American vs. Japanese – Gas Mileage Comparison

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For years and years it was considered un-American to buy a car or truck that wasn’t manufactured by one of the major American manufacturers.  Whether it was Ford, General Motors or Dodge, you’d better have had one of these vehicles parked in your driveway, or you weren’t doing your civic duty.

Right around the 1973 gas and energy crisis, and again during the 1979 energy crisis, it suddenly became okay to buy foreign cars – especially Japanese cars – because of their remarkably better fuel economy as well as their increased life span.

Ever since, it seems that American auto manufacturers have been playing catch up, and lately, it seems the distance in popularity between Japanese and American cars is as large as it has ever been.  This is probably linked to the fact that as gas prices have dramatically increased, foreign car manufactures – especially Japanese cars – have introduced a myriad of gas saving measures, with the most popular being hybrid technologies.

All that being said, I wanted to see how vast the difference in gas mileage really is between the top five most fuel efficient American cars vs. the top five most fuel efficient Japanese cars:

Top 5 Most Fuel Efficient American Cars:

  1. Ford Escape Hybrid – 36 mpg city / 31 mpg highway
  2. Chevy Aveo – 26 mpg city / 35 mpg highway
  3. Ford Focus – 26 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
  4. Chevy Cobalt – 25 mpg city / 34 mpg highway
  5. Ford Fusion – 24 mpg city / 32 mpg highway

Top 5 Most Fuel Efficient Japanese Cars:

  1. Honda Insight – 60 mpg city / 66 mpg highway
  2. Toyota Prius – 60 mpg city / 51 mpg highway
  3. Honda Civic Hybrid – 49 mpg city / 51 highway
  4. Toyota Corolla – 32 mpg city / 41 mpg highway
  5. Toyota Matrix – 30 mpg city / 36 mpg highway

After doing some math, I figured the average of the top five American cars gets 27.4 mpg in the city and 33.2 mpg on the highway, while the average of the top five Japanese cars get 46.2 mpg in the city and 49 mpg on the highway.  This equates to 68% better gas mileage in the city and 48% better gas mileage on the highway for Japanese cars.

The most obvious cause for the difference is due to the fact there are three hybrid cars included on the Japanese list while there is only one hybrid car on the American list.

While gas mileage certainly isn’t the only indicator as to why certain cars sell better than others, I don’t think you can discount the fact Japanese cars tend to get much better gas mileage than their American counterparts when looking at the dramatic rise in sales of Japanese cars vs. an equally dramatic fall in the sales of American cars.


  1. This info came directly from the government’s fuel economy site.

    anonymous – how many American cars do you see driving around from the 70’s? I would suspect not that many.

  2. okay “Anonymous” first of all, learn how to type, please, we’re not texting.

    Now, why would you call someone a “scumbag” for driving a honda, they are perfectly fine cars. If anything the more American cars are the ones you should be calling a “p.o.s.” because the a lot American manufacturers do such a cob job on their vehicles and don’t even try to reduce gas waste, in my opinion.

  3. “because the a lot American manufacturers”

