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Toyota Vs Honda – Which Brand Makes Better Cars?

Toyota vs Honda - Logos

Want to know which Japanese automaker makes better cars? Our Toyota vs Honda comparison guide lays down the facts.

In the automotive world, few brands are as loved as Toyota and Honda. Indeed, decades of building reliable, practical, and fuel-efficient vehicles have earned the two Japanese automakers millions of avid fans the world over.

But even though both Toyota and Honda make good cars, many debates have been waged over which company is the better carmaker.

Toyota is larger, more popular, and more successful. While it might appear to be the superior automaker at first glance, Honda isn’t to be taken lightly. 

We’re going to settle the Toyota vs Honda debate once and for all by pitting the two companies against each other, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses against a set of pertinent car-buying criteria to help you make the best choice for your needs.

Difference Between Toyota And Honda

Honda and Toyota are mainstream brands known for making comfortable, reliable, fuel-efficient, and affordably priced cars, SUVs, and trucks. Their vehicles have won critical acclaim over the decades for their incredible build quality, and it’s mostly because of this reputation that both companies are successful.

But although most people think the two carmakers play at the same scale, Toyota is actually a much larger player in just about every way. It manufactures and sells twice as many vehicles as Honda, makes more than twice as much money, and has a significantly higher valuation.

In fact, the Japanese car giant is the largest car manufacturer in the world and has been since 2008, when it took the title from General Motors. Its large scale and deep pockets have given it a great, all-encompassing reach that few automakers can match.

But make no mistake — despite being smaller, Honda is also a very successful carmaker on a global scale. As the second-largest automaker in Japan and the fifth largest in the world, it competes widely and deeply to great effect.

Toyota Vs Honda Comparison

In this section, we’re going to pit Toyota against Honda by evaluating them on the basis of safety, reliability, affordability, performance, and cost of ownership to help you determine the best carmaker for your needs.

If you want a more detailed look at each carmaker and the quality of its vehicles, read our Toyota brand analysis and Honda brand analysis.

Model Selection

Seeing as they are two of the world’s largest carmakers, both Toyota and Honda have a wide selection of vehicles. In the U.S. and Canada, they dominate the sedan segment with the midsize Camry and Accord and compact Corolla and Civic, as well as the compact crossover segment with the RAV4 and CRV.

The two Japanese automakers continue to offer minivans in the form of the Sienna and Odyssey even though the SUV craze has all but killed the segment. They also compete in the pickup truck segment, more so Toyota with its more numerous and capable models.

Honda and Toyota are also big on electrification as evidenced by their solid lineups of hybrid vehicles. Although they’ve been slow to embrace battery-electric vehicles, they are making big moves in the sector.

Toyota announced its Beyond Zero electric vehicle sub-brand in 2021, along with its first model, the bZ4X electric crossover. Honda doesn’t have a dedicated EV sub-brand, but the Honda E (not available in North America) kick-started its EV ambitions.

Toyota and Honda are two of only a handful of automakers to offer a hydrogen fuel-cell electric vehicle (FCEV), the Mirai and Clarity FCEV, respectively. However, it’s not quite clear if hydrogen-powered vehicles will ever become mainstream.

Toyota has far more hybrids to choose from, however, and practically owns the segment with the Prius lineup of models. The company also has hybrid variants of more of its gas-powered models than Honda does.

On the coupe front, there is the GR 86 and Supra on Toyota’s end. Honda doesn’t have any purpose-built sports cars in North America; however, the impressive Acura NSX supercar is branded as a Honda in Europe if that means anything.

The following table categorizes each automaker’s North American and, to a lesser extent, European offerings by vehicle type.

