Let's explore what defines the American car

In today's age of weight-consciousness in America, the American car far exceeds the others in sheer comfort. I know we all like quality as well, but you just can't beat American cars for comfort. As an American, I can honestly say that despite all of our problems and misperceptions, we still can make a great product. In case no one has noticed, despite all the negatives we hear about everything, we still set the benchmark when it comes to most things in the world.

No one — and I mean no one — makes a more comfortable seat in a car. No one caters to the driver in the cockpit like we do. Foreign manufacturers may beat us on price a little, but when it comes to luxury, we win hands down.

Why I drive foreign cars

John Smith IIIAlexandria, Va. Vehicles: Mini Cooper and Nissan Maxima

My wife and I prefer foreign cars.

First, fuel efficiency is important to us as a young family, both as an economic preference, and because we prefer to consume as responsibly as possible. In this respect, American cars have really let us down.

It's not as if we set out not to buy American. But Toyota and Honda have long outstripped the Big 3, producing cars with responsible EPA gas mileage estimates (while) American automakers were touting the Hummer.

While gas prices are down, our view may seem crazy, and "buy American" is a great catch phrase. We don't think so. Instead, we prefer to think that we should "buy American" only when the American-made product is the best available. And I don't think that anyone can say that American cars are the best in fuel efficiency.

Second, we can't even say that American cars are the best made, notwithstanding their gas-guzzling. Since I've been able to drive or own a vehicle, from my first car, a Nissan 200SX, to my favorite car of all time, the Honda Accord, and my last vehicle, an Infinity QX4 SUV, I've always preferred foreign-made vehicles because of the design.

We'd love to buy American, and we see why big automakers need to be bailed out by Congress. But until the Big 3 shift their thinking from heavy-duty trucks and SUVs, to more fuel-efficient and comfortable vehicles, and consider how they can meet the needs of consumer budgets and preferences responsibly, we will continue to purchase and drive foreign-made vehicles.

Jed and Jonee Woodard Spanish Fork, Utah Vehicles: Honda Ridgeline and PT Cruiser

We had only purchased "Big 3"-made cars until our Ford Explorer left us stranded on a major Los Angeles Freeway — on vacation — with a seized transmission with only 80,000 miles on the vehicle.

Once my husband identified that this was a "known" problem on the Explorer, this was the last straw. We now purchase almost exclusively based on Consumer Reports reliability ratings. So when Honda came out with its first full-size king-cab pickup, we purchased one. With 80,000 miles on our Ridgeline, we have had zero extra maintenance costs.

In tough economic times, my husband and I can no longer purchase based on national pride. We have to have the most reliable, best gas mileage, highest resale option in the class, or we are throwing away money.

Sally Johnson Carmel, Ind. Vehicle: Toyota Avalon

My husband and I chose Toyota because the car is high-quality and has the design, look and feel that we like.

We test drove several U.S. brands, but their interiors seem to be made with a lot of cheap plastic, unlike the Avalon. My car has 155,000 miles on it and I plan on keeping it until it croaks.

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