Also, with the fact that most of these Japanese mini trucks come with the 4-wheel drive capability, one can expect them to run on even the hardest roads and still deliver quality service. People should be more cautious when buying vehicles and focus on getting those that are both economical and cheap to maintain.
Comparing the Japanese minitruck with other similar alternatives such as the pickup trucks, one will realize that they are not a only way affordable but also offer good value for your investment. The fact that these vehicles have a larger bed as compared to the minitruck means that you can carry bulkier loads without having to pay much for it.
If you are therefore looking for a vehicle that will offer you good value for your investment, then there is no doubt that the Key trucks will impress you. The Hi jet is among the most popular mini trucks from the Japanese carmaker Daihatsu and has been in production since 1960.
It has gained massive attention from locals and the globe in general, thanks to their high performance and dependability. The Suzuki Carry is yet another player that has been in business for a while and doing its best to make some best mini trucks to keep up with the competition.
Over the decades, their mini trucks have sold tons of units both locally in Japan and across the border. Their sophisticated engineering which has been advancing over the decades has made them a leader which is evident in not only their mini trucks but also in other vehicle models.
Their Subaru Samba which comes in both a combi-like minivan and the key truck have gotten the public eye and received praise for their performance and reliability. With all the up-beat features and capabilities like the other models; Hi jet, Act and Suzuki Carry, the Subaru samba is a vehicle to love.
If rugged trails, muddy and rocky roads are in your daily routines and just can’t seem to avoid them, you need a good vehicle that is dependable especially if you haul different loads. If you need to start a business that requires hauling heavy goods from one point to the other, then you’ll need a reliable vehicle that is both cost-effective and dependable.
Unless you are new to the auto world, Suzuki is a legendary brand that has been making cars for a long time. Ask any expert to name the top 3 best mini trucks that they know of and the Daihatsu Hi jet won’t miss in their list.
Daihatsu is a subsidiary of Toyota, and if that fact doesn’t inspire your reaction to already fall in love with this minitruck, then hold on. Daihatsu Hi jet runs on a 4 speed transmission coupled up with a 4-wheel drive system.
With a tough body make and up to 660cc to top that, this vehicle is an ultimate off-road machine that can be used to do multiple tasks. There is no doubt that Honda has been a major brand that has been a perennial producer of some of the world’s most loved vehicles.
Like its other competitors above, it has battled its way and come through with similar specifications, horsepower and top-notch performance that has made it a lovable minitruck across the world. Honda Act is a minitruck that you can count on for fuel efficiency while also maintaining smooth shift in producing high power.
It is known to be a low maintenance minitruck, highly efficient and its 4×4 engineering makes it go almost everywhere and haul anything that you want it to do. So, be it a snowy area or the boiling temperatures of Mojave, the Subaru Samba is a vehicle that you can count on.
It is a vehicle that does not disappoint and one that can be relied on to run medium-sized errands as long as it is within 660 cc. In our inventory, you will also find some customized mini trucks such as those fitted with lift systems or dump bed boxes.
With years of experience in our belt and thousands of direct customers across the globe, we are no doubt one of the biggest used car exporter in Japan. Japanese mini trucks are great utility vehicles that can serve many purposes both commercially and personally.
Many of these come with excellent cargo capacity, which is perfect for businesses that need to haul larger loads. Their carry dump is perfect for construction workers and farmers as it has a cargo area that lifts thereby allowing you to discard or load materials.
This is a great truck that comes with a flat bed storage area, which will make towing larger items much easier. Its compact space makes it easy to navigate out of tight areas thereby allowing this to be a desirable way for businesses to haul merchandise.
When looking to buy these you’ll want to go online and browse inventory at websites like Cajun Mini Trucks. The best way to achieve desirable results is to put in your keywords such as best crossover vehicles, then your location.
End of story.” The next guy will say: “Daihatsu Hi-Jet all the way!” And then a third fellow will give his opinion; “Subaru Samba with the supercharger RULES! The fact is that pretty well every Key truck is basically a good vehicle.
In an ideal world you could test drive every single key truck, and you could then narrow down which ones are best for you. “This is not an ideal world, son.” I would hate it so much that I would, mentally, block my ears to what he would say after: “So you’ve got to find some workable work around.
(On our main site you can find some important general information on Key trucks here, and a list of available models here.) And, once in a while, you might get extra lucky, and it would come with a cute girl, as in this old publicity photo.
Later the Samba got a bigger, 550cc, engine, this time a four stroke unit but still an inline twin. It’s only two cylinders.” The fact is that these little old guys grunt, and their 4WD with “Extra Low” will pull you out of pretty well anything.