ToyotaHonda
SedanYaris, Corolla, Camry, Avalon, MiraiCivic, Accord, Insight
HatchbackYaris Hatchback, Corolla Hatchback, PriusFit
CrossoverC-HR, RAV4, Highlander, Venza, Toyota bZ4XHRV, CRV, Passport, Pilot
SUV4Runner, Land Cruiser, Sequoia 
Coupe/Sports CarGR 86, SupraNSX (Europe only)
WagonCorolla Wagon (Europe only)
MinivanSiennaOdyssey
TruckTacoma, TundraRidgeline
Hybrid VehiclesPrius, Prius Prime, Corolla Hybrid, Camry Hybrid, RAV4 Hybrid, Highlander Hybrid, Venza, Sienna HybridInsight, Accord Hybrid, CRV Hybrid, Clarity Plug-In Hybrid
Electric VehicleToyota bZ4X, Mirai FCEVHonda E (Europe only), Clarity FCEV (Lease only)

Winner: Toyota

Toyota handily wins this round as it offers substantially more models and competes in more segments than Honda. There is a wider selection of Toyotas in the sedan, SUV, coupe, truck, and hybrid vehicle categories.

Safety

Honda and Toyota both score high in safety assessments. All their models have earned a Top Safety Pick or Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute of High Safety (IIHS), the highest score from the institution, as well as very high ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Euro NCAP.

You have their solid structural integrity and available collision-avoidance systems to thank for that.

The Honda Sensing and Toyota Safety Sense suites of advanced driver-assistance features include collision mitigation, automatic braking, adaptive headlights, blind-spot detection, and other invaluable systems, all of which reduce the risk of accidents.

Winner: Tie

If safety is important to you (it better be!), you can’t go wrong with either Toyota or Honda. They make some of the safest vehicles currently available, vehicles that are built with solid structural integrity and offered with modern collision-avoidance technologies.

Reliability

Toyota and Honda are widely considered the most reliable car brands in every market they compete and typically perform strongly in dependability studies by Consumer Reports, J.D. Power, and other such organizations. However, one of them has the edge when it comes to reliability.

Toyota has consistently scored higher than Honda in Consumer Reports’ reliability survey over the past five years (2021-2016), and studies have shown that Toyotas generally last longer in the real world than Hondas.

In a study by car search engine iSeeCars that analyzed over 11.8 million pre-owned cars sold in 2020 to determine the models with the greatest percentage lasting at least 200,000 miles (321,869 km), six of the top ten vehicles and eight of the top 16 were Toyotas, while only one Honda made the top 16.

The legendary Land Cruiser took the number one spot, adding to its reputation for having bulletproof reliability.

That’s not to say Toyota is significantly more reliable than Honda or that every car it makes is superior to Honda’s equivalent. Honda performs well above the industry average, and the two companies are closely matched.

RepairPal even ranked Honda first in its 2021 vehicle reliability assessment, seven spots ahead of Toyota. Honda cars had a lower frequency of repairs and a lower average annual repair cost.

Winner: Toyota

Both Honda and Toyota are often praised for their reliability, but Toyota has proven itself to be the more reliable brand. Not only does the company consistently rank higher on reliability studies and surveys, but its vehicles also tend to last longer in the real world.

Affordability

Both Toyota and Honda operate in the mainstream car market and, therefore, compete directly in many vehicle classes, though not all. Toyota offers far more models than Honda, so some Toyotas such as the Land Cruiser SUV and Tundra full-size pickup truck don’t have a Honda equivalent.

In the U.S., Toyota’s wider variety of vehicles range from $15,600 to over $85,000, while Hondas generally fall within the $16,000 to $35,000 price range. Comparable models from both automakers usually have similar prices, features, and options.

Their reputation for incredible build quality means Toyotas and Hondas typically have higher prices than their mainstream competitors, however, so they generally don’t offer the best value for money. Anyone looking for the best bang for the buck should consider a Kia.

It’s the same story in the used car maker, where used Toyotas and Hondas command a hefty price premium due to their solid reliability. 

Winner: Tie

You will find that comparable Toyota and Honda vehicles have similar prices and features, which means they cost more than vehicles from other mainstream brands on both the used and new car markets.

Performance

On top of having solid reliability, Toyotas and Hondas are also renowned for their incredible fuel efficiency. However, because Toyota offers a lot more hybrid models than Honda, it has the stronger green cred.

With ride and handling, Toyotas have traditionally leaned towards the comfort side of the equation, while Hondas have been sportier and more fun-to-drive. 

So even though Toyota has two purpose-built sports cars (GR 86 and Supra) to Honda’s zero, Hondas — from the small Fit (jazz) to the mom-mobile Odyssey minivan — are sportier on average than comparable Toyotas.

