Skip to main content

Japanese automakers have dominated the sedan and even SUV market for quite some time. The truck segment has always been more of a North American scene. In fact, when you think of a pickup truck, you would probably first imagine a Ford, Chevrolet, or Dodge Ram. 

Breaking into the truck segment has proved a difficult thing to do, with American trucks still dominating the market. According to, Japanese trucks are only “responsible for a tiny fraction of the full-size pickups sold in the U.S. and have never landed a model among the top three.” But a few brands refuse to back down and deliver serious competition to the American truck segment. Which automaker makes the best Japanese trucks?

Nissan: the worst Japanese truck brand

U.S. News rates Nissan at the bottom of their “Best Truck Brands of 2019,” with an average overall score of 7.6 out of 10. Automaker Nissan has two trucks in its lineup, the full-size Titan and midsize Frontier. While the Frontier seems to sell well, it hasn’t been significantly updated in quite some time.

It hauls and tows competitively amongst midsize trucks, but offers styling and features that U.S. News deems very “analog.” When it comes to reliability and safety, the Frontier’s scores are simply luke-warm.

The full-size Titan, on the other hand, offers both a gas-powered option and the Titan XD. The Titan XD is powered by a turbodiesel engine that improves towing and hauling capabilities to the likings of a heavy-duty truck. 

Nissan is known for its focus on safety and carries that through to its trucks, with the Titan scoring an excellent 9.3 out of 10. Reliability seems to be where Nissan trucks need to focus, however, since the Titan only receives a reliability score of 2.5 out of five. 

Honda only offers one truck, but it’s a good one

The Ridgeline is the only truck offered by automaker Honda, but it’s quickly become a fan favorite. It’s rated highly by U.S. News (8.7 out of 10) and helped Honda tie for second place in the Best Truck Brands list.

The Ridgeline is built on a unibody frame and is only offered in a four-door configuration. As a compact pickup, it has plenty of interior space but lacks the towing capacity and power of American-made, full-size pickups. Regardless, the Ridgeline offers all the functionality you need for an everyday truck, with all the modern features you appreciate.

Honda carried over its traditional offerings of affordability and owner satisfaction, garnering a perfect five out five score by Consumer Reports in the category. While the Ridgeline certainly performs well and will keep performing well for years, it simply cannot match the sheer power and towing capacity of full-size pickups.

Toyota is the cream of the crop


GMC Hummer EV Prototype Had So Much Torque, it Could Pop a Wheelie

Automaker Toyota is responsible for producing some of the most popular, safest, and reliable vehicles on the road. While its trucks may not be as best-selling as its sedans, Toyota’s midsize Tacoma pickup sells more than any other Japanese-made midsize truck.

Its safety and reliability ratings also rank it towards the top of its class. The Tacoma is currently in its third generation. According to OpenRoad Auto Group, the Tacoma has always been available in a variety of trim levels and configurations. In fact, the new 2020 Tacoma will offer 30 different configurations.

Toyota also makes the larger Tundra, which would be the first real competition against American-made, full-size pickups. Where the Tundra lacks in fuel economy ratings, it makes up for in reliability.

With a U.S. News rating of 4.5 out of five for reliability, it’s one of the best-rated pickups, American-made or otherwise. It’s because of Toyota’s long-standing reliability and safety that it should be considered the best Japanese truck maker of them all.