According to Popular Mechanics, the average cost of keeping a Toyota on the road over 10 years is less than $6,000. The average maintenance and repair costs for a BMW over the same period come up to more than $17,000. When it comes to exotic cars such as the gorgeous Ferrari F60 Modena, you can expect to pay $800 just for an oil change, and a tune-up service will cost you $3,000.
In an acquisition and maintenance survey conducted by Consumer Reports, the Toyota Prius C2 and the Prius Four were listed as the most affordable cars for American drivers in the compact category; this was based on purchase and repair costs over five years. Likewise, the Toyota Camry was listed as the most affordable in the mid-size sedan category.
The aforementioned Popular Mechanics list includes the 30 most popular auto brands in the U.S., and Toyota is the most affordable of all in the 30th position. Lexus and Scion, two brands also manufactured by Toyota, respectively occupy the 28th and 29th spot. Honda is in the 27th position, and its luxury division Acura is in the 11th place. Familiar American brands Ford and Chevrolet are ranked 13th and 16th on the list.
It is interesting to note that “Made in the U.S.A.” cars are currently listed at lower prices across many dealerships due to the “Buy American, Hire American” initiative of the Trump administration, but only the Chevy Traverse made the Consumer Reports list as an affordable large SUV in terms of purchase price and maintenance over five years.
The Myth of Expensive Japanese Imports
Some people incorrectly assume that Honda and Toyota vehicles are more expensive to repair and maintain because they are Japanese imports. While it is true that foreign auto parts should be more expensive due to shipping costs and import tariffs, this assumption does not take into account trade agreements and original equipment manufacturing (OEM) arrangements.
For all practical purposes, the Honda and Toyota models sold in the U.S. may as well be considered domestic cars. These two automakers solidified their presence in the U.S. market decades ago after American and Japanese engineers began collaborating on several projects; for example, Ford and Mazda have been working together since the late 20th century, and a new Toyota-Mazda partnership is considering opening a new plant in North Carolina.
The sheer popularity of Honda and Toyota has prompted these companies to operate facilities in the U.S. Honda, for example, manufactures general purpose engines and aircraft parts in North Carolina; this is a company that has also entered OEM arrangements with local companies to manufacture parts locally instead of shipping them from Japan, and this is done for the sake of efficiency and to keep replacement parts affordable. If your Toyota Camry needs brake repair service, the shop manager at Weatherspoon Auto can quickly get OEM parts from a local distributor at reasonable prices, and we are talking about parts probably made in Kentucky.
In the end, the global headquarters of companies such as Toyota and Honda may be located in Tokyo, but they know that they must protect their business interests in the U.S. Japanese cars may cost more a little more at the dealership, but the reliability and low maintenance costs of Toyota and Honda vehicles make them a good choice for many American drivers who do not want to spend a fortune on maintenance and repairs.
With all the above in mind, there is one aspect of car ownership that is more expensive for certain Japanese models. Owners of Honda Civic models from 1997 to 2001 can expect to pay a lot more on insurance if they move to Southern California; the reason for these higher premiums is that these models are more likely to be stolen for their discontinued stock parts, which are coveted by street racers. Nonetheless, the cost of insuring an older Honda Civic is nowhere near as high compared to a late model Audi, Porsche or Cadillac.