Do Japanese Cars Last Longer Than American (Or EU) Cars?

If you happen to be old enough, you’d remember that back in the day, Japanese cars used to be a laughing stock in the car manufacturing industry compared to American and European cars.

As with any industry, things change and the car manufacturing industry is no different when it comes to growing brands and offering more innovation in your products.

The giants in the car manufacturing industry still remain. Namely the American, European and Japanese car manufacturers.

We all know that:

European cars are known for luxury and driving performance, Japanese brands recognized for reliability and American brands offer more value for money. But these markets offer different cars, and with that, different quality in terms of reliability, efficiency, and functionality.

The question that pops up the most these days is:

Do Japanese Cars Last Longer Than American and EU Cars?

In a study by the Curtis Laws Wilson Library, Japanese cars are more reliable than their American and EU counterparts. The study showed that American cars start out slow in reliability but catch up to Japanese cars in their tenth year.

So what does this all mean?

It means that Japanese cars are slightly more reliable than American and European cars. American cars are slower to catch up, only slightly increasing in reliability in their tenth year.

Still, there are reasons European cars are better than Japanese ones.

Japanese cars are now a reliable staple in the car industry. This was not the case many years ago. The Japanese went through numerous changes throughout the years.

They were able to step up their quality control standards. This resulted in a major boost both for their economy. And in the competitive car manufacturing market, quality is crucial to sales.

But you might be asking:

How many years do they actually last and what about the miles?

In general, modern cars are made to last as long as 250,000 miles or more. This means if the car is properly maintained it can last as long as 15 years and 300 000 miles.

As reported by Consumer Reports, the average life expectancy of a car is about 8 years or 150 000 miles these days.

Modern car manufacturers are researching ways to make cars last longer among other things. Ultimately, regardless of where your car is made, if you take good care of it, it is likely to last.

This means sticking to the service schedule, making sure it’s clean, and keeping up with the wear and tear.

But what does this mean for American and Japanese cars? Let’s take a look at some examples of this from different manufacturers.

Meanwhile, also check out some reasons European cars are so popular in America.

Brands And Models That Last The Longest:

1) Toyota:

This Japanese manufacturing giant sits firmly as the most reliable and long-lasting among car brands.

Most reliable models:

  • Toyota Avalon
  • Toyota Sequoia
  • Toyota Camry
  • Toyota Sienna
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Toyota Prius

2) Honda:

Honda might not be as popular as Toyota but it sure stands it’s ground when it comes to reliability scores.

Most reliable models:

  • Honda Accord
  • Honda Odyssey
  • Honda Civic
  • Honda Ridgeline

3) Ford:

An American brand finally makes its way into this list with some of the longest-lasting models in the American car industry.

Most reliable models:

  • Ford Taurus
  • Ford Expedition
  • Ford F-150

4) Subaru:

Subaru makes this list with only one reliable model, the Subaru Legacy as the most reliable.

5) Chevrolet:

Another American brand that offers great reliability and efficiency in modern cars is Chevrolet. Although it comes in late in most reliability scores, the Chevrolet brand knocks out some long-lasting models.

Most reliable models:

  • Chevrolet Suburban
  • Chevrolet Tahoe
  • Chevrolet Silverado
  • Chevrolet Impala

Although this is an introductory list of the most reliable brands and models, we can see that Japanese brands Toyota and Honda top the list for the most reliable and long-lasting cars.

These are the most likely to keep running for over 200,000 miles. If the car is taken good care of and the service schedule is followed, these cars can last you for years.

But you might also be curious as to:

Which Japanese Car Is The Most Reliable?

The longest-lasting Japanese car is the Toyota Avalon in the sedans and the Toyota Sequoia in the SUV’s category. Both these family cars are known to last well over 200,000 miles.

American brands don’t fall too far behind with brands such as Ford and Chevrolet hitting the list as well.

There are obviously other long-lasting American brands. These also show up in car efficiency and reliability studies. They include models from GM, Ford, and Chrysler.

Here is the official list. This is from a study done on 13.8 million car sales.  Together with the percentage of the models that last longest.

