Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports
Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

June 3, 2024

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports: From Toyota Prius to Mazda MX-5

The Toyota Prius is celebrated for its hybrid technology, economy, and eco-friendliness, making it a trusted choice among popular global cars. The Mazda CX5 stands out in the used car market for its affordability, economy, and reliability, competing closely with hybrids like the Prius.

The Nissan Leaf offers significant economic benefits as a fully electric vehicle, known for its affordability and spacious interior, ideal for eco-conscious families. The Toyota Noah is favored for its economical operation and spacious design, perfect for family travel.

Meanwhile, the Mazda MX5 excels as a compact sports car with playful handling and affordability, making it a popular choice among driving enthusiasts. Each model showcases unique strengths, catering to diverse needs from family-friendly to environmentally conscious driving.

When it comes to finding a blend of reliability, affordability, and performance in a vehicle, importing a used car from Japan can be an exceptionally smart choice. Japanese automakers are renowned for their dedication to quality and innovation, making their vehicles a popular choice globally.

In this article, we explore the five best used cars to import from Japan, each offering unique advantages to suit a variety of needs and preferences.

From the trusted Toyota Prius, known for its hybrid technology and economic benefits, to the compact and exhilarating Mazda MX-5, these vehicles have proven their worth on roads around the world. We’ll delve into why the Toyota Prius continues to dominate as a popular and economical hybrid choice, and how the Mazda CX-5 strikes a perfect balance between affordability and economic performance.

Additionally, the Nissan Leaf emerges as a leader in accessible electric vehicle options, while the Toyota Noah offers spacious travel without compromising on economy, making it ideal for family outings. Lastly, the Mazda MX-5 will be highlighted for its fun driving experience and compact design, ensuring you get great value for your investment.

Join us as we take a closer look at these top contenders and why they might just be the perfect addition to your garage. Whether you prioritize sustainability, space, or sporty dynamics, this guide will help you navigate through the best of what Japan has to offer in the used car market.

So lets see which cars we rate as the best top 5 economical and popular used Japanese imports.

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports
Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

1. Toyota Prius: The Trusted Hybrid for Economy and Popularity

The Toyota Prius stands out as a cornerstone in the hybrid vehicle market, renowned for its blend of economy, reliability, and environmental consciousness. As a trusted name in automotive technology, the Prius offers drivers an unparalleled mix of efficiency and practicality, making it a popular choice for those looking to import a vehicle from Japan.

The appeal of the Toyota Prius lies in its innovative hybrid powertrain, which combines a gasoline engine with an electric motor to optimize fuel consumption and reduce emissions. This makes the Prius an excellent choice for environmentally conscious drivers who do not want to compromise on performance or comfort.

The car’s ability to switch between or combine power sources seamlessly allows it to achieve impressive fuel economy, significantly lowering running costs in comparison to conventional vehicles.

Additionally, the popularity of the Toyota Prius has been bolstered by its reputation for reliability. Owners frequently praise the vehicle for its durability and low maintenance costs, factors that contribute to its trusted status among a wide range of consumers. Its global recognition as a leading hybrid model ensures that parts are readily available, making repairs straightforward and relatively affordable.

In comparison to other models like the sporty Mazda MX5 or the spacious Toyota Noah, the Prius offers a balanced option that does not sacrifice performance for economy.

While the Mazda CX5 and Nissan Leaf also provide economical choices with their own unique benefits, the Prius continues to attract a broad demographic due to its proven track record and widespread appeal.

Overall, the Toyota Prius represents an ideal choice for importers looking for a vehicle that combines environmental responsibility with practical everyday use. It remains a symbol of hybrid technology advancement, maintaining its position as a popular and trusted vehicle in the global auto market.

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports
Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

2. Mazda CX-5: Combining Affordability with Economic Performance

The Mazda CX-5 stands out as a stellar choice among used cars from Japan, particularly for those who prioritize affordability without compromising on economic performance. Renowned for its sleek design and robust reliability, the Mazda CX5 offers a harmonious blend of comfort and efficiency, making it a popular option for budget-conscious buyers seeking a high-quality vehicle.

