Once known as the “Big Three” U.S. automakers, today Chrysler, Ford and General Motors all build cars around the world, and almost all auto manufacturers from other countries that sell cars in America have production facilities in the U.S. as well. Chrysler is now part of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, but buying a car from one of the three manufacturers based in the Detroit area still feels like supporting the home team. With competitive choices in every market segment, we look at 28 current offerings from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors with prices starting below $25,000 — all in an effort to “Buy American.”
Price: Starting at $12,660
The smallest car from General Motors sold in the U.S., the Chevrolet Spark is redesigned for 2016 and is sold in more than 40 countries around the world with total sales of more than 1 million. Offering greater efficiency, improved safety and more connectivity, the 2016 Spark has a slightly longer wheelbase and the overall height is 1.6 inches lower, but the high profile roofline still provides lots of usable interior space, even for tall drivers. Powered by a new 98-horsepower 1.4-liter engine, a 16-percent increase in power, the Spark is available with either a 5-speed manual or an available continuously variable transmission delivering an EPA estimated 41 mpg highway. Spark was an IIHS Top Safety Pick for 2015, and new available safety features including Side Blind Spot Alert, Lane Departure Warning and Forward Collision Alert. Spark has the next-generation Chevrolet MyLink, which features a 7-inch-diagonal color touchscreen and phone integration through Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Price: Starting at $14,345
More fun in a small package, the Sonic is further proof that you don’t have to buy a boring econobox to save money. The standard engine is a 1.8-liter EcoTec that delivers an EPA-estimated 35 mpg highway, and the optional turbocharged 1.4-Liter EcoTec reaches 40 mpg highway. Sonic offers OnStar with 4G LTE and a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot to stay connected. The integrated media system can have photos or video projected on the 7-inch display screen — but only when the car is stopped. The surprisingly roomy 5-passenger sedan or hatchback features a 60/40 split-folding rear seat for added versatility, and the hatchback gets a hidden storage compartment in the cargo area.
Price: Starting at $14,580
Offered as either a sedan or a hatchback with an emphasis on driving fun, Ford’s subcompact Fiesta comes in a variety of bright colors including Blue Candy, Race Red or Green Envy. The standard engine is a 120-horsepower 1.6 liter, with a 123-horsepower turbocharged 1.0-liter EcoBoost unit available as an option. At the top of the range sits the Fiesta ST starting at $21,460, powered by a 197-horsepower 1.6-liter that still achieves 37 mpg on the highway. A new SE Black Package offers 16-inch eight-spoke machined aluminum wheels, black grille, black heated exterior mirrors and fog lights with carbon black painted bezels.
Price: Starting at $16,620
The redesigned Chevrolet Cruze sedan goes on sale in early 2016 and the 2017 Cruze Hatchback — which debuted at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in January — should join the lineup in fall 2016. The 2016 Cruze is larger and lighter than the previous model, built on a more rigid architecture that helps improve driving dynamics as well as efficiency and safety. The new standard turbocharged 153-horsepower 1.4-liter direct-injection engine is paired with either a 6-speed manual transmission or an available 6-speed automatic and is expected to achieve 40 mpg highway, with start-stop technology improving efficiency in stop-and-go driving. Next-generation Chevrolet MyLink with smartphone integration includes compatibility with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with a standard 7-inch-diagonal screen and available 8-inch-diagonal screen. Available advanced safety features include Side Blind Zone Alert, Rear Cross-Traffic Alert, Lane Keep Assist and Forward Collision Alert. Cruze is sold in more than 40 countries and is Chevrolet’s best-selling model around the world with more than 3.5 million sold since it went on sale in 2008.
Price: Starting at $16,995
Not since the Dodge Neon has Chrysler had much success in the small car arena, but the 4-door Dart seems to have turned the tide. Dart offers a bit more power than some other compacts — its 2.4-liter Tigershark MultiAir2 4-cylinder engine is standard on the SXT, Limited and GT trims, putting out 184 horsepower and 174 lb-ft of torque for spritely performance. The high-efficiency 1.4-liter turbo — standard on the Dart Aero — produces 160 horsepower while boasting up to 41 mpg on the highway. New for 2016 is an available Sport Appearance hood for GT and SXT with the Rallye or Blacktop Package, 18-inch Hyper Black Wheels are standard on GT and new 18-inch Gloss Black 10-spoke wheels are optional. With plenty of standard features and sporty styling that echoes the best of the Dodge lineup, Dart is certainly worthy of consideration.
