Top 12 Japanese Car Brands (With Photos)

Japanese cars are sold worldwide, and they are usually cheaper than models from American and German brands. You already know them – Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Suzuki, Acura, Lexus, and so on; they are all Japanese car brands and are popular worldwide. However, while Japanese cars are cheaper, they don’t compromise quality and technology.

This article lists all active and popular car brands in Japan and their location within the country. These brands have a long history of producing highly reliable cars at affordable prices.

Each brand offers a wide variety of model options; whether you’re looking for sedans, SUVs, coupes, hatchbacks, crossovers, trucks, or off-roaders, you’d find them with Japanese brands.

Top Japanese Car Brands

1. Nissan

  • Founding Date: December 1933
  • Founder(s): Masujiro Hashimoto, Kenjiro Den, Rokuro Aoyama, Meitaro Takeuchi, Yoshisuke Aikawa, and William R. Gorham.
  • Chairperson: Makoto Uchida
  • Headquarters: Yokohama, Kanagawa

Nissan is a popular automobile brand worldwide, producing several models that are sold largely in the U.S. and other international markets. Many don’t know that Nissan is actually a Japanese company; it was founded way back in 1933, with its headquarters in Yokohama, Kanagawa.

The company is among Asia’s top five (5) biggest automobile manufacturers, and it doesn’t compromise quality. Nissan vehicles are remarkably strong, reliable, and affordable; they also come with a ton of impressive technologies expected from modern vehicles.

The company owns other auto brands, including Infiniti and Datsun.

2. Infiniti

  • Founding Date: November 8, 1989
  • Founder(s): Nissan
  • Chairperson: Makoto Uchida
  • Headquarters: Yokohama, Kanagawa

Infiniti is a go-to brand when you need a highly reliable luxury SUV that won’t force you to break the bank. The brand focuses on producing performance luxury SUVs and sedans.

It is actually a division of Nissan – the luxury division of Nissan Motor Company. Infiniti produces cars for all markets, but its main target markets are the Americas, China, and the Middle East.

Ranked number fifth in ConsumerReport’s latest report on the most reliable car brands, Infiniti SUVs are notable for lasting long and giving fewer problems – as long as you stick with a healthy maintenance plan and service the engine regularly. Infiniti SUVs are among the best you can get from a Japanese brand.

3. Toyota

  • Founding Date: August 28, 1937
  • Founder(s): Kiichiro Toyoda
  • Chairperson: Akio Toyoda
  • Headquarters: Toyota City, Aichi

The name Toyota resounds “Quality,” “Affordability,” and “Reliability.” This is no joke; millions of people worldwide have come to agree that Toyota is one of the best automobile brands with the most reliable vehicles.

The company’s 4Runner, FJ Cruiser, and Land Cruiser models are notable for hitting over 400k miles without issues – if maintained properly.

Toyota is a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Toyota City, Aichi, Japan. It is one of the world’s largest automobile manufacturers – about 10 million Toyota models are produced yearly.

Also, Toyota Corolla and Camry models have remained among the highest-selling sedans worldwide – ever since they were introduced.

4. Lexus

  • Founding Date: 1989
  • Founder(s): Eiji Toyoda
  • Chairperson: Koji Sato
  • Headquarters: Nagoya

Lexus is one of the world’s best luxury car brands, producing some of the highest-reliable SUVs and sedans. It is the largest-selling Japanese luxury car brand – with solid market share in various international markets. The company is focused on providing its customers with hi-tech luxury vehicles at affordable prices.

What many do not know is that Lexus is a division of Toyota Motor Company; it is the luxury arm of Toyota. Hence, similar to mainstream Toyota models, Lexus models are built to last.

The brand ranked at the number one position on the Consumer Report’s 2022 summary of the most reliable car brands. Lexus vehicles are simply exotic and give you the same feeling of driving an American or German luxury brand at a very cheaper cost

5. Honda

  • Founding Date: 1948
  • Founder(s): Soichiro Honda
  • Chairperson: Toshihiro Mibe
  • Headquarters: Minato, Tokyo

When you talk of pioneer Japanese automobile brands, the name Honda would certainly be mentioned. Honda is one of the top automobile manufacturers operating in Japan. The company was established in 1948 as Honda Motors Co – it produces some of the classiest sedans you could get from Japanese auto brands.

Honda vehicles are sold worldwide, and they are equipped with a ton of handy technologies and newer features.

Popular Honda models such as the Passport, Pilot, Accord, and Odyssey; notwithstanding, the company produces a wide variety of vehicle types. Honda also manufactures and sells luxury vehicles under its Acura brand.

6. Acura

  • Founding Date: 1986
  • Founder(s): Soichiro Honda
  • Chairperson: Jon Ikeda
  • Headquarters: Torrance, California, United States

Although owned by the Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer Honda, the Acura brand is primarily headquartered in Torrance, California, United States.

The brand was established in 1986 as the luxury division of Honda Motor Co., focusing on producing high-performance luxury SUVs and sedans.

In its first few years of existence, Acura models sold more than BMW and Mercedes-Benz luxury models. The brand’s most popular and highest-selling model at the moment is MDX – a three-row, mid-size crossover SUV built for people of class. Acura also produces noteworthy coupes (Acura Legend) and sedans.

