Mini Truck Depot is the #1 portal to buy Japanese mini trucks in the US. But what about these Japanese mini trucks’ reliability? Are they as reliable as UTVs and other off-road vehicles? Find out more here.

First Ask Where They’re From

To answer this question as to whether Japanese mini trucks are reliable, you really need to step back and look at where they are from both in terms of historical origin and geographical origin.

Geography

Let’s start with geography. So why is this important? Well clearly Japanese mini trucks are from Japan. It’s in the name, so it’s obvious. But what does that mean for you as a consumer? Well, when you go car or truck shopping, do you look at vehicles from some new company from China, Vietnam, or Kenya? Not that we have anything against those countries necessarily, it’s just much more likely that high up on your list will be at least a couple of Japanese companies — big names like Toyota, Honda, or Nissan, right?

There’s a reason for that. A few decades ago, Japanese cars were looked down on. They used to be the cheap and cheerful alternative to a real American car. But that hasn’t been the case for a long time now. Sure, the designs have improved. The performance has improved. The equipment has improved. But a major draw of these Japanese cars has been their reliability. Isn’t that what comes to mind when you think of Japanese cars?

Well, Japanese mini trucks are made by these very same automakers. The top two — Daihatsu and Suzuki — are not so well known in the US, but they are major players on the world stage. In particular, Daihatsu is now a fully-owned subsidiary of Toyota. In that regard it’s just like Lexus, when you think about it.

And although they are only sold for off-road use in the US, in Japan these mini trucks are built to go on the road. That’s why when you look underneath a Japanese mini truck, you see a proper automotive grade chassis — not UTV steel tube chassis here. They’re small, they’re relatively inexpensive, but they’re built to the same quality standards as your road-going Japanese pickup truck or car.

History

It may surprise you to find out that these Japanese mini trucks haven’t just arrived suddenly out of nowhere. Actually, the major players have been in this market 60 years or more. Now, clearly, your 1960s Daihtasu Hijet isn’t the same as your 2022 model. But that’s not the point. That’s decades of building millions of mini trucks, getting feedback from Japanese farmers and fisherman and other working users, and then refining designs and upping the quality game. With all this experience behind them, it’s not really surprising that these Japanese mini trucks have become stalwart standards of reliability in their home country — and now in the United States as well.

Let’s Talk Numbers

So Daihatsu, Suzuki and the rest of them have been doing this for a long time. Experience is definitely a plus. But it’s not the only factor. The other thing to look at is the huge numbers of Japanese mini trucks that have been built.

Take Japan’s #1 mini truck maker, Daihatsu, as an example. Did you know that up until November 2020, they had built 7.4 million mini trucks? That’s not quite as many as the record-holding number of original VW Beetles that were made (over 20 million), but even if it’s not exactly a world record, that still makes Daihatsu’s Hijet one of the world’s best-selling vehicles of all time. Pretty amazing given that they were only sold in Japan! Then remember that Suzuki’s Carry was the #1 best selling mini truck for 39 of those years, so you can be sure that they also sold multiple millions of their mini trucks, too.

What’s this got to do with reliability? Well, there’s no way that any of these Japanese mini truck makers could have sold so many vehicles to a market with such high reliability and quality expectations as the Japanese consumer market if their products were breaking down left, right and center. It’s just not possible.

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