Toyota Made In Japan VS USA (Are There Differences?)

Own a Toyota or considering buying one?

You may have stumbled across a fierce online debate about whether made Toyotas are inferior quality to Japanese made Toyotas.

Are Toyotas made in Japan better?

It’s widely accepted that Toyotas made in Japan are better quality than those made in the US.

The main reasons for this are due to Japanese perfectionist philosophies like Kaizen and the ability to procure better quality parts.

Read on to find out why Toyotas are better made in Japan, as well as how to tell if your Toyota was made in Japan or elsewhere.

toyota japan usa

Are There Any Physical Differences Between US And Japanese Toyota Models?

You’re not going to notice any obvious differences between US and Japanese Toyotas.

They will look identical to the untrained eye.

They use the same parts (mainly) and follow the same manufacturing processes.

So why do so many people think that Japan made Toyotas are better then?

There are a couple of reasons…

Build Quality

Although it’s contentious, Toyotas built in Japan are often thought to have better build quality compared with the Toyotas built in the USA.

Many believe that this is down to Japanese discipline and work ethic.

Kaizen (The Art Of Perfection) Is a Japanese philosophy that is taught to Japanese children at a young age and produces a manufacturing workforce that is highly disciplined in everything they do.

Japanese workers are also famous for their unwavering dedication to their work.

It’s this dedication and strives for perfectionism in all areas of the production line, that produces incremental improvements in build quality and results in a Toyota with the slightly better build quality.

On the other hand, the US car manufacturing industry suffers from an unmotivated workforce.

A study by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association found that among US teens 52%
expressed “little or no interest in a manufacturing career”.

This is because they viewed manufacturing as a “declining field with unprofessional, dead-end jobs”.

With this contrast in Workforce mindset, it’s no wonder that just 50% of the 2.3 million Toyotas sold in the US in 2019 were actually made there.


Although Toyota parts are the same on paper, many owners believe that smaller components (such as nuts and bolts) are different between those built in Japan and those built in the US.

Many owners try to pinpoint the differences in forums and the general consensus is that Japanese made components are more “solid”.

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How Do You Tell If Your Toyota Was Made In Japan Or The USA?

If you want to know where your car was originally assembled, you need to check your car’s VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).

You can check your car’s VIN by looking for it in the front, driver-side window.

You should be able to see it from the outside.

The first character of your VIN tells you the location or country where the vehicle was manufactured and assembled.

If you can’t see your car’s VIN you can always check your vehicle paperwork.

It will be listed on the title and registration logged with the DMV.

If you’re still not sure, check with your insurance provider as they are likely to have all the necessary documentation and information.

Check this table to see how your VIN corresponds to a country:

Number at beginning of VINCountry
1, 4, or 5USA
7New Zealand
8 or 9South America

If your VIN starts with a letter, then your vehicle was manufactured outside of North and
South America.

Letter at beginning of VINCountry

Can you still buy Made-in-Japan Toyotas in the US?

Yes, US residents can still buy made-in-Japan Toyotas in the US. There are a total of five models built in Japan, available in the US.

What Toyota Models Are Made In Japan?

The full list of Toyota models that are made in Japan and available for purchase in
the US, are:

  • Toyota Prius
  • Toyota 86
  • Toyota Mirai
  • Toyota Land Cruiser
  • Toyota 4Runner

There are other Toyota models that are built abroad elsewhere that are available in the US, including the Toyota Yaris (France) and the Toyota C-HR (Turkey).

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Final Thoughts

If you’re deliberating over whether or not you should buy a Japanese made or US-made Toyota, the answer is clear.

So long as it won’t break the bank, you should always buy the Toyota that’s made in Japan.

Their cultural strive for perfection really does make for better manufacturing and assembling processes.

Buying the Japanese made Toyota will likely mean you’ll have a reliable car with little-to-no issues for the next 10-20 years.