7. Mazda

  • Founding Date: January 30, 1920
  • Founder(s): Jujiro Matsuda
  • Chairperson: Akira Marumoto
  • Headquarters: Shinchi, Fuchū, Hiroshima

Mazda Motor Corporation simply referred to as Mazda, is a notable Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer based in the country’s capital city, Hiroshima.

Mazda has tried quite different marques since its establishment in 1920. The company produces a wide range of vehicles types, including coupes, sedans, SUVs, hatchbacks, and electric cars.

Currently, Mazda sits among the top five (5) Japanese automobile brands, with its global headquarters located in Fuchu, Hiroshima, Japan. Mazda vehicles are sold worldwide; they are incredibly reliable and packed with sophisticated technologies.

The latest ConsumerReports ranking sees Mazda occupy the second position in the most reliable car brand listing.

8. Mitsubishi

  • Founding Date: April 22, 1970
  • Founder(s): Mitsubishi Shipbuilding Co.
  • Chairperson: Takao Kato
  • Headquarters: Shibaura, Minato, Tokyo

One of Japanese’ most notable automotive brands since the 1960s. Mitsubishi Motors Corporation, commonly called Mitsubishi Motors or simply Mitsubishi, is a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer based in Minato, Tokyo.

The company was among the top five rankings of Japanese auto brands across categories but has fallen slightly in recent years.

The Mitsubishi brand has been 34% owned by Nissan since 2016, and as such, it is part of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance.

Mitsubishi produces a wide range of vehicles, ranging from sedans to SUVs, buses, hatchbacks, and other passenger cars. The Mitsubishi brand earned a good spot in J.D. Power’s latest reliability rankings (2022).

9. Isuzu

  • Founding Date: March 30, 1934
  • Founder(s):
  • Chairperson: Masanori Katayama
  • Headquarters: Yokohama Gate Tower, Nishi-Ku, Yokohama

Isuzu Motors Ltd., simply Isuzu, is a Japanese automobile manufacturer based in Yokohama. The brand was notable in its early years for producing some of the sturdiest commercial buses and utility vehicles driven in the early 1900s.

While the company hasn’t stopped making different models across categories, its main focus at the moment is producing commercial vehicles and diesel engines.

Isuzu vehicles are sold worldwide; the brand’s lineup includes sedans, crossovers, SUVs (off-road capable), light trucks, and many other varieties.

Up to this day, Isuzu diesel engines are used by many automobile manufacturers, including America’s General Motors. The company has a lot of subsidiaries and joint ventures, collaborating with many international companies and brands.

10. Subaru

  • Founding Date: July 15, 1953
  • Founder(s): Kenji Kita and Chikuhei Nakajima
  • Chairperson: Tomomi Nakamura
  • Headquarters: Ebisu, Shibuya, Japan

Here’s another top brand operating from Shibuya, Japan. Subaru is the automobile manufacturing division of Subaru Corporation. It was established in 1953 and is renowned for its unique boxer engine layout in most of its vehicles above 1,500cc. Subaru vehicles are incredibly strong and reliable.

Most people buy Subaru cars because of the brand’s signature engine, drive train, AWD, and rough-road capabilities.

More so, some Subaru’s passenger car models come with turbo engines for more optimal performance and speed gains. Popular models include the WRX, Legacy, and Outback. Subaru seem to have a “small but devoted” core of buyers.

11. Suzuki

  • Founding Date: October 1909
  • Founder(s): Michio Suzuki
  • Chairperson: Toshihiro Suzuki
  • Headquarters: Minami-Ku, Hamamatsu

Suzuki Motor Corporation, simply referred to as Suzuki, is a Japanese multinational corporation based in Minami-Ku, Hamamatsu, Japan.

Named after the founder, Michio Suzuki, the Suzuki brand is one of the oldest Japanese car brands, founded in October 1909. The company produces a wide variety of automobiles, motorcycles, wheelchairs, outboard marine engines, and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).

Suzuki is the third-largest automobile brand in Japan in terms of sales volume. As of 2016, the company was the eleventh biggest automaker by production worldwide. Suzuki vehicles are made in the company’s 35 production facilities across 23 countries, and sold in about 133 dealerships in 192 countries.

12. GLM

Photo by Thesupermat via Wikimedia
  • Founding Date: 2010
  • Founder(s):
  • Chairperson: Alexander Julian
  • Headquarters: Fushimi-Ku, Kyoto

Green Lord Motors Co., Ltd., shortened as GLM Co. Ltd., or simply GLM, is a Japanese electric vehicle manufacturing company based in Fushimi-Ku, Kyoto. The company runs as a “Stock Company” in Japan with a stern focus on developing and selling different electric vehicle (E.V.) models.

GLM’s first model was the 2015 Tommykaira ZZ – an E.V. designed to compete with other models in the “Sports” category.

There were only 99 units produced for sale, and the starting price per unit was about 8 million yen, excluding tax. The company has another E.V. model, the 2016 GLM G4, a supercar introduced at the 2016 Paris Motor Show.

Conclusion: Car Brands in Japan

These are the current, active Japanese car brands. Japanese automobile companies produce various affordable vehicles across categories, including luxury SUVs, sedans, and sports cars (supercars).

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