Cash for Clunker’s Results: U.S. cars traded for Asian cars

Consumer Reports just published the most popular Cash for Clunkers cars during the program. In the article they listed the top 10 Clunkers trade-ins:

Top 10 cash for clunkers trade ins

  1. Ford Explorer 4WD
  2. Ford F150 Pickup 2WD
  3. Jeep Grand Cherokee 4WD
  4. Jeep Cherokee 4WD
  5. Ford Explorer 2WD
  6. Dodge Caravan/Grand Caravan
  7. Chevrolet Blazer 4WD
  8. Ford F-150 Pickup 4WD
  9. Chevrolet C1500 Pickup 2WD
  10. Ford Windstar

…and also the top 10 purchases resulting from the trade-ins:

Top 10 cash for clunkers purchases

  1. Toyota Corolla
  2. Honda Civic
  3. Ford Focus
  4. Toyota Camry
  5. Hyundai Elantra
  6. Toyota Prius
  7. Nissan Versa
  8. Ford Escape FWD
  9. Honda Fit
  10. Honda CR-V AWD

The Data

If you take a look at both the lists you notice that each of the top 10 cars traded in are American car companies, while 8 out of 10 of the new purchases were from Asian car manufacturers. While it is nice to see that Ford has 2 cars in the Top 10, it still makes you wonder if the Cash for Clunkers program was as effective as the government hoped.

Could Ford be leading the charge to make quality American cars again? Will American cars ever be as reliable as their Asian counterparts?

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  1. jen

    Just because the cars were foreign brands does not mean they weren’t manufactured in the US by American employees. Nissan has plants in Mississippi and Tennessee. Toyota has one in Kentucky. So it’s not quite fair to say the program was less effective because foreign brands benefitted from the trade program. Although it does illuminate a big reason why American automakers were in trouble: inferior products.

    • bob

      Jen, that is a good point and to add to it – all of those Asian cars were sold by salespeople who are part of the American workforce as well.

  2. Don

    First of all, Ford vehicles are the most reliable in the industry now. They have been tied with Toyota for the past 3 years, but this year they took the lead in quality. Ford also has more 5 star crash ratings than any other brand.

    Finally, I wish sites would stop printing the government Cash for Clunkers report, it is complete garbage. The government breaks down sales by engine type and model type. So when you look at the government report the Ford F150 is not in the 10 ten in sale because trucks usually have many powertrains and models. If you look at total cars sales by model, the Ford F150 is number #7, the Ford Escape is #1, the Ford Focus is #2 and the Ford Fusion is around #14. The Chevy Cobalt is also in the top 10.

  3. austin


    Thanks for your comment. I grow tired of the missconception that american car companies don’t put out a quality product. I grew up in a ford family and have owned at least 10 fords in my life (I’m 32). Today I drive a 71 F100 and my wife drives a 02 explorer. The explorer has 150k miles on it and the only things that had to be replaced besides fluids were one window regulator, four wheel bearings (these should be considered normal wear items), and two sensors. It is a great car!

  4. bob

    I hope you are right about Ford – they really seem to be making a strong comeback. I do put a lot of stock in what consumer reports says since they have little reason to be biased. In terms of reliability, I haven’t seen Ford ruling their lists yet, but hopefully the data will show it to be true soon!

  5. American Tax Payer

    How did this make sense? American Tax Payers OWN the majority of two American Car Manufacturers (GM/Chrysler) However the Cash for Clunkers program was launched when both (GM/Chrysler) just exited Bankruptcy with limited vehicle Inventory. As a business owner (US govern’t) why would I provide a program to help my competitors?

  6. Rudy

    Ford has always been the darling export of America. Europeans and Australians love their Fords.

    The other two, Chrysler and GM ought to file for bankruptcy (or be sold) for lacking in quality and value.

  7. Don Sr.

    Honda was the number one vehicle to top the list in cash for clunkers
    Toyota came in second.
    And these two companies are manufacturing vehicles right here in America.
    Buy quality. Buy Honda or Toyota.You won’t regret it.

  8. Bret

    It’s not so easy to quantify which cars are foreign these days.

    I have mostly driven American cars for patriotic reasons and because they are easy for me to maintain. However, when I bought my F150, I looked at the door jam and discovered it was made in Canada. I like Canada and Canadians, but I thought I was purchasing a product which was made in the USA. The truck has been great, so maybe I should just accept that “Quality is Job 1” up in Canada.