The performance gap is closing, however, as Toyota has made great strides over the past 10 years to shake off its reputation for building boring cars by introducing more stylistically dynamic and fun-to-drive models.

When it comes to sports utility vehicles and pickup trucks, the situation is reversed. All of Honda’s SUVs are car-based crossovers, while Toyota has three traditional, body-on-frame SUVs. 

Its sole pickup truck, the Ridgeline, is also a car underneath, a stark contrast to the Toyota Tacoma and Tundra, both of which are genuine, body-on-frame trucks.

Though less comfortable to drive, body-on-frame vehicles have far better towing and off-roading capabilities than their car-based counterparts and are the preferred choice for off-road enthusiasts. See our crossover vs SUV comparison guide for a detailed discussion on this.

Winner: Toyota

Even though the average Honda is more fun-to-drive than the average Toyota, the performance gap isn’t big. Toyota’s lineup also has far more variety, especially with regards to fuel efficiency, off-roading, and towing.

Cost Of Ownership

Studies show that Hondas and Toyotas are some of the least expensive cars to operate over the first 10 years of ownership. However, as with reliability, Toyota has a slight edge. 

According to Repair Smith, Toyota owners spend an average of $5,500 in maintenance and repairs in the first 10 years, while Honda owners spend $7,200. Those figures place Toyota first and Honda third in their rankings.

Consumer Reports’ 2020 Annual Auto Surveys echoed Repair Smith’s findings. Yet again, Toyota’s cars were found to be cheaper to maintain in the first 10 years of ownership, about 27 percent cheaper than Honda’s cars.

Every new Toyota and Honda comes with a comprehensive but limited warranty. But while both companies provide a vehicle warranty for approximately 36 months or 36,000 miles (57,936 km) in North America, whichever comes first, Honda’s powertrain warranty is shorter.

You get powertrain coverage for 6 years or 60,000 miles (96,560 km) with Toyotas but only 5 years or 60,000 miles with Hondas.

Winner: Toyota

The slight edge in reliability Toyota has over Honda translates to a lower cost of ownership. Not only are new Toyotas cheaper to maintain over time than Hondas, but they also come with a longer powertrain warranty.

Honda Vs Toyota FAQs

Here are the answers to a few popular questions people have about Toyota and Honda vehicles.

Is Toyota More Reliable Than Honda?

Both brands are very reliable; however, Toyota consistently scores higher than Honda in reliability studies, and its vehicles tend to last longer.

While this superior reliability means Toyotas generally hold their value better than Hondas, the difference isn’t great. You get industry-leading resale values from both brands.

Who Makes Better Engines, Honda Or Toyota?

Honda is the world’s largest manufacturer of engines, so it knows a thing or two about making quality engines. Compared to Toyota’s engines, its engines tend to be more powerful and geared towards performance. 

Honda also offers more turbocharged engines than Toyota.

Which Brand Has Better Reviews, Toyota or Honda?

Before buying a car, it helps to read expert reviews of the particular model of interest. While Hondas and Toyotas generally receive very positive reviews, it’s usually Honda that comes out on top in review comparisons.

Why? Honda vehicles are more engaging to drive than Toyotas, and expert car reviewers tend to be car enthusiasts who are partial to fun cars.

Final Thoughts

Toyota and Honda continue to live up to their reputation for building great vehicles with solid reliability, class-leading fuel efficiency, and compliant, if not fun, driving dynamics. But based on the criteria we looked at, Toyota is the better overall carmaker. 

Not only are there a larger number and variety of Toyota vehicles to choose from, but Toyotas are also more reliable and cheaper to own than the average Honda.

Japan’s number two is no slouch either as its vehicles tend to be more fun-to-drive and have similar reliability and cost of ownership ratings. It even beats Toyota in some segments such as small cars.

Basically, as informative as our Toyota vs Honda comparison guide is, it isn’t likely to end the debate over which brand makes the better car. That’s why you should always cross-shop and test individual models before making a purchase.

If you found this article helpful, you might also enjoy our Nissan vs Toyota comparison guide.

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