Insurance for Foreign vs. American Cars

Anna Baluch
Written by
Anna Baluch
Photo of an Insurify author
Written by
Anna Baluch
Insurance Writer
Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.
John Leach
Edited by
John Leach
Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
John Leach
Insurance Content Editor at Insurify
John Leach is an insurance content editor who has worked in print and online. He has years of experience in car and home insurance and strives to make these topics easy to understand for everyone. He has a linguistics degree from UC Santa Barbara.

Updated June 15, 2022

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Why you can trust Insurify

Insurify is America's highest-rated insurance comparison platform. We partner with the nation's top insurance companies and are licensed as an agent in all 50 states. However, the insurance experts writing our content operate independently of our partners, and you can learn more about how we make money by viewing our advertising disclosures. Also check out reviews from over 3,000 satisfied customers, our data methodology, and our editorial standards.

For a long time, many car buyers believed that foreign cars were better than American ones. These days, this is no longer the case. Domestic cars have come a long way and are now often on par with the quality of foreign cars.

Today, we realize that there are benefits and drawbacks to foreign and domestic vehicles. Your unique needs and preferences will determine the ideal car for you. While you explore foreign and American vehicles, don’t forget to look into car insurance plans as well.

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Quick Facts

  • Both foreign cars and American vehicles come with their own pros and cons.

  • While foreign cars often receive higher rankings and require fewer repairs, domestic vehicles tend to be less expensive and give back to the U.S. economy.

  • When you shop for a car, be sure to consider the particular model rather than where it’s manufactured.

What is an American car vs. a foreign car?

Are foreign or domestic cars better?

Depending on your needs and standards, there are great options for both foreign and domestically made cars. Historically, though, foreign cars have the reputation for being higher-quality and more reliable.

Also known as a domestic car, an American car is any vehicle that is made by a manufacturer headquartered in the U.S. While there are many domestic car manufacturers, the most common ones include Ford, Dodge, Jeep, RAM, Buick, Chevrolet, Chrysler, GMC, Cadillac, and Lincoln.

A foreign car, on the other hand, contains parts that were made and assembled outside of the U.S. They’re often referred to as import cars, and their manufacturers mainly operate outside of America. Some examples of popular foreign cars are Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Subaru, Hyundai, and Volkswagen. Luxury vehicles like Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz are also considered foreign.

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Pros and Cons of American Cars

Pros

The most noteworthy advantages of American cars are as follows:

Less Expensive

Compared to foreign cars, domestic cars usually cost much less. This means you can put the extra money toward upgrades or save for maintenance and repair costs in the future. If your goal is to purchase a vehicle without a car loan, you’ll find it easier to do so for an American car.

Easy to Find and Affordable Parts

At some point in time, your vehicle will need parts. It will be much easier to find original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts for a domestic car like a Ford than for a foreign vehicle like a Mercedes-Benz. Since most auto repair shops carry domestic parts, you may be able to repair your vehicle without going to the dealership and save money in the process.

A Way to Support the American Economy

There’s no better way to give back to the U.S. economy than to buy American-made goods, including cars. When you choose a domestic vehicle instead of a foreign car, you’re also supporting American workers and companies. With your hard-earned dollars, American manufacturers can continually improve their vehicles and employ U.S. workers.

Easy to Contact

If you ever have a question or issue related to your car, you won’t have any trouble getting a hold of a domestic car company. Most American auto manufacturers hire representatives around the country that you can contact via phone and email. These representatives are usually native English speakers and are easy to understand.

Cons

Here are a few disadvantages of domestic vehicles that you should keep in mind:

Average Rankings

Reputable organizations like Consumer Reports and J.D. Power publish studies and surveys where they rank and analyze vehicles. These organizations consider factors like performance, reliability, and owner satisfaction. Time after time, domestic auto manufacturers struggle to rank as high as foreign brands.

Mediocre Fuel Efficiency

Unfortunately, the U.S. has lower fuel-efficiency standards than other countries. Therefore, American cars usually fall behind in the gas mileage department. This can be a real issue when fuel prices are on the rise. Even though domestic electric and hybrid vehicles can help you save on fuel, you’ll have more gas-friendly options if you go the foreign route.

Fewer Car Options

If you prefer a sedan, you won’t find as many domestic options. Recently, American automakers have been more focused on trucks and SUVs since these types of vehicles are in greater demand. You will open the door to a greater selection of sedans if you opt for foreign models instead.

