Toyota vs. Honda is a complex battle between two of Japan’s largest car companies. It’s a heated rivalry and it dates back to the 1960s, when both brands began selling their popular cars and trucks in the United States. Six decades later, in 2019, the two automakers are still battling it out as they build and sell millions of cars, trucks, hatchbacks and SUVs in the US every year.
Honda was founded by Soichiro Honda after World War II. Although best known for the Civic and Accord, as well as its popular SUVs like the CR-V and Pilot, it began making motorcycles in 1949, and introduced its first car, a mini pickup, in 1963.
Today both companies enjoy enviable reputations for building durable, high-quality cars and trucks that are fun to drive and comfortable. But what’s really the difference between Toyota and Honda? Does one brand build better vehicles than the other with superior packaging, performance and power? And what about cost?
Here we’ll compare the two brands, addressing each of these important propositions. We’ll also answer these seven questions, so when it’s time for you to buy your next new or used car, truck, SUV, hybrid or hatchback, you’ll know which is best for you, Toyota or Honda.
And for more side by side looks at rivalries like these, you can read our article on what to compare.
- What is the difference between Toyota versus Honda?
- Which offers more models, Toyota or Honda?
- Toyota versus Honda: which car is better?
- Which is more reliable, Toyota or Honda?
- Which is cheaper, Toyota or Honda?
- Which has a better reputation, Toyota or Honda?
- Which has lower maintenance costs, Toyota or Honda?
- Which have better reviews, Toyota or Honda?
Although most Americans think of Toyota and Honda play on the same scale, the truth is that Toyota is a much larger and much richer company than Honda. In terms of sheer corporate value, Toyota is the most successful, preponderant automaker in the world. Honda is much smaller with an overall value that’s just 25 percent of Toyota’s.
Toyota also sells many more vehicles in the United States every year than Honda. In 2018 Toyota became the country’s number one retail selling car brand for the seventh consecutive year, selling 2,128,362 cars, trucks, SUVs and minivans, most of which were assembled in North America. Toyota owns six automotive assembly plants in the United States.
American’s bought 1,445,894 Honda vehicles in 2018, with the vast majority of them also being built in the United States. Honda was the first Japanese automaker to produce products in America and it has been building cars in the U.S. since 1982. It now operates two massive assembly plants in Ohio, one in Alabama and one in Indiana.
Toyota also offers new car buyers and certified used car shoppers more dealers to choose from. Toyota has about 1,500 dealers in the United States, while Honda has 1054.
This may make it a bit easier to find a Toyota dealer near you, especially if you live in a rural area. It also may make it easier to find the exact model you’re looking for in dealer stock and it can make it easier to finance the deal. This is not only important when you’re buying the car, but have a dealer closer to your house will save you time when the car needs service.
Toyota also offers consumers more models than Honda. Like other auto giants such as Ford and General Motors, Toyota is what is known as a full-line manufacturer. It competes in the vast majority of vehicle classes, including full-size trucks. For 2019 Toyota offers 18 nameplates including a long list of sedans, two pickups, eight hybrid models and six different SUVs.
Honda’s lineup is much smaller. For 2019 Honda offers 11 nameplates including a handful of sedans, one pickup truck, two hybrids, one full-electric model and four different SUVs. Surprisingly, Toyota does not offer an all-electric model.
Both manufacturers, however, do offer fuel-cell vehicles. The Toyota Mirai and Honda Clarity Fuel Cell, both generate electricity from Hydrogen, which can be purchased at special stations around the southwest. Each is then powered by a complex powertrain system with a battery pack and an electric motor, much like an EV.
Car buyers should also know that the Toyota vs. Honda rivalry expands into luxury cars. Toyota owns Lexus, while Honda owns Acura. And they’re luxury cars often share many components, including engines, with their Toyota and Honda models.
If you live in a snowy climate, you’re probably looking for a car, truck or SUV with front-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or on demand four-wheel drive. Rear-wheel drive vehicles aren’t as popular with drivers that live where weather can be extreme. Both Toyota and Honda offer many front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles.
In fact, every Honda is front-wheel drive. An all-wheel drive system is offered on some models like its Ridgeline pickup truck and all of its SUVs. All-wheel drive is an option on the Honda HR-V, CR-V and its largest crossover, the seven-passenger Pilot, which offers three rows of seats.
Most Toyotas are also front-wheel drive. However, the Toyota 86 sports coupe is rear-wheel drive. And Toyota does offer two pickups, the Tacoma and the full-size Tundra, with on demand four-wheel drive system, which is needed for more serious off-road driving.
This is also the case with three of Toyota’s SUVs. The 4Runner, Sequoia and Land Cruiser are rear-wheel drive, until the driver puts them in four-wheel drive, which is as simple as pushing a button. These three trucks are not car-based crossovers. They have more rugged, ladder-type frames similar to Toyota’s pickup trucks. This gives Toyota the advantage with off-road enthusiasts over Honda.
Toyota’s other SUVs, the C-HR, the very popular RAV4, and Highlander are car based and front-wheel drive. However, an all-wheel drive system is available on the RAV4 and the Highlander.
Since the 1970s, when Toyota and Honda models really began to gain popularity in America, the two brands have set the standard for quality, reliability and dependability. And that’s generally still the case. Both build very reliable and dependable cars and trucks that exceed the industry average for defects and longevity.