Price: Starting at $17,225
For years American drivers had to make do with a Focus that was mediocre at best, while at the same time reading and hearing about the sexy small offering in Europe. Now Focus is a world car — the same version that sells in Europe is also sold here, and it happens to be the best-selling car in the world. Available as a sedan or hatchback, Focus variants range from the basic S to the high-performance ST to the efficient Focus Electric. For 2016, the high-performance Focus RS joins the lineup — although it won’t be under $25K — with a high-performance all-wheel-drive system powered by a turbocharged 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine producing 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. The 2016 Focus offers new SYNC 3 with conversational voice-recognition and an available 8-inch LCD touchscreen with swipe and pinch-to-zoom functionality. Focus also features an impressive array of safety technology, including a rearview camera, a blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic alert and a lane-keeping system.
Price: Starting at $17,295
The Jeep Patriot has the lowest price of any SUV sold in America, offering tradition Jeep styling, off-road capability and fuel economy up to 30 mpg highway. The Patriot is offered in Sport or Latitude versions that are both available with front-wheel drive, the Jeep Freedom Drive I full-time active 4×4 system or Freedom Drive II off-road full-time active 4×4 system with low-range capability. The standard engine is a 158-horsepower 2.0-liter combined with a 5-speed manual transmission, with an optional 172-horsepower 2.4-liter optional and available CVT or 6-speed automatic transmissions. Standard equipment for 2016 Jeep Patriot includes front-seat-mounted side airbags, electronic stability control, electronic roll mitigation, Hill-start Assist, anti-lock brakes, Uconnect handsfree, SiriusXM Radio, illuminated cupholders and fog lights.
Price: Starting at $17,595
The newest member of the Jeep family, Renegade is the brand’s first entry in the small SUV segment. Unlike some competitors, which are often referred to as “cute utes,” the Renegade is built to handle tough off-road terrain as well as snowy or slick roads. The front-drive-based Renegade is available with two 4WD systems and features the Jeep Selec-Terrain system, providing up to five modes (Auto, Snow, Sand and Mud modes, plus Rock mode exclusive to the Trailhawk) that set up the Renegade for best performance based on conditions. Two engines are available: a 1.4-liter 160-horsepower turbocharged four cylinder teamed with a 6-speed manual transmission, or a 2.4-liter 180-horsepower unit teamed with a 9-speed automatic transmission. For 2016 Renegade offers Beats Audiowith an optional Beats premium audio system includes nine speakers with a 6.5-inch subwoofer and 506-watt amplifier for studio-quality sound. No question that the Renegade is deserving of the Jeep brand.
Price: Starting at $19,595
Compass is another compact SUV offering from Jeep with a front-end design that ties its look to the popular Grand Cherokee. Based on the same platform as the Patriot, the Compass is offered in Sport and Latitude versions with standard front-wheel drive or two available all-wheel-drive systems. The Jeep Freedom Drive I full-time active 4×4 system is recommended for everyday driving in all weather conditions, and the Freedom Drive II off-road full-time active 4×4 system with low-range capability is recommended for off-road situations that include steep grades, occasional wheel lift and rock or log climbing. The Freedom Drive II Off-road Package includes a second-generation continuously variable transaxle with low range that engages when the off-road mode is activated, 17-inch all-terrain tires, aluminum wheels, a one-inch raised ride height, a full-size spare tire, skidplates, tow hooks and fog lights. New for 2016 is the Sport SE Package that includes a leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls; heated cloth mesh front seats; 18-inch Mineral Gray aluminum wheels; Mineral Gray grille rings, fog lamp bezels, roof rails, rear fascia, Sport SE badge and liftgate brow when equipped with ParkView rear backup camera, and a bright exhaust tip.
Price: Starting at $20,100
American brands have basically owned the full-size pickup truck market for decades, but have not offered a compact truck for the last several years. The new midsize Chevrolet Colorado debuted as a 2015 model offering an alternative to a full-size truck, possessing more heft and capability than a smaller compact. For 2016 Colorado adds an optional 2.8-liter Duramax that produces 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque at 2000 rpm, for a maximum trailering rating of 7,700 pounds with 2-wheel drive. Two gasoline engines are offered: the standard fuel-efficient 200-horsepower four cylinder or a 305-horsepower V6. The latter gives the new truck a payload capacity up to 1,590 pounds and a 7,000-pound towing capacity. But Colorado is more than a work truck; it can be equipped with a large color touchscreen display, a rearview camera, heated front seats and 4G LTE connectivity with a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
Price: Starting at $20,300
The Trax is Chevrolet’s all-new crossover that joined the lineup for the 2015 model year. Chevrolet’s smallest SUV offering, the 5-passenger Trax combines the agility of a small car and the versatility of an SUV, with a large cargo area that is easily expandable via a 60/40 split-folding rear seat as well as a number of storage compartments throughout. Trax earned a 5-star Overall Vehicle Safety Rating from NHTSA and features 10 standard airbags, a rearview camera and available rear park assist. Trax also boasts high-tech features including OnStar 4G LTE connectivity with an integrated Wi-Fi hotspot, Siri Eyes Free integration for iPhone, and Chevrolet’s MyLink infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen display. Available with front- or all-wheel drive, Trax is powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine producing 138 horsepower and achieving an estimated 34 mpg on the highway.
