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Honda vs Toyota - Which is More Reliable?

By Michael O'Connor | March 2, 2022

When looking for a new or used car, reliability is a key factor. Knowing that your car will start every time you turn the key is an essential quality, especially if you depend on your vehicle to get you to and from work or school. By finding a car that you can count on, you can get the best deal for your money.

When talking about reliable cars, two brands immediately come to mind: Toyota and Honda. Both of these automakers have a reputation for building simple, dependable vehicles without a lot of extra features or high-performance components. Understanding which of these two manufacturers makes the most reliable car can help you make the right choice the next time you head to the dealership.

Toyota or Honda: Which is More Reliable?

While Hondas are certainly reliable vehicles, Toyota has the edge when it comes to longevity and overall dependability. Their most popular vehicles, such as the Toyota Camry and Toyota Corolla, are well-known for lasting for hundreds of thousands of miles and for staying on the road for incredibly long periods.

While Honda may have a slight advantage when it comes to safety due to their award-winning Honda Sensing suite of safety features such as collision warning and lane-keeping assist, the Toyota Safety Sense suite is similar enough that it is a reasonable substitute and will keep you safe on the road.

Why Are Toyotas Reliable?

Toyota is well known for producing long-lasting and reliable automobiles. Vehicles like the Toyota RAV4, Toyota Tacoma, and Toyota Sienna are famous for their all-wheel-drive powertrains and years of repair-free use. Understanding what it is that makes these cars so dependable can help you decide if one of them is right for you when shopping for a new vehicle.

Taking Time to Introduce New Features:
One of the main contributing factors to Toyota’s famous reliability is the fact that they don’t take introducing new features lightly. They take their time to test and retest new designs and components and aren’t always pushing out new generations as some other automakers do. Because of this, their vehicles tend to be more reliable than others that are always getting upgrades and new trim levels

Toyota cars take an “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. They understand what it is that people like about their cars and tend to keep them that way for a long time.

They will add more superficial features like adaptive cruise control, touchscreen infotainment systems, or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, but for the most part, they keep their powertrains and other essential components the same for many years.

Longevity:
Toyota vehicles are known to last a long time compared to other carmakers on the market like Ford or Nissan. While it can be difficult to pin down an exact number, many Toyota models are known to last well over 200,000 miles, which is at the top end of most other cars. In fact, the Toyota Highlander has a reputation for regularly making it over the 300,000-mile mark.

Because of their longevity, Toyota vehicles also tend to have fewer issues throughout their life. Since a failed component can cause a domino effect throughout the rest of the car, a longer lifespan means that all the components hold up for longer. This results in a better experience in general and a more reliable car for a lot longer.

Function Over Fashion:
No one would accuse Toyota of making flashy, fashionable vehicles. Instead, their most popular models are practical and functional cars like the Prius. These cars, while not as exciting as some other kinds of vehicles, tend to last longer and have fewer problems in the amount of time that their owners are driving them.

Part of the reason for this is that the cars Toyota makes are very simple and have more of a focus on design and accessibility than high-powered things like turbocharged engines. Toyota very much has a philosophy of function first and style second. While this may not be as exciting as some other automakers, it almost always results in a better overall car ownership experience.

Well-Designed Engines:
Toyota engines are known for being incredibly well-designed and easy to maintain. Most of all, though, they are known for lasting a long time. Their most popular engines; the 1GR-FE and 2GR-FE have been used in many of their most popular vehicles for many years and have a reputation for being simple and elegant while still offering enough power for day-to-day driving.

These GR Series engines are one of the main reasons that Toyota vehicles tend to be so reliable for such a long time.

Why Are Hondas Reliable?

Honda is another Japanese automaker that is known for making vehicles that last for well over 200,000 miles. Since 1948, Honda has been making motor vehicles that are built to drive for many years and have a practical design. Because of this, they could be a good choice if you are looking for a car that will be safe and dependable out on the road.

Low Repair Costs:
Honda vehicles are especially easy to work on and have very simple engines. This means that their repair costs are relatively low and if something goes wrong with your Honda vehicle, you can be more or less certain that it won’t be as expensive as some other vehicles might be.

One of the reasons that Honda cars have such low repair costs is the fact that they don’t have some of the modern technologies that other cars do. While this can also be seen as a downside, it means that when the time comes to get your Honda fixed, you won’t be paying a lot of money to repair complex systems or sourcing parts that are hard to find.

This allows you to stay up on your vehicle’s repairs and ensures that it will last a long time.

