From sushi to onsen hot springs and pastel-pink cherry blossoms, Japan is famous for all kinds of reasons. When it comes to automobiles, the country is a frontrunner. So, what are Japanese car brands known for and what makes them so well regarded around the world? Read on as we take a closer look at some of the most popular Japanese auto manufacturers and what they offer to motorists.

What are Japanese car brands known for?

Before we spotlight some of the most popular makes and models, let’s take a moment to unpack what are Japanese car brands known for.

Affordability

Japanese auto factories are highly efficient. This keeps prices down and makes Japanese models amazingly affordable, compared to many other brands.

Reliability

Japanese manufacturers continually dominate when it comes to reliability. High manufacturing standards and advanced quality control techniques help ensure every car that leaves the factory is built to last.

Technology

What are Japanese car brands celebrated for? Technology is one of the biggest draws. From powerful all-electric engines to next-generation driver assist features and infotainment systems, Japanese car brands are leading lights when it comes to technology.

Easy to maintain

Most Japanese cars are mass produced using readily available and easily replicated materials. This is good news for drivers as it makes it a cinch to find parts. Repair and replacement costs are low, which makes maintaining Japanese vehicles simple.

The most popular Japanese car brands

Now you know more about what Japanese car brands are known for, let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular makes and models.

Toyota

Based in the Aichi Prefecture on Honshu Island, Toyota is one of the most popular car manufacturers in the world. The Japanese auto giant sold almost 10.5 million vehicles around the world in 2022. This made it the world’s top-selling car manufacturer, topping German rival Volkswagen. The company ticks all the boxes when it comes to our list of what Japanese car brands are known for. Models are affordable, reliable and family friendly.

Model popularity varies between countries. For example, in North America, best-sellers include the Toyota Tacoma pickup truck, Toyota Highlander midsize SUV and the wildly popular Toyota Camry sedan. Drivers also love the RAV4, a capable and compact SUV that’s been winning over motorists since the 1990s.

British drivers love the Toyota Yaris, which is perfect for zipping around cities. The hatchback combines top-notch safety standards with smart technology, lots of style and a surprising amount of space. Hybrid technology also has a big role to play when it comes to the popularity of Japanese car brands. Hybrid models like the Yaris have been a huge hit with drivers who want to embrace electric but aren’t ready to commit to an EV. The new Aygo X compact crossover also helped boost Toyota sales in 2022.

Subaru

What are Japanese car brands known for? Speed, of course. When it comes to rally-inspired cars, no brand does it better than Subaru. The Impreza is a mainstay on the World Rally Champion stage, with legendary Scottish rally driver Colin McRae helping propel the model into the spotlight.

The practical Subaru Outback has been a firm favourite since it was first launched in 1994. Today it remains popular with British motorists in search of adventure. The AWD crossover is just as capable at cruising along urban streets as it is taking on rocky trails and mud-splattered fields. The Forester hybrid is tough-as-nails and combines a beefy petrol e-BOXER engine with self-charging electric battery power. And let’s not forget the all-new Subaru Solterra. It’s one of the company’s first all-electric models and offers an impressive range of up to 289 miles.

Nissan

Whether you use your Nissan to run errands in the city or whisk the family away on weekend road trips, this much-loved brand is hugely popular in the UK. The latest Nissan Qashqai compact crossover SUV boasts e-POWER technology. This clever feature offers the whisper-quiet and eco-friendly benefits of an all-electric motor, without the need to plug in and recharge.

A compact build and bold silhouette have made the Nissan Juke another darling in the UK. And of course, no list of Nissan favourites is complete without a nod to the Micra. Affordable and reliable, this pint-sized model sums up everything people love most about Japanese car brands.

Lexus

What are Japanese car brands famous for? While giants like Toyota and Subaru are renowned for their affordability and reliability, manufacturers like Lexus are all about luxury. The brand is owned by Toyota and strikes a perfect balance between reliability and luxury. Expect powerful engines, incredible craftsmanship and superlative attention to detail.

The all-new Lexus RZ 450e is the latest model to capture headlines. As the brand’s first battery-electric vehicle, the model sets a new benchmark for EVs. With a starting price of £62,600 it’s not cheap. But you absolutely get what you pay for.

Beyond the all-electric engine, expect a high-end cabin inspired by the traditional Japanese art of Omotenashi. The term is woven into the tapestry of Japanese culture and hospitality. It’s all about wholeheartedly anticipating the needs of guests and giving them the best possible experience. The Lexus RZ 450e does just this with features like an extra-large 14” touchscreen and incredible connectivity. Radiant heaters keep passengers cosy, while a glass panoramic roof with electronic dimming functionality allows you to customise your views and sunlight levels. This is Japanese luxury at its best.

Financing a Japanese car

Want to master the art of Omotenashi in your car? Whether you’re dreaming of a luxurious Lexus RZ 450e, an affordable Subaru or a family-friendly Toyota, use our car finance eligibility checker to get into the driver’s seat faster. 

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Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 12.4%, annual interest rate (fixed) 12.36%, 47 monthly payments of £196.44 followed by 1 payment of £206.44 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £1,939.12, total amount payable is £9,439.12.

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