The 10 Most Reliable JDM Cars Ever Made

The 10 Most Reliable JDM Cars Ever Made

When people think of Japanese cars, one of the big associations that comes to mind is reliability. JDM cars have always had really great, solid engineering when compared to their European and American peers. This is especially true when it comes to high-performance cars and off-roaders. Japan’s offerings in these categories often leave the traditional European and American offerings far behind when it comes to being really well-built and reliable.

Of course, not all Japanese cars are brilliant. But, they are usually reliable, and some are much more revered for their reliability than others.

10 Mazda MX-5 Miata (NA)

1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata - Enkei RPF1 Wheels
Via: Enkei Wheels

No list about JDM cars is complete without mentioning the venerable Miata. It’s become a hit for many reasons and one of them is its solid reliability. While many sports cars can break easily and have expensive parts and servicing costs, the Miata is the opposite. The first-generation NA model is so reliable that many of them are still on the road today.

The Miata really is a car where you can have all the fun with none of the drawbacks. It’s got light and nippy Lotus-like handling, it’s fairly cheap to run thanks to its small engine and cheap parts, and it’s incredibly reliable.

9 Nissan Skyline GT-R (R32)

1991 Nissan Skyline R32 GTR

The R32 Nissan Skyline GT-R is one of the most legendary JDM cars of all time. It’s also one of the most solid and most reliable! The engines are so well-engineered that it’s not uncommon for people to get 600+ hp out of the standard block, while still keeping their bulletproof reliability intact. It’s no surprise, then, that so many R32s are still around all over the world.

The R32 Skyline GT-R is a JDM legend for a reason. It gives you brilliant performance without any reliability worries, even if you tune it quite a bit. For anyone who wants a classic JDM performance car, the R32 Skyline GT-R is as brilliant as you’ll get.

RELATED: Birth Of A Monster: How Nissan Created The R32 GT-R

8 Subaru Impreza WRX STi (GD)

2001 Subaru Impreza WRX STi

The bug-eyed GD Impreza WRX STi isn’t the most well-liked version of Subaru’s legendary rally-bred monster. But, it’s still a brilliant car that’s loved by enthusiasts for both its performance and its reliability. That reliability isn’t massively impacted if it’s tuned, either.

Loads of GD Imprezas of all different types are still around. The WRX STi version is a car that’ll give you almost supercar levels of performance, but it’s so well-built that it’ll last you decades. Add that rally-bred AWD system in, and it’s a seriously capable and dependable sports sedan.

7 Toyota Celica

JDM 1994 Toyota Celica GT-Four ST205 Finished In Black Over Gray Cloth
Via Bring a Trailer

The Toyota Celica is one of the most legendary Japanese coupes of the ’90s. This is mainly thanks to its achievements in rallying through the AWD GT-Four model. While it’s mainly known for its great performance and its relatively cheap secondhand values, the Celica is also a very reliable car. There are very few known problems with them and many of them have lasted as daily drivers for years and years.

While it may sometimes get overshadowed by its other rally-associated JDM peers, the Toyota Celica is definitely a car that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s not only got great performance, but it’s also one of the most reliable Japanese sports cars out there.

RELATED: The JDM Toyota Celica GT-Four Is Japan’s Unsung Rally Hero

6 Lexus IS300

yellow 2001_lexus_IS300 side
via BaT

The Lexus IS300 is one of the most anonymous cars on this list. People don’t often realise how much of a sneaky JDM performance machine it actually is. That’s because under the hood it has a version of Toyota’s legendary 2JZ 6-cylinder engine! The 2JZ is one of the big reasons why the IS300 is so reliable. It’s a bulletproof engine that can easily take a huge amount of tuning.

While the IS300 is a bit of a boring choice in some ways, it’s one that’ll never let you down. Its reliability is so strong that it can keep going as a daily driver for decades, and many have done exactly that!

5 Lexus GS300

Front 3/4 view of the GS300

Like its IS300 sibling, the GS300 often goes unnoticed. People will often see these cars and not realize that it has the fantastic 2JZ engine hiding under the hood! This means it has the same absolutely bombproof reliability as every other 2JZ-engined car.

The GS300 may be a fairly anonymous car, but it’ll give you almost trouble-free motoring for years and years. Even if you decide to go crazy and tune it, it’ll carry on being incredibly reliable.

4 Honda Civic Type R (EK9)

Honda Civic Type-R EK9

There are a lot of different generations of the Civic Type R we could have chosen for this list. It’s been a consistently great car when it comes to the combination of performance with rock-solid reliability. But, we chose the often underrated EK9 model from the ’90s. A lot of EK9s are still around, and that’s because this really is one of the most reliable JDM performance cars you can get anywhere.

When it comes to reliable hatchbacks, the Honda Civic really is one of the best. That stays true with the Type R versions, especially early ones like the EK9.

RELATED: 10 Things Gearheads Should Know About The EK9 Honda Civic Type-R

3 Nissan 350Z

Source: YouTube @ The Sketch Monkey

The Nissan 350Z isn’t a JDM car that’s typically thought of as being brilliantly reliable. But, it absolutely is! 350Zs tend to go on for ages and ages without too many problems. A lot of that is down to the VQ35 V6 engine, which is shared with all sorts of other Nissan (and Renault!) cars and has a great reputation for reliability.

The Nissan 350Z’s ability to give you the fun sports car experience without any drawbacks of poor unreliability has made it an enthusiast’s favorite. It’s not uncommon for people to choose the 350Z as their first proper sports car for this reason.

2 Toyota GT86/Subaru BRZ/Scion FR-S

A blue Subaru BRZ
Nikonian Novice via Flickr

Ever since it came out in the early 2010s, this Toyota and Subaru joint venture has been a hit with enthusiasts. It gave everyone exactly what it promised, which was an accessible sports car without many of the pains associated with owning one. That includes great reliability. These cars never tend to run into big reliability problems, even across a lot of miles and multiple owners.

Much like the Mazda Miata and Nissan 350Z, a lot of people are choosing this car as their entry into sports car ownership. That’s really not surprising at all, as the Toyotabaru (as it’s sometimes called) has the same all the fun but none of the headaches quality with sports car ownership as the Miata and the 350Z do.

1 Toyota Land Cruiser (J100)

2003 Toyota Land Cruiser 100 Series Front Profile Featured
Via Toyota

There’s an Australian saying that goes like this. “If you want to go into the Australian Outback, take a Land Rover. But if you want to come back again, take a Land Cruiser.” That alone sums up the legendary reputation for reliability this off-roader has. The J100 generation of the Land Cruiser has a reputation for almost faultless motoring, going for hundreds of thousands of miles of daily driving with barely any complaints. They’re also built so well that they can survive anywhere in the world in any conditions, including active warzones!

If your main concern is bombproof reliability, the J100 Toyota Land Cruiser is one of the best JDM cars you can get. It’s tried and tested in every environment, from frozen tundra to the Sahara, and it’ll never, ever let you down. Oh, and it can seat up to 7 people in comfort too. What’s not to love?