    … because a lot of the American manufacturers…

  4. I think that this argument is a sad one. As far as fuel economy, the year is now 2009, and there are fuel efficient models in ever company’s think tank, so buying domestic or foreign you will be able to choose from a wide range of fuel friendly cars. Ironically, GM makes more fuel efficient model cars by volume out of every company on the earth, and with the most variations in TYPES of fuel efficiency around (since the mid 2000’s), so your 8-10 car argument has very big holes in it. My 2006 Mustang (a sports car mind you) gets over 20 (average, low blowing it at 17) miles per gallon city, and usually over 27 miles per gallon highway. I know this because I drove from Houston, Texas to San Diego, California and had to fill up roughly 4 times on the way there. That is unreasonably good for a car that also KICKS ASS at being cool (hahahaha!). And this is the truth for a lot of American cold-natured engines that are not even built to be flex fuel or hybrid cars. Attach therfore, some fuel friendly science on top of a well ventilated behemoth, and you have an instant upgrade with a lot less engine wear over time. Japanese cars, are infact, hot-natured engines with a low breathing environment, contributing to some life issues, typically in the radiator department. Which, if you hear a Japanese car owner complaint, its about their car stalling out and running hot. American cars are worth their weight in gold if you do some smart comparison shopping. Ford builds with roughly 80% all domestic parts, so you can rely on stronger and better rated tempered steel (do not argue with me on this one…look up tensile testing for metals in other countries like China and Japan and you will be depressed on much weaker and lower quality the metals are to save a buck). Plus this creates a turnaround of faster replacement time if anything goes, because the parts are here.To say that American cars are poorly engineered is beyond falsehood, and cannot be used as ‘fact’. A slew of sold intellectual property from American car designers are a huge part of what even fuels foreign car creation in the first place. The parts are usually better fabrication jobs in the states too. If you want to compare the health of a foreign car on a part by part basis and literal engineering, you’d be smarter to do so with BMW. The Japanese have done a wonderful job appealing to a logical sentiment though- smaller, lighter, cheaper built cars, with fun electrical upgrades (in dash treats), and good fuel economy (because the car weighs one ounce), and its also the car Mac equivalent, with colors and shapes for Americans to have a seizure over. te reality is that it is a friendly face to wear as a auto producer, and most americans, that can’t even change a tire, like their small, quiet, unassuming cars, and their well published facts and marketing. On the same token the reality is for Americans to stop desiring this belief that the American car industry cannot make ‘good cars’. The engineering is solid, and if you are not lazy and pick a myriad of cars on the road and look at their FULL specs you will see this to be true. It all comes down to us needing to be honest with ourselves and buying a car based on our own preferences without any hype around ‘Japanese cars are better’, or ‘buy American or you’re not American’, because we are killing our own industry with this attitude. Both countries make some fantastic vehicles and some shit ones (relatively speaking). Do your homework and buy intelligently. I wouldn’t trade my Mustang for a Honda in a thousand years, and it cost less brand new and gets the same gas mileage (in the higher speed range better) than my friends that have DRIVEN ALONG SIDE OF ME in their brand new Honda’s on road trips. On the flip side, i would buy a Honda in a second over the focus, because I can’t stand the wheel base in that thing or the concept of the body line.

    It’s time to grow up and be real consumers and buy based on reality.

    • i agree with you. i think you are a few people that really understand the situation. the Japanese cars only better fuel economy and a reliable engine. as you can see the reports of cars being recalled to repair. the American cars are well build(im talking about the family cars, not the muscles, they are awesome!) and they engine improved a lot since 80 and 90, lets put one case like the ford focus, a amazing car!
      the American car manufacturers made a lot of mistakes, but is just stupid what the people are saying that American cars are bad build.

  5. Alright, how many old American cars do you see in the roads still surviving today? Not that many. I live in Virginia and it’s considered one of the wealthier states in the US. I’m on the road everyday and I see a whole lot more old Japanese cars and many NEW American cars. This means that in general, Japanese cars survive way longer than American cars. Also, I know a lot of pro-American car commenters here in this forum haven’t seen what the rest of the world are driving. The taxis used in Asia alone, the biggest continent and with the most people combined, are of Toyota. So why buy American cars? I know Americans have that pride for their country but if they are truly smart like they say they are, then they should switch to the MUCH better Japanese cars.

    People should consider comparing American vs. Japanese cars not just in the US but all around the world. If you do a poll on how many people will choose American cars over Japanese cars, it will be so embarrassing for the US.


  6. This is a poor comparison mainly because the vehicles that you selected form the American side only had one hybrid vehicle. All the Japanese cars you picked were hybrids. You can’t compare two different powertrains. you should have compared them to the gas only versions of the japanese cars/ I think if you did that you see that there isnt much of a difference between them. After i think you will see that the chevys get good gas mileage and better performance than their comptetitors. For intance the cobalt SS gets 30 miles per gallon on the highway and it has 260 horse power. The civic Si has only 197 horse power and has the same size engine and gets 29 miles per gallon. How is that chevy can make a car with better performance and better gas mileage. Also i remind you that the cobalt has a turbocharger to bat.

  7. What is the cost of putting an American out of work? Stupid Americans will never learn.

  8. I see a hell of a lot more old American cars on the road than Jap cars. Old Jap cars don’t look good or hold up. The new Lexus Rx looks like a Pontiac Aztec ha ha nice job!

  9. The gasoline cost saving of driving a Prius will take 20 years to recoup. What a joke. Plus you put an American out of work and send your dollars over to Japan. The American worker looses his job and is unemployed. This make no sense when are Americans going to wake up? Young Americans go off to war and comeback to no jobs. Billion and Billions of dollars are sent off to Japan Korea Germany and you still think it dosen’t matter what you drive?

