There are several reasons why Japanese cars are so popular. If you buy a used car, you can expect reliability. You always get good performance with Japanese cars, and the interior features are usually a lot more advanced than American vehicles. Spare parts are generally plentiful, and Japanese car brands often sell environmentally friendly fuel-efficient cars with low carbon emissions. Let’s look at Japanese car brands ranked from worst to best.
Japanese cars continue to dominate Consumer Reports’ latest survey. The independent, no-profit organization annual car report for 2021 ranked 32 car brands, including nine Japanese carmakers. Three of those were within the top five, and five of the top ten cars makers were Japanese brands. Mitsubishi didn’t rate well with consumers. They were the lowest-ranked Japanese manufacturer at number 30. Their lack of reliability meant consumers rated them so low.
Honda’s luxury brand was the next worst. They were 23rd on the list but let’s put this position into context. In 2021, they sold 157,408 vehicles. In the same period, parent company Honda sold 1.3 million vehicles. You don’t need too many disgruntled customers to produce a low rank when you only sell 157,408 cars. According to reports, Acuras have above average ownership costs, but they don’t have a lot of reliability issues. Perhaps Acura owners expect a little more and are more vocal when disappointed than Honda drivers.
Nissan was 13th on the list. They offer a wide range of vehicles that go toe to toe with cars produced by the two biggest Japanese brands – Toyota and Honda – but their drivers report reliability issues. Nissan’s margins are very low compared to their rivals, and consumers also report that since Renault took over in 2001, build quality has gradually decreased.
Nissan’s luxury car brand sits one place ahead of them in 12th. They have a similar problem to Acura, but they sell fewer cars. Just 58,555 units were sold in 2021. No wonder you get enquires like “Is Infiniti pulling out of USA?” when you google the brand name.
The seventh-best brand on Consumer Reports’ list is Toyota. We weren’t expecting them to rank behind four other Japanese carmakers considering the impact they’ve had on the market. The vehicle’s resale values are high because they make reliable cars. Last year, they sold 2 million vehicles for a 13.49 percent market share.
As with Nissan’s luxury arm, Toyota’s is one place ahead on the rankings. Lexus sold 332,000 units in 2021. That’s an impressive number given Acura and Infiniti’s yearly sales. Their cars are reliable and hold their value well, which generates sales.
Honda’s 2021 sales of 1.3 million vehicles doesn’t put them anywhere near Toyota, but they’re ahead in the rankings thanks to brand loyalty. The latest JD Power report rates them third for customer loyalty. Year on year, an average of 57 percent of their customers buy another Honda.
With Toyota and Nissan and Honda already ranked, who’s left? Subaru is a surprise in third place. In 2021, they sold 583,810 cars. Their top seller was the Forester SUV. That model accounted for 26 percent of their sales in the US. A lot of their success is down to repeat customers. They were rated number one on the JD Power rankings with 61.5 percent loyalty, and their cars achieved a 7 out of 10 for quality.
The best Japanese brand is Mazda. They’re not even rated on the JD Power survey, but perhaps that’s because they only sold 328,237 units in 2021. According to Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports’ senior director of automotive testing, Mazda’s name at the top shows, “…you don’t have to spend a whole lot of money to get a desirable vehicle that’s reliable and has all of the technology and safety that you want.”
If you want safety and reliability, buy a Toyota. If you want those things but also want a little more fun behind the wheel, get a Mazda. For the most practical and reliable vehicles, buy a Subaru as they offer all-wheel drive on all models.
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