(I’ll talk more about this feature later when I review a newer, fifth gen, Samba.) The seventh and eighth generation Sambas are actually Daihatsu Hi-Jet trucks.
So you’ll see what I’m saying: these key trucks have gone thought multiple generations: ten, and counting, in the case of the Daihatsu Hi-Jet. We have an overview of the generational differences that you’ll find with Japanese mini trucks on our main website here.
So let’s have a look at some key trucks I have driven: A 2000 Suzuki Carry, a 1996 Daihatsu hi-Jet, a second generation Honda Act, a third generation Act, a 1987 Subaru Samba, a 1994 Subaru Samba, my own, and very loved, 1996 Subaru Samba Diaz Van, and others. You can import vehicles like these now from Japan to the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia (in the case of the 1987 550cc Samba), and the European Union.
We are always sourcing good units at good prices from the Japanese used car auctions and from the Japanese used car dealers that we work with here. Finding a good, clean 4WD key truck in Japan is not a problem.
Now, you’ll ask me: “What’s the relationship between mini trucks and retiring in Japan ?” Well it goes like this: In our part of Japan, in the countryside of Shikoku Prefecture (and, I’m willing to bet, in the rest of the Japanese countryside), when a fellow retires he immediately buys a key truck.
If he does not have a key truck, he’s not fully retired and the other fellows feel sorry for him. So you basically do it like this: shake hands with the boss on your last day, accept a small good-bye bonus, go straight to a key truck dealer, give him the bonus money (that’s why the boss gave it to you in the first place, he doesn’t want you to feel unfulfilled after putting in forty years at the company) and drive out with your new white minitruck.
So Dad picks up this key truck, a Honda Act, a second generation model with the 660cc E07A engine. Now Dad can join the “Key Truck Troops.” These guys will descend in a squad onto a field, forest lot, or onto a roadside verge and start trimming the weeds, cutting the branches, and generally maintaining a piece of land that is associated with their countryside district or region.
Every member has a gas-powered weed trimmer, a selection of saws for trimming branches, and shovel, and…….a white key truck. A Japanese key truck is for the active man, retired or not: hunter, farmer, tradesman, and more.
But I remember how that little Honda engine just revved right up the moment I barely touched the accelerator pedal: VROOM! The Honda E07A in line three cylinders is a happy and balanced little unit, and it just loves to rev.
But, in truth, I was surprised at the response of the Act’s engine: very sprightly little unit. ), he shifted harshly, and he backed into an ESTIA van in the drugstore parking lot.
I guess that, if I had to come up with a complaint about the Act trucks I’ve driven, I would say that the interior feel of the third gen Act was a bit cramped for me in that some interior plastic panels and such felt a bit too close and “in my face.” And, once or twice, taking a too sharp, too quick corner on a gravel back road, I noted a bit more of a tendency to overseer than on other key trucks that I have driven. And, as far as Honda’s “Real Time 4WD” system goes, this is really a matter of preference.
I prefer making the choice of going into 4WD myself, but if you want your key truck to do that for you, then the Honda Act is the minitruck that offers that function. In my next post we’ll look at the Suzuki Carry and the Subaru Samba.
Mini trucks are amazing go-anywhere machines that are fun, durable, easy to maintain and extremely affordable (starting at $800 for a good condition 25-year-old one and up to more than $5000 for those around 10 years old with dump boxes). They are easily maneuverable, sporting 4WD on all makes with hi and low range.
These trucks have plenty of power, unbeatable fuel efficiency (avg. All makes have fold downsides and rear gates available, so it’s very easy to haul whatever you are loading on or off.
Opposed to a standard utility vehicle, they have much more payload capacity for their size. They are supremely versatile and can be converted to anything you are looking for, most commonly, a modified dump truck.
This is especially true in the United States, Canada, Australia and the UK, where more and more people are importing used mini trucks directly from Japan. Mini Trucks with dump beds are great for farming, construction sites, landscaping jobs etc.
Box Mini Trucks come in standard and refrigeration unit types. Perfect for local delivery of goods that need to be kept dry, safe and even refrigerated.
There are also a number of different soft top covers that fit on all stock Mini Trucks. Trucks with lifts make every heavy job safer and easier.
As such there is little room for frills and fancy stuff in any of the key trucks, be it the Daihatsu Hi-Jet, the Suzuki Carry, the Subaru Samba, or any of the others. In a sense, they are all basically alike: tough, simple, long-lasting, cheap to run, highly capable.
