Why don't Toyota cars have a customization culture like Honda?

When I was in high school, there was a huge scene of car people obsessed with customizing Honda cars, mostly Civics and Accords. And I assume this scene still exists. Maybe it peaked with Fast and Furious, but I guess it’s still around. I certainly still see plenty of Hondas with aftermarket body work, wheels, spoilers, mufflers, etc. Some of the custom jobs look good; many of them just look very shoddily assembled and amateurish. But obviously a lot of Honda people are interested in doing this.

But I never witnessed any similar customization culture for Toyota cars. Definitely there were and are a lot of people modifying Toyota 4x4s, which is what I had in high school, for off road use. But not the cars, really.

Why is this?

Because Honda (and Nissan) has a reputation for building performance-oriented cars. People who are interested in cars naturally gravitate towards them, and then “improve” them further.

Toyota has a reputation for building bland, reliable transportation appliances. Not much point in putting a wing and bodykit on the automotive equivalent of a dishwasher.

In short: No matter how much you trick out a Corolla, it will remain a shitty car, performance wise. On the other hand even a mildly tuned Civic can kick some serious ass.

Toyota cars are more family and commuter oriented. Sure, there were some sporty models in the past but they were few and mostly lukewarm in performance. Nowadays they have discontinued every single sports model and are moving towards more ecologicaly friendly cars.

Honda on the other hand has a long history of car racing and has several successful sports models. Although the last few years they are too moving towards greener cars.

But most of these tricked out Hondas I see are Civics! Is a Civic not also bland? Is a base model Civic that much more stylish and sporty than a base model Corolla?

Hondas are a lot more modular than Toyotas (or at least this was the case in the 80’s and 90’s). Toyota’s high-performance offerings were mostly rear-wheel drive cars like the Supra that didn’t easily interchange with their econoboxes. In contrast, Honda made some scorchingly fast front-drive cars, many of which had engines that could be more or less dropped right into their entry-level offerings.

This is especially important because many of the highest performance Japanese cars are Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) only, which means you can’t get them here. But used JDM motors are plentiful and relatively cheap, so you could get the drivetrain out of one of Honda’s performance cars and drop it into a normal old US Civic and have a very fast, very cheap hot rod. People certainly do it with other Japanese cars, but because there’s just so many Hondas running around the US the bang-to-bucks ratio is very favorable for them. That cheapness of course also attracts the home-made spoiler poseur crowd, though.

There’s more than meets the eye in a plain Civic. The EK9 had double wishbone suspension, disk brakes all around and a chassis that was years ahead compared to other cars of the era. With its light weight and the 1.6 liter engine that produced 160hp you had a pocket rocket.

Not to mention the sound when the VTEC kicked in…
Also a little known fact: Most of Toyota’s high performance engines are actually made by Yamaha

Slightly off-topic but I was working as a car salesman in a Honda dealership in the late 80’s when the first VTEC engines were fitted to the CRX. Almost 160 bhp from a 1.6l normally aspirated engine was, and still is astonishing. And so very reliable as well. All the time I worked there, there was not a single problem with a VTEC system.

ooooooooo! I fondly remember the need to keep the revs up at 8000 to maximise the power.
The howl! the scream!

Ah! the sound. For a brief moment we were all Ayrton Senna in an MP4/4

Because Toyota is the leader, and Honda should be watching how to become #1 in sales from Toyota.

by cheapening their cars, letting their quality slide, and forgetting everything that made them great?

It happened to GM, then Toyota, and it looks like VW is reading the same playbook.

My claim is true: Toyota leads in sales. You can fall over references to that.
“cheapening their cars” … " letting their quality slide"… “forgetting everything that made them great”

Have at it. This is GQ. Back it up.

I would also like you to substantiate your ‘it happened to GM claim’.

>What “happened” to GM?

GM went downhill financially, ironically, at the height of their quality over the past 40 years!

Toyota Sienna

“* The main culprits cited by CR for the plummeting score are poor fit and finish and excessive interior noise – bad enough that CR claims it’s not possible to have a proper conversation between front and rear passengers.*”

multi-nameplate reliability scores

“*Tuesday’s release of CR’s 2007 Annual Car Reliability Survey suggests otherwise, as the Toyota Camry V6, Tundra V8 4WD and Lexus GS AWD were all bumped from the magazine’s vaunted “Recommended” list for receiving below average ratings. *”

You need to close the circle of the argument, which goes something like this:

Quality declines overall for a company… leads to lower sales and the same fate as GM (which you claim is because quality went down, yet your cites show their quality surging).

You have an argument that is all over the place.

It’s 2011, FTR.

The Honda engine is one of the strongest little 4 cylinder engines in the market. It survives serious modification without destroying itself. And, if you’ve ever driven a Toyota, you realize, nice as those cars are, they lack personalities. They don’t communicate with the driver like a Honda does. Toyota’s are basically boring cars, not that that’s bad, it’s just not what the younger generation is looking for.

Have at what? What did your first comment have to do with the thread title? :confused:

Another big factor along with their modularity is just the sheer volume of parts available to tune these cars, both OEM and aftermarket, which makes them cheaper to build.

I’ve posted these pictures before, but an employee of mine spent two summers putting together this beastly machine that cranks out 420hp at the wheels. Its frighteningly fast.

Honda plays to its customers with cars/options/etc that are endeared by the tuners. Honda embraces them. There is often a symbiotic relationship between aftermarket parts suppliers, the owners and the auto maker that ensures the culture.

Toyota’s more successful business model doesn’t call for any such approach. Toyota is not bolstering the culture as is Honda.

That’s what my first comment had to do with the thread title.


Butthurt Toyota salesman?

Five dollars worth of stickers would have done the same thing. :smiley:

Nope. I don’t care much for their vehicles. The Butthurt thing is very cute and funny. Very hip. You should be slapping stickers on your tuner car.