Japan has been a major driver (no pun intended) of automotive technology ever since the 1960s. And even today, the country's automotive industry is showing no signs of halting, with Japan sitting right up there with America and Germany in terms of numbers of cars sold.
From being the first country to adopt mass-produced electric cars to providing the most advanced affordable supercars and the most reliable daily drivers, we have Japan to thank for some of the best models currently on the market. To summarize Japan's automotive accomplishments in the past decade, we've set aside the 10 most popular, advanced, and significant cars that have in some way helped reshape the landscape of the automotive industry since 2010. Enjoy!
10 Mitsubishi i-MiEV
When the Mitsubishi i-MiEV was introduced in 2009, it became the very first fully-electric mass-produced car in the world (not counting Tesla's 2008 Roadster, which only sold about 2400 units). Though innovative, this pioneering vehicle was powered by a small 16kWh lithium-ion battery pack able to sustain in for only about 100 miles. However, this was enough to make the i-MiEV an attractive sustainable car choice for many Japanese buyers, which is why the car continues to sell to this day.
9 2014 Nissan NISMO GTR
The re-imagined GT-R actually arrived for the 2008 model year, but the car was so impressive that, with a few small facelifts, it managed to reign as the most brutal Japanese production car all throughout the last decade. However, things got even better in 2014 with the NISMO Edition, which saw the GT-R's power output rise to 600 horsepower, now capable of a ridiculous 2.5-second 60-mph dash. This number put this Japanese beast on par with million-dollar hypercars such as the Bugatti Veyron or the Koenigsegg Agera in terms of acceleration, yet it was track-ready and available for just a fraction of the price (about $150,000).
8 Honda Civic Type R
Though the Civic has been on the market since the early 70s, it's in the last decade that the model truly reached its potential, experiencing a significant power and handling upgrade. Its 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder now produces an impressive 306 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. Apart from its impressive performance, the new Civic manages to provide a comfortable interior and a spacious rear boot, while its predicted reliability rating and low maintenance cost place it among the best entry-level sports cars in the world. Even picking the less powerful 205-hp Si option or the regular 158-hp Civic will leave consumers with practically no better alternative within the compact segment.
7 Lexus LFA
We're putting the LFA on this list due to its sheer significance as the only true exotic sports car to come out of Japan. Don't be fooled by the badge it carries; the LFA was designed to compete with the fiercest exotic mid-engine supercars. It sacrifices affordability and practicality for beastly performance and high-end luxury.
And though the car is unfortunately no longer in production (approximately 500 units were ever produced) this fact only adds to its appeal. The impressive 4.8L V10 nestled under the hood produces a whopping 550 horsepower, which rocket the car to 60 mph in just about 3.6 seconds and onto a top speed of 202 mph.
6 Toyota Corolla
The Corolla is not a sports car or a luxury car; it doesn't try to wander out into a segment it's not supposed to be in. What it does is show just how much effort Toyota put in creating the best possible car with nothing more than exactly what the average consumer would want ...and supporting it with incredibly cheap maintenance. Like the Camry, the Corolla boasts impressive reliability and safety ratings, evident from its five-star NHTSA rating for the 2019 model.
5 Toyota Supra MKV
Like some other models on this list, the importance of the Supra comes from its great history. In the '90s, this was the JDM everyone was dreaming about, featuring an insanely tunable 2JZ engine (we're talking a 500-horsepower gain with a few decent tweaks) and one of the most appealing exteriors ever.
Today, the Supra's fame has ballooned to the point where the expectations for the new model were virtually too high to meet. This is why the new 2019 model was the subject of much controversy, featuring a powerful yet unimpressive BMW engine intended for the Z4.
4 Honda Accord
The Accord has always been a solid sedan choice, yet the last few model years saw the Accord rise to the very top of its segment, boasting practically every luxury and practicality feature of much higher-priced cars. This has earned it remarkable user reviews. From the (power) engine to the leather options and (tech), the Accord manages to include every feature that makes an incredible sedan, and more. Combine this with the model's ubiquity, resulting in low cost of spare parts and maintenance, and you understand why the Accord is among the highest-rated sedans on the market.
3 Mazda MX-5
We would remiss by not mentioning the iconic Miata. Sure, the car has been around for three decades now, but that doesn't hinder the fact that Mazda has been able to consistently make it better and better with each new iteration.
The 2019 model brings the most exciting and durable mix of power and agility yet, and for that, this Japan-made car is still among the best-rated cars on the globe.
2 Honda Camry
Similarly to the Accord, the new Camry sits near the top of the affordable midsize sedan segment and has been doing so consistently for over a decade now. Due to its high reliability, low maintenance cost, and a flexible array of trims with up to 300 horsepower of power, the Camry is among the most popular Japanese sedans on the market. NHTSA awarded the 2019 model with full five stars for its safety as well. The Camry also consistently appears among the cheapest vehicles to maintain, which renders it one of the most valuable and impressive cars you can buy for under $30,000.
1 2016 Acura NSX
With the 2018 model, JDM fans finally got to re-experience the legendary Acura NSX - one of the greatest Japanese cars to hail from the '90s. This time, the re-introduced model was packed with an exhilarating 573-horsepower twin-turbocharged V6, capable of launching the car to 60 mph in less than 3 seconds. This puts it on par with the quickest supercars of today. And although, unlike the new Supra, the NSX managed to meet the high expectations imposed on it by its predecessor's historic success, the newest iteration is not actually built in Japan but rather in a Honda plant in Ohio.