Compact crossovers now represent the largest segment in the auto industry. We run down the list of where each popular model is built, starting with the surprising and unusual locations.
Compact crossovers like the Nissan Rogue, Honda CR-V, and Toyota RAV4 now represent the single largest segment in the auto industry. Two truck models still have higher individual sales, but more shoppers now drive home in a new compact crossover than any other type of vehicle. In our testing, we have found some unusual manufacturing locations for these vehicles and decided to do some research to see where, and by who, America’s new “family car” is being built. Here’s our rundown with a focus on unusual locations and surprises.
Buick Envision – Yantai China
Buick in America was headed for GM’s ever-growing scrap heap of brands until it introduced the subcompact Encore crossover. That single model, manufactured by GM only outside of the United States, now represents more than half of Buick’s sales and alone outsells all of Cadillac’s vehicle models combined.
Buick’s second most popular selling vehicle is the Envision compact crossover. It is manufactured in Yantai in the Eastern province of Shandong on the Bohai Strait across the Yellow Sea from Seoul, South Korea (not far on a global scale from where GM builds some of its Encores).
You’ve probably never heard of Yantai, but its population is ten times larger than Boston’s. Buick’s sales of the Envision are climbing sharply. Combined, Encore and Envision account for about 21,000 vehicles per month, and those growing sales have proven that GM’s modern-day shoppers don’t exclusively buy American.
GMC Terrain / Chevrolet Equinox – Canada & Mexico
The GMC Terrain is a compact crossover similar in many ways to the Buick Envision and almost identical mechanically to the Chevy Equinox. The Terrain was being made in Canada, but GM moved production to central Mexico. We had a chance to take a short test drive in the 2018 Terrain back in October (loved it) and noted that it was built in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. It had a Mexican-built transmission and 40% total Mexican content.
The Equinox is still made in Ingersoll, Ontario, Canada. Combined, the Equinox and Terrain account for about 47,000 units per month in sales. That makes these two crossovers almost as large in volume as all of Mazda and all of Volkswagen in America combined. Interesting factoid: The union UNIFOR workers at GM’s plant in Ontario went on strike late last year reducing Equinox production. The Canadian workers building vehicles for export to the United States recognized that the workers in Mexico earn much less, and wanted job security guarantees from GM that it would not move the rest of the Equinox’s production to Mexico. The strike was resolved when the workers at GM’s Canadian plant accepted a raise instead.
Mazda CX-5 – Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan
Mazda’s CX-5 compact crossover is not a high-volume vehicle compared to its peers, but the CX-5 is often the favorite in comparison tests done by car enthusiast magazines. The CX-5 is manufactured in Hofu Plant No. 2 in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan. This plant is sometimes mistakenly referred to as the “Hiroshima plant”, but it is actually west and a bit south of the city proper of Hiroshima. Mazda is now partnering with Toyota in America and has recently announced that it will build a crossover model in the new joint venture plant with Toyota to be located in Huntsville, Alabama. We suspect it will be the CX-5.
Nissan Rogue – Mostly Smyrna, Tennessee
The Nissan Rogue is off and on the top-selling vehicle in the largest automotive segment in the United States. The RAV4 and other models have good sales months that occasionally surpass the Rogue in sales, but the Rogue has been selling well for years. In March, Nissan sold 42,151 Rogues and 66,751 cars in total. The Rogue outsold the Nissan Altima midsized sedan model by nearly 2 to 1 that month. Nissan primarily builds its U.S.-market Rogues in Smyrna, Tennessee, but has also augmented this inventory with imports from Japan and South Korea.
Honda CR-V – Mostly Ohio
Most Honda CR-Vs sold in the U.S. are built in East Liberty, Ohio and Greensburg, Indiana. Some are also made in Alliston, Ontario, Canada. The most recent test CR-V we drove was built in Ohio with an engine and also a transmission made right here in the U.S. of A. By our reckoning, the CR-V may well be the country’s most American compact crossover.
Toyota RAV4 (Trim Dependant) – Canada and Japan
The Toyota RAV4 is made in North America, but not in the United States of America. Its primary manufacturing location is Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. Our most recent RAV4 Hybrid test vehicle was built in Obu, Aichi, Japan and the 2018 RAV4 Adventure we tested this winter was made in Ontario.
Subaru Forester – Ota Gunma, Japan
Subaru makes most of its U.S.-market vehicles in Lafayette, Indiana, but its popular Forester is still made in Ota Gunma, Japan. We double checked that with Subaru since the upcoming 2019 is an all-new design. Both the Forester your author owns and the latest Forester test vehicle we had back in 2016 came from Ota Gunma and the Monroney stickers say 85% of the content is also made in Japan.
Jeep Cherokee – Belvidere, Illinois,
The older generation Jeep Cherokee was made in Toledo, Ohio. Fun fact, every Jeep Wrangler is made in Toledo, and most of its parts are also made in Ohio. Now, the new generation Cherokee is made in Belvidere, Illinois.
Jaguar F-Pace & Land Rover Discovery Sport – Solihull, U.K. (England)
The Jaguar F-Pace and Land Rover Discovery Sport are two of our favorite vehicles. Both are made in Solihull, U.K. The two closest areas of note are Birmingham and Coventry. The engines for both are also made in the U.K. Our test Discovery Sport had a transmission made in the U.S. (a rare re-import) and the F-Pace had a transmission made in Germany. The Discovery Sport is a bit more British, with 66% of its content being from the U.K. and the Jaguar is 49% German and 45% U.K.-made.
Mitsubishi Outlander – Okazaki, Japan
The Mitsubishi Outlander is one of the most Japanese vehicles one can buy in America. It is made from 99% Japanese content and it’s also built in Japan. For fun, we tried calling the Arizona headquarters of Rockford Fosgate, the supplier of premium audio systems to Mitsubishi. We learned that the warehouse is in Memphis, Tennessee, but three employees into the call, none knew where the products they sell are made. Eric Russell’s voice mail was the end point in our search to find out if the ginormous subwoofer from Rockford Fosgate was that 1% of the Outlander not made in Japan.