Low Engine Failure Rate:
Honda’s vehicles also have an incredibly low engine failure rate. If your car’s engine fails, you can more or less be certain that buying a whole new car is a better financial decision.

With Hondas, the chances that this will be an issue are much lower than they would be with another vehicle. This is also true with their hybrid models, which tend to have their own sets of issues altogether.

According to WarrantyDirect, Honda models have an engine failure rate of just 1 in 344. This is a 0.29 percent failure rate, which means the odds of your Honda’s engine needing to be replaced are incredibly low.

Strict Production Rules:
Honda’s quality control is extremely high compared to many other vehicle manufacturers. They have a policy of making sure everything is checked by a human being as it moves through the line, which results in fewer production errors and a better quality product that comes off the line.

Honda has very strict rules for the technicians working on their production line. Whether you are buying a Honda CR-V, Honda Civic, Honda Odyssey, Honda Ridgeline, or any other of their most popular cars, you can be sure it was subjected to rigorous quality control when it was in production.

Years of Production:
Honda’s many years of being in business have allowed them to streamline their designs and learn from their mistakes early on. While they started making motor vehicles in the late 1940s, they were around long before then and they understand the value of a good product. Because of this history, their cars can benefit from their many years of success and, more importantly, their failures.

What Makes a Vehicle Reliable?

To know whether Toyotas or Hondas are the most reliable, it is important to understand what factors go into a car that you can depend on. While it can be a slightly difficult thing to pin down, there are a few different things that determine how long a car will last and how consistent it will be in its performance. Reliability means more than just having a vehicle that gets you where you need to go. It also means that you feel confident and safe when you are driving it and some things can be done during its production that will help with this.

Materials:
The materials that are used in the production of a vehicle will go a long way in determining its reliability. Even cars that are incredibly well-maintained and driven carefully will still endure a lot of abuse. The vibrations and shocks that happen from driving on any given road are enough to cause parts to fail if they are made of low-quality materials.

Many late-model vehicles have plastic or aluminum parts to save money and decrease weight, which can help with fuel efficiency. Unfortunately, this increase in fuel economy also decreases the reliability of those components and makes them less likely to survive for long periods. While aluminum and plastic are not inherently weak, they can potentially cause issues as the years go on.

Quality Control:
The production of a vehicle is multifaceted and includes a lot of different people and machines working at any given time. Because of this, quality control is essential on a production line and if it dips, the reliability of the cars being made can suffer. Every part of a car will affect another part in some way and if one fails, you can expect problems in other areas of the vehicle.

A good automaker will have people checking over every step of a vehicle’s production and making sure that all the components are built to the highest standards. If there is a problem at any point on the production line, a vehicle will not be as reliable as it could be. This is also when recalls will happen and car owners have to take the time to have an issue resolved according to their warranty.

Design:
If a vehicle has a design flaw, it can seriously affect its reliability. A car’s powertrain and safety features have to be meticulously engineered for them to work well and be consistent in their performance. An issue in the design stage will translate to an unreliable vehicle after it has been produced.

Vehicles go through rigorous test drives and checks before they are actually put in production. However, not all automakers consider the longevity of their products during the design stage. Instead, they focus on things like horsepower and handling, which do not always help a car’s dependability.

Simplicity:
Simplicity is key when it comes to the reliability of a vehicle. The more complex a car, pickup truck, crossover, or SUV is, the more chances there are for something to go wrong. This is especially true as car trends start to move more towards hybrid and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

A simple, uncomplicated car like the Toyota Corolla or the Honda Accord has fewer features and components, but there are also fewer things that can go wrong. This makes them more reliable in the long run and makes them easy to work on. They may not be the most exciting cars but they will almost always be a vehicle that you can depend on to get you where you need to go.

Ease of Servicing:
A car that is easy to service is also a car that will be dependable for as long as you own it. Simplicity means that a vehicle will be cheaper to work on and maintain. If you can get repairs done as soon as they are needed, instead of letting them get worse, your car will be much more dependable in the long run.

Maintenance is also essential for your car’s reliability. One of the most important factors that determine a car’s longevity is how well it has been routinely maintained. If it is easy to maintain and service, it will serve you well for many more years than a car that is difficult to work on will be.

Final Thoughts

Finding a reliable vehicle can be difficult, especially when there are so many options and so much flashy tech being marketed to car buyers. While choosing either a Honda or Toyota will most likely be a good decision, a Toyota will give you the long life and consistent performance that you want from a new car.

Understanding what makes these brands so reliable will help you decide which one is right for you and keep you on the road.