*

Tesla launched the Model 3 as an electric car for the masses. A car that can just as easily be used as family transport as it can a company car thanks to its impressive range and practical cabin. No, it's not the cheapest car to purchase, but strong value finance and leases are available, which make monthly payments more affordable than you might expect.

The argument for a lot of electric cars is that while they may be more expensive to purchase, they should be more affordable to run as electricity typically costs far less per mile than petrol or diesel. Additionally, there is less to go wrong with an electric car, as electric models have fewer moving parts which can break compared to petrol- and diesel-powered alternatives.

Much like the Model S above, the Model 3 has a minimalist interior. Whether or not you think the design is super-modern or overly dull is down to personal preference. Again, a large dashboard-mounted touchscreen media system is the centre of attention and it really is packed with lots of features. Should you be parked up for a while, there is the ability to watch Netflix and play video games.

On the subject of charging, Tesla drivers get access to Tesla's Supercharger network of rapid chargers and these are among the easiest to use and most reliable chargers available. They are typically located along main roads and motorways - a quick Google of ‘Tesla Superchargers’ will bring up their locations. And you can see their locations marked on the media system sat-nav map for the ultimate in convenience.

6. Ford Mustang Mach-E

Our pick Ford Mustang Mach-E RWD Extended Range
Used deals from £50,999
Monthly finance from £891*

You’d think that being a Mustang, the Mach-E would be a sleek sports car like the Mustang at the top of this article, but the reality is very different. The Mustang Mach-E is an electric SUV so it has enough seats for a family of four - maybe five at a push - it is comfortable and, being electric, there is no loud sports exhaust to listen to. To provide some link to the Mustang sports car, the Mach-E comes with similar rear lights and a somewhat swooping bonnet - the latter being a hallmark of many great American performance cars.

That said, the Mach-E is one of the best electric vehicles to drive if you enjoy nipping around corners. Most battery-powered cars can accelerate briskly but due to being relatively heavy, they are less good at going round bends as their weight makes it hard to change direction quickly. As a result, this is definitely a standout feature for the Ford.

Depending on the age, model and which battery pack is fitted to the Mach-E, the range can vary significantly. The models with the best range are rear-wheel-drive (RWD) versions with the extended range battery.

Officially these cars can travel up to 379 miles per charge, although much like fuel economy figures for petrol and diesel cars, electric car ranges can be optimistic. That said if you do lots of stop/start driving it is possible to exceed the claimed range thanks to regenerative braking putting energy back into the battery pack when you slow down.

READ MORE ABOUT THE FORD MUSTANG MACH-E

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

Read more about:

Latest best cars & vans

  1. Most customisable cars

  2. Cars with suicide doors

  3. Cars with the tightest turning circles