  10. Detroit Muscle says

    Looking at, and reading; most of the responses I see some fair minded individuals. Unlike myself who really doesn’t have any real love for foreign imports, but let’s be objective.

    Anyone that says American cars are not as good as foreign imports has been brain washed. Ok, the US did have a problem a while ago with their manufacturing process. That has been remedied long ago. American cars are now as sound as any import. Yes, you will get an occasional lemon. You’ll get that from anything that is mass produced.

    I’ve only owned American cars, going back to my 1970 Dodge Charger (man I loved that car)! I can see the transformation to the modern cars. The US car industry got lazy and careless. In steps the imports. I think a little competition is good. So the USA stepped her game up, and started taking a renewed pride in her work. (I can hear the mumbling) Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the import countries take less pride in their work. It’s just the the USA had to get knocked off her high horse to realize that she isn’t the only game in town.

    I’ve now started hearing stories of whoa about the imports nowadays (shocker). By and large if you take care of your vehicle, you will get many years out it. You must keep up with the maintenance. The imports learned this a long time ago.

    Let me stop now before I drag this out any further.

    Bottom line – Buy the car because you like the look, the feel, handling, and it fits your budget (USA needs to work on the budget part). Not because some left wing tree hugging, socialist, or a RIGHT WING,gun carrying, got to war at any cost, Nut job tells you that one country’s car is better than another,s.

  11. Angel, yes timing belt failure is common, but is a result of stupidity on owners parts. Cars have maintainence schedules for a reason, you do not follow stuff breaks. Timing chains are much more expensive and can cause just as big an issue as a belt, and chain guides go on chains and are cheap parts with hundreds of dollars in labor. Volkswagen uses chains and at a dealer cost over 1000 dollars to change in labor! I would assume similar cost with domestic vehicles with chains. As for the economics of the issue, everything is overseas now, and our own politicians and greedy corporate leaders have created the monster of foreign trade. If it wasn’t for corporations trying to squeeze every last penny out of their manufacturing process they could just pay american workers to do the jobs for a bit more, and keep jobs and our money here in the country, but we all know they do not and will not do so

  12. I love it love it love it. I am definitely buying AMERICAN!!!!!!

  13. Question? If you go to a car show, how many people are drewling over an American classic, and how many are eyeing up the foreign brands? My brother drove a Chevy Impala with 3.4 liter v6 on numerous trips. He obtained a remarkable 34 mph right along with an impressive 36 mph on a couple of occasions. How many Toyotas in that size and horsepower range are getting those figures. I owned a ’93 Oldsmobile 88 with the 3.8 liter v6 and knocked out a steady 33 mpg when highway driving. How many Japanese and Korean manufactures in that weight and horsepower catagory are getting that kind of mileage? Comfort goes without saying.

  14. The truth is Anonymous, your a flat out dumb ass, that is one sided. ” how many old American cars do you see in the roads still surviving today? Not that many”
    ” I’m on the road everyday and I see a whole lot more old Japanese cars and many NEW American cars. This means that in general, Japanese cars survive way longer than American cars.” honestly, this is the dumbest shit i have ever heard anyone say, and ive came across some dumb ass people in my time. The truth is, i dont give a shit what kinda of car you buy, but when people start bashing American car companies, saying foreign cars are better then American cars, and American cars are shit, thats when i have a problem.
    If you do a poll on how many people will choose American cars over Japanese cars, it will be so embarrassing for the US.

    Your probley right, its called a misconception, what your dumb ass has.
    Hay, i have a poll… who would agree, that if the Japanese car companies had one dick Anonymous would be deepthroating it right now? one vote already says yes.

  15. wow…youre a dumbass!

