Do Japanese car brands hold their value?

    Japanese cars are some of the most popular on British roads, renowned for their reliability, performance, and accessible price points. But does their reputation strengthen their resale value? 

    Makes and models can see wide variation in pricing in the used car market. Staying on top of market trends is key to getting the best price possible, whether you’re thinking of buying or selling a Japanese-made car.

    To help you better plan for tomorrow, we outline the central factors impacting Japanese car valuation today. 

    Japanese car manufacturers 101

    Japanese cars have a reputation for dependable performance – often at accessible price points.

    From Toyota to Honda to Nissan, Japanese cars are built to last. Renowned for dependable performance, Japanese vehicles are designed with reliability in mind. Their precision craftsmanship and advanced engineering enhances the driving experience and contributes to a higher resale value, offering consumers a trustworthy and enduring investment.

    In 2023, Toyota Motor Corporation was the world’s largest manufacturer of passenger vehicles, followed closely by German automotive giant Volkswagen. Selling cars under a variety of brands, including the namesake Toyota brand and the luxury Lexus division, the manufacturer is often seen as epitome of automotive reliability. 

    Toyota is one of the most popular car brands sold on Motorway, with high numbers of both city cars and SUVs sold on our platform. For instance, the compact Aygo and RAV4 SUV share the reputation as being very good cars. Both showcase the brand’s commitment to quality, fuel efficiency, and cutting-edge technology, and rank among the 10 best vehicles for holding value retention

    With its diverse lineup of well-built cars and SUVs, Honda also consistently ranks highly for holding value. Models like the Jazz exemplify Honda’s commitment to longevity and innovative features, appealing to a broad spectrum of consumers. In fact, resale prices for the Jazz increased by 22% percent from 2022 to 2023. 

    Nissan and Mazda are well-loved among UK drivers. Nissan is known around the world for its stylish and reliable range of passenger cars. Its Qashqai, a small SUV, is consistently one of the country’s most popular cars, new or used. Mazda’s sleek design and smooth drive are also well-received.

    Subaru has earned acclaim for its commitment to all-wheel-drive technology and rugged reliability. Respected for vehicles like the Outback and Forester, Subaru’s strong resale value reflects a combination of durability, safety features, and a dedicated fan base. 

    While Japanese cars largely hold their value well over time, just how much their value changes depends on a variety of factors. 

    Brand, price point, and maintenance all impact resale value. However, the story of every car is unique. Track the value of your vehicle to make the most informed decision on when to sell based on your changing valuation trends.


    BrandResale value reputationValue retention factors
    Toyota😁 Excellent– Reliability
    – Solid build quality
    – Fuel efficiency
    – Low maintenance costs
    Lexus😁 Excellent– Luxury
    – Quality craftsmanship
    – Advanced features
    Honda🙂 Good– Reliability
    – Solid build quality
    – Fuel efficiency
    – Reputation for longevity
    Mazda😐 Varied– Performance
    – Sleek design 
    – Reliability
    Subaru😐 Varied– All-wheel drive capability
    – Safety features
    – Reliability
    Nissan😐 Varied– Model
    – Specific features
    – Reliability

    Make and model

    Toyota leads the pack in retaining value over time.

    Here are five Japanese car models that fetched higher prices on Motorway in 2023 compared to 2022, indicating strong values across the used car market:

    🚘 Toyota Aygo

    A sporty city car, the Toyota Aygo continually ranks as one of the top cars bid on by Motorway’s nationwide network of dealers thanks to its reliability, affordability, fuel efficiency, and low maintenance costs. Prices fetched by the Aygo on Motorway have increased by 29% over the past year.

    🚘 Honda Jazz

    Steady demand for both new and used models helps the Honda Jazz maintain a strong resale value. The Jazz’s fuel efficiency and generally low maintenance costs, in addition to Honda’s reputation for building durable vehicles at accessible price points, further contribute to a positive perception among buyers. The Jazz is the Honda model that increased in value on Motorway the most in 2023.

    🚘 Toyota RAV-4

    A perennial favourite, the Toyota RAV4 continues to represent Japanese engineering in the compact SUV market. Renowned for its practicality, fuel efficiency, and advanced safety features, the RAV4 has established itself as a benchmark for resale value, making it an enduring choice for those seeking reliability and lasting investment.

