Not sure what you are buying or where your info is coming from. I have driven Ford and Chevy over the last 30 years and have been broken down a lot less than one of my friends who has always driven Toyota trucks. I have also had fewer recalls. We both typically drive newer trucks so can't comment on vehicles with over 100k miles.
No idea why that's historically been the case, but the paradigm seems to have shifted some. There's tons of studies and objective reports out there that rank vehicle reliability though, and an interesting trend has emerged in the last 10-ish years or so. Honda no longer has all of their vehicles ranked in the top 3 for reliability. They have a few select vehicles that are (CRV, Civic), but as a whole, Honda reliability in recent years as a company has taken a hit. Toyota is no longer the reliability powerhouse, and most recent "ratings websites" (JD Power type sites) actually rank the Tacoma below the Ford Ranger and Chevy Colorado. Lots of reports of performance issues with recent Tacos and Tundras unfortunately.
In fact, I've been researching the mid-sized pickups as my next daily driver (currently in a half-ton and have no use for the additional capacity, but wish my wheelbase was shorter and my stance was narrower for mountain use), and there's lots of reports from places like Australia that the new standard for the Overland rigs that live in the bush is the Ford Ranger. The Ranger was only discontinued in the US Market for that 10 year span, and continued everywhere else, and there's lots of reports that it out does the new Tacomas in that environment. Just one example, but the more I research, the more I fall out of love with Toyota.
First Gen Tacos are a different conversation, but anything newer than the late 2000's and it seems that lots of the Japanese brands have fallen off the proverbial Totem Pole they were on top of for so long.
I think it is well documented over many years that American made vehicles are less reliable than most Japanese made vehicles. I have seen a few American made seem to be getting better in the reliability category and experiences I have heard about but those seem to be the exceptions.
I think American car companies have a business model that is polluted with unions and the method of operation that lends to a mindset of disposable vehicles and parts more than not. Because there is no doubt they could make them better if they so chose.
My family and I have only driven Toyota Land Cruisers the last 27 years. So I don't have anything personal to compare them to unless I ride with someone else. But the Land Cruiser, for instance, is light years better built, more reliable, better designed than any American made engineer ever dreamed. He could but he doesn't.
I could write a book on the major repairs I have not had in over a million miles in several Land Cruisers. I think 120+k miles on a GM transmission is about par, according to a regular GM buyer I know.
Don't laugh, but here's one factor to consider: we don't have a healthy workforce. Not saying its the main factor, but it's something I've been thinking about lately.
America has become one of the fattest nations on the face of the earth and in the history of time. 69% of US adults are overweight and of those, 36% are obese. 130 million adults are diabetic or prediabetic. 50% of US adults have hypertension. The list goes on. Obesity costs this country an estimated $150 billion a year in health care costs and lost productivity.
That matters because when you buy a vehicle, you're also paying for things like employee wages and astronomical healthcare costs. What gets funneled into paid sick leave and health coverage can't be spent on product improvements. And compared to foreign workforces, the workers building our cars are out sick more, which takes a toll on teams and makes accountability harder. That has to take a hit on quality, morale, and innovation.
Toyotas trucks are made in the US. Not sure if it’s still true, but they generally have more US made parts than the big 3 who get a lot of their parts from Mexico.
Toyota is also very conservative with bringing new designsto market. They design a motor, transmission, etc, perfect it, then use it for a decade or more. US companies tend to come out with the latest greatest more often.
I get tired of all the companies that add gadgets and “features” rather than fixing known issues with their vehicles. All the truck commercials these days are about features. Tailgates that open 11 different ways, step ladders for fat people, lane sensors, 17 inch touch screens, seats that massage your butt….
Most domestic vehicles have a known issue that makes an otherwise great vehicle unreliable.
The problem is that Americans don’t want reliability in things. They want those features. Build quality doesn’t sell as well as cool gadgets or trends.
My wife has had 2 Honda’s go over 225k with no issues. They are bare bones vehicles. I assume Honda has just corrected problems rather than always redesigning and adding extra crap. If they built a truck I would probably buy one.
This thread is based upon a stereotype that originated in the 1970s and 1980s when US auto manufacturers were designing and building crap.
Japanese design was edgy and the build quality was better. I owned a Pennsylvania-built Rabbit GTi and Honda/Acuras until my 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I did all of my own maintenance on that rig and it was dead reliable until I sold it to my bil and he drove it another 50k. It was traded in during Cash for Clunkers and still running great.
I have had three VW Passats since 2000...Two made on the Audi line in Ingolstadt and one made in US. Again, I did most of my own maintenance and repair and they didn't need much. The German versions were very well-built and designed. The US was okay, and it was the TDi that has been an amazing engine and tranny.
My current 2015 F150 has been excellent. Ford really spends time designing intelligent features into that car.
It is miles ahead of the design and OE spec of the 2006 Tacoma I owned for 8 years. That thing was weak in so many areas of basic design and engineering, no to mention the pathetic OE parts that were used.
The Toyota quality myth that started 40 years ago has vanished for those in the know but some people keep their head in the sand or just don't have the attention to detail to understand what goes into excellent design.
There's currently multi million dollar law suites against GM for knowingly selling trucks with faulty transmissions and also having no fix for them. Dealers mostly have been instructed to simply frail and fill the transmissions. My stepfather is currently experiencing this exact problem. He will be trading in his Siverado soon.