  16. American Car says

    Fact is American cars last longer than Japanese cars, i see a LOT more American cars on the road than Japanese cars. Japanese cars are so over rated it is sad! they don’t get better gas mileage. and everyone is talking about the Japanese Hybrids, what they don’t tell you is that American cars had Hybrids in the 1990’s! LONG BEFORE THE JAPANESE CARS!
    Not to mention a Toyota truck from the 1980-1990’s would only last about 10-15 years before the frames would rust in two and the truck would literally break in half!
    Also, American cars have been getting just as good and even BETTER gas mileage for decades! seems everyone has forgotten all about all the 41 mpg Dodge Aries and Plymouth Reliants, all the Pontiac Sunbirds, Chevy Chevette, Ford Pintos, Ford Fiestas, etc. And for that matter how about the old 1976 Dodge Dart Light, and Feather Dusters, with a slant six and 4 speed Overdrive? These cars were reported to get 30 mpg! and many of them are STILL on the road today! how about all the Ford Falcons with the 6 cylinders, or the Chevy Novas, Plymouth Valiants, All the way back into the 1960’s!
    The problem is that most of the people that say Japanese cars get better gas mileage are the biased brainwashed morons, that are comparing the little Japanese cars like a Honda Civic, to a big Chevy Impala, or Ford Crown Vic, or even a Cadillac, or Chrysler Imperial! HIGHLY UNFAIR!!! They NEVER compare a Toyota Corolla to a Dodge Aries, or a Honda Civic to a Plymouth Horizon! Compare the same year Honda Civic to a Dodge Aries and you will see the Aries gets just as good or even BETTER mileage than the Honda, and is a bigger more comfortable car!
    My sister and her family had a 1973 Honda Civic, and made a 600 mile trip in that thing with their 3 kids, and they said it was the biggest mistake of their lives! they said they were miserable in that little shoebox!
    So don’t tell me Japanese cars last longer and get better gas mileage, because it is a bunch of crap, and a bunch of brainwashing nonsense the automotive media types would have us all believe. but if you compare apples to apples and oranges to oranges, you will see American cars have always had the upper hand. even today, not to mention most of the technology in today’s Japanese cars CAME FROM AMERICAN CARS! Dodge for example had an ALL electric minivan back in 1995 called the TEVan which was made for commerical use it was all electric not a hybrid, and had power steering, and even Air Conditioning! and that was back in 1995! what Japanese car had an all electric car or even a hybrid in the 1990’s????

  17. American Car says

    Also don’t forget the Dodge Daytonas, Spirit R/T, Shelbys, and Dodge Omni GLH/GLHS, these cars were know to be the fastest small cars on the road back in the 1980’s-1990’s! a Daytona IROC or Spirti R/T would do 0-60 in about 5.8 seconds, making it the world’s FASTEST 4 door sedan in 1991, this along with the Dodge Daytona R/T and IROC, and they still got 25-30 MPG. from a turbochaged 2.2-2.5 4 cylinder! Dodge even had a racing version of the 2.2 that put out 425 HP! FROM A 4 CYLINDER! and MANY of these cars are STILL one the road today! So NO Japanese car could Touch these cars back then, not to mention where do you think the Japanese car makers got the idea and the technology for their later little turbocharged engines?
    So basically a Japanese car is just a cheap imitation of an American car anyway!

  18. I have a 1967 Oldsmobile 442 thats in mint condition. nothing has been done to it. I rebuilt the engine once, just to keep it mint. I have had many other cars such as Buicks, Chevys, Acura, Nissan, Honda, Jeep, Jaguar, and Infiniti. The Acura constantly squeeks no matter what, we fix one thing and another thing goes. The foreign parts have cost us thousands. It’s a v6 and only gets 20 mpg, the worst mileage out of all of the cars I have ever had except for the Olds 442. The Nissan had a steering problem and sent my sister off the road and it got totaled. The Jaguar had and it’s engine replaced and transmission replaced 6 times. The Infiniti just recently rusted away too much for me to deal with (it was a 97). It gave us many problems. The Jeep had two transmission replacements in the 12 years we had it, totalling to 600 for both (cheap). One of the Chevrolets needed a head gasket. The Honda fell apart and I sold the engine for 300 dollars. The only cars that I NEVER had one problem with were Buicks. I have 2 and I love them.

  19. Buick is also makes the number one luxury car in America (and number one selling in Japan haha) the Lacrosse. There other car is, in my opinion even better than that one. The only other vehicle they have is a cross-over, the Enclave. It was rated by a few different important players in the auto industry as the ‘best looking luxury crossover’ Not to mention the Chevy Volt, or the Ford fusion Hybrid, or the Malibu hybrid that get 40 or greater highway mpg. Turbo diesels are the best of all the fuel savers though, which makes a Volkswagen a good choice too.