    🚘 Toyota Yaris

    Like other Toyota models, the subcompact Toyota Yaris has a reputation for reliability and durability. Compact cars typically do well on the resale market given their practicality, and Yaris’ hybrid option offers even better fuel efficiency in a market with a growing interest in hybrid and electric vehicles.

    🚘 Nissan LEAF

    Small and mighty, the Nissan Leaf has a strong resale value for an electric vehicle. While electric vehicles can have higher upfront costs compared to traditional vehicles, the Leaf is a relatively affordable option on the EV market. Growing interest in EVs, favourable government policies, improvements in EV battery technology, lower operating costs, and more accessible pricing all contribute to the Leaf’s ability to retain value over time.


    Japanese cars are built to last. However, regular maintenance is crucial to keeping cars in top shape. Luckily, most Japanese vehicles do not require speciality parts when undergoing repairs. Using aftermarket parts rather than speciality-ordering new components helps keep garage costs down, a positive for any car owner that also contributes to resale costs. 

    Aside from repairing issues, a vehicle’s overall condition, including its exterior, interior, and mechanical components, significantly contributes to resale value. Buyers are less likely to purchase cars in poor condition or with high mileage, as both can raise concerns about potential future repairs and value depreciation. 

    Supply and demand

    The used car market is shaped by consumer preferences and economic shifts. Fluctuating trends impact the value of specific models. When there’s an abundant supply of a popular car model, for example, only those with the best mileage and condition, and most desired add-ons (such as the colour and interior fittings), will rise to the top and achieve the best prices. 

    Since there are so many Japanese cars in the UK, this means that popular cars could fetch less than those you don’t see everyday. This is one of the reasons why the Nissan Qashqai was one of 10 models that dropped value in 2023 compared to 2022 on Motorway.  

    However, Japanese brands’ reputation for durability and longevity can also be a boon to resale pricing, especially given their initial accessible price tags. As the cost of living crisis continues to tighten consumers’ pursestrings, potential buyers will be on the lookout for long-lasting, quality cars at affordable prices – all hallmarks of Japanese cars.

    Technological features

    Having the latest features can help boost your car’s resale value.

    The role of onboard technology and optional extras cannot be understated in the car resale equation. Features like advanced safety systems, infotainment upgrades, and connectivity options enhance a vehicle’s appeal, positively impacting its value retention. 

    However, the pace of technological evolution means that outdated systems can lead to faster depreciation. Japanese models are upgraded and redesigned every few years, leaving the existing car stock on the road downgraded to ‘runout’ status. If Honda has just brought out a new Jazz with greater efficiency, and a more comfortable interior, the value of your existing Jazz model can be expected to drop, for example. 


    What is the most reliable Japanese car brand?

    Toyota consistently ranks as the most reliable Japanese car brand. Renowned for durability and low maintenance costs, Toyota vehicles, such as the Camry and Corolla, embody a commitment to long-lasting performance.

    Are Japanese cars going up in value?

    Japanese models generally have strong value retention due to their reliability and reputation. While it’s true that cars depreciate in value after leaving the forecourt, overall Japanese vehicles, especially from brands like Toyota and Honda, hold their value well over time.

    Does Honda or Toyota have better resale value?

    Both Honda and Toyota exhibit impressive resale values, but Toyota often edges ahead. Among the top 10 used cars increasing in value, two were Toyotas and one was a Honda.

    How can I track my car’s value? 

    Motorway’s Car Value Tracker tool lets you map your vehicle’s changing value over time.

    If you’re not sure what your car’s value is to begin with, it’s hard to know how much its brand may impact the price.

    All vehicles depreciate at varying rates, with no rule of averages accurately describing any one car’s changing value. Motorway’s Car Value Tracker provides a free, reliable monthly price alert for up to six vehicles at once. 

    Follow changes to your car’s value to choose the best time to sell, and make informed choices about investments in your car’s maintenance.

    Ready to sell your car?

    Want to read more about owning, valuing, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from depreciation to maintaining your car’s value. Understand your car’s worth in the wider market.