One of the Mazda CX-5’s most appealing features is its fuel efficiency. This mid-size SUV is designed to maximize economy without sacrificing performance, providing an excellent balance that rivals even some of the more well-known hybrids on the market, such as the Toyota Prius.

Its economical nature does not only reflect in fuel consumption but also in its overall maintenance costs, which are significantly lower compared to other vehicles in its class.

In terms of pricing, the Mazda CX5 is notably affordable, especially when imported used from Japan. This affordability factor makes it an attractive alternative for those who might be considering other economical or compact models like the Mazda MX5 or even electric vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf.

Furthermore, its pricing does not compromise the quality or the innovative features it offers, including advanced safety technology and a comfortable interior, which are comparable to more expensive SUVs.

The Mazda CX-5 also enjoys a reputation for reliability, a trait it shares with other trusted Japanese brands like Toyota. This reliability further enhances its economic appeal, as owners can expect fewer unexpected maintenance issues over the vehicle’s lifespan, ensuring more savings in the long run.

In summary, the Mazda CX5 is an excellent choice for individuals and families looking for an affordable, economic, and reliable vehicle. Its balance of price, performance, and low running costs make it a standout option in the used car market, particularly for those importing from Japan, where high-quality vehicles can be sourced at competitive prices.

Whether navigating city streets or cruising on the highway, the Mazda CX-5 ensures a cost-effective and enjoyable driving experience.

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports
Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

3. Nissan Leaf: Leading the Charge in Affordable Electric Car Options

As the demand for eco-friendly and affordable vehicles continues to soar, the Nissan Leaf has established itself as a frontrunner in the realm of used electric cars that combine both economy and reliability. Originating from Japan, where manufacturers like Toyota and Nissan have long been trusted for their durable and efficient vehicles, the Nissan Leaf stands out as a particularly appealing option for those interested in making the switch to electric without breaking the bank.

Unlike the more common hybrid models such as the Toyota Prius, the Nissan Leaf offers a fully electric solution, eliminating the need for gasoline and reducing running costs significantly. This feature positions it as a leading choice for eco-conscious drivers who prioritize economy in both environmental and financial terms. The affordability of a used Nissan Leaf makes it an even more attractive proposition, especially when compared to other electric and hybrid vehicles in the market.

The Nissan Leaf’s popularity in Japan, a country known for its cutting-edge automotive technology, ensures that buyers are getting a high-quality vehicle that is built to last. This is crucial for those looking to import a used car, as reliability is often a paramount concern.

The Leaf’s robust technology and solid performance record provide peace of mind, much like the trusted Toyota Noah offers for families seeking dependable and economical transportation.

Moreover, when compared with compact vehicles like the Mazda MX5, the Nissan Leaf offers a practical alternative that does not compromise on space and usability, making it suitable for everyday driving. While it might not have the sporty allure of a compact roadster, its spacious interior and smooth driving experience make it a practical choice for a broader audience.

In summary, the Nissan Leaf exemplifies the benefits of Japanese innovation in the electric vehicle sector, offering an affordable, reliable, and purely electric alternative to more traditional cars like the hybrid Toyota Prius or the family-oriented Toyota Noah. Its growing popularity underscores its status as a top contender in the used car market for those looking to transition to electric driving economically and efficiently.

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports
Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

4. Toyota Noah: The Family-Friendly Economy Choice for Spacious Travel”

The Toyota Noah stands out as an exemplary choice for families seeking a blend of economy, space, and reliability in a vehicle. Renowned for its practical design and versatile interior, the Noah offers ample room for both passengers and cargo, making it an ideal vehicle for family outings or long road trips.

Unlike its sportier or more compact counterparts like the Mazda MX5, the Toyota Noah is designed with a focus on comfort and utility. Its spacious three-row seating can comfortably accommodate up to eight passengers, ensuring that everyone in the family, from children to adults, enjoys a comfortable ride.

Economy is another significant advantage of the Toyota Noah. As families often look to maximize their budget, the Noah’s fuel efficiency is a compelling feature. It doesn’t boast the hybrid technology of the Toyota Prius, but it still maintains respectable fuel economy figures for its class, which makes it an affordable option for family transportation.