  20. I cant believe someone would try to compare the gas mileage rated back in the 80s-90s when we all know the formula for computing this info was far from realistic (no ac, one passenger, no cargo etc.) so that 25-30 mpg. is more like 20-25. Even so when I look up the MPG of those cars they state 19 city 24 hwy. so dont know where those #s are coming from. And yes we all know american car makers had electric cars (EV1) but killed that because of GREED over all else, even the fellow man. Which is why I buy japanese because they have an ability to look at the big picture (pollution, oil consumption etc.) American car makers only got on the bandwagon because they are forced to and now see $’s. GM doesn’t care about americans, only what gets them there million dollar house and $70,000 car. I now only buy honda cars and NEVER had any major problem with any of them. My current ’03 Acura rsx has 155,000 miles and the only problem aside from brake pads,tires etc. was a clutch change last week. show me an american car that has no problems but general maint. my prelude before that only had a water-pump change and that was at over 250,000 miles. Nobody doubts the artistic design of the classic muscle cars. The reason people drool over them at a car show is because there numbers are few, thats what makes them desireable.If there where tons on the road you wouldn’t have to go to a car show to see/buy them!?

  21. I think a lot of Americans just don’t understand how bad their cars are – Even the foreign brands sell “American” versions of their vehicles to the US that are extremely inefficient because they are cheaper and the US accepts them.

    I lived in the UK until i was 16 and have been in the US for over 7 years now. When i left the UK, the average car did about 50mpg. I went back for vacation this christmas and my brothers skoda fabia did around 60-65mpg. These are just regular cars, not hybrid, no flashy technology. Everyone drives these, it’s the norm – 50mpg+…

    It infuriates me back here in the US that we talk about 35mpg+ as being some breakthrough figure. Furthermore, a hybrid car that can get 40-45mpg… If a regular car can already do 60-65mpg then i’d say these hybrid cars are complete failures.

    America needs to stop being so selfish, start using proper engines, stop driving huge trucks and SUV’s, learn how to use roundabouts and stop using traffic lights at every junction (causing idle polluting) and start setting real goals for preventing traffic pollution. This talk of hybrid technology sickens me – If i can by a regular car that does 65mpg i’m not buying a hybrid car that does 40mpg…

  22. Michael Galvan says

    dont you guys get it??? AMERICA you suck soo much as making automoblies!!!!!! Japanese imports will always be the best. better fuel mileage, better reliability, better quality, better everything. sucky lazy ass americans. Oh yeah and stop with the technology in cars and this and that fancy stuff and whatever in the interior, US, y do you think you guys sux so much. japan kicking ass since they worry bout the outside, exterior, gas, this that, not some stupid, microsoft, ipod , bologna. GO JAPAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Miguel A. Alarcon says

    What in the world well every country has their shitty prodcuts and every country has its good priducts as so many people think that Toyota is a very good car well look at all the problems, after that I am well think of saying of I rather buy American because I can’t deal with the debate of Japanese shit is better than American shit bullshit. Is because I know that no one is perfect after all I see lots of old American cars as lots of old Japanese cars but their is a hell of a lot more old American cars becasue they been making cars since the begining. As us Americans we are the ones that brought Japan their car industry and we are the ones that shift our jobs to Japan long time ago.
    As I am saying they are both have a reputation of making great quality products but US car companies are making their cars in Canada and Mexico, but we still have factories in the US while Japanese car companies gave jobs to US workers and for a matter of fact why the hell thes union workers in California are getting paid for a busted gas pedal, after all when forgein companies have union contracts their money goes overseas anyway, so this is what I am saying that we all need a fair share of everything.

    You better watch out where your car is made when it is made by a US manufacture and first of all Ford the only US manufacture that has the equal quality cars to the Japanese companies never thought of making another vehielce in Japan since the model T because each nation needs something to stand for them and that is why we need something to stand for and example the Fusion is made in Mexico and for passing quality standards if the F150 is to be exported the only factory to have international standards is one that is close to the London, Ontario Canada area where they make the Crown Vic , Mercurey Grand Marquis and the Lincoln Town Car and that is the only factory of Ford that could meet international quality standards even with the Japanese that is why Ford some day will make all their cars in Canada.

  24. American says

    I wouldn’t drive a Japanese car if my life depended on it. If you don’t know why, ask a Chinese or Korean person.

