Baseball might be known as America’s favorite pastime, but cars are what truly drive the culture. American car brands aren’t merely household names, they are part of identities. In some ways, part of the family.
A handful of American car companies have been able to survive many downturns and market shifts. Others have rapidly propelled themselves forward, using the latest technology and innovation to create revolutionary products. And an unfortunate few have met their demise despite valiant efforts.
While there’s no shortage of long-lasting US car brands, a new era of automotive expertise is taking over. Will the new rivals be able to compete with the well-established? Or will they vanish into history like a fad from the last decade?
This list of the top American car brands is not only a history lesson, it’s a path forward to the future of American roads and a way of life.
The Best American Car Brands
This legendary American car brand was the first to use an assembly line with automated production. Over a century later, Ford still reigns supreme by producing the best-selling vehicle of the past 30 years, the F-150 pickup truck.
Ford is surging forward with many electric offerings, including hybrid pickup trucks.
Year founded: 1903 Annual sales: 1.82 million units Most popular model: F-150 Official website:https://www.ford.com/
When it comes to iconic American car companies, it would be impossible to overlook Chevrolet. Its consistent pursuit of new designs and technology has allowed this US car brand to stay ahead of most competitors.
Chevy excels at providing a wide array of reliable vehicles at an affordable price, on top of some of the best classic cars in existence.
Year founded: 1911 Annual sales: 1.44 million units Most popular model: Silverado Official website:https://www.chevrolet.com/
Nikola Tesla brought about a revolution in AC electrical energy, and the aptly named Tesla Inc. US car brand has done a similar feat for electric vehicles.
What started as a niche automaker with one roadster option has now skyrocketed into a top American car brand. Tesla’s introduction of two sedans and two crossover SUVs has created jaw-dropping growth with no signs of relenting.
Year founded: 2003 Annual sales: 936,172 units Most popular model: Model 3 Official website:https://www.tesla.com/
The military need for a capable off-road vehicle allowed this American car manufacturer to establish its roots. Decades later, Jeep remains dedicated to providing capable sport utility vehicles, with popular crossover and off-road models.
You’ll find Jeeps all over the United States, some taking care of the daily commute and others conquering isolated four-wheel drive trails.
Year founded: 1941 Annual sales: 778,711 units Most popular model: Grand Cherokee Official website:https://www.jeep.com/
There’s no doubting America’s love for pickup trucks. And when gathering American car makers serving this segment, Ram sits high on the list.
Ram first started as a moniker for various Dodge trucks. It branched off into its own entity and showcases the incredible demand for lightweight and heavy-duty trucks across the county.
Year founded: 2010 Annual sales: 647,331 units Most popular model: Ram Pickup Official website:https://www.ramtrucks.com/
Yet another American auto company that started at the turn of the 20th century has been able to stay in the game. GMC began building trucks that proved useful for military purposes throughout World War I and II.
It has stayed true to its roots by focusing on trucks while adding SUV and van models to meet growing demand.
Year founded: 1911 Annual sales: 482,437 units Most popular model: Sierra 1500 Official website:https://www.gmc.com/
This brand started as a sibling partnership supplying parts to other American-owned car companies. It eventually transitioned into producing its own vehicles, and after a century of ups and downs, has landed a secure position in the automotive industry.
Dodge now offers some of the most powerful mass-production vehicles in the world.
Year founded: 1900 Annual sales: 215,724 units Most popular model: Charger Official website: https://www.dodge.com/
You could best describe Buick’s long history as a roller coaster ride. At times, this American-made car brand has gone through phases of incredible struggle as well as ultimate success.
Buick’s offerings hit the middle of General Motors’ lineup, more luxurious than Chevrolet models but not as upmarket when compared to Cadillac.
Year founded: 1903 Annual sales: 179,799 units Most popular model: Encore GX Official website:https://www.buick.com/
While the “Standard of the World” title may have been self-imposed, Cadillac has done an excellent job at meeting the description over its long history. By focusing entirely on premiere luxury vehicles, this American car brand has consistently pushed ahead of others.