Whichever key truck you buy, you get something good, and you won’t lose. For example, it doesn’t have a full low range like you get with the excellent Suzuki Carry.
Other guys will point out that having the engine at the extreme rear (as in the Samba) is not ideal due to the increased potential for over steer on dodgy road surfaces. And yet I found more over steer in our two Honda Acts on dirt and gravel roads at speed.
For build quality, many key truck owners will plug for the Daihatsu Hi-Jet. Again, I’m with them on that, based on the Hi-Jets that I have test driven (although I’ve never owned one or used one for work, so I have no experience on long term with a Hi-Jet).
But still, when it comes time for me to look for my next used key truck, I’m going to look for a nice, fresh, Subaru Samba. For all round value and cheap running cost and good parts availability, I guess the Suzuki Carry truck is in the lead, and its full-on low range in 4WD is awful nice.
I’ve had good fun off-road in Carry's, both PRE 98s and (once) in a newer, post 98 model. At the moment, I’ve got the use of a newer model Suzuki Carry owned by a lady friend of mine up here on Mount Fuji, so I’m content.
So, for the folks in the USA, the UK, Canada, and Australia that can’t get the new key trucks anyway, I’d say you’re not missing anything much. Now, for something to help you decide what may be the best key truck for you to import from Japan, we have some articles over on our blog here, here, here, and here.
Especially these days, with hard economic times coming, due to government responses to the Coronavirus, a Japanese key truck is going to be the best vehicle going forward, especially for preppers, for people hoping to stay out of the cities but who need to work, get around, stock up, you name it; for hunters who really do need to bring home the bacon (well, the venison, actually); for people who are forced to downsize and cut back on their contracting, landscaping, or small delivery service, again, a key truck is the best thing to have right now. Jack Ellis 1/19/2021 I just picked up my dream camper van from port and have to say that Japan car direct was with me the entire way.
I highly recommend the whole team, trust them and would encourage anyone to use their services. Oleg Doubt 11/23/2021 I just want to thank Matthew and the whole team at Japan Car Direct, they always went above and beyond in making sure their clients are always happy and informed about the vehicles they are purchasing.
Fahad Away 11/10/2020 Do yourself a favor, call Mathew at Japan Car Direct. Not knowing anything about importing vehicles from Japan, I spent countless hours studying and trying to figure it all out.
I dealt with Matt, who was extremely helpful and patient with all of my stupid questions. The way they have the whole process is so convenient, especially with the live video translations of the auction sheets.
So glad this was the first group I tried as I have heard horror stories about the import process. Cory Change 9/22/2021 Joshi and team were patient in helping me find the right car (green 2016 Prius 4WD) and get me through the process.
Flawless service, prompt response to communications, on delivery the car was better than expected, very close to new looking. Mike Ross 9/18/2021 I had been toying with the Idea of importing a Land Cruiser from Japan for a while and to be honest was quite hesitant about doing so, as the process for a first timer seemed quite daunting.
Mike Dorsal 9/16/2021 I was daunted by the prospect of purchasing a vehicle overseas. The only point that went differently from his anticipation was the duty tax, which inherently has room for interpretation and may depend on the port of delivery.
With his help I obtained a Suzuki carry with 8k miles, 4wd hi/lo w/ diff lock, in excellent condition, for a total of 5k from auction to driveway--tremendous value in my estimation. Patrick Monitor 9/14/2021 Mathew at Japan Car Direct has been a HUGE help and continually went above and beyond with assisting me.
He even helped me arrange a mechanic in Japan to do some work on the Hi ace I purchased so that it would arrive in the US in tip-top shape and be ready to hit the road. Charles Gross 8/12/2020 I was totally clueless and was having a really hard time finding someone that I felt I could trust to help me with these auctions.
A couple folks recommended Mathew over at CD and I very reluctantly reached out. After a couple of months I didn’t end up buying a vehicle, but that’s on me.
When I changed my direction, Mathew helped me wrap things up and wished me well. Scott Irby-Ranniar 7/17/2021 Discovered KEY vehicles about a year ago and spent many hours searching the internet in hopes of finding an affordable van state side, to no avail.
He was quick to respond, answered way too many of my silly questions, and worked diligently to find the right van for me. Benjamin Ferguson 7/09/2020 Matt made importing a few mini trucks for our farm a breeze.
Super easy to deal with and transparent with all the details involved in bidding and winning auctions, the import process, and everything in between. We accept refundable deposits by PayPal to ().