Why Do Most Car Enthusiasts Prefer Japanese Cars Rather Than Anything Else?

Why are Japanese cars so popular with some of the most elite car buyers around, including the gearhead community who like to tinker with new vehicle designs?

There are several reasons why  Japanese cars are so popular with collectors and everyday drivers alike.

These are some of the reasons that people go for Japanese-made vehicles in the American market and elsewhere.

Legacy of Quality

Most people would tell you that the reason why they like Japanese vehicles is partially because of their quality of build and design.

Take Toyota – a company with a unique reputation among automakers.

Even people in other industries cite Toyota as an example of good organizational design, with proprietary internal processes that create a high quality standard.

You can read about how Toyota employees instituted a process called kanban that is now being used around the globe, or you can just look at how a Toyota or a Honda vehicle keeps a high value as it ages on the American auto market, and how mechanics use the best OBD scanner to diagnose any problems. 

Or you can look at the odometer to see how many miles one of these legacy vehicles has lasted on the road!

Japanese Cars and Government Standards

Part of the above quality of Japanese vehicles has to do with government standards of manufacturing and road use in Japan.

The Japanese government maintains a high standard for cars driven on Japanese roads.

At a certain point, a vehicle has to be retired if it doesn’t meet the standards.

That’s part of what contributes to the excellent quality and longevity of Toyota, Honda, Nissan, and other Japanese vehicles.

Weathering the Chip Shortage

There’s also the fact that many automakers are under pressure because of a shortage of microchips in the general market.

Experts note a variety of causes for this international shortage – from trade conflicts to the pandemic, to market demand cycles that are not what manufacturers were used to.

At the end of the day, there are some kinds of cars that are less impacted by the chip shortage, and some Japanese models show up on this list. Some late-model Nissans are an example of product lines that continue to thrive despite a lack of microprocessors.

Style and Sporty Design

japanese cars
Photo: Motortrend

In talking about why car enthusiasts like Japanese cars, though, you can’t ignore some of the other design pinnacles of Japanese engineering.

For example, Subaru’s cross-built engine is popular with car enthusiasts, as are some models of Mazda and Mitsubishi sedans that have their proprietary engineering and design built-in at the factory.

In other words, some of these makes and models qualify as modern sports cars, with enhanced horsepower and other neat features.

Longevity of Value

As mentioned above, another key to the popularity of Japanese vehicles is how long these cars, trucks, and SUVs last on the road.

We continually see high-mileage Toyotas, Hondas, and Nissans trade at good values, because they’re still in working condition with a lot of the original features that drivers paid for when these cars were new.

That, in turn, also contributes to a stellar reputation across the market.

Clear Instructions and Design

Some car enthusiasts also like Japanese cars because of the way the automakers have provided user-friendly and clear instructions.

Some older car models from other manufacturers had a lot of wonky design and build patterns that made it hard to get into the interior of the vehicle systems themselves.

That meant mechanics or DIY owners had to struggle to get the right tools to where they needed to be, to deal with bolts and fasteners, or anything else.

Along with having the best OBD scanner tool to understand engine codes, having access to neat and detailed instructions helps car owners or others to practice the maintenance and repair they need to do to help keep their vehicle in top condition for the road.

For example, having a clear delineation between elements like the catalytic converter and the manifold or heat shield is essential to being able to access your vehicle the right way.

Car experts will also see some commonalities in the vehicle manuals for Japanese models, where metric system tools, data on the best OBD scanner, and other formatting are consistent and clear.

That also adds to the appeal of some Japanese car models.


In some ways, you could say that some Japanese automakers also add glitz and glamour to their cars by promoting new engine technologies that are head and shoulders above the crowd.

Checking out the Mazda ‘zoom!’ design brochure, for instance, you can see how this particular company dedicated itself to innovating motion with late-model Mazda cars.

That kind of proprietary research and design also boosts the appeal of certain Japanese vehicles in the American car market.

Simply put, people appreciate quality and design. Having a top brand often means being able to show off a compelling design to others, whether that’s your mechanic, your insurance company representative, friends, neighbors, or anyone else.

The Japanese Export Market

As noted, Japanese vehicles have a certain half-life on Japanese roads. But the Japanese export market is strong.

Japan has some advantageous trade agreements with the United States that lead to a large number of Japanese vehicles on American streets. That economy of scale makes it easier to source parts for these vehicles or understand their upkeep as new generations of cars, trucks, and SUVs keep coming from Japanese automakers.

That’s part of why these cars are so popular today.