Even though it feels like the waters are muddied when picking vehicles, there are still some distinct differences between American and Japanese cars.
The old days of the Japanese cars being imported on ships to America are over. Almost all automakers have assembly plants in the markets they serve, making it much easier to offer these cars to customers. While most modern vehicles have similarities that make it hard to distinguish between domestic and foreign brands, there are still some qualities you’ll consider when you’re ready to pick out your next vehicle.
How Much Does Each Vehicle Type Cost?
Vehicle costs aren’t only associated with the sticker price that you pay. You’ll need to think about the cost of maintenance and upkeep with the car you want to drive. In today’s market, most American automakers don’t make passenger cars, which means you’ve got to compare SUVs and trucks if you want to have a true marker of comparison.
Typically, the price of a vehicle between American and Japanese cars will be extremely similar. When it comes to repairs and maintenance of that vehicle, it’s much easier to find a repair shop equipped to fix your Ford, GM, or Stellantis product before you find one that understands how to fix a Toyota, Honda, or Nissan. This could be a deciding factor in favor of American vehicles.
What Country Offers the Most Stylish Cars?
If you love the look of your vehicle, you’ll enjoy driving it much more than if it were a boring vehicle. Many of the Japanese vehicles bring some level of style but also have so many similarities to each other it’s hard to discern the differences. If you’re tired of looking at the Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4, or Subaru Forester models on the road, the American names offer some impressive differences.
You’ll find more attractive styling in the Chevy Blazer, Ford Escape, and Jeep Wrangler than what you find in vehicles from the Japanese automakers. Of course, The Mazda CX-5 is a bit of an outlier in this comparison, with most of the Mazda vehicles offering style and design that is still unmatched by other brands.
Japanese Cars Have Been Winning the Fuel Mileage War for Decades
If fuel mileage is an important factor in your car-buying decision, you’ll want to stick with the Japanese cars over the American models. Some American vehicles offer decent fuel mileage, but Toyota has a leg up with hybrids, and Honda delivers good efficiency across the board.
Of course, we do see some efficient and impressive electric vehicles from American automakers. Japanese brands haven’t caught up in the EV market with the Chevy Bolt, Tesla Model 3, or Ford Mustang Mach-E. We should see some EVs wearing Japanese names soon, but that doesn’t mean they will sit ahead of the American automakers, especially Tesla. Fuel efficiency comes in two forms, and each favors a different geographic area.
Will You Find Better Quality with American Cars?
When you think of the most reliable brands in the market, American names aren’t usually on that list. American cars don’t often last as long and Japanese models. Toyota and Honda have been two of the top names in the market for quality and longevity. Most Japanese vehicles last longer and don’t require as many costly repairs as their American counterparts. That said, any vehicle that’s properly cared for can last a long time.
Quality is a bit of a subjective factor. Do you want a high-powered machine that’s capable of rocketing to the end of a quarter-mile track? That means you’re after one of the American muscle cars. American brands also offer some of the best off-road vehicles from names like Jeep, Chevrolet, GMC, and Ford.
What Does Performance Mean to You?
The performance factor is another subjective topic. If you’re looking for a vehicle that’s great on the roads every day while delivering decent power and fuel mileage, you’ll likely look at one or more of the Japanese vehicles in the market. That said, the passenger cars from American names have gotten much better in this arena over the years.
Of course, if the performance you desire is either off-road prowess, amazing horsepower, true quickness, and dynamic driving, the American names have had these cars for many years. Of course, some Japanese models have returned to the market to offer greater overall performance, especially since the new Toyota Supra returned. Other performance cars from these brands include the Toyota GR86, Subaru BRZ, Mazda MX-5 Miata, and Acura NSX.
Which Models Stand the Test of Time?
Technically, the vehicles that have stood the test of time the most have come from American manufacturers, but Japanese automakers tend to work with existing designs for much longer. Rather than changing to new models quickly, many Japanese vehicles take longer to reach the market than new American cars. This is likely why there are far fewer bad cars from Japanese automakers than what we find from American companies.
That said, the Jeep Wrangler is an SUV we’ve seen since World War II. Similarly, the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, Chevy Corvette, Dodge Charger, Dodge Challenger, and Chevy Suburban have all been around for a long time. Considering the Ford F-150 has been the most popular half-ton truck for more than 40 years, changing designs has worked well for American automakers.
Which Vehicles Have Developed Safety Features Better?
In the modern market, nearly all automakers have created some catchy name for their advanced safety package, but this started with Japanese brands. Prior to the modern market, you could find more Japanese cars with better safety items than American models, but that comparison has leveled off.
If you’re looking for the most advanced safety with hands-free driving capabilities, the American brands now have a leg up. This could be because Japanese brands are still working on the technology, but we already have Tesla’s Autopilot, GM’s Super Cruise, and Ford’s BlueCruise.
As we mentioned, the waters are muddied between the American and Japanese cars, making it hard for you to figure out which products you should buy. Thankfully, you can pick the brand and the vehicle without the worry of where the automaker has its headquarters.
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