Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Chevrolet, Ford and other well-regarded brands are routinely ranked at the top of quality indexes. If you’re looking for pre-owned cars for sale though, which brand should you spend the most time on? Which one is likely to do well years after it’s no longer new?
Spending on research
A lot has been made in the press of Toyota and its position for three straight years as the world’s number one carmaker by volume and revenue. The company is number one in another, more important area — research spending. No other automaker in the world spends more on R&D (its $1 million every hour, according to Toyota). The company is at No.4 of any company in any industry.
Not only has such spending allowed Toyota to develop novel technologies such as those used in the Prius, it has helped it improve safety. Toyota’s crash safety performance, vehicle dynamic control and collision prevention features are world beating ones. Toyota is often said to run innovation factories just as much as car factories. These are results that you can actually see in cars that you buy today.
When you buy an inexpensive Toyota, it’s actually an expensive car
Toyota takes a page out of Airbus’ playbook in the way it designs its cars — whether you’re buying an entry-level Corolla, a midrange Highlander or a high-end Lexus, they all have the same control layouts and drive the same way. In other words, a used $5,000 Toyota benefits from all the research that went into driving systems used in a Lexus. While there is a world of difference when it comes to refinement, power and features, everything that you do get at your price range is the same as you would see in a high-end car.
Toyotas last and need less maintenance
While all modern cars sold in the US have remarkably low maintenance needs, Toyota heads the list. As an example, Honda’s cars need their valvetrains routinely checked and adjusted for the right amount of clearance; Toyota, on the other hand, uses maintenance-free valvetrain technology. Honda’s cars also tend to have specific servicing needs — you can’t use any old coolant, brake fluid, power steering fluid or gear oil in their cars; everything you use needs to be specifically made for the brand.
It could be because Honda’s cars tend to be more aimed at drivers who need sporty performance rather than simple comfort and reliability. Many such sport-inclined drivers, though, simply do not have the patience needed to tend to the special needs of Hondas. They end up using generic products in them and neglect their precise tuning needs to their car’s detriment.
The fact that Honda cars are sportier also means that they are driven harder, and end up in used car lots in poorer condition. If you plan to buy a used car, and simply want trouble-free performance more than anything else, Toyota has the sweet spot at this time.