Price: Starting at $20,955
The twin sibling of the Chevrolet Colorado, Canyon features the bold GMC grille and slight variations in packaging. Like the Colorado, Canyon adds the optional 2.8-liter Duramax that produces 181 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque at ,000 rpm for a maximum trailering rating of 7,700 pounds. Buyers still have a choice of two gasoline engines: a 2.5-liter DOHC four cylinder producing 200 horsepower, or a 3.6-liter V6 that boosts output to 305 horses. Both are actually quite fuel efficient, with an estimated highway rating of 25 mpg and 24 mpg respectively — with 4WD. Canyon is available in three configurations: extended cab, crew cab, or crew cab with a long bed. With the tailgate down, the longer bed can handle eight-foot long items without any overhang. With its impressive capability and easy-to-drive size, Canyon buyers won’t feel the need for a full-size pickup anymore.
Price: Starting at $20,995
The Dodge Journey is a versatile crossover with second-row and available third-row seats that fold flat to create 67.6 cubic feet of cargo area. The standard engine is a 173-horsepower 2.4-liter four cylinder mated with a 4-speed automatic that delivers 26 mpg on the highway. The optional 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine produces 283 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque; combined with a 6-speed automatic transmission it achieves up to 25 mpg on the highway. Front-wheel drive is standard with an available on-demand all-wheel-drive system. Offered in five different trim levels: SE, SXT, Crossroad, Crossroad Plus and R/T. Journey Crossroad features exclusive 19-inch Hyper Black aluminum wheels, Platinum Chrome accents, dark-tinted headlights and dark-tinted taillights. Crossroad Plus adds leather seats with sport mesh inserts, an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, a power driver’s seat and other interior features.
Price: Starting at $21,065
The Verano is a smaller sedan that joined the Buick lineup as a 2012 model, featuring a sportier design that was created to appeal to a younger demographic. Verano offers OnStar 4G LTE connectivity and a standard built-in Wi-Fi hotspot to provide a mobile hub. The standard engine is a 2.4-liter EcoTec four cylinder that produces 180 horsepower and 171 lb-ft of torque, paired with a 6-speed automatic transmission to achieve an EPA rating of 21 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined. The optional 2.0-liter EcoTec turbocharged 4-cylinder engine produces 250 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque with an EPA rating of 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined. Although Buick does not tout the Verano as a sport sedan, a 6-speed manual transmission is offered with the 2.0-liter EcoTec engine. Verano showcases Buick’s QuietTuning technology, which is designed to block and absorb sound and eliminate vibrations to give Verano one of the quietest interiors in its class.
Price: Starting at $21,625
Chevrolet introduced the Malibu name back in 1964 — when it was a top-line version of the Chevelle — making it the longest running midsize nameplate in the industry. The all-new ninth generation Malibu debuted last year at the New York Auto Show and is now on sale, proving this family sedan has come a long way since the first version hit the streets in 1964. Larger but lighter than the outgoing version, the 2016 Malibu offers more interior space as well as improved fuel efficiency. The standard engine is a 163-horsepower 1.5-liter turbo with start/stop technology with an optional high-output 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo mated with a new 8-speed automatic transmission. The new Malibu Hybrid teams an all-new 1.8-liter turbo engine with a 2-motor electric drive unit for a total of 182 horsepower, employing technology from the Chevrolet Volt to achieve an impressive 48 mpg in the city, 45 mpg on the highway. Malibu offers new Chevrolet MyLink with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility.
