Shoppers looking for an affordable and reliable new vehicle have probably considered Toyota and Honda at some point or another. These Japanese brands offer vehicles that are very competitive with each other — and with the rest of the market — in terms of pricing, safety, reliability, and other objective factors. Both brands also have rather loyal followings. However, as is so often the case when it comes to new cars, statistics don’t tell the whole story. There are subjective factors at work, as well.
What are the differences between Honda and Toyota? At first glance, they’re pretty similar. Toyota and Honda compete in high-volume classes, with a focus on compact and midsize commuter cars and family-friendly SUVs of all sizes. If there’s a distinction between the two brands’ approaches, it’s that Toyota focuses on broad appeal, while Honda maintains an edge in terms of sporty styling and performance. If you’re cross-shopping these two brands in 2017, here’s what you should look for.
In the most recent Vehicle Dependability Study, Toyota earned an overall score of five out of five for dependability, while Honda received a score of three out of five. Honda didn’t outscore Toyota in any of the categories measured by the study.
Most vehicles in the Honda lineup scored at least a 9.3 safety rating, according to our rankings, with the Civic scoring a perfect 10. The HR-V, a notable exception, scored just an 8.7. Most of the 2017 Toyota vehicles in our rankings scored a 9.3. Just one vehicle, the Prius Prime, earned a 10, and the Sequoia earned the lowest score, 7.7.
In general, Honda vehicles score slightly higher than Toyota vehicles on the performance scale. Most critics say that Hondas offer better acceleration and more agile handling than competing Toyotas.
One example is in the minivan category. The class-leading Honda Odyssey has a performance rating of 9.1, while the Toyota Sienna has a performance score of 8.4. The Odyssey’s overall score is about a half a point higher than the Sienna’s, which helps illustrate that an edge in performance, however subtle, can make a big difference.
Honda vehicles are known for having thoughtfully-designed interiors with upscale materials (for the price). They stand out above Toyota interiors, which tend to be about average. This is most apparent in the compact and midsize car classes, and it’s one of the reasons Honda’s small cars are considered to be of particularly high quality.
Toyota SUV models step it up a bit in terms of interior design and quality, but the competitors from Honda are still right there with them.
5. Small car ranking
Honda has just two models in the small car rankings — the Civic and the Fit, which come in near the top. Toyota has a lot more models in this class — the Prius, Prius Prime, Prius c, Corolla, Yaris, and the Scion replacements, the Yaris iA and Corolla iM. However, all of the Toyotas fall short to Honda’s small car offerings. If you’re looking for a small car, Toyota offers more choice, but Honda’s offerings are better quality.