Best cars made in the U.S., Germany, Japan, or S. Korea?


As cars have improved in quality and have incorporated more and more technology in recent years, where do you think the best cars are now made? And what is the business model or culture that accounts for why they are the best?

Automotive Engineering
Roy Vartabedian, DrPH, MPH
63 months ago

2 answers


Auto branding and country of origin manufacturing are two different things today. In the USA, anything like a truck is the vehicle of choice today. So Ford, Dodge, GMC... are best sellers only in the light truck or SUV categories. When talking about the general 2 door or 4 door traditional sedans, German brands are # 1: MB, BMW, Audi but these are mostly in the luxury class.. Lexus, Infinite, Toyota, and Nissan are good but not as good today as they were in previous decades. The Korean brands are mostly budget to popularly priced for best value.. Almost all of brands today have factories in North America besides in their headquarters country.

Raoul Gruenberg
63 months ago
I drive a Jaguar - Dr. David E. 63 months ago
Thanks for the analysis, Raoul. - Roy 63 months ago
DITTO - Dr. David E. 63 months ago

As a German engineer in the Auto industry, I am certainly biased. An Audi, BMW or Mercedes is definitely something to consider. As there are no speed limits on large parts of the german Autobahn, these cars are designed to handle the high requirements this use case implies. And Germans are picky about quality in general.

For a bigger picture view, one would have to define what "best car" means. And this could mean different things to different people in different parts of the world. For Germany, we have touched it above. In China, customers are more concerned with brand, status and comfort. In the US, value for money and reliability play a large role.

Fulfilling these needs is core to the local car brands in these regions. And they usually deliver.

Business model wise, about all legacy car companies sell to independent dealers who then provide sales and service to the end customer. Newcomers who follow Teslas suit try to avoid this, and sell directly to end customers without intermediaries. With a global shift to electrified powertrains, digitalization, mobility as as service and drive automation, the whole story will change globally. But it will change in different speeds in different areas, even in close proximity: urban residents have less and less a reason to own a car, while those in the suburban sprawl and farer out might want to keep and update their own vehicles.

This means that car companies have to be quite flexible to deliver to these various needs at the right time. This is not easy when you carry billion dollar assets like car factories with you. In other words: These are probably the most exciting and maybe the most challenging times to be in the auto industry...

Jürgen Bauer
63 months ago
Very interesting; many thanks - Dr. David E. 63 months ago
Great analysis, Jurgen. Thank you. FYI - I prefer BMWs at this time. Porsche as well in my single years. - Roy 63 months ago
Danke - Dr. David E. 63 months ago

Have some input?