  25. ガンバッテ トヨタ自動車株式会社 says

    “I will buy an American car when it’s as good as my 1995 (2.2L) Camry with 217,000 miles” (I’ve had it for almost just under 100,000 of those miles). Dashboard still doesn’t rattle. And of several Gen 3 Camry owners I’ve spoken to recently, mine has the lowest miles. Still getting 26 / 35 mpg and about to take it in for the 215,000 mile service…old emissions parts that have been there forever.

    I know about American cars, because at one point, I wouldn’t consider anything else. Then, the parts starting coming from other places than Detroit, and it all went downhill from there. My mind was made when I parked my pride and joy at the time next to a 96 Camry Coupe and saw the difference…just looking at the seats.

    Ford and GM deserve credit for doing what they should have been doing years ago, and Ford has definitely earned our business.

    GM is still missing something with their interiors. The new Camaro is a winner (and seems to have more personality than the Mustang, which I never thought I’d say) but what’s the use if I can’t see out the side windows on a poorly lit highway? Major deal-breaker. What’s up with those sharp edges underneath the steering colums housings (stick your hand in there, and you’ll know) on the G6? What’s up with the cheaply made interior door handles on the newer Suburbans that when the surface peels, can be sharp enough to cut your hand?

    I’ve seen many American / Japanese / European combos parked in front of people’s houses, and thought maybe I’d do that. Have a fun car and a cool car…

    If I had to buy American, hands down it would be the Ford Fusion AWD. Isn’t that really a Mazda 6?

    Chrysler? You can’t beat the Charger / Challenger for styling — but I’ve always thought it wise to steer away from cars from a company that’s been having financial issues. Chrysler / Dodge always seems to produce relative low achievers and then one stellar member. I’m guessing the cars that probably excels, and I’d bet on the 3.5L. I’d like to still be able to drive somewhere when gas hits $4.50 / gallon.

    As for steel…I’ve known of Gen 3/3.5 Camries being involved in several mismatched accidents here (car vs. something larger), including a high speed head on…occupants survive. When I was having some accessories installed on mine, the installer almost gave up because he kept going through drill bits on the bumper.

    Just talked to a guy who has a 400,000 mile Corolla.

  26. ガンバッテ トヨタ自動車株式会社 says

    And yes…Japanese cars built for export in or to the US aren’t the same as Japanese cars built in Japan, especially the engines. I was stationed there and understood that there was more to the gas costing more off-base than on-base (not from the same source). So did many of my GTR owning compatriots. The gas on base smelled…the gas off base did not.

    Also, I’d like to see some more Australian built / originated American cars make it stateside. Pontiac GTO, G8…touched and went.

  27. The 3rd Party Objective View says

    I think if people start to pull out specific comparisons, we lose track of the big picture. Let’s view this from a historical perspective.

    There was a time when the world envied the American big three: Chrysler, Ford, and GM. These were awesome times when little boys were fascinated with the beauty of American steel. Classic cars from the 50s, 60s, 70s…wow. During this time, to state that Americans made the best production cars in the world would not have been totally untrue. And in this same period, it would not be incorrect to say that the Japanese made ridiculously cheap cars that couldn’t hold a candle to American quality and value. In addition to being excellent on gas (Japanese cars in this era) they were great at eliciting a chuckle on the streets – trust me, I remember because my friends and I were always teasing another friend whenever he picked us up in his tiny Honda Civic in the early 80s. No boy fell in love with Japanese cars in the 50s, 60s, or 70s. So, to recap, here we have the big three getting fat and rich, living it large in the three decades of the peak of their rule – and rightfully so! Who would have given any Japanese manufacturer a chance? Right?

    Well, it seems the big three three forgot about the story of the hare and the tortoise. And they paid for this starting in the 80s. In 1988, we purchased a Ford Taurus GL. It was the biggest mistake ever. Literally driving off the lot, three problems were detected – the headrest of the front passenger seat wouldn’t stay up, I can’t recall the others but they were minor headaches. As the years went on, the power locks went prematurely, the engine had major issues that required $200-$400 to repair at least three times that I could remember. The transmission then went and we had to have it rebuilt. The power windows on the passenger side stopped working, the rear defog broke, and the list goes on with smaller more minor stuff. It seems it wasn’t just my ford, because I started to hear jokes circulate about what “FORD” stood for. The punchline being: Fix Or Repair Daily/Found On Road Dead. The lemon-aid guide printed clearly that the Ford Taurus ’88 was one of many vehicles people should NOT buy. When I stared at this list, I noticed almost all the cars on there were American. At the same time, in the eighties, the Japanese started to rise. They started to gain a reputation for high quality in addition to fuel efficiency. But, people were still hesitant because the cars were smaller and didn’t feel as heavy and sturdy, leading many to believe they were not as safe as American cars.