In comparison to vehicles like the Mazda CX5, which is also known for its affordability and economy, the Toyota Noah provides a different kind of value with its focus on maximizing passenger space and comfort, making it a popular choice among families.

It may not offer the same driving dynamics as the Mazda CX5 or the environmental benefits of a Nissan Leaf, but for buyers looking for a trusted, family-oriented vehicle, the Toyota Noah emerges as a top contender.

Given the Toyota brand’s global reputation for reliability and durability, importing a used Toyota Noah from Japan is a sensible decision. Consumers can trust that they are acquiring a vehicle that is not only economically sensible but also robust enough to handle the demands of family travel. This blend of features makes the Toyota Noah a standout choice in the used car market, particularly for those prioritizing spacious, economical, and family-friendly travel options.

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports
Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

5. Mazda MX-5: The Compact Sports Car That’s Big on Fun and Value

The Mazda MX-5, affectionately known as the Miata, stands out as an epitome of driving joy and has established itself as a popular choice among compact sports car enthusiasts. Its allure isn’t just in its playful handling and sleek design but also in its surprising affordability and economy, making it a standout option for those looking to import a used car from Japan.

A key to the MX-5’s enduring appeal is its lightweight structure paired with precise steering, which delivers a driving experience typically reserved for cars with a much steeper price tag. This has helped the Mazda MX-5 carve a niche for itself in a market that includes other economy vehicles like the Toyota Prius and the Nissan Leaf, although it caters to a distinctly different audience.

Despite its compact size, the Mazda MX-5 does not compromise on performance. It offers a balanced mix of power and agility, which makes every drive exhilarating. This is a vehicle designed for drivers who enjoy the journey as much as the destination, echoing the fun-to-drive ethos that Mazda is known for.

In terms of value, the MX-5 is a smart buy. Its maintenance costs are reasonable, partly because of Mazda’s reputation for reliability and the shared components with other models in the Mazda lineup, like the robust Mazda CX-5. This aspect of shared parts can often reduce the overall cost of ownership, an important consideration for used car buyers.

Furthermore, the MX-5’s enduring popularity ensures that its resale value remains strong, a testament to the vehicle’s trusted status among sports car enthusiasts. This makes the Mazda MX-5 not just a purchase but an investment in many ways.

For families or individuals looking for a more practical vehicle, models like the Toyota Noah offer the space and economy needed for daily use. However, for those who prioritize a compact and thrilling ride, the Mazda MX-5 remains an unbeatable choice in the realm of affordable sports cars.

Whether zipping through city streets or cruising along coastal roads, the MX-5 promises a joyous and economically sensible driving experience, securing its position as a top contender for anyone considering importing a used car from Japan.


In conclusion, when it comes to selecting the best used cars to import from Japan, the choices are as diverse as they are appealing. From the trusted and popular hybrid efficiency of the Toyota Prius to the affordable and compact thrill of the Mazda MX-5, there’s a vehicle to match every need and taste.

The Mazda CX-5 stands out for combining affordability with stellar economic performance, making it a top choice for cost-conscious drivers. For those looking to step into the realm of electric vehicles, the Nissan Leaf presents a leading option with its remarkable affordability and eco-friendly credentials.

Meanwhile, the Toyota Noah offers a fantastic solution for families in need of economy and spacious travel. Each of these vehicles exemplifies the best of Japanese automotive engineering, marrying economy, reliability, and enjoyment in packages suited for a variety of buyers.

Whether you prioritize environmental consciousness, family needs, or just pure driving pleasure, importing a used car from Japan can be an excellent choice that combines quality with value.

So why is the Toyota Corolla not on the list. Because its bread and butter. Everyone knows it.

Obvioiusly there are other cars that need to be on this list but these vehicles represent an across the range view of what we like and export.

Get in touch with me here in Japan for your new car.

See Japanese Car auctions here.

Top 5 Economical and Popular Used Japanese Imports

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Graeme Cooke at Auto Trader Imports
Graeme Cooke
Company Director

I am not one for writing articles actually so most of these articles come from contributors that I have met over the years or with a little help of supporters. 

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