Price: Starting at $21,995
The Chrysler 200 joined the lineup as a 2015 model, slotting in below the Chrysler 300 with an elegant new design and size that makes it slightly smaller than most midsize sedans but larger than a compact. The base-level LX is the only 200 priced below $25,000, powered by a 2.4-liter 184-horsepower engine. Teamed with a segment-first 9-speed automatic transmission, the 200 gets an EPA-estimated 36 mpg on the highway. A more potent 295-horsepower V6 and all-wheel drive are also available, but they push the price closer to $30,000. To commemorate the 90th anniversary of Chrysler as a brand, the 90th Anniversary Package is offered for the 2016 Chrysler 200 Limited and includes 8.4-in. touchscreen radio with Uconnect Access, SiriusXM Radio, a sunroof, body-color power heated mirrors, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, power 4-way driver lumbar adjustment, a power 8-way driver seat, front floor mats with a Chrysler Anniversary logo and unique Chrysler Anniversary graphic on the 8.4-inch touchscreen.
Dodge Grand Caravan
Price: Starting at $22,095
At one time each of the major American car companies had a minivan offering, but as crossovers became more popular Ford and GM dropped theirs. Blame it on the stigma of driving one or simple burnout — minivans have fallen out of favor, although many still say vans are the best option for a family vehicle. The Grand Caravan was the first on the market, and it is fair to say that Chrysler has perfected the formula. Not only is the Grand Caravan the least expensive minivan, it boasts exclusive Stow ‘n Go seats — all rear seats can be folded completely flat into the floor using just one hand. A 283-horsepower V6 engine is standard across the line, so there won’t be any complaints about driving an underpowered minivan. Chrysler debuted the all-new Chrysler Pacifica minivan at the North American International Auto Show in January — 2016 may be the final model year for the Grand Caravan.
Price: Starting at $22,110
The Ford Fusion received a complete makeover for the 2013 model year, getting a bold new look that included a long nose, sloping roofline and short rear deck to create a much more upscale look from the previous conservative design. Fast-forward a few years and the 2017 Fusion debuted at the North American International Auto Show in January and is scheduled to go on sale in summer 2016 with three EcoBoost engine choices, two hybrid versions and a new Fusion V6 Sport with all-wheel-drive. The 2016 model continues with minor updates including a redesigned center stack with a simplified user interface with SYNC screen and mechanical buttons. A new S Appearance Package includes 18-inch alloy painted Ebony black wheels, front fog lights and a rear spoiler while the SE Cold Weather Package offers Power Code Remote Start System, heated cloth seats and all-weather floor mats. The standard engine is a 175-horsepower 2.5-liter 4-cylinder engine with two optional EcoBoost engines: a 181-horsepower 1.5 liter and a 240-horsepower 2.0 liter. Intelligent all-wheel drive is offered as an option. The Fusion Hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid are also available, combining a 2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle engine with an electronic continuously variable transmission and an electric motor.
Price: Starting at $22,600
The Equinox continues to be a top seller in the competitive compact crossover segment and receives styling updates for 2016, including a new front fascia, a dual-port grille with chrome accents, projector-beam headlights, new dual-element taillights, a new lower rear fascia, new wheel designs and LED daytime running lights for LT and LTZ trims. Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are offered on LT and LTZ. Inside, the revised center stack includes a new storage shelf and updated control graphics with a new 7-inch Color Touch Radio and rear-vision camera standard on entry-level L and LS trims.
Ford Transit Connect
Price: Starting at $22,675
The Ford Transit Connect was redesigned for 2014 with a sleeker design; a 5- or 7-passenger Transit Connect Wagon also joined the lineup. Even in long-wheelbase configuration, Transit Connect is smaller than traditional people movers and offers flexibility with second- and third-row fold-flat seats. The standard 2.5-liter Duratec engine delivers 28 mpg highway and the available 1.6-liter EcoBoost delivers an estimated 30 mpg. Dual sliding doors make entry and exit easy, and in back buyers have the option of either a standard liftgate or side-hinged swing-out doors. Transit Connect’s small size makes it a unique family hauler that’s easier to drive and maneuver while still feeling spacious inside.
Price: Starting at $23,100 (2016 model)
The Ford Escape is one of the best-selling models in the competitive compact crossover segment, and for 2015 was the second-best-selling model for Ford behind the F-Series. The redesigned 2017 Escape debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November and is scheduled to go on sale in Spring 2016. The new Escape takes on the look of the larger Ford Edge and will offer two new engines; a 1.5-liter EcoBoost and a 2.0-liter twin-scroll turbocharged EcoBoost — both with Auto Start/Stop technology. New driver assist technology includes adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, a lane-keeping system and Enhanced Active Park Assist. SYNC Connect will allow drivers to use a smartphone app to remote start, lock doors and check fuel level.