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Pros and Cons of Foreign Cars

Pros

The greatest perks of foreign vehicles are:

High Rankings

As we previously mentioned, foreign vehicles are often rated higher than domestic cars. They are continuously praised for their leading performance and high levels of customer satisfaction. Many organizations also rank them as more reliable than domestic brands.

Fewer Repairs

Foreign cars, especially those manufactured in Japan, tend to be more reliable and require fewer repairs than domestic vehicles. This can make them more affordable in the long run and increase their resale value.

Asian Vehicles May Be More Affordable

Asian carmakers, like Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, Kia, and Nissan, tend to be less expensive than some American cars. If you’re looking for a quality vehicle that won’t cost you too much, an Asian brand might be worth considering.

Cons

The downsides of vehicles built by foreign manufacturers include:

Poor Performance

Sometimes, foreign vehicles are rated poorly for performance. This is widely seen with brands like Land Rover, Jaguar, and Mitsubishi. Of course, you may be able to avoid this issue if you do your research and read reviews before you make a purchase.

Potential Issues with Replacing Parts

Since foreign cars feature parts produced abroad, it can be more difficult to find and replace those parts. Ever since tariffs have become more expensive and taken a toll on the supply chain, replacing foreign parts has been a greater challenge and an even higher expense.

Less Support for the American Economy

Despite the fact that some foreign vehicles are built in U.S. factories, you’re better off buying domestic if you’d like to support the American economy. Foreign automakers often keep their headquarters and administrative functions overseas.

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Closing Thoughts

Before you sign on the dotted line and move forward with a new or used car, make sure you read the reviews and ranking of the specific model rather than just the automaker. Often, the quality and dependability of a vehicle are based on the vehicle model, not where it was manufactured.

But if you feel strongly about buying foreign or domestic, you’re sure to find an option or two that meets your needs. Once you choose a vehicle, make sure you have adequate car insurance coverage. Comparing auto insurance quotes is a great way to find the coverage that will fit your needs and budget.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • Since it’s usually more difficult to find parts from foreign companies, they tend to be more expensive than domestic parts. This might mean that owning a Mercedes-Benz or BMW, for example, will cost you more over time than if you choose a Ford or Buick. Also, licensed auto repair shops that service foreign luxury models tend to be pricier because of the complexity involved in their repairs.

  • You might be surprised to learn that it’s a real challenge to find a car that’s completely made in the U.S. The good news is there are plenty of options that are mostly built in America. Some of these include the Honda Accord, Pilot, and Odyssey; the Acura MDX; and the Chevy Corvette, Colorado, and Camaro.

  • Americans might prefer foreign vehicles because they have a reputation for being higher-quality vehicles that stand the test of time. When you consider the fact that many foreign vehicles perform optimally past 300,000 miles, the foreign car phenomenon makes sense. It’s important to note that how you care for and maintain your car will significantly affect its longevity.

  • There are two primary reasons Americans prefer domestic cars over foreign auto brands. First and foremost, they offer many tech and luxury features at much lower price points. The second reason American vehicles are popular is that they support the U.S. economy and bring jobs to the states.

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  • Data scientists at Insurify analyzed over 40 million auto insurance rates across the United States to compile the car insurance quotes, statistics, and data visualizations displayed on this page. The car insurance data includes coverage analysis and details on drivers' vehicles, driving records, and demographic information. With these insights, Insurify is able to offer drivers insight into how their car insurance premiums are priced by companies.

Anna Baluch
Written by
Anna Baluch
Linkedin

Insurance Writer

Anna Baluch is a Cleveland-based personal finance and insurance expert. With an MBA from Roosevelt University, she enjoys writing educational content that helps people make smart financial decisions. Her work can be seen across the internet on many publications, including Freedom Debt Relief, Credit Karma, RateGenius, and the Balance. Connect with Anna on LinkedIn.

Learn More
John Leach
Edited by
John Leach

Insurance Content Editor at Insurify

Photo of an Insurify author
Edited by
John Leach
Insurance Content Editor at Insurify
John Leach is an insurance content editor who has worked in print and online. He has years of experience in car and home insurance and strives to make these topics easy to understand for everyone. He has a linguistics degree from UC Santa Barbara.