Today, Cadillac lives under the design philosophy of “Art and Science,” and still creates some of the top luxury sedans and SUVs.
Year founded: 1902 Annual sales: 118,310 units Most popular model: Escalade Official website:https://www.cadillac.com/
By overcoming a rocky road of history and ownership changes, Chrysler has been able to maintain a top position on American car company lists.
Although Chrysler’s history is full of unique sedans, roadsters, and coupes, it has settled into a niche market serving up some of the best minivans and sedans from American car brands.
Year founded: 1925 Annual sales: 115,004 units Most popular model: Pacifica Official website:https://www.chrysler.com/
Being part of the top American car brands is no easy feat. Lincoln has done so for more than a century, with some of its most iconic vehicles serving as official state limousines for Presidents of the United States.
Now dedicated to luxury SUV production, this American car logo will always be synonymous with the epitome of US leadership.
Year founded: 1917 Annual sales: 86,929 units Most popular model: Nautilus Official website:https://www.lincoln.com/
While the term might give you mental images of grungy teenagers loitering around the local 7-Eleven, skateboards are becoming much more than that. Rivian has been working hard at creating an all-electric “skateboard” platform to be used across a wide lineup of new cars.
Their success has been gradual, but orders finally started to be filled in 2021 and are heating up. If you want a sign that this American car company has some support, check out its $66.5 billion IPO valuation.
Year founded: 2009 Annual sales: 920 units Most popular model: R1T Official website:https://rivian.com/
Willingness to take risks can have substantial rewards. Other times it can result in serious hardship. Karma Automotive has seen both sides of the coin through its short history, but remains dedicated to producing futuristic and stylish vehicles.
The GS-6 comes in hybrid and all-electric variants, but the SC2 concept car promises a hypercharged 1,100 horsepower model to break into the future of the automotive world.
Year founded: 2014 Annual sales: $201.3 million Most popular model: GS-6 Official website:https://www.karmaautomotive.com/
What began as an endeavor to supply electric vehicle platforms has transitioned into a new American car manufacturer. Lucid is pushing forward with luxury options producing over 1,000 horsepower and featuring a range of more than 500 miles.
While Lucid might not be on the list of the most expensive cars, its innovative design grabs attention like no other.
Year founded: 2007 Annual sales: $27.1 million Most popular model: Air Official website:https://www.lucidmotors.com/
In the past, electric vehicles were thought of as small, city-centric vehicles with limited payload and power. High-performance EVs have proven that electricity can provide plenty of power to move fast, but Bollinger Motors is exemplifying how payload limitations may also be a thing of the past.
The Bollinger Motors B2 pickup has received a lot of praise, while the B4 commercial truck platform could reshape logistics.
Year founded: 2014 Annual sales: $16.3 million (est.) Most popular model: B2 Official website:https://bollingermotors.com/
While cooking from scratch can be worthwhile, sometimes using a prepared base goes a long way. Hennessey Performance has made most of its fame by turning already-powerful vehicles into ultra-high-performance monsters, such as their 1,000+ horsepower Jeeps, Ford Mustangs, and Dodge Challengers.
They’ve also created limited-production hypercars of their own, including the Venom F5 and Venom GT, both making our list of the fastest cars around.
Year founded: 1991 Annual sales: $12.1 million Most popular model: Venom F5 Official website:https://www.hennesseyperformance.com/
Taking inspiration from the aerospace industry, this American car brand quietly went under the radar for some years. That all changed in 2007 when the SSC Ultimate Aero became the fastest production car in the world at 256.14 mph.
The streamlined design of the Tuatara model is paired with one of the most powerful V8 engines around. The result? Crushing speed records, once again.
Year founded: 1999 Annual sales: $5 million Most popular model: Tuatara Official website:https://www.sscnorthamerica.com/
Describing the Rezvani Tank as a modified Jeep Wrangler is simply not enough. What might have once been a mass production vehicle is wholly transformed into a military-inspired Extreme Utility Vehicle.