Toyota, however, does have a very slight edge over Honda in recent predicted reliability scores. Most Toyota models scored well above the industry average, and only one, the Toyota Sienna minivan, scored below that average. The more popular Honda Odyssey minivan scored higher.
Of all the Honda models, the Accord scored best, with a well above average rating. Most other Hondas also scored just above the industry average, although a few did not. Not a single Honda model, however, was scored below average for projected reliability.
Toyota and Honda compete head to head in many vehicle classes, but not all. Toyota offers more models than Honda, so it’s not always a fair comparison when it comes to price. To help you calculate which models are cheaper we’ve listed every Toyota and every Honda model along with its base price, not including the unavoidable destination fee, which is usually about $900 on most models.
Notice that Toyota has a wider variety of vehicles that range from $15,600 to over $85,000, while Honda’s lineup ranges from about $16,000 to just under $35,000. Comparable models usually offer similar features and options.
- Toyota Yaris $15,600 vs. Honda Fit $16,190
- Toyota Corolla $19,500 vs. Honda Civic $19,450
- Toyota Prius $23,770 vs. Honda Insight $22,930
- Toyota Camry $24,095 vs. Honda Accord $23,720
- Toyota 86 $26,655 vs. Honda Civic Si Coupe $24,300
- Toyota Prius Prime $27,350 vs. Honda Clarity Plug-In $33,400
- Toyota Mirai $58,500 vs. Honda Clarity (Lease Only)
- Toyota Sienna $31,415 vs. Honda Odyssey $30,190
- Toyota Tacoma $25,850 vs. Honda Ridgeline $29,990
- Toyota C-HR $21,145 vs. Honda HR-V $20,520
- Toyota RAV4 $25,650 vs. Honda CR-V $24,350
- Toyota Highlander $31,680 vs. Honda Pilot $31,450
- Toyota 4Runner $35,310 vs. Honda Passport $31,990
These Toyota models don’t have a direct competitor from Honda.
- Toyota Prius C $21,530
- Toyota Avalon $35,650
- Toyota Tundra $31,670
- Toyota Sequoia $49,050
- Toyota Land Cruiser $85,185
Both Toyota and Honda have excellent reputations, and each has its loyal customers, but Toyota offers significantly more hybrid models than Honda, including the popular Prius. As a result it has a better reputation in the green community and with buyers looking for the best fuel economy. Honda’s cars are also known for their high fuel economy, but the brand is better known for building fun to drive models.
Performance enthusiasts usually prefer Honda. It offers more turbocharged engines than Toyota. And although Toyota’s 86 sports car is rear-wheel drive, the front-wheel Honda Civic Si and Honda Civic Type R offer more power and performance. They also handle better than the Toyota 86, which makes them more popular with performance drivers.
Overall, Hondas are generally sportier to drive than Toyotas. But that gap is closing. Over the last few years Toyota has made significant efforts to make its products more fun-to-drive and they’re more dynamically styled than they used to be.
Honda still has the edge in performance, but Toyota is no longer the poster child for boring cars. Plus, its new turbocharged, rear-wheel drive Toyota Supra sports car will certainly improve the brand’s performance image.
Data shows that Toyotas and Hondas are among the least expensive cars to keep on the road when it comes to maintenance costs over the first 10 years of their lives. But Toyota does have a slight advantage over Honda.
In their first 10 years on the road, the average Honda costs its owner $7,200 in maintenance, which is lower than every other brand except for Lexus at $7,000 and Toyota at $5,500. Remember, Toyota owns Lexus. This is especially relevant to the shoppers of certified pre-owned and used models.
Every new Toyota and Honda also comes standard with a comprehensive but limited warranty. Every Toyota is supported by vehicle warranty for 36-months or 36,000-miles, whichever comes first. It’s powertrain coverage, which protects the owner from costly repairs of its engine and transmission, is good for 60 months or 60,000 miles.
All new Hondas are also covered by a 3-Year/36,000-Mile Limited Warranty. But Honda’s powertrain warranty is shorter than Toyotas and only covers the vehicle’s engine and transmission for 5-Years or 60,000-Miles.
Before you buy any new or used car you should spend some time online reading a bunch of expert car reviews. They’re easy to find and many include videos of the cars interior, which is always helpful. Most Toyota and Honda models receive very favorable reviews, and they’re consistently recommended by experts, but when comparisons are made between the two, the Honda usually comes out on top.
This is often because the Honda is more fun to drive than the Toyota and most expert car reviewers are car enthusiasts that like the additional performance. Generally, Honda’s also exude superior packaging, so they usually offer more interior space and cargo volume and access then their Toyota rival.
There are exceptions, however. Toyota’s pickup trucks and its hybrid models are usually ranked higher than Hondas comparable models. The Toyota Tacoma, for instance, is far more capable than the Honda Ridgeline off-road, so it’s usually chosen as the winner when the two trucks are compared. If you don’t plan to take the truck off road, reviewers usually recommend the Ridgeline, because it’s based on a crossover chassis so it rides smoother and is more comfortable.
Most online car reviews also rate the Toyota Prius and the Prius Prime over the Honda Clarity.
Toyota and Honda both build great products. And their appeal isn’t just limited to one type of car buyer. Both brands have a wide array of quality cars and trucks for an expansive clientele and consumer demographics and psychographics. Basically there’s a Toyota or Honda for everyone. So while the Toyota versus Honda debate will certainly rage on, we recommend cross shopping between the two brands and buying the very best vehicle for you and your family.