Cars that last the longest and reach 200,000 miles.

  1. Toyota Sequoia, 7.4 percent
  2. Chevrolet Suburban, 5.0 percent
  3. Ford Expedition, 5.0 percent
  4. GMC Yukon XL, 4.0 percent
  5. Toyota 4Runner, 3.9 percent
  6. Chevrolet Tahoe, 3.8 percent
  7. Toyota Highlander Hybrid, 3.1 percent
  8. Honda Ridgeline, 3.0 percent
  9. GMC Yukon, 2.8 percent
  10. Toyota Tacoma, 2.6 percent
  11. Toyota Tundra, 2.6 percent
  12. Toyota Avalon, 2.5 percent
  13. Honda Odyssey, 2.5 percent
  14. Lincoln Navigator, 2.2 percent

From this list, we can clearly see that Toyota offers more reliable models than any other brands.

The American brands aren’t too far behind with Chevrolet and Ford taking up the number two and three positions.

Like we’ve mentioned before, the Japanese have really come a long way in making sure to put out quality models that are both fuel-efficient and very reliable.

One thing most drivers don’t know is that the Japanese car manufacturing industry rose to exceptional heights with the help of William Edward Demings, an American engineer and professor.

Not only did Demings’ methods upgrade quality standards in the Japanese automotive industry but they also helped the economy to recover.

Today, Toyota and other Asian-based car manufacturers are a household name in both America and Europe. these vehicles help families reach their destinations safely and efficiently.

Now, if Demings is an American, you can’t help but ask:

Are Japanese Cars Made In Japan?

According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, 3 out of every 4 Japanese cars are built in North America. Honda was the first Japanese manufacturer to open a plant in the U.S.

From a logistics standpoint, it now makes much more sense for Japanese manufacturers to move their production plants to North America.

Toyota is one of the few that have taken this approach and moved most of their production plants to North America. This is because the North American market is a huge market for Toyota cars. So it only makes business sense to manufacture your product where it’s in highest demand. And that so happens to be the North American market in this case.

Let’s take for example the biggest Japanese manufacturers, namely:


Most Toyotas are now currently made in North America. Toyotas that are still built in Japan include Land Cruiser, Yaris and the FJ Cruiser.


With the exception of the RX Crossover, all Lexuses are made in Japan. The RX crossover was manufactured in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.


Most Honda cars that are destined for the American market are produced in North America. A few exceptions which are solely built at the Honda plant in Takanezawa, Japan include the Honda Insight, FCX Clarity and the Civic Hybrid. The Honda CRV is also manufactured in Mexico.


Known as Datsun many years ago, this Japanese car manufacturer has been in North America for decades. The first Nissan was built in the 1980s in Smyrna, Tennessee.

Of all the many models assembled by this great giant in the car industry, only a few are made in Japan. They include the Nissan 370Z, the Nissan GT-R and the Nissan Armada.

How do I know if a car is made in Japan?

Just in case you’re looking to find out if the “made in Japan” model you got truly did get manufactured in Japan, there’s a way to find out.

A quick look at the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), will reveal this. If the number starts with the letter “J”, the car is most likely made in Japan.

Vehicles made in North America almost always start with numbers and not letters.

What about the European automakers?

Both BMW and Mercedes Benz cars are still built in Germany.

More than 80% of BMW and Mercedes Benz cars that were sold were built in Germany.

In Conclusion…

We can all agree on one thing: the longer you take better care of your car, the longer it will last you.

Japanese cars are known to be very reliable. But other automakers are catching up. They are improving their models to last longer and offer more safety and efficiency.

Times are changing, and with that, so is the car manufacturing industry.

Car reliability and performance myths are now being put to the test. This improves the consumer’s awareness about their purchase and helps brands stick to their promises when making cars.

If you’re in the market for a reliable car, instead of looking at where the car is from, it’s better to actually look into what makes a car last longer.

Even though our list covers the cars that are most likely to make it to 200,000 miles, that still means they were looked after very well.

If an owner doesn’t care for their car, even a Toyota won’t help them.

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