When looking for a good car to buy, it is important to do your background study on where it is produced, model, quality, year, mileage and reliability. Japanese cars transformed from being a cheap, laughable alternative to full-size American cars to the preferred daily drivers for millions of Americans. Since then, japanese car brands have become so popular, transporting us to and from work and school, down muddy country roads, on spirited Saturday drives, and on family road trips.
Japanese vs american cars quality
The Profit Margin
Adding to the bottom line is one of the main targets of all the companies. The thing is the debate has little to do with Japan vs America and more with the profit margin of the automakers. Japanese auto manufacturers like Toyota and Honda are highly profitable and the high returns help them to emphasize quality and produce world-class vehicles.
The managerial approach also makes a big quality difference. The management in Honda and Toyota values quality and efficiency above everything else. They don’t go for big changes in every redesign because they are comfortable with incremental sales improvements. A tried and true approach to engineering is what they rely on more than attempting some drastic modifications.
On the other hand, the US automakers focus on profits. New engineering approaches and dramatic improvements get emphasis in lieu of improving quality. It might be good for innovating something new but is bad for business. They have to start everything from scratch if the new model fails.
The Managerial Stability
Japanese automakers work with a stable management. The same workforce works years after years. Such stability means the engineers can focus on improving and perfecting the already existing systems instead of creating a new design every 5 or 6 years.
Managerial stability allows Japanese automakers thrive.
The frequent changes in the management do not let American automakers to focus on stability. After someone takes the charge, s/he becomes eager to bring sizable changes in every sector like product planning, redesign, sharing of resources, and other things. As a result, engineers also don’t get the chance to upgrade what they have already built. The management expects them to produce something magical, forcing them to sacrifice quality improvements.
It’s hard to remember now, but a generation ago, Japanese cars transformed from being a cheap, laughable alternative to full-size American cars to the preferred daily drivers for millions of Americans. Since then (say, the early 1980s), Japanese cars have been staples of everyday life, transporting us to and from work and school, down muddy country roads, on spirited Saturday drives, and on family road trips.
Chances are your mom or dad was the first member of your family to make the leap from American to Japanese cars. But to younger buyers, the influence of films like the Fast & Furious franchise and the rise of tuner culture in the early 2000s helped ensure their popularity. Those early movies would be a lot different if they weren’t loaded with neon Civics, turbocharged Supras, and wild RX-7s racing through the streets. And with millions of teenage gearheads taking it all in, it created a new wave of enthusiasts.
Most have outgrown that modded Civic they had in high school, but surprise! Today’s Camry, CR-V, or Rogue are the perfect cars to navigate adulthood. So after an explosive few decades, Japanese cars are generally thought of as the gold standard for affordability, reliability, and value. So how did they do it? The answer is complex, but luckily we’ve been able to boil it down to 10 simple reasons.
1. Practicality and efficiency rule
Japanese automakers have built some real beauties over the years, but for the most part, they have prized function where others got lost in form. Back in the ’70s and ’80s, they pioneered compact, front-wheel drive cars that were roomier, better on gas, more reliable, and generally cheaper than their American counterparts. In the ’90s, brands like Subaru and Toyota even pioneered affordable all-wheel drive systems, offering them in everything from hatchbacks to minivans.
This quest for innovation continues to interiors too. Look how Honda designs its center console storage spaces, how Nissan reconfigured the rear cab space of the Titan, or how Toyota folds its seats in the Sienna. These automakers that spent their early years making the most out of the limited space in commuter cars still follow the mantra of maximum interior space and minimal mechanical drama.
2. Hybrid ingenuity meets futuristic functionality
Pop quiz: Who offered the first two hybrids in the U.S. market in the late 1990s? If you said Honda and Toyota, you’d be correct. Today, most automakers offer hybrids or EVs, but in reality, most are still taking their cues from Japan. The Toyota Prius is a juggernaut in the green car segment, the Nissan Leaf is the most popular EV this side of a Tesla, and both Honda and Toyota are exploring hydrogen power. While Detroit is famously resistant to change, Japanese automakers have always embraced it. Don’t expect that to change anytime soon.
3. Plenty of fun family minivan and SUV options
The word “fun” doesn’t usually come to mind when you think of minivans or SUVs. But Japanese automakers are trying to change that, and for the past few years it seems like they’re getting better with each generation.
Vans, such as the Toyota Sienna, Nissan Quest, and Honda Odyssey continue to offer outstanding innovation and versatility, but they actually look good doing it. Each offers sportier and tech-filled versions too, drawing interest like never before. In the SUV game, the Mazda CX-9 is loaded with amenities that could shame models at twice its price, and is downright gorgeous. Believe it or not, it likes to be driven in anger too. Connected, capable, and affordable, larger family cars are a major reason why Japanese automakers have seen so much continued success in the States.
4. American born and built
We know, the idea of an American Japanese car sounds like an oxymoron, but they’re more common than you may think. In order to ingrain themselves in American culture, Japanese automakers found it prudent to start manufacturing cars on American soil, with Honda leading the charge and opening its first U.S. plant back in 1982. Nothing says commitment like investing heavily in a country’s infrastructure and creating thousands of jobs.
Today, with plants across America and billions invested in keeping them up to date, Japanese automakers are cutting shipping costs and winning over buyers who make “Made in America” a priority. Every year, Cars.com looks at U.S.-built cars and evaluates whether the parts put on these vehicles are American-made. Of all automakers, Japanese firms held the top five spots in 2016, with the Toyota Camry being No. 1, followed by the Honda Accord, Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and Honda Pilot.
5. Pickup trucks that rock
For most truck buyers, the cardinal rule has long been “Buy American.” But in the 1970s, Japanese companies introduced a number of popular small trucks that managed to change some minds. Many Americans realized they didn’t need four-wheel drive, massive payload capacities, or a bed with the square footage of a football field. Trucks, such as the Datsun 620 and the pint-sized Toyota Truck (yes, that was the official model name), showed that utility didn’t always translate to size.
Flash forward to today, and full-size trucks — full-size American trucks — rule the roost again. But that could change eventually. The Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro tackles terrain with the best on the market. Big boys, such as the Nissan Titan PRO-4X, come equipped with turbo-diesel engines and cabs that have all the features a work crew requires. Honda continues to take its own approach to truck engineering by giving the redesigned Ridgeline car-like suspension, extra clever storage ideas, and traction modes for almost any environment.