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.