Student Cars: Foreign vs. Domestic


Joe Luciano

American Ford (left) and German Mercedes (right)

Some students and their families may live by their German automobiles, while others love their all American cars for affordability and reliability; but which is the better value?

German cars have been known for years to be great driving cars in smoothness and luxury, American cars have been known for muscle, affordability and ease of repairs. Now that both have come a long way in quality and affordability, the decision has gotten a lot tougher than a simple trade off.

Tirth Patel, a junior at Triton, says, “The differences in domestic and foreign cars depends on the brand I would say, but most foreign cars from European countries often feel more reliable when using.” When it comes to efficiency, Patel stated that both foreign and domestic options have a wide variety of cars from highly inefficient to very efficient like electric options.

Generally speaking, foreign cars have a wider selection of luxury options, i.e. BMW, Mercedes, Audi etc. With these options, not only are they more expensive to begin with, most of them require premium gasoline which would be an added expense that adds up over time. Just about all American cars run on regular grade gasoline, so as long as it runs on gas and isn’t electric, American cars will be cheaper to fuel.

Besides from gas prices, repair costs are a thing to think about. Repairs will just about always be cheaper for domestic cars because the parts are easily sourced. This is something to especially consider if one is buying used. There might be a used BMW at a reasonable price but if it needs any repairs, expect to pay a premium compared to other cars.

For several years, the most notable difference between foreign and domestic cars has been the standard options and luxury feel with European cars dominating. “Now, however many domestic cars are also incorporating amazing luxury features, including sensors, enormous screens, and even heated leather seats,” says Patel. Domestic brands such as Lincoln and Cadillac have come out with luxury cars to rival the European luxuries.

Aside from costs and features is driving feel. Foreign cars have been winning that category for many many years. Generally speaking, European cars are smoother and more comfortable in terms of quality and transmission and the American cars are clunkier.

Reliability has always been a concern when buying a new car, especially for new drivers. It has always been rumored that American cars are less reliable than the Japanese make like Toyota or Honda, but according to Autotrader, “The result is that many American vehicles are now just as reliable as their foreign counterparts — and in many cases, they’re even more reliable.”

While U.S. car makes have been looked at as less reliable and fuel efficient then their foreign counterparts, American car companies have stepped up their game and with the addition of companies like Tesla, the American Auto market is moving in a new direction.