PORTLAND, Ore. (MainStreet) An automaker's headquarters in the U.S. doesn't guarantee it makes the "most American" vehicles on the road. Using U.S. labor is a bit more of a guarantee.
Buying from a U.S.-based maker won't guarantee you're getting an "American" car, nor will buying a car with a high percentage of American-made parts in that car if the vehicle isn't assembled here. Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration argues there's no such thing as a 100% "American" car, the United Auto Workers see things a bit differently.
More than 20 years ago, Congress passed the American Automobile Labeling Act requiring cars to have labels specifying their percentage of U.S./Canadian parts, the country of assembly and country of origin for the engine and transmission. Even with this information, however, representatives of the nearly 400,000 active members and 600,000 retired members of the UAW say the only way to ensure you're getting a quality American automobile built to the highest standards at decent wages is to buy a car built using union labor.
Union backer and detractors will continue to debate that point. Those who judge their "American-made" vehicle by who worked on it, however, tend to value the union label. We've gone through the UAW's list of union-made vehicles and found 10 standout models that are not only assembled here, but are prime examples of the best union shops have to offer:
Assembled: Lansing, Mich.
NHTSA percentage made in the U.S.: 70%
The base model comes with a 272-horsepower, 2.0-liter V6 engine, but can be bumped up to a 321-horsepower, 3.6-liter V6 for a little more kick. General Motors' symbol of American luxury also includes headlights that adapt to your speed and turning angle, rear backup camera, leather seating, wood trim and a pop-up eight-inch GPS screen that connects to voice control and a 10-speaker Bose stereo system. If you're willing to splurge for the CTS-Vsport, your reward is a 556-horsepower, 6.2-liter V8 engine that takes you from 0 to 6 mph in 3.9 seconds. This beast was a problem child for General Motors and the unions when sales dropped by more than 20,000 vehicles during the economic downturn, but CTS sales have since accelerated from 38,817 in 2009 to nearly 47,000 in 2012. A drop to 32,000 vehicles in 2013 was a side effect of the new, rebuilt 2014 model, but Cadillac's been full of good news for the U.S. market and workers. Its ELR plug-in hybrid just made its debut after being built at GM's Detroit Hamtrack plant.