As an American, living in America, writing about cars that we get here in America – mostly from American brands – it’s easy to have a very Amerocentric view of the auto industry. While there are a massive number of great vehicles made here, or shipped here, every single year, there are also plenty of awesome cars that we, sadly, miss out on. Plenty of vehicles are kept in European or Asian markets simply because it’s easier to do so or because they would have so much competition here in the US that exporting them isn’t worth the trouble.
However, many of these models never make it here just because the manufacturer doesn’t want to go through the effort, or they prefer to focus on other markets. Whatever the reason, the end result is that we miss out on some great vehicles that other parts of the world get to enjoy. Worst of all, US laws require that a vehicle has to be at least 25 years old before it can be legally imported into the country without complying with Department of Transportation safety standards. So if the manufacturer doesn’t make a car to be sold here, then it has to be at least 25 years old before you can legally bring it into the US.
So, with that in mind, here are some models I’d love to see manufacturers officially release here in the US (so we don’t have to wait 25 years for them!).
#1 – The Ford Focus RS
This is a little bit of a weird pick for a couple of reasons; for starters, you’re probably thinking, “Hey, the Ford Focus RS was sold here!” You’d be correct, of course, but when the most recent generation for this sporty hatchback kicked off for 2019, Ford discontinued it here in the US. So the current Focus models are only available in other parts of the world, like Europe.
The real kicker here, however, is that the latest emissions standards in the EU have resulted in the cancellation of the high-performance RS model. So we lost the Ford Focus, and then the market it’s available in has made the RS a nonstarter. It seems to me like this is the perfect time to raise the Ford Focus RS from the dead here in the US, where it will be appreciated. While the average American driver may not love hatchbacks, there is plenty of room in the market for a 400 horsepower hot hatch.
#2 – The Ford Puma ST
Speaking of Ford models that I’d like to see, how about the Ford Puma ST while we’re at it? The Puma is a compact crossover model that sits between the EcoSport and the Escape, but is only sold in Europe. It’s been quite popular there since its introduction in 2019 and should probably make its way to America to replace the rather underwhelming EcoSport. However, we’re not here to talk about the standard Puma.
The Puma ST trim is an impressive version created by the Ford Performance team, with a 1.5L EcoBoost engine that can launch the car from 0 to 60 in less than 7 seconds. It’s quick, sporty, with precise braking, and an overall design that would just be incredibly fun to get to drive here in the US. Plus, it’s a crossover, and we know American drivers can’t get enough of that bodystyle right now.
#3 – The Chevy Montana
Ford’s not the only US brand making fun-looking vehicles that they don’t release here in America – Chevy (and GM in general) are also guilty of such exclusionary practices. One example that is getting a lot of attention right now is the Chevy Montana, which is their compact pickup truck sold in South America and other markets. This isn’t some brand-new offering either; the Montana is about to kick off its third generation, so this has been around for a while (2003 to be precise).
Although compact trucks have been largely ignored here in the US, there’s a rising interest in this class of vehicle. Two brand-new offerings are getting a lot of headlines: the 2022 Hyundai Santa Cruz and the 2022 Ford Maverick, both of which are shaping up to be quite popular even here in the US. I’d imagine GM is watching closely, and if those compact models do start selling well, we could definitely see the Chevy Montana make its way here to the states.
#4 – The Honda e
The first of several vehicles from Japanese manufacturers that haven’t been released in America, the Honda e is an absolutely adorable electric car. It’s been offered in Japan and Europe since last year, though it was first shown off back in 2017. It’s a sporty, handsome-looking hatchback that would absolutely stand out while still looking right at home here in the US. In fact, its design is a perfect blend of futuristic and retro.
The Honda e has a rear motor and a battery with a relatively low range – only about 100 miles – but it’s designed as a cost-efficient offering, so anyone who wants one can own an EV. And while Honda may have thought that the American market wasn’t interested in a short-range two-door EV, the recent launch of the Mazda MX-30 may just change their mind.
#5 – The Subaru Levorg
Who doesn’t love a good station wagon? Well, apparently, the answer is American drivers, or Subaru would probably release its impressive Levorg here and not just in Japan and Europe. First released in 2014, the second generation of this gorgeous wagon was just launched last year in Japan, but much like the first-generation models, they won’t be offered stateside. It’s a shame, too, because the impressive little turbocharged engine and overall sleek design would look great on our roads – plus, we can always use more options for a nice, new family wagon.
#6 – The Toyota Century
Rounding out these offerings from Japan, the Toyota Century is considered by many to be Japan’s finest luxury vehicle – some have said it can rival a Rolls Royce for sophistication and style. The Century is the luxurious flagship vehicle for Toyota, but only in Japan. Globally, that spot is taken by the Lexus LS, which is nowhere near as nice. The Century is typically enjoyed by Japanese CEOs and other major figures in the country. In fact, a highly modified Century is the official transportation for the Emperor of Japan. It’s a gorgeous vehicle that’s been around for more than 50 years, but don’t expect it to be sold here in the US any time soon.
#7 – The Holden Ute
On the other hand, there’s this thing – an Australian utility coupe (“ute” is a term used in Australia as slang for utility vehicles). This unique machine is essentially a two-door coupe with a small truck bed behind it, giving it a style and functionality that you just don’t see on American vehicles these days. Production of it ended in 2017, unfortunately, so we’re certainly not about to get it here in the US any time soon. However, Holden is a subsidiary of GM, and there were plans to bring the Ute here back in the 2000s. Maybe it will make a return, and maybe it’ll make its way here to our shores? If not, then we’ll only need to wait a few more years to start bringing the early 2000 models over!