    After this point, the tables were turned and through the 90s til now, we saw Toyota whiz past the big three and saw the stock values of the American three plummet. Government bail outs were discussed. Pontiac, a brand with rich history in racing and in production is now no more. Oh, how the might of fallen!
    Toyota is going through a stumbling block but will, in the end, still maintain it’s number one status for some time still.

    Now, the reputation of Japanese cars are quite the opposite of what was in the past when they were producing dinky Hondas for budget strapped students. It is the Americans who suffer from the “cheap” moniker…and might I add, deservedly so. Yup, I said it. It had to be said. What happened to American car companies they did to themselves by producing – mostly – ugly vehicles that broke and ate up people’s time and money during the 80s. What was so hard to understand about what customers wanted? They wanted value – a car they could proudly drive that wouldn’t burden the family budget or waste everyone’s time by sitting in the garage. Give the American car makers credit, they tried with the Ford Taurus and it made an impact, it really did. Iacocca brought in the three cab-forward designs in the LH cars. Great concepts. But so what? The reputation was all of these were unreliable. Who care if you have a great looking car if you can’t depend on it to work when you need it? They did it to themselves.

    Then a funny thing happened. Some executive with power finally got it. They started to make visually interesting – if not stunning cars for the average person with an average income to buy. A car that they could be proud of driving. A car that gave value in terms of what options were available and in terms of economy. And people started paying attention. People started to notice they were finally understanding “ugly” is not hip – unless it’s a Subaru WRX, but I digress. Slowly, we are seeing the transition NOW in both GM and Ford. Not so much Chrysler, I’m afraid. But it’s happening.

    Yes, I still believe the American car companies need to play catch up. But historically, it wasn’t too long ago, no one gave the Japanese a chance at all! So for any one person to write off the American big three should do so with caution. History has shown, as well as the story of the hare and tortoise, that in the real world, the tortoise can prevail.

    Personally, after my Ford nightmare, I will never buy a Ford again. And although I’ll admit, they have great designs and give them credit for bouncing back, they lost me a long time ago. GM I wish you the best of luck, Toyota and Honda, thank you for setting an example and slapping sense into these stupid American CEOs of the big three.

    For now, I remain a loyal import buyer – Lexus, Subaru, Honda. If, however, GM proves to me that its cars are still around on the streets 5+ years from now, and in good condition, then perhaps, I may be swayed…but time will tell.

  28. Buying foreign is like betraying your country, why would you want to ship jobs over seas while everone is complaining about job losses?

    • Toyota4Ever says

      I think the main point, besides the MPG issues is that the American manufacturers have to deserve our hard earned money and not just expect it. I could possibly take a bullet for this nation…so there’s no betrayal.

      As much as I’ve liked Toyota, I’m feeling they started flirting with that “expectation that you’ll buy our product based on our name” rather than going all out to continue to earn our business. And there’s been a backlash, and they’ve caught on fairly quickly. Hyundai has come along and has worked hard to deserve our business.

      As I stated before…I’m still looking for a newer American car that compares to my 1995 Camry with almost 220,000 miles on it. It gets the same mpg as the Cobalt…when driven the same way. Honestly, I would buy the 1995 over the 2005 Camry all other things being equal.

      Someone brought up the example of the Mustang, and having owned a smilar car in the past, I can agree. The catch is, the Mustang is an apples / oranges comparison. I and many foreign car owners would easily park this Mustang next to their Camry, but the dealbreaker for me is I want the 18 gallon gas tank (ie. 500 mile range when the gas prices hit $4/gallon) and the ability to drive effortlessly in snow / ice with snow-tires. With a couple of mods, the Camry gets a “coolness card” as well and still pulls 25/34 mpg or more.