Price: Starting at $23,395
In the world of midsize car-based crossovers, most of which were never meant for any meaningful off-roading, it’s nice to know there is one that can handle the tough stuff if called upon to do so, while still offering a fuel-efficient, comfortable ride on pavement. The original Cherokee was discontinued after the 2001 model year, but it had such a stellar reputation that the company wisely brought the name back, albeit on a vehicle that looks nothing like the original. In fact the styling of the new Cherokee has been quite polarizing. But with three available 4WD systems, almost 9 inches of ground clearance and an array of safety and convenience features, the new Cherokee is certainly deserving of the legendary name.
Price: Starting at $23,895
Wrangler has been a part of the American lexicon since 1941, and the iconic off-roader has remained true to the original concept of Go Anywhere, Do Anything. The Wrangler’s design hasn’t changed all that much over the years, staying with the same basic silhouette and featuring the vertical grille with round headlights — except for a short time in the 1980s when square headlights were introduced (there was so much outcry that a few years later Jeep went back to round headlights). Known throughout the world for its legendary capability, Wrangler is now available with all the expected modern amenities as well as the option of four doors. For a vehicle that can handle just about any terrain, there really isn’t anything on the market that can beat it — especially below $25,000.
Price: Starting at $23,975
GMC’s compact crossover is updated for 2016 with a new front fascia with C-shaped lower chrome trim, a rear fascia with C-shaped chrome trim, a new power dome hood design and new wheel designs. The top trim levels receive LED daytime running lights and new chrome grille designs. Offered with front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, the standard engine is a 182-horsepower 2.4-liter EcoTec with a 301-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 optional. The new center stack design includes a new storage shelf and updated control graphics. Available GMC IntelliLink offers OnStar with 4G LTE connectivity and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.
Price: Starting at $24,065
Buick’s small crossover offers quiet, safety and fuel efficiency in a small package. Named a 2015 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, Encore safety features include 10 airbags and StabiliTrak stability enhancement. Also offered are rear cross-traffic alert, a side blind zone alert system, park assist, Forward Collision Alert and Lane Departure Warning. Buick’s exclusive QuietTuning is standard and includes Bose Active Noise Cancelling technology. For 2016 the Encore Sport Touring is added, powered by a 153-horsepower turbocharged 1.4-liter engine with direct injection and start/stop technology combined with a 6-speed automatic. The standard engine is a 138-horsepower 1.4-liter EcoTec combined with a 6-speed automatic. Encore Sport Touring features a rear spoiler, 18-inch aluminum premium-finish wheels and body-color door handles.
Price: Starting at $24,145
This one squeaks under the $25,000 mark — which is great news for those who feel drawn to this iconic American sports car. Ford has been building Mustangs continuously for the last 50 years, and the latest version debuted as a 2015 model. The V6 Mustang may be entry level, but it’s certainly no slouch. It boasts 300 horsepower with a 6-speed manual transmission and looks awesome with its low, wide stance, HID headlights and signature sequential rear turn signals. Although styling cues abound tying this Mustang to the original, there are plenty of high-tech features to remind you that the current iteration is a thoroughly modern pony car. Goodies include pushbutton start and available all-new SYNC 3 with conversational voice recognition, a smartphone-like screen and intuitive interface.
Ford C-MAX Hybrid
Price: Starting at $24,170
Ford’s C-MAX looks somewhat like a small version of a minivan and it’s not quite a crossover, but its high-roof design and fold-flat second-row seating offer a lot of versatility. Available in other markets with a range of powertrains, the C-MAX is only offered in the U.S. as a hybrid and the C-MAX Energi plug-in hybrid. The C-MAX is powered by the same 188-horsepower gas-electric hybrid system as the Fusion Hybrid, but fuel economy is slightly lower due to being a bit heavier and taller. Often the driver affects fuel economy more than any other variable, so Ford has added technology to help drivers be more efficient. A SmartGauge with EcoGuide shows drivers how their actions affect fuel efficiency. Additionally, the Brake Coach feature helps drivers brake properly to fully optimize the regenerative braking system. Efficient braking is rewarded with green leaves accumulating in the driver’s display.
Price: Starting at $24,425
The Focus ST has been the high-performance version of the popular compact until the arrival of the all-wheel drive, 350-horsepower Focus RS for 2016. With the Focus RS priced over $35,000, the Focus ST is still a performance bargain, coming in just under the $25,000 mark. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that produces 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque combined with a 6-speed manual transmission, the front-wheel-drive Focus ST features sport springs, sport-tuned shock absorbers, electric power steering and Torque Vectoring Control. Available SYNC 3 with an 8-inch touchscreen and voice-activated technology offers conversational voice recognition and swipe and pinch-to-zoom functionality.