Why are Japanese cars so reliable?

If you ask a mechanic, or even someone who likes and understands at least a little about cars, which is more reliable, the answer will almost always be connected to some model of Japanese products. After all, as they say out there, “Japanese cars are indestructible”. But how did this story begin?

The reliability reputation of Japanese cars from brands like Nissan, Honda, Mitsubishi and Toyota is tied to five main pillars, all of which are very important to anyone looking for a new car (and not necessarily a new car).

  • Lasting
  • Low maintenance cost
  • Quality after sales
  • Slight depreciation
  • Low fuel consumption
Japanese cars are usually trouble-free, and when you go to a mechanic, maintenance is easy (Photo: cksspotphoto/Envato/CC)

Other car manufacturers of Japanese origin, such as Mazda, Lexus and Subaru are well regarded by consumers in terms of durability and fuel consumption, but are slightly behind in other points.

Unlike Nissan, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Honda, these brands do not have the same approval from customers when it comes to maintenance or ease of sale.

This happens because they don’t have as extensive a technical support network as others, which ends up making possible repairs more difficult and expensive and, in the future, hindering resale.

Mitsubishi cars are also considered very reliable (Photo: Disclosure / Mitsubishi)

Where does the popularity of the Japanese car come from?

The reliability of the Japanese car comes from a long time ago, since the mid-1960s, when Japan surpassed even Germany to take the third place in the world ranking of car manufacturers.

The level of reliability of the Japanese car gained more impact with the growth of exports from Asia to other countries, especially to the United States, where to this day, Toyota is fighting head-to-head with General Motors for market leadership.

The popularity of being the most reliable car began to be recognized in the four corners of the planet and, over time – with the praise of consumers and mechanics – has not stopped growing.

The reputation of the Japanese as a reliable car started in the 1960s (Image: Paulo Amaral/Canaltech)

Technology is another step up for the Japanese car

Despite not being part of the list of reasons why the Japanese car is considered the most reliable in the market, technology is undoubtedly another step that brings the concept of models made in the Asian country.

Japan, like China, has built a reputation for setting trends when it comes to technology, and this is no exception to the rule when it comes to cars launched there. Many innovations serve as inspiration for car manufacturers in other countries, from the basic to the highly regarded.

A technology born in Japan wants to continue to dictate the world’s trends in the era of decarbonization. In this sense, the country prepared, in 2020, a strategic plan to remove all vehicles that use fuel energy from the streets to achieve carbon neutrality in the fleet.

Technology in Japanese cars also tends to dictate trends in the segment (Image: Disclosure/Toyota)

The measures include, first, in selling only electric or hybrid cars in the country from 2030 and, secondly, managing to make 100% of the fleet operating in Japan “environmentally friendly”.

7 most reliable Japanese cars

7. Suzuki Swift Sport

The Suzuki Swift Sport is considered one of the most popular hatchbacks in the world and has collected awards over the past decade mainly for its reliability.

The Suzuki Swift Sport received the Wheels Car of The Year trophy and was awarded 5 stars by Canstar Blue Small Car Reviews and Ratings in 2018.

The Suzuki Swift Sport has already achieved 5 stars from Canstar Blue Small Car Reviews and Ratings (Image: Solution/Suzuki)

6. Mazda MX-5 Miata

One Mazda car that is very reliable is the MX-5 Miata. Introduced to the world at the Chicago Auto Show in 1989, it is the cheapest convertible compared to other rivals in the segment and was named one of the most durable cars on the market by iSee Cars Consulting in 2023.

Mazda has a representative on the list of the most reliable Japanese cars (Photo: Negawa Ohashi/Wikimedia Commons/CC)

5. Nissan Maxima

The iSee Cars study ranked Nissan’s sedan among the most reliable Japanese cars in the world: the Maxima. It was sold in Brazil between 1991 and 2002 and is synonymous with durability and safety in Asia and the United States.

The large sedan born in Japan in 1981, however, will leave the automaker’s production line in 2023, mainly due to the increasing popular preference for pickup trucks or SUVs. Maxima has had a total of 8 generations in more than 40 years of her life.

The Nissan Maxima had a short life in Brazil, but is highly regarded abroad (Image: Disclosure/Nissan)

4. Honda Civic

The next Japanese car on our list is equal not only in reliability, but in desirability, tradition and durability. This is a Honda Civic, which was recently tested by canaltech in its latest version, hybrid.

The Civic has a history that began in Japan in 1973, but took the United States by storm when it arrived there at the Detroit Motor Show in 1978. After all, it was more efficient and economical than the domestic models. Throughout its history, it is still considered a very reliable Japanese car.

3. Lexus LS400

The last three cars in our list of models made in Japan that are considered quite reliable are part of the same “family”, but not the same brand, so to speak.

The first of these is the Lexus LS400. According to KBB Car Research, the model is an example of a reliable Japanese car, as it maintains its 5-star rating. The lowest rating in the history of the model was 4.4, but not because of uncertainty, but because it wronged some opponents.

Lexus LS400 average 5 stars for reliability regardless of generation (Photo: Photo Detective/Wikimedia Commons/CC)

2. Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris, which is a kind of “cousin” of Lexus cars (both car manufacturers belong to the Toyota conglomerate), is also an undoubtedly reliable Japanese car.

European Car of the Year 2021, the hatch was also inaugurated during the period as the most dedicated car in the UK. Safety features were considered high marks for the model.

The Toyota Yaris also garnered awards for its reliability (Photo: Disclosure / Toyota)

1. Toyota Corolla

The “man’s” proof that a Japanese car is reliable goes to the “first name and last name”: Toyota Corolla. The Japanese model, first introduced to the market in 1966, has sold more than 50 million units in almost six decades of life (of course, adding all generations of the car).

The model, today, is characterized by durability, resale value and economy, points that place it in the main position in the list of the most reliable Japanese cars on the market.

No matter the year, model or version: the Toyota Corolla is the same reliable car (Photo: Disclosure / Toyota)

So: do you also think that Japanese cars are very reliable? Do you think we missed a special model on our list? Feel free to contact us on social media and leave your comments.