      Most American RWD and service type vehicles are obviously good enough to be good…but their interiors need work. And once again, the example of the Charger…Dodge should be going ALL-OUT to make this a real flagship car and to make you reconsider purchasing the GS Lexus in the same pre-owned car lot, in terms of looks, which it has — AND quality, long term, and maybe even the additional Turbo Diesel option which would allow us to build the big, nice looking vehicles we know how to make here and to have the more advanced powerplants at the same time. We can get to the moon…we can have our big cars and great mpgs too.

  29. American Warranty Guy says

    Do any of you guys know who has the most recalled cars? It is Toyota. They had 492 recall campaigns in 2009 compared to 684 campaigns in 2008. That was followed with a close second by Ford with 8 recall campaigns. Toyota recalled 6 million vehicles in 2009. They had cars that as they put it were “unexpectedly accellerating”. Why? Because they were too cheap to put a saftey shut off in their computer becasue it would cost them an extra $1.19 per vehicle. I have worked for the seventh largest automotive parts supplier in the world for the past 16 years as a warranty data analyst. Every manufacturer has issues, it is not just the American or Japanese vehicles. I will tell you that Honda and Toyota like to use parts that GM, Ford and Chrysler stopped using 5 to 10 years ago. They do this for many reasons. The testing is already done, they do not have to pay tooling, and the bugs have been worked out. As far as technology the Japanese are steps behind when it comes to saftey features.
    In 2008 Chrysler did a comparison of their Jeep Liberty deisel against the Toyota Prius for gas mileage. This is a real test driving 80 MPH, through the same streets at the same time and over all the Jeep got 1 MPG better gas mileage than the Toyota.
    As for all you with your great foriegn cars with high miles. I will go way back to my 1975 Malibu, 386,254 miles on it when I sold it. Original wngine and trans. Then I had a bunch of cars that I beat up and crashed so I can not say how far they would have gone. Then we can go to my 1991 Chevy pick up. 318,000 when I sold it, still on the original engine, trans rebuilt at 285,000. Next was my 1997 Monte Carlo 3.1 sold that with 305,000 never did anything to that car other than normal repairs, tires brakes and so on. Next I had my 2004 Monte Carlo 3800, put 165,000 on it and sold it in 2008 without doing any repairs other than tires and brakes. Now I am driving a 2003 Cadillac CTS with 152,000 on no major repairs. (knock on wood). SO as far as the theory of American cars not lasting get out of the 80s and early 90s. American cars last just as long if not longer then Japanese cars and don’t get recalled as much and there warranty repairs are lower per vehicles produced.

  30. This is a classic apple to oranges comparison. Basically it amount to a bunch of krap. Shame on you.

  31. For me, if you want better safety, buy American cars. But, if you want car that just rolls and have high fuel efficiency, buy Japanese car. And if someone is rich, they wouldn’t buy neither Japanese or American car, they would buy European cars such as porsche or Ferari. I wouldn’t buy trucks if I’m not working for heavy duties and such. I guess trucks tend to have lower mpg than smaller cars. Everyone have different opinions 🙂 (I would buy cars that would save my money though)

  32. American should look beyond American boundries (not only for war) and foreign (especially in Asia) the buying decison is biased towards mileage and it is common to have small cars with above 25 kilometers per liter of petrol. Expectations from Sedan are not below 21 (translates to above 65mpg) with minimum luxuries..
    I am convinced that Americans are wasting natural resources a lot and asking 3rd world to control emmisions.
    I am new to US and was surprised when my fried told me that American built cars mostly lack some comman sense devices like lock for gas filling opening of sak tank. This is as if they fill American will enjoy all of the gas on the planet and will never fall short of it.

  33. The truth is, most people buy Japanese cars for gas mileage more than any other reason. I have owned 27 different cars in my life. German, American and Japanese. The American cars where the most comfortable to drive and I felt safer in a big car than a small car. People tend to be selfish, me included, so they will buy a foreign car and put american people out of work and hurt our economy in the long run for their short term gain. People are short sighted and selfish and now we are seeing the results of that. IMO, we should support American industry for our children and grandchildren’s future.

  34. I find it odd that in the 70’s cars averaged 18-20 up to 25 to 30 on the highway. In the last 40 years the big auto companies have not increased that enough to compensate for the car price increases. You would think 40 years gas mileage should have doubled or tripled at least that much. I think there are many factors involved with this from OPEC, to the car companies themselves, to the amount of money they put in the politicos pockets.


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