The Tank features bulletproof windows and body, underside explosive protection, and thermal night vision. If you want to prepare for the end of the world, this is your best bet.
Year founded: 2013 Annual sales: $5 million (est.) Most popular model: Tank Official website:https://www.rezvanimotors.com/
Some people are born with the need for speed. Trion’s founder Richard Patterson is one of those and he combined his passion with his automotive expertise to create a new breed of American supercars.
The aggressive styling is backed by the roar of a twin-turbo V8 with 2,000 horsepower.
Year founded: 2012 Annual sales: $4.57 million Most popular model: Nemesis Official website:https://www.trionsupercars.com/
When most people hear this American car maker’s name, they think of highly-modified Ford Mustangs. After all, these 800-horsepower beasts are the company’s bread-and-butter.
But Saleen has also made high-performance vehicles of their own, including the Saleen S7 of the early 21st century and the upcoming Saleen 1, designed to be a supercar in a compact sports car package.
Year founded: 1983 Annual sales: $2.48 million Most popular model: Saleen 1 Official website: https://www.saleen.com/
Breaking into the competitive US car market is not for the timid. Faraday Future’s 2016 FFZERO1 concept car generated a lot of hype with promises of over 1,000 horsepower and lightning-fast speeds.
In reality, this American car brand has faced significant difficulty. The FFZERO1 didn’t make it past the clay and styrofoam concept. And now, the production FF 91 model struggles to compete with the other successful electric vehicles already on the market.
Year founded: 2014 Annual sales: In development Most popular model: FF 91 Official website:https://www.ff.com/
As one of the most recently-founded US car brands, Lordstown Motors is focused on developing an innovative electric pickup truck. It uses four in-wheel hub motors and features a classic pickup design.
The company has gone through many leadership changes and struggles but still expects to bring the Endurance truck to market.
Year founded: 2018 Annual sales: In development Most popular model: Endurance Official website:https://www.lordstownmotors.com/
Although funding issues have taken a toll on this American car brand, Canoo is relentlessly driving forward to produce a new lineup of electric vehicles. The brand is developing a lifestyle vehicle similar to an SUV in addition to a van-like multi-purpose delivery vehicle (MPDV).
Don’t write off this endeavor. Walmart recently agreed to purchase 4,500 units of the MPDV, so these might start to make an appearance on roads around the nation.
Year founded: 2017 Annual sales: In development Most popular model: MPDV Official website:https://www.canoo.com/
This US car brand has never tried to please the mass market. It chooses to instead focus on mid-engine sports cars that will leave most cars in the dust.
The Rossion Q1 was the most popular model, with a twin-turbocharged Ford Duratec V6 engine that produced more than 500 horsepower and could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.8 seconds.
Year founded: 2007 (est.) Annual sales: Unknown Most popular model: Q1 Official website: N/A
When a determined individual finds out he can’t fit inside of available supercars, he creates his own. At least that’s what Craig Bramscher did.
Unfortunately, after years of unsuccessfully tinkering with supercars, Brammo turned to electrified motorcycles. The company found some success before selling off the motorcycle division to Polaris in 2015. The remainder of the assets were sold to Cummins in 2017.
Year founded: 2002 Annual sales: Unknown Most popular model: Empulse Official website: N/A
Frequently asked questions about American car brands:
The best American car brand based on sales volume is Ford, thanks in big part to its incredibly popular F-150 pickup truck which has been the best-selling vehicle in the US for over 30 years. Chevrolet, Tesla, Jeep, Ram, and GMC are other top American car brands.
American car brands include Ford, Chevrolet, Tesla, Jeep, Ram, GMC, Dodge, Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Lincoln, Rivian, Karma, Lucid, Bollinger Motors, Hennessey, SSC, Rezvani, Trion, and Saleen. Read our Best American Car Brands article for more.